Outbound Email
7 min read

Awesome Sales Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

Email marketing is one of the most efficient, cost-effective ways to get noticed by prospects, and convert those prospects into leads. However, like most things in life, you'll only see good results if you handle your email campaigns the right way. 
Kevin Warner
Founder & CEO
,
Leadium
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Email marketing is one of the most efficient, cost-effective ways to get noticed by prospects, and convert those prospects into leads. However, like most things in life, you'll only see good results if you handle your email campaigns the right way. 

This is where email subject lines come into the picture. Just like a fisherman needs to use the right kind of bait to attract the fish in his area, you need to craft the right kind of email subject lines in order to pique the interest of your audience. 

Why exactly do you need to get your email subject lines right?

Simply put: if you don't develop engaging subject lines for your recipients, they're not going to open and read the body of your emails. 

Don't take our word for it: study after study has shown that the email subject line is the most important sentence in your entire message. In fact, one study found that 64% of email recipients base their decision to open emails (or not) on the subject line — and the actual percentage is likely higher than that!

The bottom line is, if your email subject line is underwhelming, then it may not matter how meticulously you've crafted the rest of your message. If you want to gain a high ROI from your email campaign, then exceptional subject lines are a necessity, not a luxury.

Okay, so what makes a good sales email subject line?

That's the million-dollar question! As we'll see in our next section, there is no one right way to craft a great subject line. An exceptional subject line should be informed by several factors, such as your prior relationship with the prospect, the "brand voice" you're trying to cultivate, and the specific terminology of the industry you're targeting.

That being said, you can follow some helpful guidelines as you construct the perfect hook for your audience. These include the following principles:

1. Brevity is the soul of good email subject lines

There are two big reasons why you want to keep your subject lines brief:

  1. You don't want to scare away your prospects with some long, run-on sentence.
  2. Recipients will be able to read short subject lines (less than 60 characters, and probably closer to 40) in their entirety, no matter what device they're using.

That last point is key, because a subject line that's too long will get cut off on smartphones and tablets, even if it is completely visible on a desktop computer. 

2. Make it personal

The reality of the world today is that people don't trust brands or big corporations. They don't always trust other people, either, but they're more willing to put aside their skepticism when dealing with actual humans rather than faceless companies. 

How can that fact help your email marketing? When you take the time to add a personal touch to your emails, you'll probably see a much better return from your campaign. This can be as simple as using a personal email address (or at least an email address that sounds more personal than your corporate one), or including your prospect's name in your subject line.

3. Never be boring

Why do fish bite on a fisherman's hook? Primarily for two reasons:

  1. Because there's food on the hook, like a worm (e.g., they perceive value associated with biting on the hook)
  2. Because the bait is sparkly and colorful, and they're just curious about it

In the same way, you need to make your subject lines interesting to your recipients, either by showing them the value of your offering, or simply arousing their curiosity. 

For example, you could think about a recent news item or event in your prospect's industry, and incorporate that into your subject line. You could refer to a project their company just completed, or maybe one that's still ongoing. Or you could make a (somewhat) outlandish statement that will tempt them to open your email, just to see what you mean. 

The key here is to make your subject line as interesting as possible. And remember, it should be an interesting topic for the prospect, not for you.

4. Offer value

When a prospect receives an unsolicited email, what do you think is the first thought that goes through their head when deciding whether to open it? More often than not, it's the age-old question: What's in it for me? 

If you can anticipate and answer that question in your subject line, then you'll be much more successful at capturing their attention (and hopefully winning their clicks). Think about the value that your product/service can offer customers. Will it save them money? Will it help them become more efficient with their core business operations? Will it help them reach their short or long-term goals? Whatever the case may be, see if you can highlight it in your subject line.

5. Create urgency without using clickbait

You have to walk a tightrope here. On the one hand, you want to encourage a sense of urgency and FOMO in your prospects, so that they're more likely to open your message. On the other hand, you certainly don't want to annoy your recipients with "spammy" subject lines that leave a bad taste in their mouth.

The key to maintaining proper balance is evaluating your offer itself. Is this particular promotion only available for a limited time? Does it contain real value for the prospect? Is it important to them, or something that's not high on their list of priorities? Be sure to think things through, and use phrases like "limited time offer" or "ending soon" sparingly — and only when truly appropriate. 

6. Include industry-specific keywords

Many prospects filter and organize their inboxes according to specific keywords. If you use the right keywords, you may be able to get past their spam blocker, and into a folder they'll actually look at. In addition, proper keyword usage will show them that you're a subject-matter expert in their industry (or at least you have a fundamental knowledge of it), and that may make them more likely to open your message and see what you have to offer.

Examples of great email subject lines

Now that we've discussed some helpful principles to keep in mind, let's look at a few examples of great subject line templates that you can customize according to your need. 

Cold email subject lines

  • "Hi [prospect name], [question]?" This is a simple approach, but highly effective. We humans are hard-wired to respond to questions, even if it's just mentally. Including the prospect's name in the subject line adds that personal touch that's so important, and gives your question a little more zip. Opening your pitch with a question — i.e., positioning yourself as a learner, and the prospect as an expert — can also pave the way for a productive conversation.
  • "Hello [prospect name], I'm hoping to help you with..." This approach positions you as someone who has the prospect's best interests at heart. You're not coming across as pushy or aggressive, but rather as someone who's willing to provide value first and sell products second.
  • "Here's an idea for [pick your topic]." Hey, who doesn't love getting a free idea that could help their business? 

"I found you through [referral source]." This is a powerful one! If you include a referral in your subject line, you're immediately establishing common ground with the prospect, which usually leads to a deeper level of trust. The prospect realizes: "Oh, this person isn't just messaging me out of the blue; there's a reason he/she is reaching out to me specifically."

Follow-up email subject lines

  • "10 minutes — [date]?" This is super short and easy. After all, who doesn't have 10 minutes to spare in a day?
  • "Here is that [resource/piece of content/quote] I promised." This subject line shows you're conscientious about getting back to your customers, and won't leave them hanging without the info they need.
  • "I'd love to get your feedback on our meeting." Most people love to share their opinions. Asking for feedback is a great way to re-engage with prospects, and get a feel for where they currently are in their buyer's journey.

No response email subject lines

  • "Should I stay or should I go?" Simple, humorous, and a little sassy without getting mean. 
  • "Where's the love?" Again, this is a humorous take on an unresponsive prospect, and may move them to drop you a line.
  • "Am I assuming correctly that...?" This approach is simply an ask for clarity on the prospect's priorities. A lot of recipients will respond to this one out of sheer politeness.

Meeting request email subject lines

  • "Available for a quick check-in?" This line implies an informal approach to your proposed meeting, and allows your prospect to determine how much time they can spare.
  • "15 minutes this week?" It's always nice to specify a time frame with your meeting request, so the prospect won't worry that you'll eat up their entire day.
  • "[Prospect's company name] + [Your company name]: [Date]." This is a concise, respectful way to send a formal meeting request to a prospect, especially when targeting C-suite or enterprise-level organizations.

In summary, there's a wide variety of approaches that you can use when developing exceptional email subject lines. As long as you follow the guidelines discussed above, you're likely to enjoy awesome results from your efforts.

If you'd like to learn more about best practices, reach out to our team of experts at Leadium today. We can help you to get the attention of those prospects you've been missing in your email marketing campaigns — guaranteed.

Happy fishing!

If you don't develop engaging subject lines for your recipients, they're not going to open and read the body of your emails.