African-American man typing email on silver laptop

When sending sales emails to your prospects, one of the most important elements is the email subject line—in fact, according to Salesforce, 64% of people open an email because of the subject line alone. The purpose of the subject line is to prevent the prospect from skipping or deleting your email and incite enough curiosity to get them to open it and start reading.

Email subject lines should be as professionally personable to the prospect as possible, and rarely are two email subject lines ever the same. Subject lines can be broken into 4 main categories: Personal, Personal-Company, Company-Wide, and Industry-Wide.

4 Categories of Email Subject Lines

  • Personal
  • Personal-Company
  • Company-Wide
  • Industry-Wide

Category 1: Personal

This type of email subject by far the most powerful to generate curiosity – a subject line that is customized on the personal level of the prospect. When crafting a personal subject line, remember to only bring up facts that are publicly available and always remain professional.

Your prospect’s favorite sport, alma mater, mutual location or connections you share are all great fodder for a really well customized email subject line.

Category 2: Personal – Company

Making the connection between something unique in the prospect’s life and their company is another powerful way to get a prospect to open up your email. This includes their work anniversary, a recent promotion or new role, and if you were referred by one of their colleagues to name a few.

Category 3: Company-Wide

Another useful category of email subjects are subject lines that deal with something specific at the prospects company. This could be a new leadership change, new product launch or funding round.

Category 4: Industry-Wide

This final category is somewhat of a last resort, as it is probably also the least persuasive. However, it’s important to note, based on the impact subject lines have on whether or not your prospecting emails get opened, even going this route can make a big difference. 

Industry-wide subject line deals with trends, data or changes in the industry level in which your prospects operate.

The 12 of the Most Effective Email Subject Lines

Take a look at these 12 examples of effective email subject lines. They are in order of email subject line categories from Personal, Personal-Company, Company-Wide to Industry-Wide. This is not an exhaustive list of effective email subject lines but can serve as inspiration to create your own effective email subject lines.

  • Go Raiders!
  • Mutual connection: CONNECTIONS NAME
  • Your time in Washington, DC
  • 4-year anniversary
  • Congrats on your new role
  • Referred by: REFERER’S NAME
  • Breaking into new markets
  • New leadership
  • Congrats on the recent launch
  • increase in cloud competition
  • 70% of sellers don’t do this
  • GDPR: nightmare or opportunity?

Remember: Email Subject Lines Are Only Half the Battle

Sending an email with a subject line that will garner enough curiosity for the prospect to open it is only half the battle. After a prospect opens your email, the body of the email needs to contain relevant information, presented in a way that holds the prospect’s attention and motivates them to respond.

When you are considering an email subject line (and, truthfully, in most prospecting situations), the general rule to follow is that the more personal and relevant it is to the prospect, the higher likelihood that the prospect will open your email.