CRM vs prospects, adapt your email subject line to your target audience

A short guide to best practices for hooking your prospects with the right email acquisition subject lines!

Writing eye-catching email subject lines - and therefore effective at getting customers to open them - is one of the best practices that marketers have mastered. Perhaps even a little too well... to the point where they often base their email acquisition strategy on these very precepts.

That's normal! The little reflexes of CRM quickly reappear when the line between the methods to be deployed to reach either of these two targets is too blurred. Yet addressing a customer and a prospect are not really comparable: what works well in CRM may not work at all with prospects.

Imagine trying to lure onlookers into a club with a few knowing winks... A guaranteed flop, if not a slap in the face!

The principle? Two rooms, two atmospheres... The pat on the back, the slightly silly joke and the good old-fashioned dedication (we're in the '80s) are for the regulars. When you're talking to strangers, you need to adapt your approach so as not to miss out on what could be a great event.

As a reminder, the same applies to email content, which needs to be sculpted according to your line of sight.

But let's get back to our prospects and make sure they push the door and get past your nightclub... In other words, how do you adapt the content of your subject lines to acquisition emailing to boost your open rate?

Emailing prospects vs emailing customers... sometimes the same battle!

So yes, it's true, even if we're not addressing the same target, there are still some rules we can't break. There are do's... and don'ts!

The trio of highly objectionable practices

1. Email subject lines that are too long

No matter who receives the email, the inbox is the same. If it's too long, the preview of your email subject will often be truncated. It all depends on the e-mail provider, but on average, a maximum of 50 characters is required for the full subject line to be visible to the vast majority of Internet users. Of course, don't forget to give priority to keywords. And if you've got more to say, complete your message with a pre-header.

2. Spam words

As with CRM, the subject line of an acquisition email should banish words that could flag your message as SPAM. The list of spam words on the e-mail providers' radar is long and fluctuating...

3. Capital letters, special characters and massive punctuation

Your emailing subject lines, whatever they may be, shouldn't resemble your (grand)mother's text messages. With all due respect, we all know that she overuses emojis, doubles or triples question marks and, when she gets carried away, switches to capital letters! So opt for sobriety to improve the deliverability of your messages. If you imitate Granny, your communication risks ending up as SPAM.

Play on emotions

Never forget that you're not the only one trying to attract onlookers to your dance floor. Your prospects' e-mail inboxes are teeming with a wide variety of solicitations. To stand out from the crowd and entice them to open your e-mail, you need to choose wording that appeals to their sensibilities and arouses a positive emotion. Here are four examples...

1. The emergency

You can set a deadline like "Outlet: only 24 hours left to take advantage". This short deadline will encourage the prospect to open the email to avoid missing out on an opportunity that's within their reach. This is a version of "Happy hour for half an hour".

2. Opportunism

This is the typical "Bon plan", highlighting your discount offer 👉 Ex: "Up to -60% on our best sellers". The recipient feels privileged by the opportunity. You arouse his interest and his desire to discover the bargains behind this invitation... And he can't resist taking a look at your email!

3. Curiosity

Asking a question is always powerful. Keep it simple, objects that start with "How..." are among the most effective. 👉 Ex: "How can you save money on your electricity bill? But how? To find out, the prospect quickly opens the e-mail.

4. The mystery

"Fiber at this price, you won't believe it...". Or in front of the club, "Would you like to have a drink in the same club as a Hollywood star...?". Wow, you're speechless. You're already shivering: it promises something big, something concrete, but it leaves us with a taste of unfinished business. We want to know more!

A final tip common to both targets... Keep in mind that tone and wording vary from sector to sector and advertiser to advertiser. To refine your e-mail subject strategy and adapt it to your audience, you can opt for AB testing. This will help boost your open rate.

How to reach your prospects with an effective email subject?

As you can see, the atmosphere is quite different. You don't have your prospects yet, and you still have a lot of work to do to lure them into your fold. That's why the approach won't be the same as with your customers, with whom you already have some significant ties. Here's a short guide to best practices for hooking prospects with the right email subject lines.

Clarify the emailing subject line

To capture the attention of your prospects, your first priority is to make your subject line clear. On this important point, two mistakes should be avoided.

1. Wording too corporate

Many advertisers overuse objects that play the proximity card. Typical example: "Happy days are here! " . While the message may be clear in CRM, where the audience is familiar with your brand and your offers, it will be a flop with prospects. The former are capable of associating this type of object with an already-identified appointment. Prospects, on the other hand, won't grasp the allusion and subtext at all. The subject of your e-mail will evoke... nothing! And the desired effect will fall completely flat. The result: a low open rate!

2. Presumption of notoriety

The other mistake is to think that prospects necessarily know you. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Your brand may be completely unknown to them. And yet, we learn very early on not to respond to strangers, especially if their message isn't explicit enough.


👉 That's all well and good, but it doesn't say who you are or what products or services are included in this offer.


There's a slight difference: even if you're well known in your sector, your prospects don't always know what's going on with your offer or your collections.


👉 Really? And where? What are you talking about?


No matter how famous you are, you must always help and encourage prospects to come (or return) to find out exactly what's going on with your offer.

It's essential to remember that the subject of your email, coupled with a sender, must faithfully translate the content of your email (offer, products or services concerned) to boost your open rate.

Avoid personalizing your email subject lines

We keep telling you: two rooms, two atmospheres! On the CRM dance floor, customers like to be recognized by the staff. Personalization is therefore often favorable in terms of KPI's.

But it's a different story if third parties (publisher bases) relay your campaigns. Firstly, because they don't always have the basic information. But above all, because Internet users may have made a typing error when registering in the database... There's nothing worse than receiving an e-mail with a truncated first name, Starbucks café style!

Trust the publishers

Some marketers like to define their own subject lines for their acquisition email campaigns, for two main reasons:

  • The search for consistency with what is relayed in CRM.
  • The certainty that publishers will use a unique object validated by the brand.

While this practice is well-intentioned, it is unfortunately counter-productive for your acquisition campaigns. Why is this?

1. The flag spam threat

A single, widely distributed object multiplies the chances of being flagged as spam by the ISPs. The same is true for CRM, and even more so if you have a single object for both targets. In both cases, your opening rate will suffer.

2. To each his own...

... and the opening rate will be boosted! And yes, publishers have a precise idea of the profiles that make up their databases. They know very well what type of object works... and incidentally, they have no interest in broadcasting a campaign that doesn't open. Trust the specialists!

3. A good compromise: the object list

If you're a little reluctant to let go of the reins completely, you can always propose a list of items for your campaign. Suggest at least four or five options. These will allow the editor to vary the items and select the one most likely to boost your KPI's.

Last but not least... be original!

In acquisition emailing, distributed via partner publisher databases, make sure you stand out in the wording chosen for special occasions. When it comes to "sales", "private sales" or "Black Friday", web users and e-mail inboxes are obviously over-solicited! The same applies to CRM.

The direct use of these words in heavily relayed acquisition campaigns risks drowning you in the mass. Worse still, it could send you straight to SPAM. Now's the time to show off your creativity and ingenuity...

What are your goals? 👉 Skilfully bypass these potential filters and capture your prospects' attention!

You're now the ace of email subject lines, and we can help you set up a campaign with high ROI potential? Just click here!

Start a project

If you want to get a free consultation without any obligations, fill in the form below and we'll get in touch with you.
Leave this field blank