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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Increase Your E-mail Open Rates and Avoid the Trash with These 10 Subject Lines


Okay, here’s the scenario. You’ve done your due diligence on a prospect and your extensive research tells you that:

  • They are a good fit with your product
  • They have good dollar potential
  • You have access to the prospect but don’t have personal connections
  • You have personal factors that that will help in making a connection
  • You have developed a compelling Valid Business Reason

Research also tells you that 72% of prospects prefer to be contacted by e-mail, however only 1 in 5 people will open a “cold e-mail.” Some open rates are as low as 14% (Mailchimp). You’re still feeling very good about this prospect. All the stars may be aligning in your favor. You’ve left multiple e-mails but have not gotten a response so you are about to give up. Don’t give up!

Inboxes are very crowded places and many e-mails are one click away from the trash chute. How can you prevent your extinction? 

Success lies in developing a subject line that will “warm up” those “cold e-mails.”

Dave Gerhardt wrote a blog for HubSpot detailing some nuggets of an approach that have proven to be successful to increase open rates and stave off a trip down the deleted chute. The first and foremost element is to create an engaging subject line. The body of your e-mail may be worthy of the Pulitzer Prize, however, if it’s not opened and read then it’s worth nothing.

So let’s talk about subject lines. If your subject line is perceived as being “salesy,” such as “One Day Only Sale Buy Now!” then be prepared for it to be deleted.

He also suggests to always use the prospect’s name in the subject line and that alone increases the likelihood of the e-mail being opened.

Your frustration about creating a provocative “open me” email is shared by many. After researching this subject, below are my top ten subject lines gleaned from a post Emma Brudner wrote titled "23 Sales Email Subject Lines That Get Prospects to Open, Read and Respond":

  1. Hi [name], Mutual Connection Suggested I Get in Touch with You  Referrals are incredibly powerful.
  2. Hi [name], Questions? — Question marks prompt opens and responses.
  3. Hi [name], Hoping to Help — This sentiment put front and center tells the prospect that you are willing to be of service.
  4. Hi [name], You Are Not Alone — Acknowledges to the prospect that many are in this situation and you can help.
  5. Hi [name], Idea — A free idea, the prospect will click and take a look.
  6. Hi [name], A Benefit for Your Company — A succinct statement of a clear benefit will capture attention.
  7. Hi [name], Next Steps — If your Valid Business Reason was on target, prospects will want to know next steps.
  8. Hi [name], Should I Stay or Should I Go? — Pair this with a cleverly crafted “break up” email.
  9. Hi [name], Permission to Close Your File If they don’t respond you’ll know where you stand.
  10. Hi [name], There’s a Fine Line Between Persistence and Stalking. Have I Crossed the Line? — This one usually gets an apologetic response from the prospect.

These subject lines are a good jumping off point for you, but there are other approaches that can work well also. Customize for your own particular situation and watch your open and response rates gain significant traction. 

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Topics: email Sales