5 Best Practices for Cold Email Subject Lines

An average professional receives at least 126 emails daily — and that’s a lot!

It means you’d be competing with tons of emails for your prospects’ attention. To increase your open rates, you can start by coming up with a good cold email subject line.

Here are some cold email subject line best practices you can apply in creating your next sales email subject lines:

1. Have a dead-on offer

This one’s pretty simple. You only have to offer them something they really want.

However, you have to make sure they’d be interested in what you have.

When it comes to dead-on email, you have to browse through your leads list to find people who may be attracted to your offer.

And from there, you just have to sell them with the what. No need to apply a dash of creativity or something.

You just have to be straightforward.

Whether you’re selling a product worth $4,000 or offering a free download, using a direct subject line is the best way to go.

Aside from breaking up campaigns, you can also increase click-to-open rates.

Here are some good sales subject line examples that sell the “what”:

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  • 7 Email Marketing Books You (Probably) Should Read

The cold email subject line examples above set a clear expectation that can encourage the recipient to click and read further about the offer.

2. Get them curious or confused

Yep — a confused customer is less likely to convert. But the confusion they feel will provoke them to click your email.

And that’s exactly what you need them to do, right?

When your recipients are opening your emails because they’re either curious or confused, you’ll likely see a boost in your email click rates.

For instance, using a blind email subject line for sales that says “Cut Off” would get your prospects to open.

However, the moment they see it’s a promo they’ve already ignored several emails ago, they may put your message straight into the trash folder.

The thing is: You don’t have to rely on blind emails. Those only give you high open but low click rates.

Instead, you can pique your readers’ interest and get them to read further by using the right type of curiosity subject line for cold email.

Here’s a great example:

“Netflix’s Huge Homepage Fail”

I’m pretty sure they’re gonna open that email regardless of their interests or marketing specialties. I mean, who doesn’t know Netflix?

Apparently, most people do, and they’d be curious about how it failed.

That’s a good email subject line that tells a story, borrows authority, and piques curiosity.

3. Provide value

Prospects always ask this question in more ways than one: “What’s in it for me?”

This is one of the objections marketers have to overcome.

Fortunately, email marketing makes it easier for you to answer the question. You already know a lot of stuff about your subscriber, their interests, and personality.

They don’t consider you an interruption which means they’d take time to evaluate the message you sent.

And that’s when the question turns into: “Why should I read this email now?”

If you’re emailing copywriters, a good cold email subject line would be:

“Up to 70% off on our best copywriting tips and tricks”

Aside from getting the best training, they’d also save up on cash. And that’s value right there!

4. Add a sense of urgency

Do you know what the best motivation in this world is? DEADLINE! It’s true, and it applies to both school and business.

Let’s face it: People don’t like missing out, especially on a hot deal.

Thus, you can use a catchy subject line for sales such as:

“LAST CHANCE: LeadFuze free 25 leads is over in 3… 2… 1…”

Or “$50 today, $500 tomorrow.”

By using the fear of missing out strategy, you can actually encourage your prospects to open your email, read your offer, and eventually take action.

But you have to remember not to use this subject line all the time if you don’t want to become the brand/company that cried wolf.

As you can see, the two cold email subject line examples I’ve given earlier are a mix of dead-on and urgency.

Here’s a tip: Mix and match different types of subject lines to get higher open rates.

5. Start with a story

Do you know what’s the most interesting part of a story? Well, of course, it’s the middle.

And that’s what you’re going to do; transport your prospects to the middle of the conversation.

Here’s some example:

“Here’s the REAL Reason Amazon is Buying Whole Foods”

Or…

“The Simple Twitter Hack that Halved Lead Cost”

This type of subject line for pitch email can help you prime a promotional series or simply promote your content.

When you start with a timely and appropriate story, you’d answer one of your readers’ questions which is “Why should I care about reading this email?”

Just make sure you deliver the goods in the body to make your strategy more effective.

Before you come up with an awesome subject line that gets opened for your next email, you should ensure you have a list of leads first.

That’s where LeadFuze comes into view.

LeadFuze is a software solution that helps you build lists of accurate leads automatically while integrating with sales outreach tools to allow you to contact those freshly verified leads.

Since you can integrate LeadFuze with your outreach tools, you no longer need to enter the prospects’ details manually.

That spells convenience right there!

9 Tips to Write the Best Cold Email Subject Line

Your cold email marketing goal should be to stand out from the crowd and make your email recipients open your email.

To write the best subject line for cold emails, you should follow these tips:

1. Make use of snippets

An often overlooked part of the subject line for cold email is the snippet. A snippet is the short length of text that is shown as a preview of the email content.

When you are working on your cold emails, be sure to think about what your snippet might look like.

Encourage your prospects to open the email by making it feel like it could be coming from a customer.

The start of the email is another place to personalize the email and to show your prospect you have done your homework without being creepy.

Open the email with a casual salutation, and use the prospect’s first name if you have it.

2. Draw from clickbait tactics

You might not like clickbait, but it’s effective — and provided you can actually back up what you promise (i.e. there’s a message match between your subject line and the content of your email), there’s nothing wrong with using it.

SEO guru Stephan Spencer has a good breakdown of tactics used in Buzzfeed headlines: all of which illustrate various tricks proven to be incredibly potent.

One that I think can be used to a particularly great effect is the classic curiosity construction.

Here’s one possible example: “Our average customer saves how much?!”

The implication that the answer is shocking even to the sender is a potent hook, and the recipient might want to open it up just to see how surprising that figure is.

And once they have the email open, they can be reached by whatever marketing message is most appropriate.

You can also run with mild controversy by getting contentious. “You’re 100% wrong about [product].

Here’s why it has a lot of potential, because it plays upon two aspects of the human condition: the curiosity we just looked at (“What did I get wrong?”) and the ego (“Oh yeah? I’m 100% wrong? I don’t believe you. Prove it.”).

3. Use the reliable fear of missing out

Overcoming the “I’ll just leave this for later” email reaction is tough, but one tactic that usually proves effective is leaning on the fear of missing out (usually shortened to FOMO, such is its ubiquity).

FOMO encompasses everything from offering timed discounts or limited-edition sales to detailing how popular your product is with other customers. If you can make the reader worry about being left out of something great, you can prompt a quick reaction.

4. Do your own experiments

It will take some experimenting to find the best subject line for a cold email that will work for you.

Even when you find a subject that’s working, remember your ABT’s — Always Be Testing.

When you are first getting started with cold emails, you should try vastly different subject lines to get an idea of what direction you should go.

Once you have some initial data, you can start refining a single type of subject line.

Don’t get too controversial — for instance, stay away from politics if you value your brand — and you should be fine.

5. Create personalized cold email subject lines

This is extremely important if you want to have the most opened subject lines for your campaign.

Through personalization, your readers won’t feel like you’re just sending some random email or spam. They’d get the impression what you’re sending is relevant to them.

Now, what’s the best way to personalize a prospecting email subject line?

The first thing that came to mind is to include names — the company name or the recipient’s name. And yes, that’s an excellent idea.

Aside from applying the basics in crafting a personalized email subject line to get attention, you can also collect more information about them.

This way you can improve your open rates.

Here are things you can include in your cold email subject lines:

  • event/conference they attended
  • City of residence/location of the business
  • Place you met
  • Mutual connections
  • Content they wrote
  • Prospect’s industry
  • position

A personal touch is always good. But for those who will be catering to bigger volumes, editing emails manually can take lots of time.

6. Keep it short

A short subject line is a catchy subject line for sales.

Aside from being straightforward, it also invokes curiosity. Give them a few words to read but make sure to add some hints to make them open and read the email.

More importantly, long subject lines tend to be cut off especially if your receivers opened the email using their mobile devices.

So chances are, they might miss the important chunks of your subject line.

7. Use power words

Power words can persuade people to click because they usually evoke an emotional response.

According to Harvard Business Review, people find it hard to resist their emotions and curiosity.

Thus, when you use power words, your prospects can’t help but give in to their emotions and click or read your email.

(Image Source: hunter.io)

8. Ask questions

Asking questions can spark the interest of your readers. And when you choose the right questions, they would be more likely to open your email.

Ask about something relevant to them — to their interests or their field of expertise.

Pro tip: Use open-ended questions as they can help arouse curiosity.

For instance, here is one great example of an effective pitch email subject line:

“Next step?”

It’s a short and simple question, but it would make them wonder about what the next step is.

9. AB testing subject lines

Are you A/B testing your cold email subject lines? If your answer is yes, then you’re in the right direction toward better email marketing results.

However, if you’re only crafting two different sales email subject lines at random in every campaign, you are doing it wrong.

To do it correctly, decide what you want to learn first. Like if numbers on a subject line have a certain effect on prospects or whether personalization works.

Once you’ve determined those things, you can start laying out the testing ground rules. Decide the time to do the A/B test, how long it will run and the percentage of your leads list that’ll receive your email.

When all is set, run the A/B tests. And make sure to document the results.

51 Cold Email Subject Line Examples to Copy

If you’re not yet sure where to start on your subject line creation journey, you can check out these cold email subject line examples:

7 Personalized Subject Line Templates

  1. [First Name], [Pain Point]
  2. [Prospect’s Name], here’s a personal note
  3. Your comment on [post] was insightful
  4. [Prospect’s Name], Thanks from [Your Company]
  5. Goodbye, [Prospect’s Name]
  6. [First Name], I just missed you!
  7. Congrats, [First Name]! Have you thought of [Business Value]?

7 Humorous/Creative Subject Lines

  1. WILSOOOON!!!
  2. Are you ok?
  3. I got the good stuff. Hit me up anytime.
  4. Hello. My name’s Forrest, Forrest Gump. You want a chocolate?
  5. How you doin?
  6. NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!
  7. Where is the love?

7 Subject Lines asking Questions

  1. [Name] what went wrong?
  2. Want to talk about [Topic]?
  3. Are you ready for?
  4. Question about [Goal]
  5. Thinking about [Specific Goal]?
  6. Can you point me in the right direction?
  7. Can you help me out?

7 Subject Lines with Value Proposition

  1. A quick idea for improving [topic of interest for the prospect]
  2. [Product Benefit]
  3. Did you know [competitor] ranks higher than you for [keyword]? Here’s why…
  4. Ideas for [Goal]
  5. X tips for turning around a slow season
  6. Resources to help with [Pain Point]
  7. Save [dollar amount or percent] on [business expense]

7 Subject Lines with a Mutual Connection

  1. Things didn’t work out here. How about [prospect’s favorite sport] next weekend?
  2. Would like to connect — 5 minutes at [local coffee shop]?
  3. One question. [Ask about their favorite place]
  4. A friend of [Mutual Contact’s Name]
  5. [Prospect’s Name], I love [favorite social media group] too
  6. Hey [Prospect’s Name]! We met at [Conference or Event Name]
  7. BTW, [Mutual Contact’s Name] told me to get in touch with you

7 Subject Lines that Create Urgency

  1. Next week only — watch me [do something] live
  2. Need help implementing [change due to a regulation]?
  3. [Prospect’s Name] — free for a quick chat next Tuesday, the 11th?
  4. Only a few seats available for [training classes/conference/events etc.]
  5. 3 days until [event]. Can we talk?
  6. One last quarter to go, on track to hit [specific target]?
  7. Are you ready for [event]?

9 Short Subject Lines

  1. Adieu
  2. It’s not you, it’s me.
  3. Moving on.
  4. Time to part ways
  5. Request to connect
  6. Next step?
  7. Hey!
  8. Oh! I forgot to mention
  9. Just tried calling you

Most of the cold email subject lines above are hybrids of the different types of subject lines. Therefore, it’d be best to apply multiple strategies in crafting your email subject lines for best results.

5 Expert Lessons on Cold Email Subject Lines

Every business owner or marketer has to deal with various questions about cold email subject lines.

Fortunately, there is lots of advice and tips on the Web you can heed to.

But here’s the thing: the experience is different for everyone. If it worked for others, it may or may not work for you.

Here are important lessons you should keep in mind in crafting email subject lines:

1. Keep it short

Always remember: shorter is better.

Most email clients truncate subject lines after a certain number of characters, but if you’re anything like me, you don’t even read all the characters that are shown.

Why would your prospects be any different?

Thus, the lesson here is to keep your subject line as short as possible.

According to Bryan Harris of Videofruit, 3 words or less is good.

2. Keep it real

Many marketers make the mistake of sending out an email with “marketing” plastered all over it. Well, not in a literal sense, of course.

When you do that, it would be obvious to your prospects that you’re trying to sell them something.

It’s alright to follow tricks or templates online, but make sure your subject lines are still of top-notch quality.

And one thing you can do to make it appear like an actual human (not an AI or a robot) typed the email is by decreasing the use of capitalized words.

I mean, do you use uppercase letters when you write to a friend? I thought so.

Now, what’s the takeaway? It’s simple. Write your pitch subject lines like you’re writing to someone you know.

cold email subject line examples

(Image Source: Robot by Matt Q Spangler)

3. Keep it personal

Before sending an email, you should have made adequate research about that person — especially their complete names and company.

If you can get a warm referral from someone in your network who knows your prospect, then that’s better.

But make sure you only use names in the subject line if only they make sense. Don’t force anything that sounds weird.

4. Keep it relevant

Never trick your readers. If your subject line says something about the secrets of lead generation, then the body of your email should deliver.

No one likes being fed something that looks like one thing but turns out to be another.

In short, your cold email subject lines should be appealing but at the same time relevant to the content.

Don’t bait and switch your prospect — it’s definitely not advisable no matter how effective it is in boosting open rates.

5. Keep it genuine

So this one is really not related to the email subject lines themselves.

Remember, you shouldn’t go for a hard sell — no matter how tempting it may be.

If you want to offer them helpful resources, then do so. Show them you want to help them with something and you’re genuine about it.

That’s because when they realize you’re trying to cold pitch them with your services or products, it’d be like they never opened or read your email at all.

And you definitely don’t want that to happen! You’d be wasting time and effort for nothing.

Just offer value and mean it.

Conclusion

Never let a poorly written subject line put your email marketing efforts to waste. So, feel free to experiment with the cold email subject line examples I presented in this article.

Once you master the art of subject line crafting, your open rates would be soaring through the roof!

Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.