Email Marketing

Are You Doing Something Wrong When Writing Catchy Subject Lines for Sales?

It's not always about how to do it - it's sometimes about how not to do it!


Anam Jalil


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Some marketers scribble a subject line after spending a long time crafting the email and just click send - only to find out later that no one opened their email because their subject line sucked.

When you are crafting a good email subject line, you are probably focusing on getting everything right. However, sometimes it's not about getting everything right, but the simple formula to craft a compelling subject line is to understand what you did wrong the last time.

In fact, let's not reduce this formula to only cold email subject lines. You might want to implement it in life in general. But that's a deeper thought - let's get back to sales email subject lines.

Also Read: How to Write a Cold Email

how many people open emails based on the subject line

In this article, we are going to go over a few subject line essentials.

  1. What makes a subject line so important?

  2. How to write a good subject line

  3. What you might be doing wrong while writing your subject line

  4. Some great subject line examples (you always learn through example!)

What makes a subject line so important?

First, let's quickly reiterate or discuss the importance of a subject line (if you have read our blog before, we have mentioned this extensively!).

  • They tell you what the email is about.

  • Are an integral part of the sales process as they entice your prospect to open the email and spike up open rates.

  • They can be used to establish a connection with your audience.

  • They promote your product or service and help in strengthening your marketing efforts.

  • The subject line promises an outcome if you read the email and follow the CTA.

  • Subject lines may also offer practical advice or tell the reader they are about to get advice that can add value to their life.

...and there may be several other important aspects of a sales email subject line.

However, now let's talk about the different types of subject lines.

Types of subject lines

There are different types of subject lines. Of course, some emails are personal emails and those subject lines are completely separate (a whole different story!), but here we are talking about the different types of sales email subject lines:

  • Meeting request subject lines

These subject lines may be targeted toward an inbound lead asking for a short chat or meeting. They can also be targeted toward direct or outbound leads to request a meeting to elaborate on the offer.

What to include: They usually mention the date and time requested as well as the method of communication. For example, "Coffee at 4 via Zoom on Tuesday?"

  • Sales outreach subject lines

These sales subject lines tell the prospect about the offer briefly or why the sales team is contacting them. They don't necessarily have to be direct but can emphasize the pain point.

What to include: Mention the customer's pain point and how soon or how well you can provide a solution to it. You can also pose it as a question. For example, " Improve your sleep cycle in less than 24 hours" or "Get 2X your usual number of leads in a month"

  • Meeting invite subject lines

Sales leaders may invite prospects to a meeting directly or send them an email stating the meeting date and time.

What to include: These subject lines mention when the meeting is to take place and sometimes also mention where. For example, "Let's chat March 4th, 2:00 PM"

  • Follow-up email subject lines

When the sales teams would like to encourage a response, they send follow-up emails. The follow-up subject lines touch upon what the initial conversation was about or give more information about the offer or how it solves the pain point.

What to include: Talk about how long the offer is going to last or emphasize how much better the prospect's life will be after using your product/service. For example, "You have 2 days to avail of the special 50% discount to automate processes."

  • Networking email subject lines

Basically, these subject lines say nothing about the sales pitch. They simply tell the mutual acquaintance or potential prospect etc. why you would like to connect with them and how.

What to include: These subject lines can mention the company name, referral name, or the name of a mutual connection. They can also mention an event or the reason a salesperson wants to connect with someone. For example: "Loved your book, may I write a review?" or "Met at the Spring Gala, can we chat?"

  • Current events subject lines

You might be writing a sales email and telling the prospect about something recent that happened at the company or that is about to happen such as a sale, a webinar, a PR event, etc. These subject lines are more event invitations or are designed to cause excitement.

What to include: Include details of the sale or event and why it is important. For example, "Annual Sale at Macy's". We don't recommend including words such as % OFF in the subject. This can get you in spam.

  • Blog post subject lines

A sales email does not always take a direct approach. Some subject lines that get the highest open rates are blog post subjects that try to educate the audience about something or are providing information that the audience wants.

Blog posts can be sent in cold emails, though it may be uncommon to send content to someone who has not subscribed to it.

Regardless, sending sales enablement content in a sales email is imperative to making that sale.

What to include: You can include the title of the content you are sending. For example, "5 SaaS Retention Best Practices."

Now that we have discussed some of the different types of subject lines, let's talk about the journey from a regular subject line to creating some of the best email subject lines.

What makes the best sales email subject line?

best subject lines for sales

Let's quickly go over what makes a good subject line:

  1. A short subject line is best so it can fit on mobile devices.

  2. A subject line that gets the prospect's attention and spikes up open rates without being clickbait is what you should aim for.

  3. A subject line that beats the spam filters and ensures email deliverability (provided that you have warmed up your domain) is essential.

  4. A subject line that mentions something your prospect cares about, gets the process going.

  5. A subject line that touches upon a previous conversation you have had with the prospect's company or the prospect works well.

  6. A subject line that mentions a pain point and emphasizes what the prospect needs attracts attention.

There may be several other factors that can contribute to making an email subject line exceptional. However, have you ever considered what you may have done wrong in your previous email subject lines?

What are you doing wrong in your sales email subject lines?

There may be so many things that you are doing wrong in sales email subject lines and while there may be no hard and fast rules, there are some guidelines to follow for good subject lines.

  1. Writing a very simple subject line that does not resonate with the audience or pique their interest is bad practice.

follow up subject lines

2. Writing "Just following up" in your subject line for follow-ups and sounding like every other salesperson out there kills interest. You need to rephrase this and send a reminder of how you can solve the prospect's pain points.

3. Directly asking your prospective customer to buy something in your subject line makes you sound salesy. No one wants to be directly sold to and email marketing efforts are more than just a sales pitch.

4. Using very harsh or difficult language in your subject line risks offending or confusing the audience. The best subject lines stay away from offensive language and jargon and simplify the conversation.

5. Overpromising something in your subject line makes you lose your audience's trust. Many people doing cold outreach make outlandish promises and this just makes people think they are lying.

6. Creative or what is termed as catchy email subject lines may seem attractive but not all of your prospective customers would understand them. Refrain from using email templates with tried and tested subject lines for sales. Cold outreach needs a more personal touch.

7. Ignoring statistics or the pain point in your subject line can cause you to miss the opportunity to make a great subject line. You need to use a bit of reverse psychology by telling the prospect what they might lose by not clicking instead of just mentioning what they might gain. However, there is no need to scare the prospect.

8. Writing very generic subject lines when you are offering an exclusive service - personalized subject lines work best here. You can try mentioning the company name, mutual connections, or how you are going to solve a pain point for your prospect, in particular, to make the subject more appealing.

9. Writing a subject line that gives a CTA to your personal website or to another page right from the get-go. Sales emails are not about telling the prospect what to do. They are about convincing them that this way is the best way to go.

10. Writing a bold subject line that may be sexually or politically suggestive, or makes a personal joke that may not be in the audience's best interest.

11. Putting in words such as FREE or 75% OFF (it can be any percentage) that take the email straight to the spam folder.

That's a pretty long list of things you might have done wrong and can correct.

Let's move on to some examples.

Email subject line examples

We are just going to look at a few random examples and talk about how they are great and you should be aiming to use more lines like these.

If you and a prospect attended the same event and now you want to connect, this is an excellent subject line because it tells them where you know them from right from the get-go.

Hey, [name]! We met at [event's name] and would love to chat again!

This is better than simply saying Wanna chat? or Let's talk in the subject. It's more personal and lets the prospect know that you know them.

If you are sending a cold email, try focusing on numbers and pain points.

[name], let's make sure you have a job in 2 weeks!

So, if you are an HR firm or a talent management organization, and the prospect is looking for a job, this subject line addresses the pain point and adds a number as to when you can help solve that pain point.

Let's say you would like to make a meeting request.

Hey [name]! Would love to chat sometime this week!

This subject line tells the prospect that you have a timeframe in mind and you would like to talk to them. Also, adding that personal touch to cold outreach goes a long way. It shows you haven't just picked up a few email templates and put words into them.

Here is one of our most successful subject lines.

"Your email can only convert if it gets delivered."

This subject line got a whopping 79% open rate. First of all, it's mentioning a pain point - lack of email deliverability leading to low conversions. It's not wordy but emphasizes this pain point and shows a relationship between conversion and deliverability (and you must remember that GoCustomer helps here).

Another popular subject line is

"[name], please share it with your marketing team"

This line sounds like an official reminder to do something and it makes the recipient wonder what is so important that the marketing team must know about.

No one wants to miss an opportunity to do something great at work, so this subject line is enticing. Obviously, it is not clickbait. The email has to be just as good. We got a 75% open rate for this subject line.

Bottom Line

Whether it is cold outreach or you are sending an email to a warm lead, it is very important to pay ample attention to the subject line. You need to reread the subject line more times than you read the email before you hit send - the subject is your starting point.

However, just like a subject line affects open rates, email deliverability does too.

That's where GoCustomer comes in. Make sure your prospects actually see your subject line - ensure your email lands in their Inbox by warming up your email domain with GoCustomer

An image to showcase the email warmup feature

Reach more customers with your cold emails

Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    If a subject line grabs the reader's attention. addresses their pain point, and piques their interest, it can be regarded as a catchy subject line. A catchy subject line does not always have to be different or out of the way. It should be intriguing enough to make the reader click.
    You may be doing a number of wrong things but some may include ignoring statistics and pain points, writing generic statements, being too salesy or pushy in the subject. over promising, writing a bold or offensive statement, and there are several other mistakes marketers make.
    This may not fare well with email service providers and your email may not beat the spam filters. Therefore, once you land in the spam folder, your sender reputation starts deteriorating. An email warm-up tool such as GoCustomer can help you improve your sender reputation and land in the Priority Inbox.
    Sales teams may send emails to connect with a potential prospect or for collaboration purposes. This can lead to business growth. Usually in these emails, references are given to how the sender knows the receiver, what they would like to talk about, and how to connect.
    A simple subject line may be good but writing something like " We want to tell you more about our new blender" isn't attractive and doesn't deliver value. Some thought needs to go in the subject line and you may not always want to take the direct approach.
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