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Seven tips to write sales email subject lines that boost open rates

Email is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience and promote your products or services.`

It’s also one of the most profitable channels. With email marketing, you can expect to generate an average of $42 for every dollar you spend.

That’s an impressive ROI.

But you can’t simply blast emails to your list and expect to generate that kind of ROI. You need to craft emails that resonate with your recipients and address their pain points.

Maximizing the success of your email marketing starts with your subject lines. Not sure how to craft compelling subject lines that get results?

You’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to craft subject lines for your sales emails and plenty of examples to inspire your next campaign. 

But first, let us understand the importance of email subject lines. 

Why Email Subject Lines Are Important

Email is undoubtedly an important communication channel. But the number of emails that people receive can also be overwhelming. 

The number of emails sent daily is expected to reach 347 billion by 2023. 

why email subject lines are important

People today are incredibly busy. They don’t have the time to check every single email and read through the content.

That’s why your subject lines are important. If you don’t immediately capture your recipients’ attention, they’ll likely overlook your email or simply delete it altogether. 

Almost half of the recipients say they open their emails based solely on the subject line. It’s not an understatement to say that your subject lines could very well make or break your next email marketing campaign.

One of the best ways to increase your open rates and generate more sales for your business is to write engaging email subject lines. Get this right, and email will be one of your best and most profitable website traffic sources

Now, let’s take a look at how you can improve your email subject lines, increase open rates, and generate better results with your emails.

1. Personalize Your Subject Lines

Consumers don’t want to be treated like a number. They want to be treated as individuals.

One of the best ways to increase engagement and add a more personal touch to your emails is by personalizing the subject lines. This can be as simple as using an individual’s name.

Recipients who receive emails with their first name in the subject line are 26% more likely to open them. 

personalize your subject lines

Avoid using generic statements in your subject lines like “Thanks for subscribing!” or “Click here to buy now” as they seem rather impersonal.

Here’s an example of how Converse personalizes their emails to include each subscriber’s first name in the subject line:

chuck taylor

Using the recipient’s first name along with a discount makes this email more likely to stand out in their inbox.

People respond when you use their first name. Use that to your advantage with your email marketing campaigns. 

You can use Salesmate to easily personalize your subject lines and even the body of your email.

compose email

Personalized Subject Line Examples:

  • “[First name], check out these hand-picked offers just for you”
  • “Do you have 5 minutes to jump on a call [first name]?”
  • “[First name], here’s the free ebook you requested”

2. Keep Your Subject Lines Short

Consumers receive tons of emails everyday, so they’re making snap judgments on which emails to open and which ones to send to the trash.

Keep your subject lines short and get straight to the point. How long should your subject lines be?

The optimal length appears to be between 6 to 10 words, which has a 21% open rate. Subject lines with 0 to 5 words have a 16% open rate, followed by 14% for 11 to 15 words and 12% to 16 to 20 words.

email open rate

(Image Source)

Based on the data above, 6 to 10 words appear to be the sweet spot.

Another reason to keep your subject lines short is that 46% of all emails are opened and read on mobile devices. Subject lines that are too long will be automatically truncated depending on the user’s device.

Here’s an example of an email I received with a truncated subject line:

I’m only able to see the entire subject line when I open it up.

As you keep the length of your subject line in mind, it’s important to write optimized copy to entice your recipients to open your emails. One way to do that is to convey a clear benefit or focus on a pain point.

Short Subject Line Examples: 

  • “Resources to help with [pain point]”
  • “[First name], want to learn more about [solution]?”
  • “A special discount just for you [first name]”

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

How you perceive a product depends on its availability. 

If a product has a large supply available, you likely won’t be in a rush to buy it. You know there’s plenty of stock, so you can purchaseit on your next shopping trip.

But if there’s a limited supply of something you want, you’ll likely be out your door in the next 10 minutes (or even sooner).

Creating a sense of urgency is one principle that you can leverage in your subject lines to get recipients to act. Highlighting scarcity is one of the principles of persuasion by Robert Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing.

Scarcity works because you’re adding an element of FOMO (fear of missing out) to your emails. Recipients worry that they’ll miss out on a great offer if they don’t act right away.

Limited availability of a product or service can increase its perceived value. Here’s an example of how Booking.com uses scarcity on its pages: 


Each listing highlights the (limited) number of rooms available. Visitors risk missing out on those rooms if they don’t act right away.

You can leverage this persuasion technique in your subject lines by using words like “urgent,” “ending soon,” and “don’t miss out on.”

Besides, urgency strategies are extremely successful in ecommerce holiday marketing strategies, pitting expiring deals with fast-approaching holiday deadlines:

ecommerce holiday marketing strategies

Here’s an example of how Old Navy creates a sense of urgency in its emails:  

sense of urgency

Old Navy even includes a timer in the email to further encourage recipients to take advantage of the ongoing deal (yet another way you can increase website traffic and generate more sales).

There’s one important caveat, though — if you say that a sale is over by midnight or that you have limited quantities of a product, be sure to actually follow through. Otherwise, recipients will be less inclined to trust you if you go back on your word.

Sense of Urgency Subject Line Examples:

  • “[First name], you’ve got ONE more day…”
  • “Don’t miss out on this limited sale [first name]”
  • “Tonight only: Time-sensitive offer for [first name]”

4. Maintain a Consistent Brand Message

Branding is all about how consumers perceive your company. It also encompasses the messages you convey to your audience.

A strong brand message can help differentiate yourself from the competition. But maintaining a consistent message isn’t easy, especially when you have a presence on multiple channels.

If your website says one thing and your social media says another, you’re sending mixed messages to your visitors. They won’t know which message to trust.

True Blue Life Insurance maintains a professional tone with its homepage copy:

professional tone - True blue life insurance

(Image Source)

They also maintain a similar tone on their Facebook posts:

True Blue LIfe Insurance

Visitors to either channel have a good idea of what they’re dealing with — a professional company that lets them easily compare different insurance policies.

Here’s another example from Dollar Shave Club, which has a more subtle sense of humor in its product descriptions: 

MInt leaf lip balm

Their emails also have a similar sense of humor as well:

dollar shave club

Whether you use a playful, quirky, or professional tone, maintain a consistent brand message across all your channels. And that applies to your subject lines as well. 

One thing to keep in mind is whether your list is mainly English speakers. If you have an international audience, some words may not translate well. 

5. Include a Video in Your Emails 

Video is a great addition to your email marketing. They’re a great way to really show your product or service in action.

If you do use video in your emails, let your recipients know. Just including the word “video” in a subject line has been shown to increase open rates by 19% and click-throughs by 65%.

But there isn’t exactly an easy way to embed videos in emails. Some email clients like Gmail and Apple Mail don’t let you directly embed them.

One option to incorporate videos in your email marketing is to use a static image that links to your video content. Here’s an example of how Monica Vinader links an image to a video on their website:

monica vinader

By displaying a play button over the image, recipients know that it’s a video. Another option is to simply include a link to your video content in your email.

Consider investing in professional video production services to help your videos stand out and to ensure they properly reflect your brand. 

Examples of Using “Video” in Subject Lines:

  • “[First name], we prepared a short video for you”
  • “Want to know more about [solution]? Watch this video…”
  • “Watch this video for all the latest about [topic]”

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

There’s no shortage of articles on how to write the best subject lines. But what works for one marketing campaign may have completely different results for yours.

That’s why it’s important to run experiments on your own constantly. You simply never know how successful (or unsuccessful) a subject line will be unless you test and track your results.

Use simple workflow software to create a repeatable process to test your subject lines. 

Try injecting humor in your subject lines, target a specific pain point, or even try to invoke an emotional response. Even if a particular subject line doesn’t work, it’s not a complete failure.

Email tracking from Salesmate allows you to measure your emails’ performance and track key metrics like open and click-through rates.

email template

Tracking metrics isn’t just limited to sales emails.

The same also applies for sending company newsletters. If you want more of your employees to open your emails, it’s equally important to track internal emails and measure response rates.

7. Segment Your Email List

Sending a single email to your entire list isn’t always the best option. The reason why is simply because some recipients may find your email relevant, while others won’t.

List segmentation is the practice of segmenting your list based on their demographics, interests, location, and even purchase history. It allows you to send more relevant emails to your list. 

For example, you can group recipients based on products they’ve expressed interest in. Then you can follow up with content or offers that are relevant to them.

If you’re not segmenting your email list, you’re leaving tons of sales on the table.

List Segmentation Examples: 

  • “We compiled these product recommendations just for you.”
  • “Learn more about [specific problem] here.”
  • “Get 10% off [product category] today online.”


Getting your email subject line right is essential. 

If you don’t communicate value or capture your recipients’ attention, subscribers will likely overlook your emails or even send them to the trash. 

Good subject lines are personal and give recipients reasons to open your emails. 

Use an advanced tool like Salesmate CRM to track your emails and measure your subject lines’ effectiveness. You can even create an email sequence to follow up with your prospects. 

Salesmate CRM makes it easy to track and organize your email conversations. You’ll get notifications when prospects open your emails.

You won’t have to guess whether your emails actually work. Our tool lets you track how many recipients are opening your emails and clicking your links. 

Once you find a subject line that works, you can craft an email template that you and your team can use for future email marketing campaigns.


An avid writer who likes to explore new fields and research about interesting subjects. She is a versatile content developer who plays with words to express her thoughts. Calm, carefree and creative are the words that describes her the best.

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