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  • Writer's pictureJames Purvis

Email Prospecting? 8 Tips for Powerful Subject Lines

Email Prospecting

Email subject lines are crucial in email prospecting. Besides your name, this is the first thing a prospect sees when scanning thru their hundreds of emails. Your goal is simple - stand out and provide a reason for the individual to open up your email. Having a cheesy, gimicky, and generic subject line will be a one way ticket to the trash bin. Your subject line should be crafted to "tell" what is inside, not "sell" what is inside.

So what are some good ways to get noticed and provide an incentive for the prospect to actually open your email? Here are some best practices I use when I am reaching out to prospective clients:

1. Simple and to the point

Providing a short descriptive and compelling subject line is the most important thing to remember when typing a subject line. Mailchimp did a study and analyzed the open rates for over 200 million emails. Open rates ranged from an amazing 93% to a dismal 0.5%. Many factors affect how an email is viewed, such as frequency, sender, and the nature of the message. Personal messages are at the top of the interest scale, followed by affiliations and timely news. At the other end of the scale are stale newsletters, requests for money and offers that are too good to be true. Ideally, you should keep your subject line to 50 characters or less.

2. Words to avoid

The word "free" should be an obvious word to avoid completely. This will likely set off the spam filter and come across as too good to be true since nothing is free in business. Other words to avoid according to Mailchimp's study were "reminder," "percent off,"and "help." Another thing to always avoid - USING ALL CAPS. So annoying...

3. Humor is always a consideration

I think it is safe to say that more than 90% of the email subject lines we see every day don't incorporate any type of humor. Using a humorous subject line will surely help you stand out. If you are going to use this tactic, be careful in making sure you don't use anything offensive, especially if you don't know the person at all. I personally like using humor where I can and it has definitely proven to work more often than not. For example, I saw one the other day that said: Baby Got (Feed) Back: Survey Results from Our Customers. I opened that particular email purely based on the fact that I got a laugh out of it.

4. Using umbers & lists

Our brains are naturally drawn to numbers. Because of that very reason, using numbers in your subject lines is a best practice for sure. An example of a subject line I used recently was: 3 Ways to Tick Your Competitor Off. Who doesn't want to piss off their competition? Go ahead and use that one, I bet you get your email gets opened.

5. Personalize

It has already been over-used to put the actual person's name in the subject line. Try to avoid that. What I mean by personalize is to think more like Groupon and LivingSocial. These companies do a great job in personalizing their emails based on localization. If you are looking to go out to eat and are in Colorado and an email pops up on your phone with the subject; Looking for a place to eat in Denver, CO tonight? You will most likely open that email.

6. Reference

If you know someone who knows the person you are prospecting and said to drop their name - absolutely put this in the subject line. For example, John Smith said to reach out would increase your chances of getting your email read by John's co-worker Steve. Also, another reference would be to refer something that happened in the news or an article that the person wrote: I read your recent blog on Travel Tips in the U.S. would make the prospect curious as to what your feedback was on their post.

7. Incentive-based

If you have an offer that is enticing then consider using this in the subject line. For example, if you have an end of year deal for a special price, put that in the subject. $1,999 All-Inclusive Trip for 2. Ends Tomorrow at Midnight. This provides a call-to-action which is an added bonus.

8. Testimonial-based

Testimonials work well because they provide validation and proof that your product or service works as claimed. An example of a testimonial subject line would be: Why Tiger Woods Drives a Buick or More Californians Choose Southwest Airlines, Here's Why.

More Examples...
  • Have you tried [Name a great restaurant near them]?

  • Will cut to the chase

  • [Name] said to reach out

  • If you're struggling with [pain point] - you're not alone

  • How I can make your life 20% easier

  • [Name] I heard your focused on [Goal]

  • Are you going to [Event / Date]?


Whichever type of subject line you choose to use, just remember to keep it short and concise, make it enticing. Provide a relevant reason for the prospect to open it. Go ahead, test these out, see what works and stick to it.

Was this article useful? Check out more email tips here: Touching Base Emails Suck - 4 New Ways to Keep in Touch



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