Just like a gatekeeper can prevent a salesperson from reaching the manager or executive they want to get in touch with, a subject line can block a prospect from opening a sales email. And it doesn't matter how much research and time you put into the body text -- your hard work goes to waste if the prospect deletes right off the bat.
But what makes a good subject line? Coming on too strong isn't a good idea. Think about it -- would you open an email with the subject line "I would like to sell you something"? That message is getting sent straight to the spam folder.
If you're reaching out to a prospect, you're either responding to their demonstrated interest (for example, they've visited your website, or engaged with your company on social media), or you have a solid reason to believe you can help them (for example, they tweeted out an article on training mistakes and you just so happen to be a training consultant). Now to get the prospect to engage with you and come to this realization ...
The best sales email subject lines are creative, interest-provoking, and informative without giving too much away. Writing the perfect subject line is no small feat, so we've compiled 23 compelling sales email subject lines for a variety of situations. Customize for your own uses, and watch your open and response rates skyrocket.
1) "Question about [goal]"
What's your question? They'll have to open your email to find out.
2) "[Mutual connection] recommended I get in touch"
Few things are more powerful than referrals. If you share an acquaintance with your prospect, be sure to put that person's name in your email subject line. The more your prospect trusts your referrer, the more compelling your email will be.
3) "Our next steps"
Use this subject line to follow up after a first connection, or to re-engage a lead gone quiet.
4) "Do not open this email"
This one is from manicure service company Manicube. As you know if you've ever spent any amount of time with a toddler, telling someone not to do something tends to prompt that very behavior. Reverse psychology for the win!
5) "X options to get started"
Pop in a few bullet points about how to kick off your relationship in the body text (a content offer, a phone call, an upgrade opportunity for current customers, etc.), and you're good to go.
6) "Hi [name], [question]?"
Questions provoke answers. Emails with question subject lines provoke opens and replies.
7) "Should I stay or should I go?"
If you haven't heard from a prospect in a while, pull out this subject line and pair it with a cleverly crafted breakup email.
8) "Know this about [topic of interest]?"
Offering a helpful tip or statistic about a subject the prospect is interested in establishes your credibility from the get go, and gets the conversation flowing.
9) "Did you get what you were looking for?"
Use this one to follow up with an inbound lead or a website visitor. They're clearly looking for help with a challenge -- ask how you can be of service.
10) [the e.e. cummings subject line]
Most people incorporate capitalization when they draft emails (although some go a little CrAzY). With this in mind, an all-lowercase subject line will stand out.
11) "Hoping to help"
Have you heard? The age of Always Be Closing is dead; the best salespeople today adhere to ABH (Always Be Helping). Put this sentiment front and center -- prospects will appreciate your candor as well as your willingness to be of service.
12) "A [benefit] for [prospect's company]"
Here are some examples of what this might look like in practice:
- A new HR strategy for Business Inc.
- A savings of $25k for ABC Corp.
- An all-time revenue record for Organization Y
The specificity of the benefit and the personalization will hook your buyer.
13) "X tips/ideas for [pain point]"
People love numbered lists (hence, the rise of the listicle). Insert a number into your subject line to drive interest.
14) "Where is the love?"
If your prospect has fallen off the face of the earth, use this subject line to poke fun at the situation and put a smile on their face.
15) "You are not alone."
This subject line suggested by a rep on Reddit hits home on two fronts: 1) it's intriguing and 2) it's human. If you know the prospect is struggling with a difficult challenge, share stories of how others overcame a similar hurdle.
16) "Permission to close your file?"
This breakup email subject line puts the onus on the prospect to move forward. Whether or not they respond, you'll know where they stand.
17) "Feeling blue? Like puppies?"
Come on. Who doesn't like puppies? This subject line will reengage a cold lead in seconds.
18) "Idea for [topic the prospect cares about]"
A free idea? Sure, I'll take it. *click*
19) "10x [prospect's company]'s traction in 10 minutes"
An email template with this subject line resulted in 16 new B2B customers, according to Salesfolk founder Heather R. Morgan. It's hard to argue with numbers like that.
20) "I found you through [referral name]"
Don't underestimate the power of referrals. This subject line garnered a staggering 86.6% open rate according to LeadGenius.
21) "If you change your mind about partnering with [your company]"
Break up radio silence by putting the ball squarely back in a quiet prospect's court.
22) "10 mins - [date]?"
Short, easy, and to the point. If you can mirror this sentiment in the body of your sales emails, the replies will be flying your way.
No, I didn't forget the subject line here. After analyzing more than six million emails, Sidekick found that messages where the subject line was left blank were opened 8% more often than those with subject lines! So if you really can't think of something, you might consider giving into your writer's block, and just hitting send.
What are your favorite sales email subject lines? Share in the comments.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.