An effective follow-up email subject line can net you more opens and positive responses than your initial outreach email

When it comes to sending emails cold, having an effective cold email subject line is key. It is primarily based on the subject line that people decide whether to open the email and read it or not. But everyone knows this. What everyone does not know, it’s equally important to have a good follow up email subject line!

And as we’ll learn later on, a cold email subject line also plays a key role in whether the receiver actually finishes reading the email and responds. It’s not just about getting them to merely open the email. This concept also applies to your follow up cold emails to prospects!


The Power of Following Up

“Follow up or die” is the rallying cry of every small business. But even knowing that, many small businesses and their salespeople fail to follow up enough to close the deal.

Because of that, I gathered 15 interesting facts about following up on leads and getting the close that you might not know.

follow up email subject line




Following up is key now only with an interested prospect, but also with your cold email campaign! And the subject line is a contributing factor whether it gets opened or not!

Following up is key now only with an interested prospect. Click To Tweet


How to Write a Follow Up Email Subject Line that Actually Works

Writing a follow up cold email subject line that works is not as easy as it seems. When it comes to email subject lines in the business world, a line that works perfectly for your friend’s business, may not work for you. However, there are a few general suggestions you may find very useful that will help you identify and write a great and effective subject line for your needs.

cold email subject line that motivates positive response

Always provide a crucial bit of information in the follow up email subject line

One of the most important things you should pay attention to when writing a subject line is ensuring you provide the key information right away. It is always good to give a specific reason for the recipient to read your email message. Mention the exact reason why you are contacting the person – whether it’s something you are offering, like a new product or a service, or whether it’s something you are asking for, or about.

When it makes sense, use the recipient’s name in the subject line

It is advisable that you use the person’s correct name in your follow up email subject line. If you don’t have such information, try to contact someone who can help you or try do research online. The most successful businesses share this kind of information on their websites. It is good to remember that the more you personalize your subject line, the more benefits you can reap.

When it makes sense, ask a question (and answer it in the email)

This is another crucial tip that can make a huge difference and invite the recipient to open and read your email message. Asking a question that is related to the recipient’s business, industry or company can provoke a positive answer. However, it is essential that you provide a detailed answer or explain the cause of your subject line question.

Always ensure there is a connection between your subject line and your email message

This rule applies to any subject line and any email message, but it especially applies to the follow up email subject line. A good subject line should create curiosity that can only be answered by reading the full email. It is crucial that your email actually answers the question generated by the subject line. If the email message which follows the subject line doesn’t provide a nice and accurate answer to the curiosity, the recipient may decide against giving you a second chance.

What to avoid when writing follow up cold email subject lines

When writing cold emails, you probably write to busy, hardworking individuals who constantly receive numerous messages. They don’t have the time to go through every cold email, so it is very important to write an outstanding and eye-catching subject line. Here are some suggestions on what to avoid when writing follow up cold email subject lines.

follow up email subject line

Avoid “never-ending” subject lines

A short and informative subject line is more effective than a subject line which tries to tell the entire story. The subject line is supposed to be a teaser, not a summary! Moreover, many entrepreneurs check their email on their smartphones, and the typical inbox reveals only about thirty characters. So, try to keep it short and make your point in about seven to eight words.

Avoid subject lines which don’t give a reason to read the email message

It is very important to write a follow up email subject line which keeps the recipient interested in your email message. If your subject line doesn’t make a clear point, your email can easily end up in the spam or junk folder.

Avoid misleading subject lines

If you believe that the most important thing is to get your cold email opened, even if it means resorting to a misleading subject line – you are terribly wrong. There is nothing more disappointing than reading an email that is not related to the subject line. Not getting the content that is mentioned in the subject line can be annoying for the recipient and your email will get a negative response – something that you want to avoid, right?

There is nothing more disappointing than reading an email that is not related to the subject line. Click To Tweet

Effective subject lines that get high open rates

The point of an effective follow up email subject line is to motivate the recipient to read the email message and hopefully have a positive response. To that end, there are certain cold email subject lines that get high open rates.

follow up email subject line

It’s almost impossible to give you general canned lines that will work for you, because this will wary by industry and context. If you want to write a good follow up email subject line, re-review the principles earlier in this article or consider asking us for help.

There are however some general scenarios where a general method can work for you. So here are a few examples…

The Genuine “Let’s Connect” Method

Follow up email subject lines that get high open rates are the ones which include the sender’s full name and their company’s name, plus the word “Introduction”. For example: “Sender’s name/sender’s company name – Introduction”.

Alternatively you can write the recipient’s full name and “Introduction”, that works great as well. You can also try mentioning both companies’ names and the word “Introduction”.

Another way to do this is to include the sender’s name, professional skills, plus the phrase, “trying to connect”. For example: “Sender’s name, Java developer – trying to connect”, or “Sender’s name, Cisco Systems Software Engineer – trying to connect”.

Compliments also work well, if they are genuine

If there’s something you admire about the recipient or their product and business, this can work well. Something like “Wow [name] I love what you did in launching product X”. 

Be careful, this only works if you genuinely are a fan of the person, their products or services. You also have to genuinely write the email from the perspective that you love their work, would like to connect and see how you can provide value to them.

Offering to give value works as well, if it’s genuine

This is mostly applicable to seeking out joint ventures. Let’s say that you run a web design agency, and your recipient runs a web-hosting company. If you want to get web design leads from them, you do not contact them asking for leads!

You are writing to them to say “Hey, I have some clients to send over to you”. Then you explain how many of your web-design clients need good hosting, which your recipient has (compliment them remember), and you want to know where to send them and how.

Get straight to the point  

Writing effective cold email subject lines is important. It is a useful skill that can help you create or find new job opportunities which will reshape or launch your career. In order to write follow up email subject lines that actually work, ensure you keep it simple and communicate effectively.

Remember to be specific and clear about what you are offering or asking for, and leave out generic greetings (they can be included in the email message). Instead, try to make your point in seven or eight words (including names) and get straight to the point. You must never forget that in the business world, time is money, and you certainly don’t want to waste it.

Mention a direct benefit for your recipient

According to Jimmy Rodela of, “Whether you’re sending a cold pitch, a follow-up email, or an email message to one of your existing connections, you need to add a direct benefit for the email recipient in your subject line if you want to catch their attention and increase the chances of them opening your email message.”

At the end of the day, you need to remember that your audience is thinking of the question, “What’s in it for me?” If you’ll add an enticing enough benefit in your follow up email subject line that can satisfy that question, then it becomes easier to compel your audience to open your email message.

Are You Making One of These Follow Up Mistakes?

Growing a business is difficult and one of the most challenging parts is keeping your sales pipeline full. Following up with prospective customers is a key point to doing so, but are you killing your pipeline with one of these mistakes?

Not following up enough

The #1 problem people have with following up is that they don’t do it enough. Especially after someone has initiated interest. Conventional wisdom says you don’t want to annoy that person, but the reality is people now take that part too far.

Following up too often

On the other end of the spectrum is following up too often.  You want to avoid annoying your prospects, so don’t contact them multiple times in one day or multiple days in a row. Give them a chance to check their email or their missed calls before trying them again a few days later.

Following up after they say “No”

I once worked for a candle store where company policy was to keep trying to upsell the customer until they said “No” 3 times. I wasn’t a fan of this practice then, and I’m not a fan of it now.

If someone tells you they aren’t interested, leave them alone. But until you receive a definite “no,” keep following up with them until they respond.

Steli at suggests following up once or twice with completely cold emails. If you have already had a favorable interaction with a prospect, follow up as much as necessary until they respond.

Sending a Flash-based email with no option for text only

According to HubSpot, 80.8% of users report reading email on a mobile device. Flash-based emails don’t load properly (or in many cases, at all) on smartphones and other mobile devices. If you send a Flash-centric email, be sure you give your prospects the option to view it as text-only. Or even better, don’t send a Flash-based email at all.

Sending mass, unpersonalized emails

If you’ve done any sort of research on your prospect, you should know their name at the very least.  Never address emails as “To whom it may concern,” “Dear Sir or Madam,” or any variation of them.

Also take note that if you CC or BCC too many people on one email, many email clients will automatically push that message to the Spam folder. If that happens, your message will never even be seen by the prospect, let alone responded to.

Sending the wrong email or the right email to the wrong person

Be sure to double-check the address before hitting send to make sure that the message gets to the intended recipient.

If you use a mail merge client, make sure that all of your tags get properly replaced with the corresponding fields. A good way to check this is to first send your message to your own email addresses via the merge client.

Bait and switch

Nothing relegates your message to the Spam folder faster than a bait-and-switch. Never try to trick your prospects into opening up your emails. Your follow up email subject line should always match the content of the email.

Nothing relegates your message to the Spam folder faster than a bait-and-switch. Click To Tweet

Writing a short novel in your email

Email follow ups are not the place to begin writing sections of your memoir. Keep your follow-ups short and to the point. You can expand on your offering when you have the prospect in a meeting or on the phone. At that point, they are a hot lead and will be interested in all of the details and nuances of your product or service.

Finding and following every social media account they have

While it’s not out of the ordinary to follow a prospect’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, going beyond that can end up backfiring in a big way.

If you have something relevant to add to a discussion taking place or have an interesting article to share with the prospect, feel free to share it with them.

But don’t expect them to respond, and don’t “Like,” “Follow,” or “Retweet” every update just to see if they notice. If they don’t notice, you’re wasting your time, and if they do notice, you’ll come off as a little creepy and stalkerish.


Cold emailing prospects is hard enough, so don’t waste all of your hard work by screwing up the follow up email subject line.

Keep it brief, on topic, and give them time to respond. Don’t give up early! That is the main problem that most salespeople have: They give up after 1 follow up call, when research shows it may take 5 or more touch points to convert a prospect.

Be the one salesperson who follows up enough to make the close, and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

What questions do you have on follow up email subject line strategies? Ask in the comments below!