Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I get approximately 14,275 emails a week.
Many of these are from entities of one sort or another that want to do business with me, want me to simply give them money or are desperate for some kind of love.
In general, the minute I see most of the subject lines of these emails, I want to get on the first flight to an island that has beautiful beaches, splendid golf courses and absolutely no Internet connection whatsoever.
In the spirit of -- as they call communicating these days -- sharing, I thought I'd offer the five email headline structures that make my entrails twitch, my eyes roll like Linda Blair's in "The Exorcist" and make my brain beg to be released from this earthly hell.
1. ANYTHING WITH AN EXCLAMATION POINT AT THE END! OR, WORSE, SEVERAL!!!!! I've never understood exclamation points. Americans are obsessed with being "excited" as it is. Do you really need to tell me you're shouting? Do you really believe that if you screech I will pay more attention? Do you really think that the presence of your exclamation points will make me feel that what you have to say is more interesting than the 312 other corporations who want me to read their emails today? No!!!!!!
2. REMINDER: Passive aggression is sweeping America. In California, it's injected into babies at birth, so much so that they wail far less, but pout far more. When you send an email that's headed "REMINDER:" what you're really saying is: "I'm pissed that you didn't reply to my initial email, so I'm sending you the very same email all over again, just to show you how pissed I am, but under the guise of actually pretending to be helpful." It isn't helpful. It's annoying. Worse, it's nagging. And who likes to be nagged? Find some other headline that serves to remind me. How about: "I'M DEEPLY HURT THAT YOU DIDN'T REPLY TO MY LAST EMAIL." At least I'd know how you feel.
3. YOUR LATEST (INSERT CORPORATION NAME) NEWSLETTER. Please, I understand that you're a corporation and you want to find several thousand ways to, um, connect with your customer base, so that you can keep your social media and direct marketing teams occupied. But it's the word "newsletter." Here you are using modern technology and referring to something that Miss Marple's local church vicar used to deliver by hand. Is there really no better word than "newsletter"? How about "YOUR LATEST (INSERT CORPORATION NAME) INFORMATION THAT YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO READ, BUT MIGHT HAVE ONE INTERESTING FACT OR OFFER IN IT." Too long?
4. ANYTHING THAT USES THE CUSTOMER'S FIRST NAME. Every single email that is written by some faceless corporation and referring to me by my first name just gets trashed without reading. I'm sorry, who are you to get so personal with me? You don't know me. Why are you pretending that you do? This week it was Orbitz. Nothing personal, Orbitz, but it was you who headlined an email to me: "This is the summer of Krzysztof." That's my legal first name. But only my mom called me that and she's dead. Actually, it's the anniversary of her death this week. Faux familiarity is painful. Worse, it's faux.
5. ANYTHING THAT USES THE WORD "WEBINAR." I did mention this was a subjective list, didn't I? Well, every time I receive an invitation to a webinar, I wonder two things. One, who created this dastardly word? And two, this word makes me think I'm trapped in a C-SPAN vortex. I imagine that once you're in a webinar, it's impossible to leave, as you'll be bored to asphyxiation. It's Hotel California without a bar. Or beds. I'm sure that a million webinarians will tell me that webinars are as uplifting as Scientology, except that no one makes documentaries suggesting that webinars are a dreadful cult that will seize your mind and sell your soul for monkey nut shells. However, I've never seen an email subject line that made webinars feel like anything other than a molar extraction sans anesthetic.