The Sales Email Subject Line That Actually Worked on Me

I’ve been in digital marketing for about 4 years now. I’ve attended numerous conferences, read all the blogs, watched all the videos, taken courses, and networked with hundreds of other persuasion specialists.

I know all the tricks.

This is why I want to recognize Claire. On Friday, Claire sent me an unsolicited sales email for her SaaS company that rhymes with HenPesk. I have no need (and no budget) for HenPesk at this time and certainly no desire for someone to try and sell it to me anyway. Beyond that, Claire’s email was stuck in my company’s external spam filter. I only saw it because I was rescuing a password reset email for something else. In every conceivable way, Claire’s email had a greater chance of gaining sentience than it did of being opened.

And yet… I opened it.

I did so because the subject line was just too good and I had to see what Claire had to say. If you’re an email marketer, this is the part of the story where you’re dying to know what it was. Soon will be the part of the story where a wave a disappointment washes over you like salty sea spray… you won’t be able to use it. It’s not for your prospects, it’s only for me. And that’s the point.

The subject line, verbatim, was this: “La Croix or Klarbrunn?”

If you know nothing else about me, you know I’m a sparkling water fanatic. I can’t get enough of that good fizzy stuff and this gustatory preference is something I try to pass off as a personality online and in person. That’s how Claire found out about it; it was on my LinkedIn profile somewhere.

I have other things on my LinkedIn profile: former jobs, volunteering experience, etc. Claire was smart to skip those and swing for my seltzer obsession. I wouldn’t have responded to any other subject line and I think there’s a few reasons why her’s was perfect:

  1. It asked a question about what I like. People love talking about themselves and recommending things they enjoy. Her subject line question evoked an answer in me before I could even process this was a sales email.
  2. It evoked something light-hearted instead of something boring. If her subject line had been “Do You Prefer HP or Dell?”, that email would be sitting in the ash heap of history right now.
  3. It showed a real effort to make a personal connection. You and I both know Claire ultimately wants that sweet commish from a sale. However, she found something to talk about that honored me as a fellow human with hopes and dreams and an unquenchable thirst. This point is why I actually responded to her! Since she treated me like a person, I decided to politely decline her offer instead of my preferred method of g-g-g-ghosting.

Now you understand why you can’t use Claire’s subject line on your next big blast. Claire took the time to do the research on a specific target (me) and craft a bespoke campaign. This is the essence of account-based marketing (something I’m trying to get better at) and to see it so perfectly executed was awesome.

Mass email blasts have their place but I think a lot of customers are just worn out from an onslaught of spam every day; even scientifically perfect subject lines are likely to sulk through their inbox unnoticed. So be more like Claire; do the hard work, be interested in your prospect, and show them they’re more than just a walking dollar sign to you.


Oh and you probably want to know my answer: Gerolsteiner if I want plain sparkling water and Trader Joe’s Raspberry Lime when it’s time for a funky mouth party. (But LaCroix is my jam when I don’t feel like braving the crowds at TJs). You now know the quickest way to my heart, don’t abuse it.


Take care of each other out there,


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