The subject line is the make-or-break of a sales email. If it isn’t compelling enough, the email won’t get opened. And that content inside the email your reps worked so hard on? It will never even be seen.

To increase open rate, your reps need to come up with subject lines that mean something to the recipients. Teach them to take their time every time they need to come up with a subject line for a sales email. In fact, they should draft 5-10 unique subject lines for every one email before picking one to use. Upworthy requires 25 headline drafts for every single story, and they are among the best in the game. Help your reps understand that it is not a waste of time – the subject line of an email influences email open rates so strongly that drafting great ones is worth it. It may help to keep a store of sales email examples on hand to help them remember the basic principles.

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Let’s look at an example:

Great subject line: Congrats on funding

Bad subject line: Congratulations on XYZ Company’s Recognition in the ABC Business Journal!

Okay. What makes the first subject line great?

  • Under 50 characters. This sentence shows what 50 characters looks like. Under 40 is even better. Keep it simple!

  • It’s about the recipient. Remember, people don’t care about you. They only care about what you can do for them.

  • Avoids words that trigger spammy suspicion. Words like “Free,” “Following up,” “Help,” and “Reminder” rub today’s intelligent consumer the wrong way.

  • It sounds personable or informative. This depends on the content of the email. If it’s a first-touch email with the goal of starting a relationship with the recipient, the test is this: would you send that subject line to a friend? The answer should be “yes.” If it’s an informative email, it should be straight-forward and interesting to the recipient.

  • Doesn’t use the prospect’s first or last name. A study by Mailchimp showed using someone’s name in a subject line does not impact open rate.

  • No all-caps. Just because you’re competing with other emails for attention doesn’t mean your subject line should scream at the prospect. Sales reps should always appear composed and professional, not desperate and needy.

“From” field

Finally, a quick word about the “From” field. If at all possible, reps should send emails from their own company email accounts instead of ambiguous addresses like sales@. If they absolutely must send an email from sales@, their first name and company should be attached to the address (e.g. “Lindsay from InsightSquared”).

Your reps’ emails compete with hundreds of other emails in busy inboxes, so don’t make it difficult for prospects to recognize who the email is coming from.

 If you’re wondering how to write a sales email, the subject line is the best place to start.

Writing compelling subject lines for busy people is a challenge, but the subject line is the key to increasing open rate. What subject line best practices have worked for you?

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