woman in white long sleeve shirt using silver laptop computer

Grabbing your reader’s attention is one thing. Infuriating your audience to the point of a mass unsubscribe is another!

Case in point: a company sent out a newsletter with this subject line: No is just another word for Yes…

I’ll give you a moment to guess how this was received when their subscribers are predominately female (to the point that Females is in the company title!)

Two words: Time and Place

In the climate created by the #Metoo movement, sending an email that can be easily misconstrued was just in bad taste – ESPECIALLY when you cater to a female audience!

Sure, I get what was intended and I know the company didn’t mean any ill-will. In fact, I didn’t even think twice about it until the apology email was sent 6 hours later.

The point is, you don’t know who is in your audience (well in this particular case – they did…seriously I can’t make any excuses for this one) so be mindful of your approach.

Yes, we all have our “target audience” but do innuendos, profanity, and/or sexist remarks need to be your filtering system if you are a candle making company (i.e. an objective company)?

Am I saying you can’t send emails with profanity in the title? Yes and No.

For email deliverability, it isn’t the best idea (although the favored work-around is that magic asterisk or character placement that help you get the point across and slide past the filters).

From Mailshake:

I’m going to oversimplify a little here: when you hit send on an email, the ISPs and email servers of your recipient quickly go through a lengthy checklist before allowing you access to an inbox (where you might still get flagged as spam or end up in one of the tabs). They look at:

  • Your sender reputation, including abuse reports, volume (too much too soon is a red flag), blacklists, and spam traps.
  • Your content. Is it spammy or too promotional (text-to-image ratio, long links, text-to-html ratio)? Does it contain spam trigger words or profanity?

Filters exist for a reason and many of us have received those wonderful solicitations from [insert female name] that is in town for only one night and would love to keep you company.


silver imac on white table
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Thank goodness for Google filter systems – can we say auto-delete! Those and the “I have your password” emails to an email account that isn’t even real – it is a pass-through with no inbox you moron! Sorry…off topic.

If your intent is to segment your audience down to those who would truly appreciate your voice, content, and products, then by all means do what you want with your subject line. It is almost essential…within reason (even your ideal audience can have a fine line that shouldn’t be crossed).

Example: One of my clients creates very personal emails and when I say personal, I mean they would make a grown man blush BUT her audience LOVES them. As her Digital Marketing Manager and the guardian of her external email that is seen by the digital world, I have received complaints about her content but out of the 1-2 complaints that do come through every blue moon, I receive tons of “fan mail” full of praise and admiration. So her emails work for her audience but even she keeps her subject lines tame even if the body of her emails are “Muy Caliente!”

The point of all of this is THINK before you have to apologize and retract. This goes for emails AND social media posts.

We get comfortable behind our computer screens and what seems hilarious to us may not be received well by potential readers. In this day and age of “copy and social media paste” – one wrong step can have you going viral in the worst way. Just ask the Miami Marlins.

Start a conversation…

What market-astrophies have you seen? Share in the comments.

Photo by Webaroo.com.au on Unsplash

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