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30+ sales email subject lines to boost your open rates

Cold Email Subject Line
Why are email subject lines so important?
How to create an engaging subject line (plus 30+ examples)
What is an email open rate?
Why is open rate an important measurement of subject line success?
Top tips for boosting email engagement
Final thoughts

Your email subject line is your first chance to make an impression with your prospect or lead. Getting it right can significantly boost your open rates, improve reader engagement and eventually lead to a sale.

Crafting unique and engaging sales email subject lines can be tricky, though.

When you consider how many emails are sent globally each year, how are you supposed to cut through the noise?

In this article, we’ll show you how to craft email subject lines that’ll stand out from the crowd and appeal to your target audience. Plus, we’ll share 30+ email subject line examples that you can use for inspiration.

Why are email subject lines so important?

Your email subject line is the first impression you make on your prospect or lead. It influences whether the recipient will decide whether to open your message, so it’s one of the most important elements of email marketing campaigns.

Whether it’s a welcome email to start their customer journey or a follow-up email from a call with one of your sales reps, if your subject line doesn’t encourage the recipient to open it, the rest of your email copy goes to waste.

There’s no right or wrong way to create an email subject line. Ultimately, the best way to write an email subject line depends on your business, your target audience and where they are in the sales pipeline.

If you want to create good email subject lines for sales, there are some best practices you can follow to increase your chances of getting a click (we’ll look at these later). But when you know who you’re trying to target and where they are in the sales funnel, you can craft relevant and powerful subject lines that are more likely to succeed.

How to create an engaging subject line (plus 30+ examples)

Let’s take a look at some best practices for creating engaging, compelling and catchy subject lines for business emails.

Create a personalized subject line

When we talk about personalizing a subject line, we don’t just mean adding the prospect’s name.

Consumers are used to seeing their names crop up in subject lines. Having “Hi [name], snag our free marketing template” as your subject line isn’t relevant or helpful. As a result, it doesn’t always encourage your audience to click.

Instead of simply adding the email recipient’s name to the subject line, think about other ways to personalize it. Where are they in the sales process? What are their challenges? Have you been in touch before?

Here are some examples:

  1. Struggling to overcome [insert challenge]? We can help

  2. Caught you looking! Thanks for checking out our website

  3. Great to chat with you last week, let’s touch base again

To boost your chances of getting a click, think about how you can create subject lines that are relevant to the recipient’s situation.

Research the ideal subject line length for your audience

It’s always been best practice to use short subject lines. A short, catchy email subject line is quick to understand and easy to read, which means the audience is more likely to actually read it and open your email.

But often, longer subject lines can get a higher open rate. Why? Because longer subject lines have more detail and information. They clue the audience into the content and give them more reason to open your email.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the ideal length for your audience. There are two ways you can approach this:

  • Perform A/B testing to see which subject line lengths get more opens

  • Review secondary research for email marketing in your industry

After doing your own research, you should have a clear idea of how long your subject lines should be to get the highest open rate from your audience.

Here are some examples of short, but still good subject lines for sales emails.

  1. [Name], I think you’ll like this

  2. Sneak Peek: New product preview inside

  3. Time for a virtual coffee chat? ☕

And here are a few longer subject lines.

  1. Take a sneak peek at our latest marketing report to keep on top of this year’s trends

  2. Still struggling with [insert problem]? We can help you overcome this hurdle

  3. Get 50% off our services for the next 24 hours – find out how in this email!

Take mobile devices into account, too. With studies showing that 30.7% of emails are opened on mobile devices, it’s important to write a subject line within the ideal character length for mobile (which tends to be 30 characters or less).

Use the preview text to your advantage

The preview text (also known as the email message preview or email preheader) is a short description of what your email is about. It sits directly under your email subject line. Here’s an example:

Preview text

Adding your own email preheader is a great chance to add more information about the body of the email. If you fail to customize your preheader text, it may display default text (such as the image ALT tags or the unsubscribe link).

As a general rule, your email snippet should be between 40–50 characters long. You can use it to continue where the subject line left off, or as a call-to-action to create a sense of urgency and encourage your reader to open it.

Here are some examples of preheader text.

  1. [Name], we’re ready to help! Schedule your free call today.

  2. Ready to give our new product a try? Sign up for a free 30-day demo.

  3. [Name], will you join us? Last chance to grab your webinar spot!

It’s also worth split-testing your preview text to see which message gets a higher open rate. You should also consider how the preview text will appear on different devices, so be sure to test this before sending it out.

Consider using emojis

Using emojis can be helpful, but only for the right audience and with the right email content.

For example, you wouldn’t use an emoji in the subject line of an email containing an official financial report or legal document. But you might use it as part of an email marketing campaign for a new product you’re launching.

This means there’s no clear right or wrong answer when it comes to using emojis in subject lines. Sometimes it increases open rates, and sometimes it doesn’t.

The best way to find out what works for your audience is to run some tests and measure the results.

Here are some examples of how to use an emoji in your email subject lines for sales:

  1. Sale Alert: 20% off Pro Version 🎉

  2. The 🔑 to unlocking marketing success

  3. [Name], awesome to meet you at [event] 🤝

If you decide to use emojis, don’t overuse them. They should be relevant to your subject line, but they shouldn’t take up the bulk of the space. Your subject lines still need to be clear and communicate value.

Avoid triggering the spam filter

Spam filters are on the lookout for messaging that’s manipulative, misleading, pushy, overpromising or ethically questionable.

Using enticing or urgent words that sound too “salesy” to catch a prospect’s attention can trigger the spam filter and your email deliverability will take a hit. The message will instantly go to the recipient’s junk folder or be blocked entirely.

Here are a few examples of words and phrases to avoid:

  • Act now

  • Buy

  • Bonus

  • Click here

  • Free

  • Important information regarding

  • Money back

  • This won’t last

You should also avoid excessive all-caps or punctuation (such as “FREE!!!”), and other pushy formatting that comes across as spammy.

Mention a mutual connection

Trust is the main challenge when sending cold emails. If the recipient has never heard from you before, they won’t know whether you’re trustworthy.

Adding a mutual connection or referral into your email subject line immediately breaks this barrier. One study found that 93% of consumers trust a brand if it’s recommended by family or friends.

By showing a mutual connection, you boost a recipient’s confidence and build credibility (and take your email from cold to warm).

Here are some mutual connection email subject line examples:

  1. [Mutual contact] mentioned you

  2. Hi [name], [mutual contact] said we should connect

  3. I noticed you on [shared interest/social group]. Can we connect?

  4. Hey [name], we met at [Conference/Event]

Ask a question

The curiosity gap is the space between what your recipients know and what they want to know. Adding a quick question to your subject line piques their interest, which increases the likelihood that they’ll open the email.

For example, you could mention a pain point or challenge that your client is facing in the subject line. Note that questions shouldn’t be used as clickbait. Make sure to actually address the pain point and offer some tips or solutions in your email.

Here are some question email subject line examples:

  1. What does [department] need at [prospect’s company name]?

  2. Does [challenge] continue to be a problem?

  3. What would it be like if [add desired result]?

Use the right tone of voice

The audience you’re sending your email to will influence the way you write your subject line.

For example, if you’re reaching out to a new B2C tech startup, you might keep the tone light and casual. As a startup in the tech space, the company probably has a modern approach to business and casual language could be a better way to capture their interest.

If you’re targeting a B2B financial company, on the other hand, a more structured and formal tone could be the best option.

Consider your audience and the industry they’re in to make sure you get it right. You can take a look at their website and social media channels to get a better idea of their level of formality.

Here are a couple of examples of casual subject lines.

  1. Can we chat about [your products/services]?

  2. Hey [name], I’ve got some great info about [topic]

Here are some more formal subject lines for comparison.

  1. The market is in decline – find out how we can help your business.

  2. The financial sector is struggling – here’s how you can thrive.

Understand their position in the sales pipeline

It’s important to craft a subject line based on where your prospective customers are in the sales pipeline.

For example, prospects at the start of the pipeline might not have heard of you before. As a result, you’ll perform cold outreach, which means your subject line needs to pull a lot of weight to help your reader believe that your message is worth reading.

Here are some examples of cold email subject lines:

  1. Can I help you reach [specific goal/result]?

  2. Must-read resources to help with [common challenge/pain point]

  3. [Name], will I see you at [event]?

If your audience is further down the pipeline and almost ready to buy, your subject lines can be more salesy. Why? Because they already know who you are and they’re considering making a purchase.

Take a look at some great subject line examples for leads that are almost ready to convert:

  1. The clock’s ticking! Take advantage of our limited time offer

  2. Still thinking about it? Don’t delay any longer

  3. [Name], are you still thinking about [product service]?

3 email subjects that get opened

Based on the guidance above, how do you write a subject line that is more likely to encourage recipients to open your email?

The best email subject lines:

  • Are the right length

  • Are personalized

  • Make use of preview text

  • Use emojis (if it’s right for the business)

  • Avoid spammy language

  • Encourage engagement with a question

  • Require research into the recipient

  • Use the right tone

  • Reach the right audience at the right time

Email subject lines that create a sense of urgency are also more likely to get opened – as long as you don’t trigger the spam filter.

Here are three email subject lines that get opened:

  1. [Name], here’s an exclusive invitation to unlock your VIP access

  2. [Mutual connection] nominated you for a 20% off deal

  3. [Name], be one of the first to try our new feature

Keep all the advice in this guide in mind when crafting your email subject lines.

Heat up your cold emails with 25 customizable email templates

These cold email templates sourced from Pipedrive sales experts will help you scale your prospecting, drive more replies and stay out of those trash folders.

What is an email open rate?

An email open rate is a metric that measures the percentage of opened emails for a specific email marketing message. In other words, it shows marketers exactly how many times an email has been opened by its recipients.

The average open rate across all industries is 17% (take a look at other email marketing benchmarks). To calculate your open rate, take the number of people who opened your email and divide it by the number of delivered emails. Here’s the calculation:

Open rate = number of opens / emails delivered

You don’t need to count emails that haven’t been delivered because there’s no chance they could’ve been opened.

For example, if you send 100 emails and 20 of them bounce or fail to deliver, the number of delivered emails becomes 80. If 40 of those emails are opened, your open rate is 50%.

If you include emails that haven’t been delivered, your open rate becomes 40%, which isn’t an accurate figure.

Why is open rate an important measurement of subject line success?

Your email open rate indicates how well you catch a recipient’s interest. It shows whether you’re targeting the right audience, how well your subject line has resonated with the audience and whether your emails were sent to the spam folder.

Although your email open rate is important, you’ll also need to take into account other email marketing metrics. These may include your click-through rate (CTR), deliverability rate or unsubscribe rate. When you track all of these metrics, you’ll get a more holistic view of how effective your email message or overall campaign is.

For example, a high open rate is good, but you also need a good click-through rate. If people open your email but don’t click through to your website, it’s unlikely you’ll get many sales. You need people to open the email and click the link to your website.

Top tips for boosting email engagement

On top of crafting a good email subject line, there are a few other ways to boost engagement with your emails.

Understand your target audience

To give your email the best chance of success, you need to know who’s going to read it. This means identifying your target audience and understanding what they want from your business.

To pinpoint your target audience, create a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a fictional character that outlines all the characteristics and demographics of your target audience. It helps you visualize who your ideal customer is, what their challenges are and how you can solve their problems.

With this information, you can craft an email (and a subject line) that’s relevant to the person reading it. And when you create relevant and valuable content for your audience, you’re more likely to see engagement.

Segment your audience

Segmentation makes it easier for marketers to send highly relevant, timely and personal emails.

The process works by categorizing groups of your audience list based on certain characteristics. For example, you can segment your audience by topic, interests, behaviors, demographics and so on.

You can then send tailored and relevant emails to these audience groups. You’ll provide them with a better experience and increase your chance of getting clicks.

Segmentation also helps you keep track of how different customer groups react to your emails, which can inform your email marketing efforts going forward.

Update your subscriber list

Over time, your subscriber list will go out of date. It’ll have old contacts that are no longer interested, contacts that don’t match your target audience and so on.

To get the most accurate data from your emails, keep your subscriber list up to date. Clean your email list regularly by removing email addresses that bounce, eliminating contacts that continuously fail to engage with your emails and cutting any duplicates.

Cleaning your mailing list gives you much more accurate data for tracking your email marketing metrics.

Final thoughts

Creating a compelling subject line isn’t easy, but it’s vital to the success of your emails. If your subject lines don’t encourage your audience to click, it’ll be hard for you to encourage them to buy.

To track the success of your email subject lines (and your marketing emails in general) take a look at Pipedrive. Our CRM allows sales teams to manage all their email marketing communications in one location, including any A/B testing, with included email templates and time-saving automation. Sign up for free to get started.

Heat Up Your Cold Emails With 25 Customizable Email Templates

These cold email templates sourced from Pipedrive sales experts will help you scale your prospecting, drive more replies and stay out of those trash folders.

Driving business growth