3 Tips to Write Sales Email That Gets Responses

By David Baars, Marketing Manager at PipelineDeals

Find out 3 tips for how to write a good sales email that will get responses, including when you should send an email, when to use email templates, and how long your subject lines should be.


One critical question that every salesperson should ask is: “how do I write a good sales email?” An excellent sales email can get you a meeting when you’d otherwise be ignored, or can help you accelerate a negotiation. Indeed, according to research, every $1 invested in email can yield an average ROI of $38. That’s remarkable!

The best sales emails that get responses vary by business and by industry, but there are common characteristics to consider when writing email. After analyzing more than 30,000 email campaigns, we’ve concluded that businesses can gain a significant sales advantage by: (1) adjusting when they send campaigns, (2) rethinking how they use email templates, and (3) focusing on short and compelling subject lines. We believe that if salespeople can address these three areas, that they’ll see vastly higher engagement with their email and impact to the bottomline of the business.

Below we’ll share some of the results from our study, focusing on:

  1. When should you send email to maximize getting a response?

  2. When should you use email templates and when should you avoid them?

  3. How long should your subject line be?

When You Send Matters (And There’s No One Size Fits All Answer)

Timing matters. It matters in sales generally, and it matters with email more specifically. Indeed, a lot has been written about the importance of considering when you want your email to land in your recipient’s inbox.

When we looked at email campaigns, we found that:

  • Most email campaigns are sent between 8AM – 5PM

  • Peak send times are between 9AM – 12PM, and from 2PM – 4PM

 Chart shows when email campaigns were sent by time of day.
Chart shows when email campaigns were sent by time of day.

Given that we were analyzing B2B email campaigns, its’ unsurprising that most of the email sent is between 8AM – 5PM. But are 9AM – 12PM, and 2PM – 4PM really the best times to send email?

The answer is – maybe not. According to our research, when we looked across all campaigns, we didn’t see a significant difference in open rates based upon send time between 8AM – 5PM. That is, there was not broad overall trend that we could key into when we were looking at the data as a whole.

 Box and whisker plot showing the range of open rates depending on the time of day the campaign was sent.
Box and whisker plot showing the range of open rates depending on the time of day the campaign was sent.

With that being said, we sliced the data one layer deeper and discovered a clear difference in open rates by send time within specific industries. For instance, our data shows software companies have dramatically lower open rates for morning campaigns. Alternatively, marketing and advertising companies saw higher open rates in the morning campaigns, while financial services companies saw peak engagement in the afternoon.

 Box and whisker plots for open rates based on time of day, broken out by Software, Marketing, and Financial Services industries.
Box and whisker plots for open rates based on time of day, broken out by Software, Marketing, and Financial Services industries.

What should you take out of this? Ignore the general wisdom of when you should send out email and actually start testing when you send out email messages. If you’re just getting started sending email, look for industry specific data.

Stop Setting and Forgetting Email Templates

Email templates are a useful convenience and help to provide some consistency across teams. With that being said, templated emails can hurt if you never work to improve them.

 Average open rate for templated vs. non-templated emails.
Average open rate for templated vs. non-templated emails.

Non-templated emails perform roughly 30% better than templated email (33.75% OR Template vs. 43.98% OR Non-Template). Digging deeper into this number, we found the following:

  • The disparity between template vs. non-templated emails is most evident when you’re sending to a very small group of people or a very large group. In our research, email templates are best for mid-size campaigns (10 to 100 recipients).

  • Template performance tends to decline through time. This phenemena is a little bit of a mystery, but the worst performing templates were never changed and the performance tended to decline through time. We provide analytics on your performance so you should be using that to make improvements.

  • More personalized emails will always perform better, so consider using merge tags in the subject lines to enhance open rates. Templated emails that had merge tags in the subject lines were the only templated emails that beat non-templated email performance.

Less is More When It Comes to Subject Lines

The number of characters in the subject line of your email does impact the open rate. there is a slight negative correlation between subject line length and open rate overall. Interestingly, the most successful subject lines are less than 10 characters. Subject lines with less than 40 characters tended to perform the best overall. This makes sense given trends towards viewing email on mobile and the fact that most mobile email browsers restrict your view to roughly 40 characters.

 Open rate for email campaigns based on number of characters in the subject line.
Open rate for email campaigns based on number of characters in the subject line.

One surprising finding is that the open rate improves for emails with subject lines between 70 to 120, before declining again. More study is needed to understand why this is the case, but one hypothesis is that the content is more personalized and relevant to recipients.

If you’re interested in learning more about what email can do for your business, sign up for a free 14 day trial with PipelineDeals. See the power of our Connect email integrations in action.