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Stupid Subject Line Watch: Deadline? What Deadline?!


By Ken Magill

Sheesh! The Mitt Romney campaign scared the crap out of me last week.

It sent me an email purportedly from deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage with the subject line “Deadline Reminder.”

I have spent my entire career working against deadlines and have never missed one: knock wood.

I embrace deadlines and am not exaggerating when I say I have a tough time getting out of bed without them. [Ask the wife.]

So when I saw the email from someone whose name I didn’t recognize with the deadline-reminder subject line, my stomach immediately knotted up and I thought: “Holy shit! Who’d I forget?!”

Turns out I didn’t forget anyone. The email wasn’t about my deadline. It was about a fundraising deadline for the Romney campaign under the guise of a sweepstakes chance to ride his campaign bus.

In one message, the Romney campaign committed two cardinal sins of email marketing. First, it sent me a message with an unfamiliar name in the “from” line.

Studies have repeatedly shown that people open messages primarily based on who is in the from line and what their previous experiences with the sender have been.

Second, the message had an obscure subject line that could easily be misinterpreted—in my case, in a very negative way.

Off the top of my head, “Last Chance to Win” would have certainly been better than “Deadline Reminder.” See how easy that was?

For the record, I’m not disclosing whether I will donate to Romney’s campaign or not, but if I do I’m deducting the cost of dry cleaning my pants.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Quinn Mallory
Date: 2012-07-12 11:18:50
Subject: Deadlines

I suppose from the Mitt campaign point of view, the deputy campaign manager in the "From" line is recognizable (I question "deputy" though. What, can she arrest people?), though I agree it should have been recognizable to those outside the campaign. As for the deadline OEM, I'm thinking someone with whom I had a deadline set up for some sort of deliverable isn't going to send me a deadline reminder by regular mail. Those types of follow-ups typically come in a high-priority email or perhaps an ominous voicemail message.