Oops…We Got You to Open – Email Thursday

TOPICSEmail Marketing


So you may have received an email from a company whose list you’re on that had the word Oops in the subject line. It’s a fairly common practice when an email marketer makes a mistake to send out a correction email highlighting the error, apologizing, and correcting it. Especially in the B2C world, this is done everyday as it shows some humility and, in doing that, builds on the trust that the brand has with the consumer.

However, there has been a recent trend in the email world whereby email marketers are using the word Oops in a subject line even though they have made no error (at least that I have shown you here). Ironically enough, there WAS an error in this email. Although the pre-header an body copy refer to a 30% discount, the fine print at the bottom of the email mentions the 20% discount. But I digress…

We have been seeing more and more of this in the email marketing world… intentionally misleading subject lines in order to garner a higher open rate. And funny enough, putting Oops in the subject line DOES increase the open rate. Think of it like an accident on the side of the highway where everyone slows down to gawk at the fender bender. You can’t help but look… it’s practically a moral imperative to glance over and see if there’s any carnage. But what is the effect on the relationship you have with your users if you intentionally mislead them into opening an email by drawing attention to a non-existent mistake? I guess there’s only one way to tell for sure, but it’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

In fact, you may have noticed that last Friday, we here at Exclusive Concepts made a mistake and sent out the Wildcard Friday email with the Email Thursday subject line. After realizing the mistake, we quickly sent out a correction email seen here. It’s worth pointing out that our corrected email saw a 65% increase in clicks over the email with the wrong subject line. Now, this was an honest mistake and in the world of email marketing, any mistake you make is seen by tens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of people and once you hit that SEND button, any error is there for the general public to point out to you. There’s no hiding it and there are no do-overs in email… you either need to admit the mistake and take the heat for it or ignore it and hope your list either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. Admitting it is the only thing to do in my opinion. But intentionally making mistakes simply to send out a correction email (yes, this is done too) or alluding to a mistake that doesn’t exist by putting Oops in the subject line? Well, that’s up to you. But the potential damage to the trust in your brand is the risk you take and to me, it’s not worth it.