Catchy Email Subject Lines for Sales and Tips on Writing Them

Catchy Email Subject Lines for Sales and Tips on Writing Them
09 March, 2023 • ... • 648 views
Natasha Zack
by Natasha Zack

Whatever the proverb says, people still judge books by their covers, and emails — by their subject lines. For salespeople, who spend about one-fifth or their working days crafting emails, this might be particularly intimidating. If you’re giving your all to every email you send but still cannot hit your numbers, use our writing tips and best email subject lines for sales examples for inspiration.

Why email subject lines matter

Every email, good or bad, starts with a subject line. In fact, it is safe to say that every time people check their inboxes, email subject lines are the first thing to attract their attention. For sales and marketing emails, a subject line is one of two major decisive factors that make the difference between the email getting opened or thrown into the trash (another one is the sender’s name). Thus, all the effort that you put into perfecting your emails, also risks going down the drain — unless you complement your copy with catchy subject lines. 

And that is not a mere hypothesis: research data from various sources indicates that subject lines directly affect open rates. For example, SuperOffice research has shown that as much as 33% of recipients open an email based on its subject line.   

In sales, in particular, subject lines are of crucial importance: get one wrong, and you might lose a prospect for good. That means, if you want your sales emails to hit the mark, you have no choice but to learn how to craft catchy, compelling subject lines. But how do you do that? Read on to find out.

7 tested tips on writing great email subject lines for sales

Can you get better at writing email subject lines? Absolutely yes. Implementing these tested tips into your regular email writing practice is the best place to start. To illustrate these tips, we’ll be using some examples from marketing emails, but you can safely utilize these techniques in your sales emails, too.  

Keep them short and concise

Most people are short on time. Moreover, their inboxes are likely inundated with emails: according to a fresh Email Statistics Report by Radicati Group, the total number of emails sent and received per day is steadily growing and is projected to exceed 376 billion by the end of 2025. Given this, no one wants to waste time reading long, complicated, or vague email subject lines. If your line gets cut off before you get to the point, you can be pretty sure you’ve lost the competition for your readers’ attention.

So, what’s the ideal length? The general rule is, recipients will more likely open your emails if you keep your subject lines somewhere between 40 to 60 characters, or seven to nine words. On mobile devices, there’s less space for your subject lines, so aim for no longer than 40 characters or five words if your audience typically checks emails on the go. 

Compare these examples: a 57-character subject line that is displayed properly in the desktop version gets cut off on a smartphone.

Email subject line (desktop version)
Email subject line (mobile version)

Include keywords

When people’s inboxes are stuffed with emails, dividing the wheat from the chaff becomes a necessity. But when they see certain “anchor” words,  they cannot help but pay attention. Typically, these words are somehow related to their (or  their company’s) problems or pain points. Additionally, there are certain “power words” that help email subject lines perform better. For example, research by Campaign Monitor indicates that words such as “invitation” and “introducing” increase open rates by 9.45% and 7.36% respectively.  

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According to research, “introducing” is a “power word” capable of raising opens by 7.36%. Source: Really Good Emails

On the other hand, “spammy” words such as “#1”, “guaranteed”, “free access”, etc. in sales email subject lines tend to serve as red flags, indicating that the email in question is most likely irrelevant and/or doesn’t provide real value. These words differ across audiences and industries, but as a rule, we suggest you be careful with words and word combinations that are overused, overpromising, or overly sensational. 

Add urgency

Another powerful tactic that you can use to compel recipients to click on your subject line is creating urgency. This gimmick is particularly popular in retail marketing, where it can be found in many variations. For example, you can use words like “now”, “today”, “this week”, etc. to create implied urgency, or mention that your offer expires in X hours/days/etc. if that is the case.

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Source: Really Good Emails

In your sales emails, you can use the same technique. But remember: whenever you add real urgency to your subject line, the email itself should live up to the promise. Otherwise, people who open the email enticed by its subject line will feel manipulated and deceived. Overusing the tactic can also backfire in the long run: annoyed by your endless “urgent” emails, your prospects will eventually mark them as spam. 

Evoke emotion

The so-called emotional marketing often produces astonishing results. The reason is, the human brain is hardwired to process sensory information in the “emotional section” much faster than in the “cognitive” one, the authors of How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding to Generation Y state. Thus, there’s a good chance your prospects will open your email if the subject line evokes certain emotions or feelings marketers typically appeal to happiness, trust, pride, fear (in the form of FOMO), and others.

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Source: Really Good Emails

In the example above, Samsung appeals to curiosity and FOMO: first, it makes the recipients eager to know what’s that gadget that everyone’s talking about, and, second, leaves them wondering how come they still don’t know anything about it. 

Personalize

Subject line personalization is a proven tactic for increasing email open rates. From list segmentation to merge tags, common email marketing personalization best practices have been consistently helping businesses create better experiences for subscribers. And subject lines, even though short, can be personalized beyond mentioning the subscriber’s name — for example, by also mentioning location, interests, etc.

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Source: Really Good Emails

Personalization can boost performance even if you limit it to using name tags. But subject line personalization can go beyond featuring prospects’ names instead of a generic “Hey there”: mentioning issues specific to the person or company you’re addressing can make your message truly relevant and compelling.  

Offer value

Due to the overabundance of sales and marketing emails, many people have already become unresponsive to common gimmicks like the ones mentioned above. Some professionals have become weary to such an extent that they would not react even to the most powerful tactics, such as urgency or personalization. 

The good news is, hardly anyone can resist a truly valuable proposition. So, if you manage to masterfully incorporate a teaser of that proposition into your subject line, you can be pretty sure your sales email won’t be ignored — provided the offer is relevant to your prospect, that is. To ensure that, remember to carefully research their needs and pain points prior to sending an email.

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Take a look at the email from Audible shown above: the subject line promises three free months of subscription (and the company actually delivers on that promise). This proposition is very visible (thanks to capslocked “FREE”), truly valuable, and almost impossible to resist. 

Avoid clickbait

There were times when clickbait worked pretty well. But in 2023, it’s so dated. These days, your target audience is very unlikely to respond positively to anything containing clickbait — especially if you work in the B2B sector

However, it’s often hard to distinguish between an intriguing subject line and clickbait. The difference is, clickbait is typically either sensational, or misleading, or both (if you can’t think of an example, think tabloid headlines). Intrigue, in turn, is something aimed at arousing curiosity or interest. Obviously, you needn’t resort to clickbait to create intrigue! 

Take a look at the example below: it’s an intriguing subject line, but not clickbait (and irresistible anyway).

Intriguing email subject line

These were the basic proven tips for writing effective, attention-grabbing sales email subject lines. But reading about them is one thing, and putting to practice is quite another. Besides, some people learn best from examples. If you are one of them, the next section will help you get a better idea of what a good sales email subject line should look like.

Best catchy email subject line examples and templates for your sales emails

Read all the tips, but struggling to come up with compelling sales subject lines anyway? Don’t worry — just a little practice, and you’ll be killing it. In the meanwhile, you can study the examples in this section to get an idea of what you should aim for. 

Cold outreach email subject lines

Composing cold emails might be daunting, but it’s an essential part of every sales rep’s job anyway. Coming up with a catchy subject line is an added challenge when it’s your first contact with a prospect. However, spending extra time on perfecting your subject line is never a waste of time: the higher your open rates are, the more chances you have of securing a client (provided the email body is equally compelling).

When it comes to cold outreach subject lines, there are several tested techniques that have shown the best results. These are:

  • Asking a relevant question
  • Mentioning pain points/pressing issues 
  • Sparking curiosity/appealing to FOMO 
  • Showcasing value proposition 
  • Leveraging numbers/success stories 

Here’s how it might look in the subject lines: 

  1. [Recipient’s name], what do you think of this idea?  

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s personalized, so the recipient is not likely to treat it as spam. 
  • Questions in subject lines are a proven technique to increase open rates — using it can bring you roughly 10% more opens. 
  1. [Recipient’s name], let’s solve the [issue]

Why it’s good: 

  • Yet again, it’s personalized, which is always good. 
  • It directly addresses the issue you know the recipient has and promises help with the solution.  
  1. Here’s how [rival company] boosted revenue using [your product] 

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s relevant because it mentions the competitor. 
  • It clearly appeals to FOMO (“What’s it that I’m missing that my rival uses to their advantage?” is the obvious question). 
  1. X% higher productivity with this teamwork solution

Why it’s good: 

  • Numbers always attract attention, especially when combined with an implication of some benefit (“higher productivity” in this case) 
  • It appeals to curiosity because the solution itself is not mentioned explicitly.

Important: When sending out cold emails, it’s crucial to research your prospect and the company they own or work for. The more you know, the more personalized your offer will be. But of course, none of it will work if your emails end up landing in spam. To ensure email deliverability, use professional email service providers even if you’re not sending in bulk.

Referral sales subject lines

Imagine you meet someone at a party, and you decide to make an acquaintance. So, you come up to that person and say something like “I believe we might have a lot in common. Can we chat?”. Now, what about if you refer to a mutual connection of yours and say, “I’ve heard a lot about you from my friend [friend’s name]. He/she says we have so much in common!”. Different story, right? 

In sales, it works in a similar way. So, if you have someone who might recommend you, it’s a good idea to mention that person right in the subject line of your sales email. 

Here are some ideas.

  1. [Referral name] said you might be interested 

Why it’s good: 

  • Mentioning a mutual connection ensures you don’t come up as a complete stranger.
  • Not disclosing the offer itself creates intrigue. 
  1. Reaching out on [Referral name] advice 

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s a more formal version of the previous example which might come in handy if the recipient doesn’t like familiarity. 
  • It’s still intriguing because it doesn’t mention any details other than the referral’s name. 
  1. Do you know [Referral name]?

Why it’s good: 

  • It looks like a personal email subject line, not a sales one. 
  • The question arouses curiosity, but seems relevant because it mentions a mutual connection.   
  1. Hello from [Referral name]

Why it’s good: 

  • Yet again, this subject line looks like it has nothing to do with sales, which increases the probability of the email being opened.  
  • As there are no details provided, the recipient will be tempted to open the email to find them out. 

Important: yet again, research is necessary when using this tactic. But besides doing thorough research on your prospect, you’ll need to tap into the nature of their relationship with your referral. Naturally, it wouldn’t do to mention someone they dislike or have conflicts of interest with. It’s also imperative that you only use real mutual connections for an obvious reason: if they find out you’re making it up, you’ll lose them for good.

Appointment request sales subject lines

If your initial outreach email has worked, the next natural step is to secure a meeting with your prospect. Whether you plan to meet offline or online, you need to persuade that person that 1) a meeting won’t take too much time, because everyone is so busy nowadays, 2) you won’t waste their time reiterating the same information you’ve already given in your first email, and, 3) you won’t be making them uncomfortable by pushing too hard. 

That’s how you can do it using a simple subject line: 

  1. [Recipient’s name], do you mind a chat? 

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s a simple, direct (and personalized) request.  
  • It’s casual and conversational — no pressure at all. 
  1. [Recipient’s name], how about an x-minute call?  

Why it’s good: 

  • Similar to the previous example, it’s direct and conversational. 
  • As an added plus, a time limit is mentioned, and it’s also clear that the meeting will be taking place online. 
  • It’s also personalized — and we know that most people love seeing their name in a subject line. 
  1. X minutes to talk about [issue/pain point] this week? 

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s not too casual, so it might be a better choice for connecting with companies where the work culture is more formalized. 
  • You’re mentioning both the time limit and the issue/pain point, which makes this line seem more urgent (especially if the issue is pressing). 
  1. Just a few questions 

Why it’s good: 

  • It creates intrigue: most recipients are almost certain to open it out of mere curiosity. 
  • It’s focused on the recipient instead of screaming “sales pitch”: if you have questions, it implies that their answers actually matter.

Quick tip: It’s always helpful to have a list of questions you plan to ask your prospect. You might even send that list along with your meeting request email so that your would-be vis-a-vis could get an idea of what you’re going to discuss. On the other hand, try to think of what they might ask you about, and outline your answers in advance.

Follow-up sales subject lines

There are different types of follow-up sales emails, and they require different approaches to composing the subject lines. For inbound leads follow-up emails — i.e., emails to prospects who have already taken some target action —  it’s a viable tactic to appeal to their curiosity.   

Here’s what you can use: 

  1. First steps to improving your [relevant process/result] 

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s concise and to-the-point. 
  • It implies the email contains clear, step-by-step instructions relevant to the prospect’s situation. 
  1. [Name], how can I help? 

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s a question, and questions typically perform well. 
  • It focuses on the recipient and their needs rather than you and your offer. 

For follow-up emails to those who have replied to your cold emails, you can use appointment request subject lines if you feel the prospect is ready for a meeting. If that is not the case, try the following templates: 

  1. Ready to take the next steps? 

Why it’s good: 

  • It refers to your previous contact, so there’s a good chance it won’t look like yet another cold outreach. 
  • It hints at continuing the relationship but doesn’t come up as too pushy (“I will only bother you with further details if you’re ready). Want to make it more personal? Just insert a name tag at the beginning of the line. 
  1. X options to proceed with

Why it’s good: 

  • Yet again, it’s clearly a follow-up because there’s the word “proceed” in it. 
  • It features a fixed number of options, making the choice easier for the prospect.

Quick tip: if you’re following up after you’ve received a reply from your prospect, analyze their tone of voice and try to adjust the tone of your email to it. It doesn’t mean you have to completely alter the tone of your previous message, but some minor tweaks definitely won’t hurt.

No-response email subject lines

Getting no response is painful and discouraging. At this point, some sales reps simply give up and move on. But experts say it’s not the best option: typically, more than one contact is needed to secure a client, so those who persist win the game. However, it takes a lot of skill to craft your subject line in such a manner that an almost lost prospect would be tempted to give you a chance (or you’ll eventually make sure there’s no point in pursuing).  

How do you do that? Here are some suggestions.  

  1. I just wanted to say… 

Why it’s good: 

  • It’s intriguing, and this might work in case your previous subject line was more direct. 
  • It sounds personal, so sensitive people might be compelled to give you that one last chance. 
  1. So, it’s farewell? 

Why it’s good: 

  • It could work for those who are interested in your offer but couldn’t find the time to reply. 
  • If the prospect is hopeless, you’ll at least know that for sure, whether they reply or not. 
  1. Is there still hope for us? 

Why it’s good: 

  • It might be manipulative, but it’s certainly attention-grabbing. At first glance, it doesn’t look like a sales subject line, so it will likely stand out in your recipient’s inbox. 
  • Getting no response will help you understand there’s no point in pursuing any further. 
  1. In case you change your mind 

Why it’s good: 

  • It sort of leaves the door open, meaning “I see you’re not interested now, but maybe later”. 
  • It can prompt the prospect to save your contacts because — well, who knows. Maybe they will change their mind, after all. 

Wrapping up

While email subject lines might seem a trifle, they can actually make or break your sales emails. To ensure that recipients open your emails instead of ignoring them or sending to trash, don’t ever treat subject lines as an afterthought. Instead, put as much — if not more — effort in crafting them as you would in any other component of your sales email. 

To make your email subject lines for sales truly compelling, use the tips from this article and learn from the best email subject lines examples provided in it. And to ensure success, remember to produce more than one subject line variation for each email, always test whatever you come up with, and quickly make the necessary tweaks. 

09 March, 2023
Article by
Natasha Zack
I’m a professional journalist with 10+ years of experience. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with various kinds of media — print, online, broadcast. Currently, I write copy for brand media and teach English part-time. I also have my own edtech passion project dedicated to teaching English via Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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