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Should You Send Emails With “FW” or “Re” In The Subject Line?

Written by Anna Milward on September 10, 2014

There is plenty of advice out there for email marketers who want to increase their open rates and get better results from their campaigns and while much of it is useful, there are a few tricks it’s best to stay away from.

In the never ending quest to increase open rates and get more conversions, many email marketers resort to techniques like starting their emails with “Re” or “FW”. If you’ve read about this and think it might be worth a try, read on.

At first this tactic may sound clever because it implies a personal relationship with the recipient. The idea is that once the recipient receives the email they are more likely to open it, believing that it is relevant to them and once it’s open, it’s more likely they will click through and convert.

This all sounds good in theory but what happens once your recipient opens the email and realises that they have been duped?

Although there is no doubt that compelling subject lines can lead to higher open rates, if you have tricked your recipients into opening an email by using “Re” or “FW” as a prefix, chances are they won’t be impressed, and they may retaliate by hitting the delete button or worse, marking your future emails as spam.

Higher open rates generally lead to more conversions but in the case where recipients have been deceived into opening emails, the opposite is likely to be true. Email marketing is largely built on trust and violating that can lead to consequences that are more far reaching than a few deleted emails.

Using FW and Re can trigger spam filters

As well as the risk of annoying and upsetting your recipients, using FW and Re to entice people to open emails can trigger spam filters. Many ISPs have spam filters set up which are designed to recognise email subject lines containing certain words and characters commonly used in spam emails and divert them straight to a user’s junk mail folder.

In addition to FW and Re, these triggers can include overuse of exclamation points, text all in capitals and phrases like “buy now” and “special offer”.

Triggering spam filters can lead to your email address being added to a blacklist. This means that none of the emails you send in the future will get through and other businesses using the same email service provider could also face similar restrictions. Once you are on a blacklist it is very difficult to get yourself removed.

Using “Re” and “FW” in subject lines is not worth the risk. It may seem like a harmless idea, but it’s one that could alienate your recipients and affect your overall deliverability. You’re far better off writing genuinely compelling subject lines that are relevant to your recipients and encouraging them to open your emails because of the awesome content within.

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