Subject line Saturday: June 14

Good news – my crazy few weeks of vacations and house guests are finally complete. And my sinus infection is (mostly) cured, so I am actually in a position to sit here, at my computer, and write. All for you. I’ve actually been keeping up with reviewing and categorizing emails, and my “To write about” spreadsheet is getting a little nuts, so this weekend I’m going to try to plow through it. Here we go…


1. Banana Republic – 6/4/14

Subject line: Sloan had a little something done.

Oh, that Sloan. Sloan is a style of pants that Banana Republic sells. I’m not sure how many BR customers know that, but I don’t think it even matters, which is why this subject line works so well. For subscribers who were really familiar with that particular style of pants, they had reason to open the email – to see what updates/changes had been made to the pants. For people who had no idea who/what Sloan was, it was simply a really intriguing subject line, and the pre-header clued them in pretty quickly.


2. Kate Spade – 6/13/14

Subject line: her name was…

Continuing the theme of products named after women, Kate Spade sent this email about the new Lola Avenue Collection of bags. The pre-header text cut to the chase pretty quickly: our new lola avenue collection was designed with everyday adventures in mind.  I love it when brands use song lyrics in subject lines, and I thought this was fun (even if it may have been a little obvious and expected.)




3. Staples – 5/27/2013

Subject line: Rock, paper, scissors – guess which one is $4

I don’t even need to tell you why this subject line is awesome. I don’t know how this email performed, but I bet they could have made their open rate a teensy bit higher. The pre-header text said, “Paper it is!” so customers who weren’t interested in paper probably didn’t open this email.  The design and content of the email was pretty bland and nothing special, but this subject line was great.


4. J. Crew – 6/5/14

Subject Line: Heck yeah, summer: 25% off right now 

If I don’t mention at least one J.Crew subject line, is it even Subject Line Saturday? The sale part of this email wasn’t really anything special – they offer discounts all the time, and usually they’re more than 25%. I just liked the use of “Heck yeah, summer.” Because I think we’re all saying that right now, especially after the winter that we all dealt with.


5. Mark and Graham – 6/13/14

Subject line: Black is the new black

Well, it’s obvious that this subject line is pretty topical right now. I don’t mind when brands play off excellent TV shows in their marketing when it’s clever and relevant. The email featured a black tote bag filled with black products. But then the pre-header and header of the email had to go and ruin it all with a “SEE WHAT WE DID THERE?!?!? LOOK HOW CLEVER THIS EMAIL IS!! DO YOU LIKE US YET?!” Oh Mark and Graham – trust us, we got it.

Preheader: Black {not orange} is the new black

blackisblack1 blackisblack2


Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have six episodes of Orange is the New Black to watch (okay, and some more blog posts to write).


Subject line Saturday: Summer is coming (and other stuff)

So, I did a great job last weekend cleaning out my inbox, writing and pre-scheduling three posts, and adding new ideas to my spreadsheet about other things to write about.

Then I had a really busy week at work, a long-term houseguest make an appearance, and a cold on top of that. So it’s back to 200 again. Sigh. An email snarketer’s work is never done.

I did find a lot of emails with interesting/horrible subject lines though, so it seems like as good of a time as any to actually do Subject Line Saturday like I always intended. Here goes!

From: Gap
When: 4/14/14 (A Monday…)
Subject: Is it the weekend yet?

I ask that every Monday.

From: Banana Republic
When: 4/24/14
Subject: Hey! You’ll want to see this…

I didn’t. It wasn’t introducing any new products, and it was the same 40% off discount they’ve been promoting for the last… all the time.

From: Bonobos
When: 5/7/2014
Subject: Almost 300 new items? Holy $#!%

Whoa. They had been pushing that they had a lot of new items for a few days, but this subject line got my attention. The email was very simple, but nice – a collection of various products (with no text around them) organized by color.

From: J. Crew
When: 5/12/14
Subject: OK, it’s really, truly, actually sunny out. Sandal shopping’s a go.

Love it. I was on vacation at the time, and it was definitely sunny and I was definitely wearing sandals. I’d like to think they geo-targeted this a little and saved it for days when it was actually sunny where they sent it. The body of the email was cute too – the header said “9 reasons to get a pedicure ASAP. Start scrolling” (Oh, J. Crew. I don’t need 9 reasons. If it’s warm enough for open toed shoes, I promise my feet will always have a pedicure less than 2 weeks old.) Then it showed 9 large, pretty pictures of cute sandals. Niiiiice.

From: Staples
When: 5/13/14
Subject: Think mailing supplies aren’t cool? Try mailing without them.

Um, could this subject line be any dorkier? I love it. I’m picturing someone who works in a mailroom or post office and is really, really, proud of their work, and trying to convince other people their job is cool. (And I think as email marketers, we can all relate to this. The struggle.) The email itself wasn’t anything special – showed some normal looking mailing supplies, offered a discount, showed some other products.

From: Barnes & Noble
When: 5/16/14
Subject: From Page to Screen – Top Books That Made It to Theaters & TV This Year

This subject wasn’t particularly flashy or witty like the others. It was actually really direct and clear. I love reading, and a lot of my favorite books seem to end up getting made int movies. I opened the email because I wanted to see if the ones I’ve read were “top” books, and I wanted to see if there were others I might like. I haven’t written about Barnes & Noble emails yet, but I think they do a great job of showcasing lots of different books, with just the right amount of text summarizing them.

From: J.Crew
When: 5/20/14
Subject: All packed?

Right before a holiday weekend, when everyone is daydreaming about not being at work. Yaaaaasssss. This email highlighted a few products that might be nice for a long weekend, and offered up a 25% discount, online only. (The flaw in that plan – would the products actually get to someone who was leaving 3 days later in time for them to pack them for a trip?)

From: Jack Spade
When: 5/21/14
Subject: Out of office

Jack Spade took a similar route. This email was so simple, but so great. It used one of the images from the road trip email they sent a few weeks ago, and then just had a few products that people might want to bring on a long weekend away. 

From: New York & Company
When: 5/23/14
Subject: $5?

Well, that’s the shortest subject line I’ve ever seen.  Their pre-header gave more detail: Unbelievable NY Deals + Everything else buy one, get one 50% off! Shop NOW. Since most of their emails rely heavily on discounts (it’s not like they can rely on having stylish clothes…), I’m sure this appealed to their customers. It only had one $5 item (sunglasses), but then had other things that were pretty low-priced.

Subject line Saturday: April Fool’s edition

Marketers just go nuts over April Fool’s. I get it – having a way to change up your content and possibly even gain social media attention is very welcome when you’re running out of things to say about spring and not ready to start promoting summer. But there’s a fine line between being funny or clever and trying too hard. “Official” April Fool’s jokes by brands have gotten so popular that they’re practically expected. Brands that aren’t doing an April Fool’s campaign tend to go the opposite route and don’t release actual products on these days for fear that they’ll get lost in the prank messaging (or worse, their product may be seen as a prank itself!).

Litmus did a nice roundup of this year’s April Fool’s emails. Here are a few others I received:

1. Murray’s Cheese (why yes, I do subscribe to emails about cheese. Don’t you?)

Murray’s is a gourmet cheese shop in NYC. In addition to selling delicious cheeses, they also offer classes on MAKING cheese.

I thought this email was great – it had a pun in the subject line (always a win for me!), and the joke was funny, relevant to their product, and very obviously a joke. I saw a lot of others this year that weren’t so obvious.

Subject Line: Murray’s Cheese: To the Milky Whey and Beyond!



2. Old Navy

What I liked about this email was that it was so on-brand for Old Navy that it wasn’t immediately clear that it even was an April Fool’s email. I get a LOT of emails from Old Navy, and rarely shop there. Until I started this blog, I didn’t really pay much attention to most emails from Old Navy (or really, any brand that sends emails about clothes daily).

This email took a different approach than most brands do for April Fool’s – it took an existing, actual product and just marketed it in a fun and silly way: Action Star Jeans! The models were wearing fake mustaches, and the copy said things like “These jeans are so tough, they make onions cry.”  The price made it clear that this wasn’t a typical Old Navy email – $99.94 . The email featured a coupon and linked to their homepage, so it probably generated more revenue than social media buzz. (How many other April Fool’s emails can say that?).

I didn’t love the subject line – I’m not a fan of title case, and it had no indication that this might be a special/different email, so I feel like it really did a disservice to the creativity that was put into the rest of the email.

Subject line: Hi-Yah! Chop An Extra 10% Off Sale Items


3. Poppin

This email was just fun. Poppin sells cheerful, brightly colored office supplies. Their April Fool’s email featured a “Mood Pen” that changes colors with your mood so your co-workers can “know how you’re feeling without having to ask!” The pen image on the right was a gif that changed to all of the different colors they offer, and the left side listed possible emotions that your pen could show, and they were funny – hungover, smart-alecky, hangry.  Their company slogan is “Work happy,” and their primary brand color is orange, so naturally the orange mood was “Working happy.” I loved that this one was fun and playful, but still managed to showcase their brand and actual products (even though it was through a fake product).

The subject line was pretty straightforward, and just intriguing enough to get people to open the email to see if this was a real thing.

Subject line: Meet our Mood Pen with new color-changing technology!





I think the takeaways here are that good April Fool’s emails should be on-brand, funny, and relevant to your actual product offerings. Sure, it’s funny to create a fake product that tricks people, but wouldn’t you rather have your subscribers see you as clever and creative?