7 of the best email subject lines for sales that work

Sales is an evolving science. 

Products, consumers, and sales channels are constantly changing. However, one of the most effective mainstays for marketing any type of deal is email.

Even in an age where digital platforms and promotional techniques are constantly changing, email is a go-to solution for hitting those sales goals. While every part of an email is critical, there’s arguably nothing more important than the subject.

Here’s some insight into why subject lines are crucial, how to craft them to make sales goals, plus some examples that work well.

What makes email subject lines so important?

Between businesses and consumers, there are currently estimated to be over 4 billion email users worldwide. Despite being decades old, email isn’t on the decline, either. Its usage is expected to grow between 2% - 3% yearly.  

What’s the first thing a person sees in an email? The subject line. It carries a great deal of importance and can determine whether the content inside — however expertly crafted — even gets seen. About half of users will choose to open emails based solely on the subject. More importantly, over two thirds will send an email to spam just based on the subject. 

The subject line could be thought of as the “preview” of email content, even more than the preview text itself. It’s equivalent to the cover of a book in many regards — no matter what type of fulfilling content is inside, the reader has to be convinced to keep reading.

What goes into a good subject line?

The best email subject lines convert. They convince the reader to click through and drive whatever type of engagement the creator is looking for.

This can come in many forms, including downloading an e-book, signing up to be part of the email subscription list, and of course, making a purchase. Writing an email subject line that converts involves using a few simple techniques, including being specific and building up the reader’s curiosity.

However, when it comes to sales, there are some additional tips you can use.

How to write sales email subject lines that work

The greatest email subject lines for sales cut to the chase and show users what they stand to gain by clicking. They create a sense of urgency and let users know sales deals won’t last forever. 

They also keep the focus on the reader’s state of mind. For example, over 80% of B2B marketers prefer to be talked to like humans rather than businesses. This gives email marketers the tricky task of being both personal and professional in their approach. 

You should also opt for the emojis — but leave out the clickbait. Honesty and creativity go a long way, and they work well with the approach you’re trying to create.

You can be honest about how your business can help them, but be creative about how you talk to them like an individual. 

7 examples of the top email subject lines for sales

In the following examples, you’ll see how some of the top names in the industry do sales emails. In addition to showing how the aforementioned best practices can be put into action, you’ll see how each offers you the flexibility to be inventive. 

1. 15% off everything 

One question that invariably comes up in sales is “how much?” — or some variation of it. 

When you’re creating sales emails, it pays to put those numbers right in the subject line. This email does it with a little something extra. 

Baggu 15% day off

Source: Really Good Emails

This email lets the reader know that everything is on sale. It’s an example of how less is more. Think about how much more impactful this is than a wordier option like “Get 15% off all product categories” or “Every type of product we carry is 15% off.”

As an added bonus, the company uses the graphic they create for the email to note each of the specific product categories that are subject to the discount. 

2. Only a few hours left

Urgency is a motivator. When people know there’s only a short amount of time left in a sale, they’re more likely to reach out — even if they aren’t particularly concerned about the products on sale.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is not only prevalent in certain demographics (nearly 70% of millennials), it can also impact those in higher income brackets. 

Bose email example

Source: Really Good Emails

This example starts out by letting the reader know there’s only a short time left in a big sale — Black Friday, to be specific. Pairing the limited time with a well-known holiday can make it twice as effective.

These emails can also be sent on an automated basis at varying time frames, such as one month left, one week, a few days, one day, and even several hours.  

3. Sleep now, pay later

This email subject line can be tailored toward nearly any industry or product line. The gist is simple — enjoy the product now, pay later.

8 sleep eight email

Source: Really Good Emails

It’s focused on financing or special payment plans, making it perfect for a segmented approach. Customers could qualify for this one based on their previous buying behavior, loyalty, income bracket, and line of work. Examples could include special deals for long-time subscribers, price cuts for low-income customers, and discounts for emergency service providers. 

What makes this a top example is its simplicity. Customers know exactly what they’re getting and can see the value in responding quickly. Since a good subject line is one that incentivizes a person to open and respond, the “___ now, pay later” approach is definitely one to try.   

4. The sale starts now

Beyond just updating people about when there’s little time left on a sale, you can let them know as soon as it starts. 

McAfee email example

Source: Really Good Emails

This one could be tailored to a specific time like the holidays, or it could be based around a company-specific event. When a company is looking to make sure they maximize the efficiency of a sale, an email like this is a must.

It could also be preceded by emails announcing the sale in advance so buyers can get ready and browse the products they’ll want to buy. 

An entire campaign could be built around the type of product being put on sale in the lead up. For example, a line of security products could be preceded with content covering how said products helped to prevent cyber attacks.  

5. Limited pieces, rare prices

Exclusivity doesn’t just mean getting prices that are hard to find. It means getting the chance to buy products that aren’t available at just any store. When these types of products go on sale, it’s easier to build a campaign around them. 

Bellroy email example

Source: Really Good Emails

This approach can be used for brands looking to push their competitive advantage. Consider how it can apply to different industries:

  • Restaurants: “The only place around serving your favorite cuisine.”

  • Fitness facilities: “Get the classes other gyms don’t offer.”

  • Nonprofits: “Working on causes that so often get overlooked.”

This subject line packs a double dose of intrigue. You’re not just getting products that are hard to find — you’re getting them at lower prices than usual. 

6. Seasonal sales

There’s something about switching to a new season that puts people in the mood to shop. Maybe it’s the feeling of newness, or the idea they need to stock up on items to help them get the most out of the upcoming season. 

Voices.com email example sale

Source: Really Good Emails 

These subject lines thrive on simplicity. People don’t have to be detailed about the exact products they’re offering, because a lot of it is suggested with the season itself.

It’s also easier to create a compelling graphic based on the theme of the season. Finally, a seasonal sale can be broken down into different, smaller efforts for greater success in individualized sales campaigns. 

7. Save for one year 

The final example shows how two different forms of numbers can be used together. By mixing a discount percentage and a timeframe, this simple subject helps users calculate long-term savings at a glance. 

The Washington Post email example

Source: Really Good Emails 

People who buy products for the long term, particularly subscription services, do so in hopes of saving. For example, six months of service is usually more affordable than six individual one-month subscriptions. Likewise, a year of service is usually more affordable than two separate six-month subscriptions purchased consecutively. 

This is a great email subject line for sales because it can be used in multiple situations. You could use it to offer a returning subscriber a special deal as well as to try and recover a lapsed subscriber who may need something special to come back.

Wrap up

Email subject lines for sales need to have something special. Even though emails are some of the most popular sales tools out there, you have to make sure your reader gets past the opener. Remember:

  • Good subject lines can keep you out of the spam folder

  • Be specific, use numbers, and think like your readers

  • Take advantage of FOMO and current events

Now that you know how to write subject lines to boost sales, you can check out these strategies for knowing how (and when) to send promotional content.

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