7 Sales Email Subject Lines Your Prospects Won’t Open

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Gabrielle Hughes
Content Marketing Manager

What’s the point of having a thoughtful, well-written message if no one even reads it in the first place?

Your sales email subject line should be considered an art, not an afterthought. Here are a few examples of what to avoid, and what will start generating a response.

“How can [company name] help you?”

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. You’ve got an inbox full of messages, and you probably want to separate the important ones from the ones you can’t ignore. If you see an email with this subject line, do you really think you’ll ask yourself how some random company can help you?

Try this instead: “Are you struggling with [pain point]?” Bringing up something that you know your prospect is challenged by will likely result in an open.

“Business Opportunity.”

Could this be any more boring? If you think about it, the person you’re reaching out to probably receives dozens of businesses opportunities each and every day. There’s no reason this would stand out from all of the others in their inbox.

Try this instead: The actual opportunity. With a more direct approach, your prospect will have a better sense of what they’re getting into.

“[Company Name] + [Prospect Name]”

Your prospect may be interested in seeing their name in the subject line, but if it’s next to a company they’ve never heard of, they’ll probably send it straight to the trash folder.

Try this instead: If you want to capture the attention of your prospect by using their name, place it alongside something that will add value to them. Example? “[Prospect Name], we can help you [goal].”

“I need 5 minutes of your time”

The words “I need” are an immediate red flag to anyone you’re trying to win over. In fact, your needs are obsolete –  you should only be concerned about their needs.

Try this instead: Pose your need as a question with something like, “Possible meeting [date] at [time]?” With this, you’re being less needy and asking for a time that complements their busy schedule.

“[PDF/Presentation/Link Name]”

It might seem like a no-brainer to copy and paste the title of the PDF, link, or presentation you’re sending into the email’s subject line. But even if it saves you a few seconds, it won’t be worth completely destroying the chances of a prospect opening your email.

The average person receives over a dozen marketing emails per day (and that doesn’t include the newsletters and promotions they actually signed up for). If your email looks like yet another marketing message, they’re almost guaranteed to give it the same treatment — ignoring it.

Try this instead: Have your subject line be what the content is about, but make it sound like it’s coming from a person. An example of this would be “Some ideas on how to grow your social media following.”

“Free [ebook, infographic, report, webinar]”

Content is a great way to build relationships and provide value. BUT, you won’t be able to do that if you sound like a marketing robot. Words like “free,” “sale,” “exciting,” and “offer” are things your prospect are trained to see – and ignore.

Try this instead: “Thought you might find this useful, [Prospect Name].” This illustrates that you have the prospect’s best interest in mind, and personalizes the message by using their name.

“Checking in” or “Following up”

Even if you haven’t heard from a prospect, sending a “checking in,” “touching base,” or “following up” email is one of the worst things you can do. They add little-to-no value to your prospect and merely make you come across as annoying.

Try this instead: “Any luck with [goal]?” With this, you can build on your initial message without being a burden. For instance, if you’d previously sent them an eBook on how to generate organic growth, your next email could be titled, “Any luck increasing website traffic?”

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