How to Double the Chances That Stores Will Open Your Email

By the time you actually email a store, you've invested thousands of hours in everything that went into that email. 

You've painstakingly selected the fibers, metals, paper or fabrics that make up your products. You've imagined and sketched and brainstormed to come up with the designs. You've spent hundreds of hours making your products, dozens creating a linesheet, you've invested in Wholesale In a Box, you've composed a heart-felt and personalized email. 

And then, in a split-second, a store owner will scan her inbox, read the subject line of your email, and decide whether or not to even open your note. All that work --  hinging on something as insignificant as an email subject line. 

Email subject lines matter because they are the "face" of your email. But it can seem mysterious, irritating, or just downright impossible to try to figure out what exactly the subject line should be. Most makers give up and just put something generic.

Here are our best suggestions for writing an email subject line that will actually get your email opened. 

The principles: 

  • Use words that paint a picture. 
    The problem with just putting your business name or "wholesale inquiry" in the subject line is that it doesn't mean anything to the person receiving it. Sure, when I hear your business name, I think of your unique style -- but they haven't heard of you yet. So it's better to use words that already paint a picture for them.
  • If in doubt, stand out. 
    Even a weird subject line is better than a generic one. Which email would you be more likely to open, one with the subject "I'm bizarrely obsessed with your prints!" or one that said "Inquiry regarding promotion opportunity." 
  • Solve a problem. 
    The ideal subject line touches on something that the recipient is already worried or thinking about. They might be wanting to round out their product offerings for an upcoming holiday season. They might be looking for a product that will be super-remarkable and so boost store visits. You don't necessarily know what's on their minds, but you can authentically share something specific that you offer that might be helpful or interesting to them.

Some actual subject lines you could try: 

  • Descriptive.
    For instance, "Jewelry line with the same strong lines as Eileen Fisher" or "Hand-painted holiday scarves that are actually affordable"
  • Enthusiastic.
    For instance, "I love North Boutique because you're soulful and quirky."
  • Hyper-specific. 
    For instance, "If you're looking for hilarious cards, I'm your gal" or "These prints go perfectly with your fall furniture" 


  • Don't worry about…
    getting it perfect -- even a slightly better subject line will help a lot.
  • For a quick-and-dirty 3-minute fix, just…
    adapt one of the subject lines above and try it out. 
  • Or to really dig in, consider…
    brainstorming 25 possible subject lines. The act of thinking of a LOT of subject lines usually works better than staring at a blank screen trying to think of a PERFECT subject line. Brainstorm 25 in your notebook and then go do something else. When you come back, scan the page and see which subject line would stand out the most to you if it were in your inbox. Use that one for a while -- you can always change it if you think of something better.

Making these small improvements -- like a more specific subject line -- can seem insignificant. But if you make a couple of changes each week, you will start to see results.  

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