10 Effective Sales Email Subject Lines to Increase Open Rates

So you’ve written a well-researched and personalized sales email. That’s great! Your prospects are going to read it, follow your call-to-action, and voilà! You’re in business, and can finally relax.

Well, wait just a minute. What if they didn’t even open your email? What if they saw your subject line and thought, “boring,” and tossed it in the trash? Then you put in all that hard work writing that cold email for nothing.

And therein lies the importance of intriguing sales email subject lines. Without it, no one will see what you had to say. It’s the entrance to your email. The first thing your prospects should think when they see that opening is, “That looks interesting, I want to see what’s in there.”

Studies have found that 47% of professionals test their subject lines before sending out emails. And for good reason too, because 69% of email recipients admit to reporting email as spam after only reading the subject line.

What does that tell us? For starters, email recipients are hyper aware of spammy subject lines (probably you included). Secondly, you should create a sales email subject line that doesn’t actually sound “spammy.”

So, what does a non-spammy subject line look like?

The Characteristics of a Good Sales Email Subject Line

Because you’re not trying to come off as “salesy,” you need to get creative with your subject lines. A good subject line sparks curiosity — there should be some mystery involved.

A little subtlety goes a long way. If your email’s subject line is too direct and spells everything out for them, why would they need to keep reading? Unless, of course, they really love the offer, but that’s difficult to accomplish in a subject line.

Here are a few guidelines for writing a catchy subject line that will increase your open rates:

Keep it short — Most email providers allow around 60 characters before the subject line gets cut off. But the ideal character count is around 40, so that the entire subject line appears on all devices (computer, phone, and tablet).

Personalization — Throwing in your prospect’s name, company name, or anything else that draws their eyes to your email is a good thing. This requires a little extra, but necessary, effort on your part, however.

Make it relevant — Pique their interest by throwing in some stats about their industry. You can also mention a project they might be working on. Bringing up something that matters to them is never a bad idea.

Show your value — Offer them something that can immediately ease a pain point. Show them in your subject line that they can reach a goal faster with your product or service.

Make it urgent — Act now or you’ll miss out! You’d be surprised how much FOMO (fear of missing out) affects us. No one wants to miss out on something great, so use that to your advantage.

Now, you might have some ideas in mind after reading those subject line guidelines. If you’re still drawing a blank, here are some sales email subject lines that will increase your open rates.

10 Sales Email Subject Lines Proven to Work

These subject lines have gotten through filters, made it to priority lists, and have been opened and read. How did they do it? We’ll give you an explanation for each one, read on to find out.

#1. The Mutual Connection

“[Mutual connection] recommended I get in touch”

(Source: HubSpot)

This is personalization at its finest. When this prospect sees the name of someone they know, they’ll at least be tempted to open the email — it would almost be rude not to. If you have a mutual connection, by all means, use it!

#2. Goal-Oriented

“Your monthly [X] target”

(Source: RingCentral)

This one explicitly tells the reader what the email is about. The next thing they’re wondering is how you’re going to help them reach that target. But the only way they’re going to find out is by opening the email.

#3. The Cliffhanger

“[First Name], your thoughts?”

(Source: Close)

A Stanford study proved that adding a prospect's name can significantly improve open rates (20%, in fact!). In addition to including their name, this subject line also piques their curiosity with a vague question.

#4. Out-of-the-box

“Hey, can you keep a secret?”

(Source: VideoForm)

An unusual subject line isn’t a bad idea because you can separate yourself from the pack. Most subject lines are boring and predictable. When your prospect sees something out of the ordinary, he/she might be intrigued to open it.

#5. Numeral Inclusion

“[X] things you should know.”

(Source: Copper)

Numerals have been known to catch a reader's eyes much more successfully than written out numbers. When your prospect is going through their emails in the morning, seeing a numeral might just stop them in their tracks. For example, “3” is much easier to mentally process than “three.”

#6. Keep it Short

“Request to connect.”

(Source: Klenty)

Over 55% of professionals read their emails on their phones. With limited screen space, it helps to keep your subject lines to 4 to 7 words. However, that also depends on how many letters your words are. Try testing your sales email subject line on your phone first.

#7. Urgency

“URGENT: Need by EOD “

(Source: Sleeknote)

This has probably happened to you. You see an email and think, “oh, I’ll open that later,” and then you never do. But if the subject line explicitly told you it can’t wait, you might have opened it the first time you saw it. That’s what this subject line accomplishes!

#8. Incentivize

“A [benefit] for [reader]”

(Source: CampaignMonitor)

Everyone enjoys receiving gifts. In this case, it can be in the form of downloadable content, a discount, or anything for that matter. It’s all about giving them a reason to open that email.

#9. Personal Link

“Fellow [university] alum!”

(Source: EmailAnalytics)

This one might not apply to many prospects, but if you can find any kind of personal link, definitely use it. If someone sees that they went to the same school, are from the same town, or even speak the same second language as someone else, that immediately forms a bond.

#10. Quick Question

“Quick question regarding [project]”

(Source: Brafton)

With this one, you’re making the recipient the expert and you’re admitting that you need their help — both of which would flatter most people. Plus, humans ordinarily like to help others, especially when they’re an expert on the subject matter.

Send Those Sales Email Subject Lines to the Right People!

A persuasive sales email subject line is only as good as the email addresses you're sending it to. If they aren’t active or verified email addresses, then no one will receive them on the other end. To ensure the email addresses you’re gathering are legit, try using an email lookup tool.

With a free email lookup tool, you can find the right contact information you need to start your next sales campaign today!

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