Angie’s List’s Deceiving Subject Lines Aren’t Worth It

As a homeowner, I find Angie’s List to be a valuable resource when I’m looking for a contractor and don’t have a solid referral. It was well worth paying for when it was a paid service, and it’s certainly worth signing up for now that it’s free.

However, when I think of Angie’s List the first thing I think of isn’t the quality of the service or even Angie herself (who I very much enjoyed learning about on the How I Built This podcast). Nope, I it’s those email subject lines that I think of. If you’re a member you probably know what I’m talking about. When my partners and I discuss subject lines that we should test, Angie’s List always comes up first as the prime example of what NOT to do because they’ve noticed the same thing.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, here’s a recent example that I received with the subject line “RE: Regarding activity on your account”

Angie's List Subject Line

I’ve received a variation of that email (sometimes with the “RE:” at the beginning and sometimes not) four times in the past 30 days. All from “Customer Support Manager” and not “Angie’s List”. I wish I had more examples, but I always delete these emails and my trash only goes back 30 days.

When you open the email, it’s just a list of providers that I’ve looked at but haven’t reviewed (I removed the company names):

Angies List Email

Why do they do this? I’m sure it’s because it works! It always grabs your attention. But it does so by making you think something is wrong or suspicious with your account. They’ve probably tested it and the open rate is probably comparatively through the roof. The disappointing thing to me is not that they tested various subject lines, but that they tested a disingenuous one like that and that they think that it’s fine to continue to use it.

Good email subject lines are informative, creative, unique, and funny, but shouldn’t grab your attention by scaring you unless something truly is wrong. A short-term win like a click isn’t worth long term damage done to your brand. I can’t speak for every Angie’s List member, but the ones that I know all despise their emails and view the company differently because of them.