RE: You Won't Believe My Email Clickbait

August 21, 2017 Heather Cherry

computer mouse inside mousetrap

It’s no secret one of my top email marketing pet peeves is clickbait, and I’m not alone. Fifty-four percent of email subscribers admit to feeling deceived by a commercial email’s subject line.

Clickbait is a modern marketing strategy that uses eye-catching content to lure unsuspecting readers in and get them to click on links. Originally used on websites and blogs, clickbait has made its way to email marketing and has no signs of stopping.

At first glance, clickbait can seem like a great idea. Your insurance emails will get noticed in inboxes and open rates will soar. But don’t get too excited, yet. Clickbait can do more harm than good. If subscribers open your emails only to find they are underwhelmed, or worse tricked, you’re going to have a hard time rebuilding those relationships.

Oh yeah, and misleading subject lines are illegal. Yes, you read that right. The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits the use of deceptive subject lines. If you break the law, your reputation won’t be the only thing at stake.

Still not convinced? Here are three popular examples of email clickbait and how they can damage your insurance agency’s reputation and ruin customer relationships.


Hello, there. Remember me?

An email that appears to come from an acquaintance or friend catches the subscriber’s attention. After all, who doesn’t open an email from someone they know?

But when the recipient opens your email, they realize they have been fooled into thinking you are a trusted associate when really you aren’t. Your brand is now associated with deception and false representation.

Who would want to do business with an insurance agency with such a reputation? Good luck overcoming that bad first impression.


RE: Your insurance policy.

This is arguably the worst culprit of email clickbait, and my least favorite of them all. The strategy is simple: RE or FWD precedes a subject to make subscribers believe the emails are part of an ongoing communication.

Even the most mundane subject line instantly jumps out in inboxes and begs the recipient to open at once. Someone replied to my email? I wonder what they have to say.

However, eager curiosity quickly turns to confusion when the recipient realizes the email wasn’t part of a thread. It won’t take long for that confusion to escalate to irritation.

Nobody likes to be tricked. Skip the RE and FWD and you will prevent receptive subscribers from becoming guarded detractors.


ICYMI: Justin Timberlake juggles pineapples while riding a bicycle.

We’ve all seen this one. In an exaggerated attempt to stand out in inboxes, the sender uses a subject line that is so eccentric it no longer corresponds with the email’s content.

It’s one thing to elevate curiosity, but it’s completely different if your subject doesn’t even match what your email is about. Yes, you will see a jump in your open rates, but that’s about all you will see.

If your message doesn’t meet or exceed what your subject line promises, your readers will be let down. Do you really want your insurance agency to produce feelings of disappointment?

Keep your eye on the prize.

Email marketing is all about building strong relationships with your subscribers that are founded on trust. Remember, you need subscribers to open your emails, but also read and take action as well. Don’t blow it on the first step by using unwanted clickbait. Invoke authentic curiosity and deliver accordingly, then sit back and watch your email marketing thrive.



Need help staying in touch with all of your agency’s customers and prospects? We can help! Contact us today for a free consultation. 

About the Author

Heather Cherry

Heather Cherry provides training and support on AgencyBuzz to ITC customers, leads AgencyBuzz Academy and presents on email marketing at Masters of Marketing. She has a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and writing from The University of Texas at Austin. Heather’s email marketing specialties include newsletters, unique content, contact segmentation, and targeted marketing. She is also a self-proclaimed social media junkie, cat lover, hopeless romantic, and music buff.

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