A Data-Backed Guide to Writing Incredible Sales Subject Lines
Sales Tactics

A Data-Backed Guide to Writing Incredible Sales Subject Lines

When you’re writing a sales pitch email, mastering the art of the subject line is likely one of your first hurdles.

It’s a balancing act to determine which words should take pride of place, but don’t fall into the trap of cut and pasting the first sentence of the body text and thinking, “That’ll do.”

After all, the subject line is one of the most important factors of any sales email.

Why? Because 35% of recipients open emails based on subject lines alone, and 69% use the same few sentences to determine whether the message should be reported as spam.

If you’re not crafting an incredible subject line, you’re limiting the chances of a prospect opening (and responding to) your email.

Here’s a data-backed guide to writing incredible subject lines that drive opens, responses, and conversions from your sales pitch emails—plus six brands that have cracked the code.

1. “Put on your headphones to win a prize! 🎧 🎁” from Quuu

First off, this email is exciting.

In a message to announce the launch of the company’s new podcast, Quuu nailed their subject line and made us want to get involved—especially because there’s an incentive to do so.

We all like winning prizes, right?

Clearly telling your prospect what you want them to do with a call-to-action gives them a nudge to open your email too. The requested action, “to put on headphones,” is short and powerful, and explains how their prospect will need to do something before getting their prize.

But what we really wanted to hone in on was the use of emoji.

The use of emoji in email marketing messages increased by 775% between 2015 and 2016.

Better yet, over half (56%) of brands who are using emojis in their subject lines reported higher open rates for their campaigns.

So, take a page out of Quuu’s book and start to split-test whether emojis can do the same for your sales pitch email. Not only do these fun emoticons demand attention in a crowded inbox, but they also look more inviting to open and less like they’re strictly professional.

2. “When you can fit us in, Copper” from The Gym Group

Let’s face it, nobody likes receiving emails from the gym you’ve been putting off for two weeks.

But this subject line example from The Gym Group is pushing us to get back on track and visit them again for one reason: their sales pitch email is personalized.

The subject line addresses you by name, so you know the message is intended (and personalized) for you before you even open it.

Plus, they’re using previous behavior to build a crafty subject line that makes you feel like they understand you.

They’re proving they understand my pain point: not having enough time for the gym. A simple phrase like “when you can fit us in” makes you feel like The Gym Group really “gets” you, so we're already hooked and ready to press open.

One report found that personalized email subject lines increase open rates by 50%.

Although it takes time to find information on your prospect and include that in your sales pitch email (especially if you’re not using a CRM), just imagine the results you could drive if you doubled your current open rate!

3. “Don’t miss this interview 🔥” from Ross Simmonds

… Miss what interview?

I’m instantly hit with the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)—a psychological phenomenon that 69% of millennials experience. You want to hear about the interview that your friends, business partners, and competitors are watching. You don’t want to miss out.

But this subject line didn’t make our top list just because it put the fear of FOMO in you.

We love this example because it doesn’t sound like Ross is actively selling something. That puts you at ease, sets your non-promotional expectations, and makes you believe that Ross values you enough to offer free resources.

Don’t know about you, but that’s enough to make us open his sales pitch email.

Another criteria that Ross hit was the K.I.S.S methodology—Keep It Simple, Stupid.

By clearly explaining what the email contains (without fluff), he’s catering to the 77% of email opens that take place on a small mobile screen.

Use this strategy when writing your own subject lines. You don’t want to spend 30 minutes crafting a 10-word subject line if half of it won’t be read.

4. “Last chance! 10% off everything & free delivery!” from H&M

Sounds like a major contradiction to that previous example, right? We just talked about the bonus of offering value rather than the hard sell—but this example by H&M is a masterclass on how to write subject lines for sales pitch emails.

While they’re selling, they’re also giving you value in return.

A discount code and free delivery is a strong incentive, and caters to common pain points their prospect might have: costly products and expensive shipping.

If H&M can solve those two problems, why wouldn’t their prospect buy?

Plus, combine that with the fact that emails containing the word “free” see 10% more opens than those without, and you’ve got a solid point to argue that offering something for free doesn’t have to impact your profitability.

We also love this subject line because it creates a sense of urgency.

The words “last chance” push you to open the email rather than push it to the bottom of the priority list (and inbox).

That’s important, especially if you’re targeting the generation of unread emails.

5. “Your Instagram golden ticket expires soon! [50% off sale] ⚡📷” from Zoe Linda

You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you said you didn’t want a golden ticket.

Even though the aim of her sales pitch email is to sell her Instagram Hashtag Database, she’s livened up her subject line to add more fun.

But there’s a catch: you’ll only be able to grab the golden ticket if you act now.

Notice the sense of urgency that’s creeping up again? Zoe Linda has nailed that with her subject line.

Adding the word “soon” to the subject line makes the reader want to act fast. It pushes them to buy now, rather than later.

That’s a tactic proven to work: email subject lines that include the words “yesterday” or “tomorrow” have higher engagement rates than those that contain “today.”

Not only is that motivation to choose your words wisely, it’s also motivation to think about the timing of your sales pitch email. People want to know about events, sales, or promotions that are happening soon—but not last minute.

6. “$20k in two months? Possible” from The Contract Shop

Can you spot the common denominator behind each of these subject line examples? That’s right: they all cater to the pain points of the person they’re emailing.

This example is no different.

The team at The Contract Shop understand that one of the dilemmas their potential customer faces is reaching a $20,000 revenue goal.

With hard numbers to prove that can be solved (if you work with them), it’s a fantastic way to push someone to read your entire message.

In fact, subject lines that contain hard numbers have average open rates of 53.2%. That’s a bit higher than the 51.9% average:

subject lines that include numbers get higher open and reply rates

The simplest way to use this concept in your sales pitch emails is by focusing your subject line around a case study of a similar client.

For example, if you’ve got data to prove your software helped a previous customer increase their website traffic by 50%, be proud of it and allow the statistic to take the spotlight in your subject line.

Split-testing to perfect your subject lines: the key to success.

While these subject line examples worked for these brands, the only way to find which formula works for your business is to experiment.

What worked for these brands might not work for yours, simply because the prospects you’re emailing have different needs.

However, email providers—such as MailChimp and ConvertKit—offer automatic split-testing features. By segmenting your audience and sending a different subject line variation to each, you’ll gain access to data that proves which tactic your prospects prefer.

Plus, if you’re a salesperson in an organization sending sales pitch emails to prospects, you can use Copper’s email tracking features to know if and when your email was opened. That’s the ultimate judge of how well you crafted your subject line.

Now you’ve got a solid understanding of which strategies can influence the chances of your sales pitch emails being opened, it’s time to get to work.

Play around with the use of emojis, urgency, and offers—and don’t forget to split-test your results!