Banks or phishers – who writes better subject lines?

I’m not a lover of admin, as anyone who’s worked with me can tell you. I quite like techie stuff, though, which helps, because it means I can set up rules to file emails as they come in.

Recently, while adding rules, I came across a batch of newsletters from The Royal Bank of Scotland.

RBS Business Sense Sep-Nov email

These are the last three.

RBS Business Sense Aug email

And here’s the one from August.

The full subject line there is ‘August Business Sense – Is your business prepared for interest rate rises?’ June’s and July’s have subject lines like the first three.

Once you get into the body of the email, Business Sense bulletin, as it’s called there, is subtitled ‘3 essential stories you need to know about’. But these aren’t so-called stories they’re articles. There are also fillers like facts, stats and trends as well as links to the most-read ‘stories’ of earlier issues.

It pushes the reader, that is, if they were to open the email, to RBS’s Business Sense website, packed with advice for smaller businesses. I didn’t open it till now because none of those subject lines made me think there was anything in it for me, not even August’s.

Who’s it from, and what’s in it for me?

I must have subscribed to this newsletter. But I don’t cling to my desk waiting for it to ping into my inbox. And when it does, ‘John Anthony Fagan’ doesn’t sound familiar. We’ve neither met nor spoken, and I’ve never heard of him (sorry, John). Which partly explains why these emails hadn’t caught my eye before.

John Anthony Fagan from RBS would do if I ought to know who he is. But RBS is a known brand and John Anthony Fagan isn’t. So RBS Business Sense or Business Sense from RBS makes a better ‘from’ line, leaving the subject line to grab the reader’s attention.

Compare RBS’s subject lines with this one, allegedly from Lloyds.
Lloyds Bank email

It uses one of the ‘y’ words for a start, drawing me in for a second. I say a second because I don’t bank with Lloyds so didn’t fall for this. But that’s probably as much time as many of us spend deciding whether to open an email anyway. It also says something that would make me read on if I were a Lloyds customer.

Like these do. emailFT Weekend emailLinkedInHotel Chocolat emailMens Fitness emailSurvey Monkey email

I can see which brands they’re from, and I can tell right away what’s in store, or at least I get the urge to read on.

I’m not saying don’t put the name of your newsletter (if that’s what it is) in the subject line. But make the most of both the from and the subject lines.

Just like the phishers do.


Leave a Comment

96 ÷ = 32