Imagine opening your mail app and seeing only the name, time, and date an email landed in your inbox.
How would you prioritize what to open first?
It wouldn’t be easy, that’s for sure. Your prospects are constantly prioritizing their email inbox, even setting up filters and rules to organize their messages in order to respond to important and urgent notes as efficiently as they can.
You might be thinking that your cold sales email won’t make the prospect’s priority email list. And that could be the case, but there is one email feature that can change the fate of your email from going to the “Junk” folder to being opened immediately.
That tool is an email subject line, and it’s one of the most important parts of your sales email. Everything from your open rate, click rate, and CTA conversions depends on how well-written your email subject line is.
Sure sounds like a lot of responsibility for 60 characters, doesn’t it? Don’t fret. Once you understand what makes a scroll-stopping subject line, you’ll crank them out effortlessly and see your open rates soar.
So, what makes a good subject line anyway?
What makes a good email subject line?
Keep it brief.
Make it interesting.
1. Keep it brief.
The ideal length of an email subject line varies between mobile, desktop, and tablet devices, so keep this in mind as you craft the perfect one-liner for your sales email. On average, the maximum subject line is about 60 characters long before it gets cut off by the email provider. Campaign Monitor recommends a subject line of 41 characters so that each word appears on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.
2. Personalize it.
Personalizing the subject line to include the prospect’s name is always a smart way to go. Moreover, personalizing the sender profile is just as important because people want to hear from, talk to, and buy from other people, not from big brands and companies. Rather than sending your sales emails from a generic address like email@example.com, use your personal email address or an alias that includes your first name to give your message a more human appearance.
3. Make it interesting.
I know. We’ve all been taught not to judge a book by its cover, but sales email subject lines don’t count. (Sorry, mom.) If you followed our tips on creating the best cold sales email, we don’t doubt that the content of your emails will have your prospects doing backflips to book calls with you. But before they get to the masterpiece of an email, they’ve got to make it through the subject line first.
Making the subject line interesting could mean a number of things, so use this list to find an angle that you think your prospect might care about.
A recent news story in their industry
A new statistic about their industry
A question about a project they just started or finished
An ask for their help
The key to each of these angles is this: they’re all about the prospect. You’ll have plenty of time to pitch your product in the body of the email and on future calls, but the primary goal of your subject line is to get the prospect to click, read more, and decide if they’re interested enough to respond or take action.
4. Offer value.
Does your company offer a product or service that the prospect has been looking for on social media? Do you have a promotion that could free up your prospect’s budget for other activities? Can you help the prospect reach their goals faster? All of these options offer value to the prospective customer and are enticing angles to include in your subject line.
5. Create urgency.
Time sensitivity is a common filter that many of us use to prioritize our inboxes, so it’s understandable that our prospects operate their inboxes the same way. Even if your prospect isn’t particularly interested in making a purchase right now, there’s still some benefit in knowing that they could miss out if they don’t at least see what the limited-time-only promotion is. Creating urgency, where appropriate, is a tried-and-true tactic to get your emails opened and read, but don’t rely on this all the time. You could risk annoying your prospect with constant urgent requests.
6. Avoid clickbait.
Along the same lines of annoying your prospect, avoid creating email subject lines that can’t live up to the actual email, product, or service itself. Insinuating urgency, value, or importance where there isn’t any can leave a bad taste in your prospect’s mouth at best, and lead to your domain being marked as spam at worst. For an added layer of assurance, cross-check your subject line against our ultimate list of spam trigger words to avoid.
7. Include keywords.
Keywords are another way prospects filter and organize their inboxes. Including specific keywords in your email can help yours make it into a folder the prospect will review later. There’s no magic way to know what filters and rules your prospects have set up, but with some creative thinking and A/B testing, you can deduce what words affect your open rates better than others.
The Best Sales Email Subject Lines
Read through them all or use the index below to jump to the subject lines you need now.
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. "Hi [name], [question]?"
Questions provoke answers. Emails with question subject lines provoke opens and replies. Incorporating their name makes the email more personal, which will help it stand out in their inbox.
4. "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.
5. [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.
6. "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.
7. "A [benefit] for [prospect's company]"
Here are some examples of what this might look like in practice:
People love numbered lists (hence, the rise of the listicle). Insert a number into your subject line to drive interest.
9. "Idea for [topic the prospect cares about]"
A free idea? Sure, I'll take it. *click*
10. "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.
11. "I found you through [referral name]"
Don't underestimate the power of mentioning referrals in a subject line. It immediately establishes a connection with the prospect and increases their investment in responding to you.
12. "We have [insert fact] in common ..."
Spend five minutes looking through your contact's LinkedIn or Facebook accounts. I bet you can find at least one thing you have in common — even if it's just that you've both been photographed eating spaghetti.
13. "So nice to meet you, [Prospect]!"
Whether they downloaded a piece of content or visited your pricing page, let your prospect know you've noticed their interest and are happy to finally touch base.
14. "Feeling [insert emotion]? Let me help"
Tap into current events in your prospect's industry. Targeting marketers during the busy weeks before Black Friday? Try "Feeling stressed? Let me help." Then share how your product or service can lighten their load.
15. "Hoping you can help."
People generally want to help other people. If you're reaching out to someone for the first time, ask, "I'd like to learn more about your marketing conference schedule this year. Would you be able to connect me with the right person to speak with?"
16. “This is a sales email”
You’d be surprised how far honesty and transparency will take you. By opening with the primary reason for your email, you’ll break down the wall your prospect has up when they’re being sold something. By taking the elephant out of the room, you can use the body of your email to get your point across.
Follow-Up Email Subject Lines
Our next steps
X options to get started
You are not alone.
10 mins — [date]?
A 3-step plan for your busy week
[Prospect], I thought you might like these blogs
Here's that info I promised you
I'd love your feedback on that meeting
I had this idea since we last spoke
I thought about what you said
Don’t tell my boss
What would it take?
Here’s what I’ll do
17. "Our next steps"
Use this subject line to follow up after a first connection or to re-engage a prospect gone quiet.
18. "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.
19. "You are not alone."
This subject line, suggested by a rep on Reddit, hits home on two fronts:
If you know the prospect is struggling with a difficult challenge, share stories of how others overcame a similar hurdle.
20. "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.
21. "A 3-step plan for your busy week"
You know the pain points of your ideal customer, so bullet those pain points in the email body and provide short, actionable tips on how they can overcome those challenges over the coming week.
22. "[Prospect], I thought you might like these blogs"
Include their name in the subject line, and fill the email body with content you know they need. This is a great way to test disengaged or completely unresponsive prospects for signs of life.
23. "Here's that info I promised you"
Always end your call or previous prospect communication with several next steps and follow-up topics. This gives each side direction — and also gives you a reason to follow up.
24. "I'd love your feedback on that meeting"
If you just gave a demo or led a meeting with a prospect's colleagues, it's a good idea to stay top of mind and immediately ask if you can answer any questions. This also helps gauge how things went and understand what the next steps should be.
25. “I had this idea since we last spoke”
This subject line does two things:
Encourages them to recall your conversation
Sparks interest in what your idea might be
This interest may earn you an email open.
26. “I thought about what you said”
This subject line functions similar to the previous one but with an added edge: They may now be curious if you’ve addressed a concern or objective, giving them more leverage. If they believe they now have an advantage, they may be more willing to hear you out.
27. “Don’t tell my boss”
Leverage a little scandal to pique their interest and make them feel that your message is a secret just for them.
28. “What would it take?”
A rhetorical question that trails off (What would it take to what, exactly?) can open a dialogue and perhaps even compel them to reply.
29. “Here’s what I’ll do”
Some peoples’ love language is “Acts of Service,” so engage the law of reciprocity by offering something in hopes of winning their favor. The mystery of what you’re offering and the promise of getting something will prompt them to open the email.
Best Email Subject Lines After No Response
Do not open this email
Should I stay or should I go?
Know this about [topic of interest]?
Where is the love?
Permission to close your file?
Feeling blue? Like baby pandas?
If you change your mind about partnering with [your company]
I love everything in this email!
3 weekend ideas for you
Am I assuming correctly?
HBO Go password?
30. "Do not open this email"
If you've ever spent time with a toddler, you know that telling someone not to do something tends to prompt that very behavior. This concept also works on adults. Reverse psychology for the win!
31. "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.
32. "Know this about [topic of interest]?"
Offering a helpful tip or statistic about a subject the prospect is interested in establishes your credibility and gets the conversation flowing.
33. "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.
34. "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.
35. "Feeling blue? Like baby pandas?"
Come on. Who doesn't like baby pandas? This subject line will get your prospect to open your message — where they'll find an adorable video of pandas playing or a GIF of a sneezing baby panda (pick your poison).
36. "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.
37. "'I love everything in this email!'"
Use this quote in your subject line and people will have trouble not opening it. In the body of the email, poke fun at its overstatement with a line like, "OK, so my boss said that, but..."
38. "3 weekend ideas for you"
Trying to reengage a high-value prospect? Research a few things to do in their city this weekend and hit send.
39. "Am I assuming correctly?"
If a prospect just isn't responding to your emails, send them a quick note saying, "Usually when I don't hear back, it means this isn't a priority for your company at the moment. Am I correct in assuming this?"
40. "HBO Go password?"
If a prospect simply isn't responsive to traditional outreach, shake things up with a funny email subject line. You might just earn a second look.
Email Subject Line Examples for Meeting Requests
15 minutes this week?
Requesting a meeting on [Day]
Time for a quick touch base?
Meeting invite: [Date]
[Company name] + [Company name]: [Date]
41. "15 minutes this week?"
We've all got an extra 15 minutes, right? If you're simply trying to connect with a prospect for the first time or restart a stalled relationship, this low-commitment subject line can be an easy way for your prospect to re-engage.
42. "Requesting a meeting on [Day]"
Use this subject line when your prospect is expecting a meeting request from you. It's best for follow-up correspondence when you've already worked out the details offline.
43. "Time for a quick touch base?"
This is another low-pressure way to engage new prospects or reconnect with stalled ones. You should have had some interaction with them so that your request doesn't come completely out of left field or as if you're trying to trick them into meeting with you.
44. "Meeting invite: [Date]"
This subject line leaves out the purpose or content of the meeting to encourage your prospect to open your email for the details.
45. "[Company name] + [Company name]: [Date]"
If you are sending a formal meeting request to a prospect, use this subject line. It's respectful, concise, and purposeful. It works well when setting up meetings with C-suite or enterprise clients.
Your Guide to Writing the Best Sales Email Subject Lines
Even though email subject lines are short, they carry a lot of weight when it comes to the success of your sales emails. The best email subject lines are creative, compelling, and informative without giving too much away. A good subject line that piques interest is the difference between a prospect opening or ignoring an email. To see the most success in your email subject line, be flexible, always test, and get creative for the best results.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jun 3, 2021 2:00:00 PM, updated June 16 2021