Sales email subject lines | 19 examples that work and best practices

Why do Email Subject Lines matter?

In sales, email subject lines matter because the prospect may not open your email and you may not get a response but they’ll see the subject line.

Getting in touch for the first time means that cold email subject line is your shop window – about 47% of recipients decide to open an email based only on the subject line.

This means that your email subject line is critical to getting the prospect to open your email. So it’s important to know the best practices for writing the best email subject line possible.

If you just spray and pray you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot. Spending a little bit of time learning the ropes of what makes a great sales email subject line will pay dividends in the long run.

Fortunately, there is a ton of data on what works and what doesn’t which we’ll cover. And because we’re nice guys we’ll give you some examples you can be “inspired” by too.

What’s more, once you’ve read this check out our guide to actually writing cold emails with 5 cold email templates your sales team will love.

The Best Sales Email Subject lines

Check out all of our examples or go straight to the subject lines you care about via our index below:

Personalize your Cold Email Subject Lines

Personalized subject lines are better than generic ones. The data is very clear on this – personalized subject lines result in emails being 22.2% more likely to be opened compared to generic ones.

It makes sense. Think about it you’re getting a ton of emails in your inbox and then one of the subject lines has your name in it.

You’re going to be curious and click on it. Firstly, it’ll seem more relevant to you because it’s addressed to you. Whoever sent you the email clearly knows who you are.

Plus, people are always interested in themselves. It’s like if you’re in a room and somebody calls out your name your ears will prick up. They might not be calling for you but someone else with the same name but – it doesn’t matter you’ll still pay attention.

So use that fact and grab the prospect’s attention!

1. Congratulations [Prospect] on [some achievement or new role]

This is a great subject line that makes a prospect want to open your email because people love being congratulated. It’s basic human nature to want peer approval.

All you have to do is check their blog or their linkedin profile and see if they’ve achieved something like a promotion and use that as your in. No one’s going to be mad because you said something nice about them. It changes their emotional state to be positive and therefore more receptive to whatever you’ve written in your email.

2. [Referrer] told me I should get in touch with you

If you can get social proof to separate your email from the crowd then do so. If you can bring up someone they know and therefore trust they’re more likely to open your email and respond.

You automatically seem more trustworthy because of that common referrer. So get into the habit of asking people if they can recommend others you can talk to. It’ll increase your network and help grow your sales over time. If you don’t ask you don’t get and you can’t use this awesome email subject line template.

3. I saw your post on [linkedin or blog]

This is similar to example 1, if they’ve put effort into writing something they obviously care about it. They’ll be interested in what others think so they’re going to want to open your email that mentions it.

Now, what you must not do is bait and switch, in the body of the email talk about whatever it is they’ve written. Don’t use it as a trick to simply get them to open the email and make an unrelated sales pitch.

We used this email subject line template ourselves to guest post on the Google Cloud blog. The editor had written a post on machine learning and we used it as our in to talk about how we had used machine learning to improve our CRM – RealtimeCRM.

4. Struggling to track your leads? RealtimeCRM can help with that

It’s an old meme but it’s a good meme.

You wouldn’t send an email about sales to the head of HR because it’s not relevant to his or her interests.

If you want your email to be opened then make sure the subject line is relevant to them. So, in the example above we’re sending that email to the sales manager and we’re addressing a problem that is relevant to that job role.

This means they’re more likely to open the email. It’s not rocket science – people care about their problems and if you address those problems with your email you’ll get their attention.

Short Subject Lines Are Better

Over time my attention span has declined. In my opinion the smartphone is largely responsible. Research has shown the mere presence of a smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity.

I don’t feel good about that but that’s where the facts point to. Don’t bore people and don’t take too long to get to the point with your subject line.

Chances are they’re checking their inbox on their phone which means less screen real estate and your subject line might get cut off.

If your subject line is long it’ll indicate your email will probably be long and if its a cold email they don’t have the investment in you to bother.

Certain keywords in your subject line will hurt you like “report” and “whitepaper”. Check out the bottom 20 ranking keywords that hurt email open rates from the Adestra 2015 report:

5. Need help with [problem]?

It could be tax season and businesses are feeling the pressure. By offering to lighten the load you get to make your pitch by couching it in terms of solving their problem rather than you selling something. That’s always better.

Remember prospects don’t care about you. They care about themselves and their problems.

6.Improve [metric] by [percentage]?

The two metrics pretty much all businesses care about are time and money. They want to save time and increase revenues.

Find out what metric matters to them and if you can prove your claims then this is a great sales email subject line to use – it’s blunt and gets to the point.

7. How to attract more customers

This is a great subject line for marketers and those in SEO – most businesses are obsessed with this so you’re going to pique their interest.

You’ve created a sense of mystery and they’re going to want to find out what your secret sauce is.

» Check out our Free Guide to Cold Emailing: The Cold Email Cheat Sheet »

Follow Up Email Subject Lines

8. Here’s the information I promised you

Keeping your leads warm is critical to success. After each call or meeting make sure everyone is clear on the next steps and they have what they need. It also gives you another reason to follow up.

9. It was great meeting you at [event]

Having stuff in common is great – it breaks the ice.

So if you met someone at an event you’ve already broken the ice – remind them of that fact. Hopefully, you didn’t mess it up and made a good impression on them.

Now you have a perfectly good reason to get in touch with them and it’s not totally cold.

10. Let’s sort out the next steps

This is a great subject line to use after a first meeting or contact. It keeps the ball rolling and so hopefully you can continue to push them through your sales pipeline.

Catchy sales email subject lines

11. Can you help me out?

People like helping others out. It makes them feel better about themselves.

This is a great one to use if you want to be pointed in the right direction. We emailed the founder of Clearbit to find out who would be the best person to get in touch with about guest posting on their blog.

He introduced us to the right person which was awesome because no one is going to ignore a referral from the CEO, and we got the guest post

12. I’d like to help you out with [problem], are you interested?

This is blunt and to the point. It’s a really forward subject line by asking point blank are you interested?

A lot of prospects like dealing with straight shooters. They don’t like waffle and bs.

13. Does it make sense for us to talk?

This is a catchy email subject line because it sparks the prospects curiosity. They don’t know the answer to that question unless they open your email.

It’s going to bug them – they’re going to want to answer that question for themselves.

Best email Subject lines when you don’t get a response

If you don’t get a response to your emails the first time round it’s not the end of the world. Most cold emails go unanswered that’s why you have follow up emails.

But what if there’s still no response or they’ve gone quiet?

You need to send a breakup email.

For any salesperson silence is worse than a no because you don’t want to waste time on a dead lead. The breakup email is designed to get a response and find out what the hell is going on.

Sometimes, it could be as simple as they’re busy right now but in the near future they’ll be ready but the breakup email forces an answer by you walking away.

14. I’m closing your file [Prospect name]

A lot of times people are afraid to say no so they drag it out.

With this subject line you make the decision for them and if they really are interested they can get back in touch to say ‘no please don’t’. It saves both sides time and it’s clear what’s going to happen from the subject line.

15. Hey [Prospect name], What’s going on?

This works because it’s direct but non accusatory. By having their name in the subject line you’ve made it friendlier. It’s just a friendly check in with the prospect.

16. Thanks from RealtimeCRM

People love being thanked and according to the Adestra 2015 report on sales email subject lines – those with ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’ in the subject line are top performers across all industries.

In the context of a breakup email you’re saying thanks for their time as you move on.

17. Are you still interested?

It’s direct and makes it super simple for the prospect.

They can answer yes or no and that doesn’t take great effort. And you find out where you really stand.

Networking Email Subject Lines

18. Have you been to [coffee shop or restaurant]?

People tend to respond well to locals – they love their local team, their local school, whatever.

By bringing up some local hotspot you’ve shown you’ve done your research and you have something in common with the prospect. You’re not such a cold stranger anymore.

19. Will you be at [event]?

This is a great subject line to use if in your customer’s calendar there are regular conferences or trade shows they attend. It gives you a legitimate reason to get in touch with them.