Killer Feature: Octopus’ Subject Lines

Arya Alatsas
Apr 25, 2018 · 3 min read

Killer Feature is a post dedicated to the small, sometimes subtle interactions that unknowingly make our days easier and may even bring a smile to our faces. We have no ownership of the design or interactions featured.

Design: Octopus Energy
Interactions: Email newsletter subjects

I, much like everyone else, now receive significantly more newsletters than messages from friends and family in my personal email. Thankfully most of these newsletters are those I recall signing up for (GDPR beckons…), but this doesn’t stop them from being left unread (for a day, a week, a month) or automatically deleted just to clear the way for other messages that seem more important and/or interesting. Events or interesting articles sadly fall by the wayside for being out-of-date and replaced with something more recent to consider or think about.

Gone are the days when you only had to confront the backlog of messages to triage your work email following a holiday, the same now applies to your personal email, messaging apps, podcasts, and social media profiles with notifications of variable importance. Why not just unsubscribe you ask? Well sometimes I do, but other times there’s still something I want to be included in (a membership), will need to refer back to at some stage (a reservation or ticket), or indeed responsibly should be across (bills, banks, and invitations).

I recently came across one feature when I switched my energy supplier to Octopus, which was so simple and straightforward, its understated effectiveness still delights me: ‘FYI’ or ‘Action’.

It immediately sets a tone (a clear point of distinction from my previous supplier) and communicates: they value my time, they understand that I receive a lot of messages, discerning what’s an FYI or Action isn’t always immediately obvious from a subject heading, and they’re inviting me to trust they know the difference — not battling to grab my attention with repetition or false urgency, but by earning it.

This has led to every one of their emails being read and the distinction shows a degree of transparency about their correspondence. Putting aside the welcome note from Greg (their founder), two out of nine emails received were ‘Actions’ and the other seven were ‘FYI’ — a sensible ratio and arguably could be applied to classify all of my messages.

There is no shortage of advice on how best to approach newsletters and email marketing, with tips, tricks, and tactics to ensure your email arrives and stands out from the crowd (and that’s not even getting into what they contain and are aimed to encourage).

As Matt in our last killer feature (Apple’s Shared WiFi Vision) wrote: “Being mindful…of pain points allows CX teams to really connect with the user and build trust throughout the journey through a combination of many small considerations that can lead to much bigger wins”.

What ‘FYI’ or ‘Action’ proves is that a little thought can lead to an impactful result and importantly start building trust bit-by-bit from the start.

Arya is an Account Manager at design agency Make it Clear, we make technology easier to use, engage with and understand. We help organisations improve customer interaction with products and services through clarity in design and communication, delivering better experiences at every touchpoint. To continue the conversation:

Make it Clear

We help companies talk about technology-based products and services in ways that everyone can understand.

Arya Alatsas

Written by

Account Manager at Make it Clear

Make it Clear

We help companies talk about technology-based products and services in ways that everyone can understand.

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