Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications

bait and switch

One type of headline will always fail

You’re invited

That was the subject line for an email I got recently from Boston University. Naturally, I assumed that I was been invited to attend an event. But no, I was being invited to donate money to the annual pledge drive.

This was a classic bait-and-switch. 

The following week I got an email from BU that said something about women (fewer/more women getting degrees, I can’t recall). Again, I opened it since I thought it would be an article about gender disparity. It wasn’t. It was another bait-and-switch. Again, BU wanted me to be among the women who donate to the university.

Bait-and-switch headlines/subject lines are trust-killers.

I understand there’s clutter and that you need to work hard to entice readers. Using a bait-and-switch can guarantee people will open your email or read you article, but at a cost. When you fool people this way (and that is what you are doing),  you ensure they will no longer trust your content.

_You can fool all the people some of the

What’s going to happen when BU really wants to invite me to an event? What type of subject line will they use? I am not going to believe “you’re invited” again.

Writing a subject line/headline is not easy. You want to entice readers to open your email or read your article. You are much better off describing what you are offering inside than using a false premise.

What is your experience with bait-and-switch headlines or subject lines? If you use them, how well do they work for you?





About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.


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