In a Constant Contact FAQ post they discussed how the CAN-SPAM (anti-spam) act applies to the claims that we make in our subject lines. [Update December 15, 2012 – The direct link to this article is no longer functioning.] Are we so eager to get the reader's attention and have them click through, that we resort to deception?
There's a fine line between being clever and compelling to being dishonest and deceitful. Following the lead of some of the more aggressive (AND successful) Internet marketers, it's easy to get overly focused on compelling headings and subject lines and not focused enough on the integrity of the message.
I don't ever want to leave a bad taste in someone's mouth after an interaction with me – whether it's direct or indirect. Not everyone is going to like me or what I do, and I can live with that (sigh), but I can certainly avoid misleading someone to have an expectation that I have no intention of delivering on.
Did I cross the line with the post titled, "Win a copy of the Customizable Style Guide for Coaches Who Write"? After all, there was no fine print letting readers know that attendance at the ICF-GTA Conference was a prerequisite. But if I'd said that, then no one outside of Toronto would have clicked through and I would have lost an opportunity to remind my readers about the Style Guide resource and also my Talk-Write article service.
I'm curious to hear from you: Have you ever been duped by a "bait and switch" subject line that didn't deliver? How did you react? How did it affect your relationship with the sender? Comment below and let me know.
Also, how much emphasis do you put on composing your subject lines and titles? Are they as or more important to you than the post/article? What are your tricks for getting people to click through? Post them in a comment below. I'm also curious to know how/if you track your open rates, and which subject lines have been most successful for you. Thanks!