A good subject line is the cornerstone of any email, whether it’s a sales email or not.
It’s the most important sentence in your entire email. (And it’s definitely something that deserves to be covered in any effective sales meeting.) If you don’t put the effort into crafting something compelling, you can expect to get mediocre returns from your email marketing efforts. Why? Because no one will open your emails.
Good news: you don’t have to start from scratch.
In this post, we’ll look at 41 subject lines to serve as inspiration when you write your next sales email, including:
- Direct sales subject lines
- Curiosity-driven sales subject lines
- Personalized sales subject lines
- Pain point sales subject lines
- Urgency and scarcity subject lines
- Quantified subject lines
- Referral sales subject lines
- Follow-up sales subject lines
- Meeting request sales subject lines
- No-response sales subject lines
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Why is it so important to get email subject lines right?
An email subject line is the equivalent of your opening greeting when cold calling. Simply put, they determine your email open rate: 47% of people will decide to open an email based on the subject line alone.
Obviously, if your prospects don’t open your emails, you can’t sell them on what’s inside.
But if your subject lines resonate, you’ll have a foot in the door—and a chance to move them one step closer to becoming your customer.
The thing is, subject lines are notoriously tricky to get right.
The average professional gets almost 100 emails a day. Their inbox is flooded with everything from team notices and urgent client requests to newsletter updates and password resets.
That’s a lot to sort through, so unless your email is a priority, chances are it won’t be opened.
That’s why capturing your prospect’s attention with a subject line that intrigues them enough to read on can be a tough ask. It’s no surprise that the average email open rate is just 21% across all industries.
So, what should you put in the subject line of a sales email to make it stand out?
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What makes a good sales email subject line?
Renowned copywriter Eugene Schwartz once wrote:
“Your headline has one job: to stop your prospect and compel him to read the second sentence of your ad.”
Other than the fact that prospects aren’t only men anymore, this is pretty spot-on—and it applies to your subject line too. It has one job: to stop your prospect and compel them to open your email.
To do this, your subject line should hint at some benefit to the prospect.
This could be advice on how to increase their revenue during the next quarter or it could just mean they get to find out why their friend Anna referred them to you. Whatever the case, it’s what the prospect cares about that counts.
The most effective subject lines tend to provoke interest without revealing too much, giving your prospects a reason to open the email and keep reading.
Good subject lines also tend to be easy to understand. (Those that aren’t are either ignored or deleted!) So make sure you write your subject lines in clear and simple English and keep them short enough that they don’t get cut off. That being said, if you use ellipses well, it could give your email an air of mystery that invites the reader to open it…
If you want your whole team to write great email subject lines, make it easy for them to share that team knowledge of your prospects. A sales app or communication tool would be handy here. Something like the RingCentral app would let your reps ask each other “What do you think of this subject line?” and get feedback from the team quickly while writing their sales emails:
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some subject line examples that you can copy and customize for your next campaign.
41 email subject lines for sales
The very best salespeople will tell you just how important an email subject line is… but they might not share their secrets with you! We’re here to help and demystify this critical piece of any sales process. Here are a whole bunch of email subject lines you can try:
Direct sales subject lines
Sometimes the best approach is the direct approach.
Subject lines that get to the point and make it clear why you’re reaching out make life easier for your prospect.
Instead of running the risk of opening a misleading email, prospects know what subject matter to expect from the message and can accurately decide whether it interests them.
1. “About [a situation] at [prospect’s company]…”
This matter-of-fact subject line is upfront about what the message is about. For example: “About the timber supply at Danny’s workshop…”
2. “Quick question about [prospect’s company]”
This subject line gets straight to the point about what’s inside. Your prospect can decide if they’re interested in answering any questions before opening the email.
3. “Your monthly [X] target”
Again, the reader is explicitly told what the focus of the message will be without having to open it. For example: “Your monthly Facebook impressions target.”
Curiosity-driven sales subject lines
We don’t like leaving gaps in our understanding of things.
Subject lines that pique our curiosity create such gaps by giving us unexpected, incomplete information and promise us closure if we read on.
If you use this technique, make sure you deliver on the promise in the body of the email. It should genuinely bridge the gap you created in your subject line.
4. “Don’t open this email”
This subject line uses blatant reverse psychology to tempt the reader to look inside.
5. “They told us it was impossible”
Who are “they”? Who is “us”? What is “it”? This subject line fires up the imagination in a race for answers.
6. “You’re invited”
This simple, two-word subject line plays on the exclusive thrill of getting an invite. An invite to what? Who knows!
7. “Hey, can you keep a secret?”
This line also makes the reader feel like they might be in on something exclusive. Whatever it is, it’s worth opening the email to find out.
8. “Not cool, guys”
This subject line from the headline wizards at BuzzFeed gets us wondering about what juicy drama might be revealed within the email body.
9. “Are you a part of the 6%?”
The 6% of what? This line hooks us in by suggesting we may be a member of some exceptional (or not-so-exceptional) minority.
Personalized sales subject lines
Personalized subject lines add a human touch to your emails and come across as more thoughtful than standard messages sent to everyone.
Personalization may include addressing the recipient by name, mentioning where they’re from, or referring to something unique about their work or interests.
Personalized emails are widespread and popular today for good reason. They still give you a 0.5% better open rate than non-personalized alternatives. Nothing to sneeze at!
10. “Hey, [name], I loved your blog post on [website name]”
This line combines personalization with praise, signaling to the reader that you’ve taken the time and effort to research them as a real person.
11. “Hi, [name], I noticed you’re working hard at [goal]”
This line suggests that you’re keen to help the reader achieve a specific objective they find meaningful.
12. “Hi, [name], [question]?”
This direct yet courteous subject line quickly gets to the heart of the matter.
13. “Congratulations on [relevant event]”
Expressing your praise or good wishes on an important occasion can go a long way toward fostering goodwill on the part of your prospect.
14. “Hey, [name], we heard you’re the go-to person for [area of expertise]”
People like to be acknowledged for what they’re good at, and this line offers the reader a welcome ego boost.
15. “Only the best for you, [name]”
This line shows that you value and respect your prospect, giving them a sense of familiarity and of being looked after.
Pain point sales subject lines
Focusing on your prospect’s pain points can make your subject lines hyper-relevant.
After all, it’s hard to ignore a message that zeroes in on a particular difficulty you’re facing.
The possibility of discovering a new solution makes it worth your while to take a look at what’s inside.
16. “[X] workarounds for your [pain point]”
This subject line promises immediate, practical advice to help with the reader’s specific problem. And even if the email isn’t coupled with a sales pitch, giving your prospect upfront value can go a long way toward warming them to you.
17. “Are you struggling with [pain point]? You’re not alone”
Offer your prospect some reassurance by reminding them that other people are facing similar problems and that you might be able to help.
18. “Hi, [name]. Here’s what we think about [pain point]”
This line promises the reader a fresh perspective on how to address their problem.
19. “Fix your [pain point] in [X] weeks”
The fixed timeline implies that a practical plan to solve the reader’s issue can be found inside.
Urgency and scarcity subject lines
One way to make your subject lines stand out is to make use of urgency and scarcity.
Limited time and availability motivate people to take action in order to avoid feeling like they’ve missed out (i.e., FOMO).
This makes it harder for your prospects to delay reading your emails or to delete them without opening them first.
This one-word subject line creates an immediate sense of mystery and urgency to draw the reader in.
21. “One day left to get in on [offer]”
This gives readers the impression that the clock is ticking and that they have to act quickly to get in on the action.
22. “[X] hours till our [offer] expires”
This subject line imposes an even tighter deadline to ramp up the urgency.
23. “Just [X] days left to achieve [goal/task]”
This line refreshes your prospect’s memory to refocus them on achieving their goal.
24. “Only [X] [offer] left!”
Prospects realize that the offer has a dwindling supply and that they’d better act now if they don’t want to miss out.
Quantified subject lines
If your product or service delivers a specific, quantifiable result, it may be worth mentioning in your subject line.
A concrete claim is more compelling than a vague one—just make sure it isn’t too good to be true.
Remember, numbers written in digits instead of words are better at catching reader attention and will save you character space.
25. “Permission to bring you [X]% more [result]?”
This bold subject line offers the reader a well-defined benefit at a well-defined quantity.
26. “$[X] in the next [X] months?”
This line tempts your prospects to read on by defining the specific financial benefit they could achieve in the given time period.
Referral sales subject lines
Mentioning that you were referred to your prospect by someone they know and trust is a very powerful way to draw them into your email.
92% of people trust referrals from people they know.
Subject lines containing the name of the referrer create a common connection between you and the prospect and ramp up their level of intrigue.
Of course, only use this technique if the referral is genuine!
27. “[Referral name]”
When your prospects unexpectedly find a familiar name as a subject line they’ll want to find out why it’s there.
28. “[Referral name] helped me find you”
Although it doesn’t strictly imply an endorsement, this line lets your prospect know that you’ve gone to some lengths to find them.
29. “[Referral name] suggested we get in touch”
This line implies that some past conversation took place between you and the referrer and that the prospect’s name came up. (Nice work on that sales conversation starter.) Now they’ll want to know why!
30. “[Referral name] thinks you’ll love us too!”
Not only does this name-drop the referrer, but it also implies that they had a great customer experience with you.
Follow-up sales subject lines
Follow-up emails play an important role in keeping the sales conversation moving.
Whether you’ve just hopped off a call with your prospect or managed to get your hands on some information they’ve requested, a good sales follow-up email keeps you top of mind and lets you set out some next steps.
31. “Our next steps”
This simple subject line shows you’ve put a plan in place that your prospect just has to look over it and give it the go-ahead.
32. “Here are those resources I promised”
Don’t leave your prospects hanging. They won’t make any decisions until they’ve got the information they need.
Use a collaboration hub to keep all your latest pricing info and marketing collateral in one place.
33. “Hey, [name]. I’d love your feedback on our meeting earlier”
Inviting feedback from your prospects gives you a chance to tie up any loose ends and can give you a sense of how things went.
34. “Before you decide…”
When a big decision is looming, prospects can always use a little extra information if it helps make the decision easier.
Meeting request sales subject lines
When sending out meeting requests to your prospects, you should try to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes.
This could mean framing the meeting as an informal chat or limiting the proposed time to a short duration. (And don’t forget to get that Bluetooth headset ready.)
35. “Hi, [name]. 10 mins this week?”
This presents the appointment as a low-pressure, casual meet-up. It’s easy to say no to an hour-long chat—10 minutes sounds a lot more doable.
36. “Time for a quick check-in?”
This subject line emphasizes the informality of the proposed meeting and leaves it to your prospect to decide how much time it should take.
37. “Meeting invite for [day]”
This line specifies a day for the meeting but entices the reader to open the email for more context.
Learn about the best practices for running a good sales demo.
No-response sales subject lines
Sometimes your prospects will suddenly drop off the face of the earth without notice.
When this happens, it’s important to figure out whether to keep the relationship active or to call it a day.
Direct, with a hint of concern and mystery. What message could the email contain? This subject line could work as part of a last-ditch attempt email.
39. “Am I right to assume…?”
This question invites a clear-cut answer, giving your prospect the chance to keep things going or to sever ties.
40. “RE: [prospect’s last email]”
By presenting your email as a continuation of a previous conversation, your prospect may be more inclined to check it out.
41. “If you change your mind about partnering with [your company]”
Here you let the prospect know that you assume they’re no longer interested in you, but that they can reverse the situation whenever they want.
Level-up your sales email subject lines
Don’t take email subject lines lightly.
A compelling subject line unlocks your prospect’s attention and gives you a great shot at building a relationship—and closing that deal.
Meanwhile, an irrelevant or boring subject line just leaves you with the sound of crickets.
Use the subject line ideas in this post to step up your email marketing and watch those open rates lift off.
Originally published Mar 02, 2020, updated Apr 04, 2023