How to Write Better Outbound Email Subject Lines

emailWe’re the first to admit that writing sales messaging is hard. 

Here, we’re breaking down a smaller piece of writing sales messaging that a lot of people get hung up on, or just don’t do very well — writing good, catchy subject lines that get a lot of opens.

The content/body of your message that you worked so hard on doesn’t even matter if prospects don’t open the email in the first place, so it’s really important to give almost as much thought to the subject line as you do the rest of the content.

Here are three tips to help you write better subject lines (and spoiler — here are 50+ subject line examples to get your creative juices flowing):

Make It Relevant

Our first go-to when we’re writing subject lines is to look for something in the body of the email that could possibly be used for the subject line. It’s almost like having a cheat sheet — don’t make it harder on yourself by trying to come up with something totally new…you’ve already written enough content that you should be able to repurpose at least part of it for the subject line.  

This is also important because you don’t want your first impression to be misleading. In other words, don’t use click bait-y phrases in the subject line just to get an open if they don’t relate to your message. Your reader won’t be happy if they open your email to find that the content isn’t relevant to the subject line.

Keep It (kind of) Short

I threw the “kind of” in parenthesis because we go back and forth on this one from time to time — we’ve seen success with two-word subject lines, but we’ve also seen success with longer, more specific ones.

So here’s our two cents — as a general rule of thumb for everything that pertains to sales messaging, keep it as short and direct as possible. You’re more likely to get positive responses if you’ve already proven to the prospect that you respect their time/attention by only sharing the most important info and omitting any and all “fluff.” 

If you have a few ideas in mind, do some A/B testing to see how the length of your subject line plays to your audience. 

Use Humor 

…when it makes sense.

AKA: maybe don’t use humor if you’re prospecting to CEOs of Fortune 500 cos. Or do? Sometimes it pays off to stand out when you’re competing against 100s of other companies who are trying to get in front of the same person.

We love to throw in our creativity whenever we can, but we use our best judgment when it comes to deciding when it’s appropriate and when it’s not. For the most part, cold prospects respond well to a little bit of creativity and humor. 

Subject line writing can actually be fun — it’s like putting the finishing touches on something you’ve worked really hard on…and it’s even better when it leads to a conversation with a prospect. 

Check out 50+ examples here.