Tips for writing catchy email subject lines (examples) โ€” for b2b sales

Jed Mahrle, Head of Outbound Sales at Mailshake, launched the LinkedIn poll about the first message open rates. It turns out that around 65% of voters have an open rate lower than 40%.

The subject line is the «why» people open or delete your email. The quality of your message body doesn't matter if it doesn't get opened. 

It is a good idea to pay special attention to creating a subject for a sales email. At the same time, it isn’t always about hours of creativity but understanding your customers and testing instead

The problem with email titles (and other trends) is that what was an unusual and catchy tactic half a year ago might lead your email to spam now. That’s why it is a hot topic as for those starting their first cold campaign as for those who are experienced. 

What is a subject in an email?

A subject in an email is the title of your email message. Based on this sentence, a prospect decides to open your email. That’s why people dedicate a lot of time to brainstorming and testing what subject lines for sales emails will captivate their audience. Here is an example of an email subject: 

What to put in the subject of an email?

The following content in the email title can grab the prospect's attention:

  1. Prospect industry stats

  2. Numbers your clients get with the help of your tool

  3. Recipient's company

  4. Your mutual friend

  5. Their problem you can help with

  6. A compliment to their business/solution

  7. Tools they use

  8. Recipient first name

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How to title an email

  • Step 1. Know the email objective
  • Step 2. Consider the context
  • Step 3. Assume the recipient's personality
  • Step 4. Ensure that the subject line corresponds to the email content
  • Step 5. Keep within the subject title for email limits
  • Step 6. Choose prominent synonyms
  • Step 7. Give a close look at the email snippet
  • Step 8. Find feedback
  • Step 9. Play around with the subject line tone and format
  • Step 10. A/B test your catchy subject lines for sales emails

Know the email objective

Depending on the sales stage and type of outreach, you may have different objectives with your email. For example, in your initial email — you will focus on relevance with a grain of creativity. The email should be noticed though the content inside should match the expectations after the subject for sales email. Your main objective is to get a reply. 

While once you have followed up with the recipient many times with silence in response, you will leverage more informal and attention-grabbing subject lines. Your objective here is to get the email opened. 

Consider the recipient’s context

Does the recipient get an extreme number of emails daily (e.g. CEO of a popular startup recently raised capital)? Or does it a team lead who gets far fewer emails?

Do you have mutual acquaintances? 

Did you have a meeting before?

Do you sell smth or ask for a networking call?

You name it.

All of the contextual points affect the tone and format of your effective email subject lines.

Assume the recipient's personality

You can’t know for sure what type of recipient you email to. Though when creating buyer personas, you can assume the personality associated with the profession/job title. With the information, you learn what best subject lines for sales to test first. 

Here are the main personality types

  • Type 1. Amiable. Appeal to emotions and build personal relationships with them.
  • Type 2. Analytic. Explain everything in detail and offer the exact numbers and data.
  • Type 3. Expressive. Choose emotional subject lines and present proof of your credibility
  • Type 4. Assertive. Provide rational reasons, concise offers, and straight answers.

Ensure that the subject line corresponds to the email content

A common mistake is to focus on preparing extremely eye-catching subject lines for sales just for the sake of opening. It isn’t a strategic approach, though. Again, the email subject is the title of an email. So it should communicate what this email is about.

Super unusual subject lines are a risk to your reputation. They may result in loss of trust, annoyance, and complaints. We don’t recommend using it in the first emails. 

Good subject title for email:

Subject: Is {companyName} in need for {job}?

Hello {{name}},

I saw on Glassdoor, that {{companyName}} is looking to increase their team. I am super interested in projects that require {{job}}. Could you please elaborate a bit more about the project itself?

{{signature}}

Bad prospecting email subject line: (Even if it is creative)

Subject: is your printer running?

Well, then you better go catch it, haha.

Anyway, are you interested in enhanced reporting and analytics to optimize your financial planning? If so, I would love to chat.

John.

Keep within the subject title for email limits

Your subject line will be shortened on a desktop if it exceeds 70 characters. At the same time, we recommend keeping it under 40 characters so recipients can properly see it on mobile and tablet devices too. 

Additionally, short sales email subject lines (1-15 characters) give little information on the message. 

Here is the data. Three words generate 3% ↑ more opens than the average.

Source: Reply data.

Choose prominent synonyms

While you rarely can be creative on email subject meaning, you, for sure, can be creative with words. We don’t talk about slang and obscene language. We are about synonyms, which most languages are rich of.

Example of effective email subject lines backed with data: Quick question vs. Quick chat.

Give attention to the email snippet

Besides the subject line, some of the recipients will also see the beginning of your email. It is called an opener or snippet, and it also influences the decision to open your email. Include noteworthy and catchy information there. 

Good examples:

As a Co-founder in your industry, I wanted to talk to you about Zenefits.

With over 10 million users, Lucidchart is the #1 alternative to Microsoft Visio.

Bad examples: 

I have a cool opportunity for you...

My name is.... 

Hello, I am offering...

Hi, how are you? 

Hello dear, check my...

Brainstorm catchy email subject lines

Write down the main points for subject line creation and put them in front of you. It may include the advice from the article, your buyer persona, sales stage, the campaign objective, etc.

Set a timer for 10 minutes to ideate the 20 best email subject lines for open rates. You don’t need to use all the generated ideas. The more ideas you write, the better are new variants. 

Find feedback

Once you prepare a list of catchy email subject lines, ask how they are perceived. You can address this question to your colleagues or, even better, to previous customers with whom you are in good relationships. 

As a result, you will have a diverse opinion on what might work better for the campaign.

Play around with the subject line tone and format

Start with something straightforward with a grain of creativity. Then test jokes, test mystery, test not trying at all, and finally leave the subject line empty. We only can assume the personality behind the other screen. That’s why it is a good idea to try various email subject lines for sales prospecting. Though remember to monitor and analyze the recipients' reactions consistently.

A/B test your catchy subject lines for sales emails

Trying to optimize your outreach, started a new campaign, uncovered a new trend — always A/B test your subject lines before a large-scale campaign. You'll be surprised at how elusive your opinion can be, compared with the real-life user.

Pick the 2-3 subject lines for emails colleagues, and customers pointed out most likely to be opened. Launch the test. Check the open and conversion rates, which will provide you with an accurate picture of email titles with higher open and conversion rates.

18 email subject line best practices with examples

Part of the tactics are more or less universal, so you can pick any and test them with your prospects. For others, we specify the cases where they might be more relevant.

Important: All tactics sooner or later get blase and become associated with selling and spamming. You should try new ones regularly.

Top email subject lines that get opened: cold emails and follow-ups

Technographics in subject lines ideas

  1. Amplify process with {your company tool}

  2. {prospect’s company} Software

  3. How's it going with {your competitor's product}?

  4. {software you integrate with} at {prospect’s company}

  5. {big brand from your clients}’s only recommended {your company tool}

Using technographics in b2b cold email subject lines is a fast and scalable personalized outreach. Using software in a subject draws a prospect’s attention since they see something familiar.

Many lead generation tools, such as GertProspect, provide data on your prospects' software. It may be your competitors, and you offer better options in comparison. It may be tools your product integrates with, or an upgrade to a particular tool. Here is how you can find it with GetProspect Chrome extension

Mind-blowing facts about prospects’ work in email subject examples

  1. 5 ways to spoil your {task your product help with} 

  2. You don’t even imagine this about {your product niche}

  3. Constraints improve your creativity

  4. Put HR in your employees’ pockets

The facts are, sure, should be directly related to your solution. They may show a  [Job to be Done] of your product, a counter-argument, a new perspective, etc.

Here are some catchy email subject lines examples with value for the prospect

  1. Analytics for {prospect’s name}

  2. Your competitor ranks higher than you on Google. Here’s how:

  3. {your product niche} idea for {prospect’s name}

  4. A couple of ideas I had for the {prospect’s company name} {process you help with}

  5. {prospect’s name}, here are some eye-opening stats I dug up

Provide your recipients with the knowledge they can’t quickly get themselves. The type of great email subject lines may include case studies, jokes, fresh data, ready-to-use instructions for their particular problem, etc.

Offering helpful information to the prospect is the best way to pique interest. At the same time, they will feel grateful that you, as a stranger, make their life easier. In the mood, they will be more open to agreeing to a meeting and listening to what you can offer. 

The pain point best subject lines for sales

  1. Remove the manual work from {process you help with}

  2. {pain point}?

  3. Fake reviews are a huge problem

  4. Be Honest... Are you really using your CRM?

  5. Don't mess up {process you help with}

With the type of great email subject lines for sales, you want to make the prospect think, «Wow! It isn’t just me».

If a prospect opened your message with the subject line, you know the mentioned problem resonated with them. Even if the recipient doesn’t respond. With that fact in mind, you can shape your follow-up strategy

Strong email subject lines with «message from colleague» style

  1. New tools

  2. New database, LinkedIn leads

  3. {your product niche} Plan for the year

  4. Potential {process you help with} issues

  5. End-of-year strategy meeting

This type of email subject lines that work feels like an internal email, and recipients can open it on autopilot. At the same time, they aren’t faking what your message is about. 

Using recipient name in an email title

  1. {prospect’s name} — Please Advise

  2. {prospect’s name}, any feedback on this?

  3. {prospect’s name}, I am a fan! ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿป

  4. To {prospect’s name}, {prospect’s company name} — {Your company name}

You can try adding the tactic to any titles for emails we offer here. Actually, our sales team had pretty good results (70% open rate) with To {prospect’s name}, {prospect’s company name} — {Your company name}.

Referencing other channels in your subject line

  1. Missed Call — {Date} — {Your Name} 

  2. promised to send you the {video/article/presentation/document/etc.} in LinkedIn

  3. Friendly call

  4. Twitter discussion

Such email titles are typically used in multi-channel outreach. Using this approach, you gain more visibility and can identify a channel favored by a prospect. 

Cold emails: experimental titles for emails

No subject line approach

The tactic might work pretty well since a recipient doesn’t understand what the message is about. They can’t determine whether it is important. That’s why they will open it and read at least 2-3 sentences to understand the message's meaning. The outcome will serve your purpose. It is easier to get the recipient interested with 2-3 sentences in the email body rather than 2-3 words in good subject lines for emails.

At the same time, there are zero reputation risks compared to the «gray zone» tactic discussed below. The sender might just forget to add the subject to an email.

Most effective subject lines with numbers

  1. Your {your product niche} goals for 2023

  2. Save {number} hour(s) per week/day with {product}

  3. 29 sales questions you can ask to win more deals

  4. How {your tool} helped {your client company name} Improve {task you help with} by {your performance in numbers}

Such good email subject lines for sales embed a social proof in themselves that works pretty well with cold emails. One line of text is all you have to earn their trust, and the tactic makes the process a breeze. 

At the same time, based on Reply data, digits in the email title don’t have much impact on your open rate. Interestingly, the percent sign (%) can significantly decrease your numbers. 

Actively using «you» and «your» in sales email subject lines

  1. I used your {prospect’s product} and find it very useful

  2. Appreciate your career {prospect’s name}

  3. Loved your article on {article topic}

  4. Get answers to your {process you help with}-related questions

  5. your M&A pipeline

Sometimes you can’t find any facts for personalization. Using «you» and «your» will make the prospecting email subject line sound like you're addressing them in particular. 

Warm email subject lines

Urgency in subject lines

  1. You lose thousands of dollars if you don’t use the {type of your service}

  2. I don't think you know what you’re missing

  3. {Your product} | Special offer

  4. {Your product} | Free credits

Many articles recommend the tactic for cold emails too to motivate action faster. We don’t. With cold leads, you generate demand first. You can’t jump to discounts and limited offers there when a prospect isn’t familiar with the problem and the product. The prospecting email subject line will sound too salesy and marketingy. High odds you will go to spam or trash. 

Once prospects are warm, familiar with your brand, and interested in a product, such subject lines might be effective. For example, our sales team has a 93% open rate with inbound leads with the email title.

From our practice, addressing what they lose rather than what they can get is more effective. For example, the type of sales email subject lines won’t draw much attention: Make diagramming more exciting.

The secret here is not to overdo this tactic. There is no urgency in any of your emails if all of them are urgent. Furthermore, if your limited offer is open to everyone, you will lose credibility or decline the value of your emails. 

Here are some catchy email subject lines for sales referring to the person a prospect know

  1. Would you and {colleague from a prospect’s team} be interested

  2. via {common contact}, analytics about {problem} 

  3. Data discussed with {colleague from a prospect’s team}

The tactic isn’t about fake mutual connections, such as your a common Facebook friend whom you know only by visiting their profile. Put a mutual acquaintance in the subject lines for emails when you really have at least minimum communication with the person you refer. 

There is a little loophole: you can reach one of the line employees, who is less loaded with sales emails. Then chat with them about the problem you solve and ask who is responsible for this in their company. Ta-da! You have a contact to refer to.

Email subject examples pointing you and prospect have smth in common

  1. I also send plenty of emails [read your post], have a question

  2. {city your prospect from}, a {task you help with} and {your common hobby}

  3. To {college you both graduated from} alumni, your {activity/task} process

  4. {conference} meeting

We recommend mentioning your professional commonalities in strong email subject lines. For example, you both visited the same event or have membership in the same community, you are alumni of the same college/university. You can also see their post, read their interview, listen to a podcast, and find you are interested in the same topic or issue in the business space.  

Personal commonalities, even found in open source, are better to use in case you know a  prospect's friend. In other instances, use it carefully, keeping in mind that it may raise negative emotions from the recipient — «Why are you prying into my private life?» 

Follow-up titles for emails as the last resort

We advise testing subject lines from the section when you’ve tried everything, have no response at your 7th follow-up, and have nothing to lose.

Here are catchy email subject lines examples that contain one word

  1. {type of your product}?, e.g. «CRM?», «Mobile app?»

  2. Intro

  3. {opportunity you offer} e.g. from localization agency — «Globalization», from financial reporting tool  — «accuracy»

  4. Apologies

It is hard to put the email subject in one word, though the tactic catches attention among long sales email subject lines in the prospect’s inbox.

Examples of emojis in email titles

  1. ๐Ÿ–– Hey {prospect’s name}! I've listened to your music and…

  2. Check out these tweets...๐Ÿ˜ฑ

  3. Hi {prospect’s name}, I've saved your video! ๐Ÿค—

It might work for creative professionals, such as designers, writers, photographers. In other cases, we find the eye-catching subject lines for sales too risky, your email will look promotional, and recipients won’t treat you seriously. 

Lowercase subject line examples

  1. time to talk?

  2. your product goals

  3. chat about {task you help with}?

  4. sales meetings as a service

This type of b2b cold email subject lines is overly informal. For someone might look like a typo or laziness. Though for someone might be an unusual and catchy approach. For sure, it isn’t the best idea for severe technical executives :)

«Gray zone» attention-grabbing subject lines

  1. starting with «CONFIRMED:»

  2. A poem for you, {prospect’s name}

  3. Re: Meeting Next Week 

  4. In one hour… «it» happens

  5. {prospect’s name}, your recent acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

This tactic is purely to get the email opened. The subject lines may have little relation to your product, yet they strongly pique a prospect’s interest. 

7 titles for emails to avoid

Dangerous words

Recipients’ email providers may filter your message as spam based on the words you use. If it happens, the recipient even won’t see your carefully crafted email title. 

Avoid trigger words in your good email subject lines for sales to enhance your odds of getting past spam filters. 

You can google plenty of lists of risky words. Examples: dear, click, increase sales, 100% free, deal, call, offer, etc.

Just the words aren't enough to send your email to spam. Check the other factors that may lead to the outcome. 

Fails to keep promises from a subject for a sales email

It differs from «Gray zone» email titles because they don’t just try to grab attention and pique interest. They give seem to be relevant promises that aren’t realized in the message content. 

Here is the example from a Reddit user: they expected to get feedback, though the email body was a generic rejection message.

Mainstream titles for emails

Watch for email titles that become overused by the majority and remove them from your campaigns. It is a sign if you see too many of them in your inbox and among offered templates. For example, Quick question, let's connect, {your company} <> {prospect company}, Hello dear

Such email subject lines for sales prospecting might work for those recipients who have never seen them. Though it is a rare case. We don’t recommend having the risk.

Caps Lock

UPPERCASE EMAIL TITLES look like spam and seem that you shout. Some of the email providers filter such email titles too. 

Exclamations mark in a subject title for email

Some people don’t tolerate too much enthusiastic approach, similar to subject lines for email marketing. Stop marks, omitting punctuation, and even question marks will work far better. 

Example: My sister is also a professional coach!‍

Abbreviations and cuts

Abbreviations may work if it is something very common in their profession. Otherwise, don’t assume everyone knows it if it is evident to you. 

Phrase and word cuts look very informal, and they aren’t clear for non-native English speakers.

Demanding subject lines for emails

Once you want something from a person, the last thing you should do is demand a response from them. It isn’t a good way to create urgency :)

Here are some examples: 

What’s your excuse this time?

How to write an email subject line: summary

  • People still complain about the low open rate. A good subject line is one of the main factors you can influence for good results

  • The heading should tell what the email is about. Be careful with super creative titles

  • Take into account the sales stage, type of outreach, and context in your effective email subject lines

  • Limit the email title to 15-40 characters. So recipients can catch the idea of email and properly see it on different devices

  • Get feedback on your email titles, and A/B test them before large-scale campaigns

  • Play around with the subject line tone and format if your email isn’t get opened 

  • Universal title tactics for cold emails and follow-ups: use technographics, problem, value, first name, and mind-blowing facts in the sales email subject lines

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