How To
11 min read

How to Write the Best Sales Email Subject Lines for Better ROI

Nicole Hankey

July 27, 2022

If you’re anything like me, you probably receive approximately 2.7 million emails a day—and send most of them straight to the trash after reading (or glancing at) the subject line alone. 

Interestingly, research demonstrates that 64% of people decide to open an email based only on the subject line. This could be bad news for your business if you struggle to create eye-catching and intriguing sales email subject lines. 

According to another study, 69% of people mark an email as spam based solely on its subject line. 

So what does this mean for your sales emails?

There’s a high likelihood your emails, especially cold emails, only have one shot in your customers’ inboxes before being relegated to the trash or spam folder.

Write compelling email subject lines that get opened
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Maintaining high open and click-through rates (CTR) is critical to achieving your marketing campaign's sales goals. 

If you’ve hit a wall with your sales emails and need some fresh inspiration and guidance, look no further. We’ve compiled a handy list of tips and examples to help get you back on track and get the results you deserve. 

Why is it so important to get your email subject lines for sales right?

Did you know that email is the most effective means for marketers to increase ROI? According to one study, email campaigns drive 59% of ROI increases. While other tools like social media and ads are helpful, they currently don’t compare to good old-fashioned email. 

This means that for your marketing and sales efforts to be as effective as possible, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the most out of your sales emails. As mentioned in the earlier statistics, this will mean nailing your subject lines.

You want your emails to be opened and read by as many people as possible, then hopefully click on your links and follow through on a purchase decision. A host of factors come into play here, but it all starts with your sales email subject lines. 

How do you write an effective sales email subject line?

There are a few key guidelines to keep in mind when crafting your sales email subject lines. You'll need to remember your company's mission and goals, specific marketing strategy, and target audience. From there, it’s all about creating and structuring subject line copy that will hook your customers and drive them to respond. 

Remind them of your value proposition

A good starting point is what exactly you offer your customer. What value do you bring to the table? Why should they choose your company/product/service over others? How will you make their life better? 

Once you have clear answers to those questions, you can use that to guide how you structure your marketing efforts, including crafting compelling sales email subject lines. Always remind your customers of the value you offer.

Know your target audience

Chances are, your company doesn’t have universal appeal. You sell a service or product to a particular type of person to meet a specific need. So, your sales emails should reflect that as well.

If your target customer population is predominantly older, you’ll probably want to steer clear of modern slang/language and emojis and stick to a more professional tone. 

But the reverse is true if you’re marketing to a younger demographic. Keep in mind if you are writing to a global or local audience and ensure they'll easily understand you. 

Stick to your marketing goal

What is the purpose behind sending out your sales email? Is it to prompt current customers to make a purchase? Is it to attract prospective customers? Do you want to let people know about a new offering or an upcoming promotion? Let these questions guide you as you come up with your subject lines. 

Add a personal touch

Our attention is automatically directed to our names. So, using your customer’s name in your subject line gives you a chance to grab your prospect’s attention immediately—and hopefully, keep it. One study suggests that personalizing your subject lines can result in up to 50% higher open rates

There is more than one way to personalize your sales email subject lines, though. Specifically, you can refer to your customer’s loyalty status, purchase history, or other markers in sales emails. This is where knowing your audience well can be extremely beneficial. 

Also, keep in mind that people are by and large emotional creatures. We connect easily and are more likely to respond to moving messages. Especially if something piques our curiosity or intrigues us. You can use this tendency to your advantage as a marketer when sending a prospecting email. 

The key to a good email subject line is to leave your customers wanting more, wondering what comes next in the body of the email, and ready to take the next step to follow through. 

Lead with a question

Questions demand an answer, so this is a natural way to automatically get your customer’s eye. If it’s a good question, chances are they’ll read your email and be inclined to respond. 

You’ll want to be sure to ignite your reader’s curiosity (emotional connection, remember?) and keep it engaging. Tying your question into a promotion can be an effective strategy as well. An example could be, “Nicole, how does 50% off your next purchase sound?” Ideally, that would sound great, prompting them to read about your promotion or discount offer and buy your product or service. 

Optimize for mobile

Once you’ve crafted the perfect subject line, you’ll want it to look perfect regardless of your customer's device. It would be unfortunate to have a killer subject line that only halfway shows up on your reader’s phone. To avoid this problem, you should test your subject lines on multiple devices. 

According to one study, keeping your subject line around 41 characters (about seven words) is ideal. But keep in mind that this is only a guideline, so feel free to play around with it a bit until you find what works for you. This email marketing strategy is another area where A/B testing can be a huge benefit. 

Test email subject lines
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Use numbers

Numbers sound important. They make it sound like you know what you’re talking about. There’s a reason we’ve linked to statistics and research throughout this guide—it adds credibility. Luckily, numbers can do the same for your sales emails. 

Numbers are your friend, whether it's a 25% off sale, a BOGO deal, referral bonus, or company or product update.  Don’t be afraid to use them to your advantage. 

Best email subject lines for sales templates

So, you’ve read through this guide and feel ready to create your own catchy  email subject lines for sales. Great! In case you need a little inspiration, though, we’ve included a few example templates for you to use based on different use cases you may come across in your marketing efforts.

Keep in mind that there is no single way to write a subject line. Because you’ll want to emphasize different things depending on your goal, you likely won’t be able to follow every single tip included above in all of your subject lines. But as you’ll see below, you certainly can focus on a couple of tactics to employ in each sales subject line to give it the biggest chance of success.

While each example template is nuanced to the specific use case, you’ll also notice some overlap between them. That’s because, at the end of the day, the overall goal is the same—sales! Also, these are intentionally generalized examples, so you have the freedom to tweak and customize to your heart’s content. 

The direct sales approach

You'll likely want to get to the point for a direct sales email subject line to a prospect. 

“[Prospect name], here’s 5 reasons why [product/service] is right for you.”

“Need help with [problem/pain point]? We can help!”

“[Recipient name], our [product/service] was made with you in mind!”

“Could you benefit from [brief description of product/service]?”

“Let’s get you signed up for the #1 [product/service] in [relevant market]!”

The curiosity-driven approach

As we touched on earlier, curiosity can go a long way toward grabbing and maintaining your prospect’s interest, especially with a cold email subject line. 

“[Prospect name], have you ever wondered why [problem/pain point] happens?”

“Thanks for being a loyal customer of [product/service]! Want to know more about our other offerings?”

“Quick question—we want your thoughts on our latest [product/service]!”

“We’ve ranked #1 for 5 years—wanna know our secret?”

The personalized approach

Remember, the key to personalization is identifying with the customer directly, whether by their name or some other demographic or company marker. 

“Millennials like us face unique challenges in [market]. See how we can help!”

“[Prospect name], you forgot something!”

“We ❤️ our VIP members! Here’s a special offer just for you.”

“Love [relevant interest]? So do we! We made this for people like you.”

The pain point approach

Specifically addressing your customer’s pain point or problem can be an effective and engaging approach to your sales email subject lines. Just make sure you offer a real solution!

“Having [pain point] sucks! Luckily, we can help.”

“Struggling with [problem]? [product/service] is the solution you’ve been waiting for!”

“Don’t let [pain point] get you down. Let us give you a ✋”

“We’ve all been dealing with [problem] for a while. That’s why we made [product/service]!”

“[Prospect name], need help with [pain point]?”

The urgency or scarcity approach

Implying a sense of urgency or scarcity can be an effective method to drive engagement with your email marketing. e careful not to go overboard with this tactic and be honest about the actual circumstances. 

“Hurry! Only 500 units left!”

“Limited time offer—grab [product] before it’s gone!”

“[Prospect name], we’re offering you a limited spot at [upcoming event]!”

“This week only—50% off [product/service]!”

“Don’t miss this offer! It’s only good for the next 24 hours.”

The quantified approach

This one is all about the numbers, as we mentioned earlier. You can take this in a few different directions.

“While supplies last—25% off!”

“[Prospect name], here’s a gift for being our 1,000th customer!”

“See why [product/service] is 5 stars ⭐️”

“One for you, one for them—BOGO friends and family sale!”

“Learn how [product/service] can increase your sales by 62% 👀”

The referral approach

This method relies on your current customer base to find new customers for you. This strategy can be highly effective and is best when offering your existing customers a reward for referring someone else to your business.

“Refer a friend for 50% off your next purchase!”

“Earn a Visa gift card when you invite a friend to [company]!}

“Help us spread the word—and earn bonus reward points.”

“Want a month of free [product/service]? Use your referral code now!”

“Friends don’t let friends miss out on great deals—hook them up with [product/service]!”

The follow-up email approach

Use this template for when you want to follow up on a previous email.

“[Prospect name], did you catch our last email?”

“Reminder—don’t miss our latest product drop!”

“Only 2 days remaining for 50% off!”

“Following up on our previous message…”

“Per our last email…”

The meeting request approach

If you’re trying to drive sales to prospective clients, asking to set up a meeting to demo your service can be a winning strategy. Try these subject line templates to increase your chances of securing their time. 

“[Prospect name], can we show you [product/service]?”

“[Prospect name], have 15 minutes for a product demo?”

“We know your time is valuable; that’s why we promise not to waste it!”

“[Recipient name], we want to meet you!”

“Got time for one more meeting? We’ll make it worth your while!”

The no-response approach

Write email subject lines that get read
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When you don’t get a response to your emails, it can be tempting to write them off as failed endeavors. But before you do that, try following up with these email templates for another chance to lock in your prospective customers. 

“[Recipient name], did we miss you?”

“[Recipient name], do we have the right contact info?”

“We don’t want you to miss out on this!”

“Final reminder—this exclusive offer ends today!”

“[Recipient name]—Do you still want to hear from us?”

The reminder approach

This tactic is similar to the follow-up and no-response templates, but it involves specifically referring to a promotion or abandoned cart to serve as a reminder. 

“[Recipient name], looks like you forgot something!”

“Got FOMO? This deal won’t last long!”

“[Recipient name], your items are waiting for you!”

“Psst! Don’t forget [product/service] is 30% off today!”

The post-transaction approach

You want to send these emails to recent customers to thank them for their purchase and to try to establish a stronger business relationship with them. 

“Nice! We hope you enjoy [recent purchase].”

“[Recipient name], thanks for supporting [company/product]! We’re here if you need anything.”

“You did it! [Product/service] will be on its way to you in no time!”

“Thank you for trying [product/service]! Let us know what you think.”

“This is the start of a beautiful friendship…”

The pitch email approach

Use these templates to pitch your services to prospective clients. These can be either extremely direct or intentionally vague. Try out different versions and use what works for you in your sales process. 

“[Prospect name]—We have an offer you can’t refuse…”

“If you’re looking for [product/service], we have the perfect solution!”

“Let us introduce ourselves.”

“Can we help with [problem/pain point]?”

“Hi! We’re [company name], and we’re pitching [product/service].”

The thank you approach

This approach works best with current or previous customers to encourage brand loyalty. 

“[Recipient name], thanks for your loyal support!”

“[Recipient name]—we couldn’t do this without you!”

“We love our customers! What else can we do for you?”

“[Company] wouldn’t be the same without you. See how you make us what we are!”

“Your continued use of [product/service] motivates us to keep delivering our best every day!”

The cold outreach approach

When you’re out of established leads to contact, sometimes you should try a cold outreach strategy. Cold calling might no longer be a thing, but cold emails can still get surprising results! Give these templates a shot and see what happens.

“Hi [recipient name], we’re [company]. Here’s what we’re all about.”

“Hi [recipient name], we have the #1 rated [industry/market] [product/service], and we want to work with you!”

“Need help with [problem/pain point]? [Product/service/company] is the answer you’ve been looking for.”

“We don’t know you yet, but we’d like to! Meet [company].”

“Hello! See what [product/service] can do for you.”

The pattern-interrupt approach

This marketing email strategy is a technique that, quite simply, relies on being ~different~. The key here is to avoid sounding like every other sales email to improve your chances of being read and getting a response. This might require throwing some conventions out the window in favor of other approaches and thinking outside the box. 

“😍 Have you seen this?!” 

“Hello, it’s us—a perfect stranger! Let’s change that.”

“👀 👀 This is almost unbelievable—peep these results!”

“Not another sales email…”

“Let’s get down to business.”

The shared contact approach

Referencing a shared contact is a great way to forge a new sales relationship with a credible foundation. It also increases the chances of getting a response, as it offers a unique personal connection that gives you a distinct advantage. 

“[Recipient name], [contact name] suggested we email you.”

“I think we have a mutual friend!”

“Do you know [contact name]?

“[Contact name] gave us your info—nice to meet you!”

The previous activity approach

Similar to the follow-up technique, this tactic mentions your customer’s previous activity—a purchase, an abandoned cart, a survey response, a contact form, a review, etc.

“Thanks for your 5-star review! We’re so glad you like [product/service]!”

“Hi [recipient name]! We’ve got your deets, and we’re happy to meet you!”

“Following up on our survey—thank you for sharing your thoughts!”

“We noticed you left the party early 😭 come back to your cart!”

“You’re now the proud owner of [product/service]! How does it feel?”

The curiosity approach

This strategy attempts to pique your customer’s interests and curiosity. These templates are designed to sound less “sales-y” and focus more on your market or industry. Think of this approach as more tied to your content marketing strategy. Bonus points for including a link to your blog!

“Ever wonder why [industry fact/issue/trend] happens? We’ve got answers!”

“We figured it out! 5 reasons for [market/industry trend] inside.”

“Calling all [industry/market/field] nerds! 10 things you never knew about [industry/market/field].

“Curious about how to get better results? See how [company/product/service] can help boost your numbers!”

“We’re more than a business—see how we’re changing the way [industry/market] works!”

How to write winning sales email subject lines with minimal effort

Now that you’re equipped with sales email subject line best practices, tips, and plenty of examples to work off of, you’ll be watching your open and click-through rates skyrocket in no time! 

But you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t always looking for better, more innovative ways to improve your sales process and email marketing. So, we have one last tip for you to save you more time and increase your marketing output. 

In our hyper-technical modern age, there’s no reason to do things by hand anymore if you don’t have to. With AI capabilities expanding daily, there are many tools to help you out. 

Try out an AI copy generator

Copy.ai is an AI generation tool you can use to write anything from survey email subject lines to full blog posts. With over 45 dedicated templates to choose from (and even a freestyle tool that’s fully customizable to your specific needs!), the sky's the limit with what you can create. 

Here’s a screenshot of their Catchy Email Subject Lines template:

Catchy email subject line template

All you have to do is fill out a few details about your brand/product (and any other info you want to include—you can add details about your target audience/customer, for instance), and let the AI generator do the rest! Don't worry, though. If you don’t like a suggestion, you can use the handy editor to change it up to suit your preferences. 

Final thoughts on writing catchy email subject lines for sales 

To get the most out of your marketing efforts, you want to be sure you’re sending out the most effective sales emails to reel in prospective customers and keep your current ones happy. 

If you stick to our tips in this guide and try out some of our templates, you should be well on your way to sales success!

Use personalization to your advantage, keep it short and sweet, strike a curious note with questions, think outside of the box with your word choice and emojis, and use A/B testing to figure out what works best. You'll find yourself quickly being able to write a great subject line that increases your email open rate and gets a response from a potential customer.

Don’t forget to give Copy.ai a try to make your job even easier! 

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