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October 16, 2023·11 min read

Best Email Subject Lines For Sales: 40+ Eye-Catching Examples and 5 Best Practices

How do you write a subject line for a sales email? We have the best email subject lines for sales you can use right now.

Half the people you email decide whether to open your email based on its subject line alone. If you spend all your time crafting the perfect email and neglect the subject line, that’s a 50% margin for error, lost sales, and lost revenue. In this article, we’re sharing five foundational best practices for crafting striking subject lines, six specific writing tips you can use, and an inspiring list of 40+ examples that get emails opened and lead to closed deals.

From top sellers’ advice on tailoring your subject lines for any sales outreach scenario to phenomenal subject line examples—bookmark this article to return to any time you feel stuck and need to get your creative email juices flowing.

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  1. Contents
  2. 5 Foundational Best Practices for Unforgettable Sales Email Subject Lines
  3. 6 Tips For Writing Striking Sales Subject Lines for Any Scenario with 40+ Examples
  4. Still Blocked on the Best Sales Email Subject Line?
  5. Creating the Best Sales Email Subject Lines Is Easier Than You Think

5 Foundational Best Practices for Unforgettable Sales Email Subject Lines

So, what is a good email subject line? The best email subject lines are clear, concise, personalized, actionable, and use the right tone for your audience. It should grab the reader’s attention so they’ll actually maybe open your sales email. Consider these five foundational email subject line best practices to help get you there.

1. Prioritize Simplicity and Brevity

Subject lines play a crucial role in your sales email open rates. When creating one, aim for short and sweet—ideally made up of 1-5 words. This will display the first line of the email without needing to open it, allowing it to be quickly scanned by the reader to determine its importance. Research shows that shorter subject lines lead to better email open rates.

Email Subject Line For Sales No-No: Don’t send an email without a subject line. It can be perceived as lazy.

“The shorter your subject line, the more characters of the first line of the email they see. Make sure it’s personalized and resonates with the persona. Show them you know them.”

Head shot of Kyle Coleman quoting best email subject lines for sales
Kyle ColemanClariSVP, Marketing

2. Personalize Your Sales Email Subject Lines

Make sure your sales email subject line is relevant to the recipient. When constructing your subject lines, write them in lowercase to appear casual and include their first name, e.g. [Name], question about your book.

Your recipient should feel like your email fits naturally among the regular correspondence they usually get—the kinds of emails they actually read.

Email Subject Line For Sales No-No: Never include generic greetings. Their email hosting may flag your email as spam, or the recipient may think it’s irrelevant. Instead, eschew them entirely and opt for the recipient’s name. E.g., Instead of Hi there or Hello begin your subject line with [Prospect name] can’t wait to speak with you this week.

3. Watch Your Tone

Be mindful of the tone of your sales email subject lines. Ensure your follow-up doesn’t read as pushy or your initial cold email outreach doesn’t sound too formal. Be careful of phrases like ‘gentle reminder.’ (Will the next reminder be less gentle?)

Email Subject Line For Sales No-No: Never use phrases like ‘urgent,’ ‘read now,’ or ‘immediately’ unless it actually is vital. Otherwise, you’ll lose the lead’s trust and potentially turn them off from reading your email—or worse, get flagged as spam.

4. Evoke an Emotional Reaction

On the other hand, when it comes to enticing your prospects to read your emails, you should aim to elicit a positive emotional reaction, such as laughter or curiosity.

One effective way of doing so is by challenging your prospects, encouraging some healthy competition, or evoking a reaction like surprise or joy. It’s important to remember that people want to feel a connection, so using personal pronouns like ‘you’ can resonate with your message, as in “I have incredible news for you.” By taking the time to truly connect with your prospects in this way, you can build strong relationships and improve the success of your open rates.

Email Subject Line For Sales No-No: Avoid eliciting negative emotional reactions like panic, confusion, or anger. Even if your prospect opens your email, they may be left with a poor impression of you.

5. Don’t Get Jaded

Each failed subject line represents another opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t let a setback discourage you! Instead, approach it with the mentality that an iterative process is necessary for success.

In the case of your sales email subject lines, for example, you should keep trying different variations until you find the one that resonates with your audience. Adhering to best practices like personalization and brevity can also help increase the chances of success. So, don’t worry if every subject line isn’t a winner. You’ll find your stride in no time with persistence and these best practices.

The BEST Sales Email Subject Lines in 2023

In this episode of Sales FAQ, sales leaders call out what makes an effective cold email subject line stand out. Watch this video to learn the catchy email subject lines for sales to use to be sure to get you an open.

6 Tips For Writing Striking Sales Subject Lines for Any Scenario with 40+ Examples

Now that you know the theory behind the best sales email subject lines, let’s investigate the practice. Use this list of 40+ example subject lines to inspire your own. We’ve also compiled tips and practical advice from sales leaders on tailoring your writing for any outreach or sales prospecting scenario. And here’s a tip: if you send a video email message, test adding the word ‘video’ to your subject line to entice that open even further.  Doing so will also indicate to your prospect that you’ve sent a video email as opposed to a plain-text email.

An example of a video script template for virtual selling.
10 Video Scripts and Email Templates An example of a video script template for virtual selling. Break through inboxes with these proven video email templates. Download PDF

For Cold Outreach—Use Curious Word Choices

Anyone who sends cold emails knows it sometimes feels impossible to break through the cluttered inboxes of prospects. With so many emails competing for attention, standing out and getting noticed can be difficult. Most people are hesitant to open emails from unknown senders, and even those who do may quickly delete them if they don’t seem interesting or valuable.

For cold outreach, you can’t rely on being a trusted name or business, so it takes extra work to engage prospects. The human brain prioritizes the novel—novelty triggers the release of dopamine in the brain as a reward, encouraging us to find out more. By using unusual words prospects are not expecting in a sales email, you may be able to grab a precious moment of their time.

Consider giving these curious sales email subject lines a try.

  • Onboarding, enablement, and napkins
  • Reply Rates, CTR, and Axolotls
  • Cold Calls, Email Subjects, and Spears
  • We’d never strongarm you 💪
  • The force is strong with this one…
  • Always Asking Atypical Questions

For Inbound Lead Follow-Ups—Leave Them Hanging

Picture your sales email as a mysterious suitcase. Imagine that your prospect has never seen or heard of it before. You’re responsible for offering your prospect this suitcase and encouraging them to open it—and your email subject line is the way to do it. If you present the suitcase with amazing, intriguing content inside, they will likely want to open it up and take a look.

The key here is to withhold just enough information to elicit curiosity in your prospect, making them want to know more. This generates a sense of excitement and anticipation in your prospect; they become driven to uncover the intrigue inside the suitcase. It becomes a mystery they are compelled to solve, leading them to click on your email and potentially engage with your brand. So next time you write that email subject line, remember the power of withholding information and offering it up like a mysterious, tempting suitcase.

Here are some of the best sales email subject lines to leave them hanging (in a good way).

  • [Name] I have to tell you…
  • X options to get started
  • [Name], I saw one of your ads…
  • Our next steps
  • [Name], your CEO…
  • 5 things you need to know
  • Time to meet?

“What makes people uncomfortable about this approach is that you skip the pleasantries. But it really works.”

Head shot of Nikki Ivey giving a quote on sales email subject line best practices
Chaniqua (Nikki) IveyInclusivv (Formerly Civic Dinners)CRO

For Booking Meetings—Use Internal Camouflage

When it comes to using internal camouflage in sales email subject lines, less is often more. If executed proficiently, utilizing internal camouflage can be a very effective way to catch a prospect’s attention and entice them to open your email. However, if not executed properly, your attempt to appear to be working for the prospect’s company may leave them feeling misled and frustrated.

It’s important to note that even when done effectively, trust is still a crucial component of any effective sales strategy. Instead of relying solely on internal camouflage, make sure to focus on building a genuine connection with your prospect by providing value and addressing their specific needs or pain points. Establishing that level of trust and building a relationship will increase the likelihood of success in the long run.

Test some of these internal camouflage sales email subject lines.

  • Reply rates
  • Template refresh
  • Last week’s results
  • Sales templates

“The thing that I don’t want to happen is for your subject line to scream to the reader, “Hey, you’re about to get pitched!” So what do you do? Use Internal camouflage. It looks like it could be internal and won’t ring alarm bells in your reader’s mind.”

Headshot of Will Allred giving a quote around what is a good email subject line.
Will AllredLavenderCo-Founder & COO

For Follow Ups And Networking—Make Them The Expert

Prospects love to feel smart—after all, who doesn’t? That’s where framing your subject line as a bid for knowledge sharing comes in. Not only does this approach pique interest, but it also sets a positive tone for the conversation to come. This type of sales email subject line is great for both follow-ups and introductions, whether you’re reconnecting with old leads or introducing yourself to potential new clients.

By positioning yourself as someone who values and prioritizes knowledge, you’re showing your prospects that you’re interested in making sales and building positive, lasting relationships.

Make your prospect feel like the expert with these subject lines.

  • Tech question / [Company] sales process
  • Looking for your advice on [subject]
  • Wanna get coffee and continue chatting about [subject]?
  • I need your advice on something
  • [Name], I loved your blog post on [website name]
  • [Name], question about your book
  • [Name], wild idea?

For Promotional Emails—Subvert Their Expectations

We all know that feeling of dread when we open our inbox and see dozens of the same tired promo emails. Now, more than ever, it’s important to stand out from the crowd in order to grab readers’ attention.

One effective way to do this is by subverting their expectations. A cleverly placed ellipsis, a unique choice of words, or a witty phrase can be just the thing to make your email stand out from the rest. So why not try something new and see if it makes a difference in your readers’ engagement levels? You might just be surprised by the results.

Be irresistible with one of these sales email subject lines.

  • I love everything in this email!
  • What if we told you____
  • And they said it couldn’t be done
  • I don’t usually do this…
  • They told us it was impossible
  • Do not open this email
  • I think [product] would be perfect for you

“What will challenge this person’s narratives? What will make them think my email is different enough from the countless others they receive?”

Dale Dupree Headshot giving quote on the best email subject lines for sales
Dale DupreeThe Sales RebellionFounder and CSO

For Leads That Have Gone Cold—Surprise Them

Regarding sales, cold leads can be the hardest to revive. They’ve shown interest in the past, but for one reason or another, they’ve gone cold. But don’t give up on them just yet. In fact, the element of surprise works wonders when reaching out for that final push. This is your last opportunity to hook them with your brilliant, persuasive writing.

So, pull out all the stops with the most striking, compelling words you can conjure up for your subject lines. Show them why they’re missing out on your product or service and why they should reconnect with you. Doing so will make you one step closer to converting them into a satisfied customer.

Warm them up and give one of these subject lines a try.

  • Should I stay or should I go?
  • Where is the love?
  • Permission to close your file?
  • Feeling blue?
  • If you change your mind about partnering with us
  • 3 ideas for you
  • I never want to assume
  • [Name], you in?

“I don’t do it to instill panic. It’s a great motivation to open the email, which is the barrier we have with email subject lines.”

Jen Allen Headshot giving quote on the best email subject lines for sales
Jen AllenLavenderChief Evangelist

Still Blocked on the Best Sales Email Subject Line?

We’ve given you many catchy subject lines to inspire your next email. But if you’re still blocked and want to get unstuck, why not let AI tools give you that little extra boost? Marketers are leveraging AI tools to brainstorm options for lead-generating email subject lines, but sales can also utilize these powerful tools.

From AI video script generators to prospect research, sales use cases for AI tools are ever-expanding—and email subject lines are the perfect way to dip your toes. Given the email subject line best practices we covered above, play with different prompts in tools like ChatGPT and see what email subject lines come back. Not all will be winners, but you might just find that golden ticket.

Sample Sales Email Subject Line AI Prompt

Write 10 alternative catchy sales email subject lines for a [add the type of sales email] based on the following instructions:

  1. Use the prospect’s first name [add prospect’s name] in the subject line to increase personalization and engagement.
  2. Choose words that evoke an emotional response in the reader, such as curiosity, excitement, or urgency.
  3. Keep the subject line short and to the point, ideally fewer than 5 words, to increase open rates.
  4. Use action-oriented verbs to convey a sense of urgency and encourage the reader to take action.

If you want AI to do even more work for you, why not let it help with lead gen, sales prospecting, and generating your outbound sales emails (including subject lines)? Automated sales prospecting tools like Vidyard Prospector are doing just that. They act as virtual sales assistants, taking the heavy lifting off the rep so you can spend more time on following up with the most engaged leads.

Vidyard Prospector using AI to auto generate prospecting emails to targeted accounts.
Outbound Sales, Automated. Vidyard Prospector using AI to auto generate prospecting emails to targeted accounts. Spend less time hunting leads and more time hitting quota with Vidyard Prospector. Learn More

Creating the Best Sales Email Subject Lines Is Easier Than You Think

Top sellers agree—subject lines can make or break your sales outreach. So why not listen to the experts? Remember to opt for brief subject lines that are specific to your prospect and include unique keywords. The examples above are a great springboard for your own creative renditions. And when all else fails, remember there are no bad sales subject lines, just great opportunities for A/B testing!

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This post was originally published on July 29, 2022. It was updated on October 16, 2023.

Donnique Williams

Donnique is a Writer & Strategist at Fenwick, a studio that specializes in clear and compelling writing and design for B2B. When she isn’t slicing magazines into collage art or writing poetry, you can find her growing her indoor jungle.