- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

Don’t do an Airbnb subject line…

26th October, 2023

Don’t do an Airbnb subject line…

A scary tale for you this Halloween…


In 2020 Airbnb sent an email to all their hosts inviting them to buy stock.


It was just before they went public, so hosts stood to make some good money.


But the subject line of the email?


It was the snoresomely awful ‘Airbnb’s Directed Stock Program.’


Unsurprisingly many of the hosts ignored the email.  It just didn’t seem urgent, important or relevant to them.


The ones that responded ended up making a tidy $15,000.  


(As told in Todd Roger’s and Jessica Lasky-Fink’s book, Writing for Busy Readers)


It’s a great example of how important subject lines are.


More and more we assess emails by subject line only, asking ourselves:


“Does this email seem like it’s going to be:


a)    Interesting

b)    Useful


c)    Urgent (for me, not the sender)?”


If none of those apply, then we’re on to the next email faster than a cheetah on Red Bull.


Because ‘Inbox Zero’ is dead and buried.  It’s ‘Inbox Triage’ at best for most of us.  


And for many it’s just ‘Inbox Total Fricking Mayhem’, where they desperately try to use subject lines to filter and prioritise.


So give your subject line some love.


Write it last, after your email.  


Allow it to gently whisper to your reader in a Jessica Rabbit voice:


Read me first. You know you want to.


Subject lines hold all the power.  Use yours wisely.


Happy Halloween! 

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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