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If you’re in sales, it’s crucial that you master the art of the cold email subject line to ensure that yours doesn’t get lost in the pile.
Far too often, subject lines are merely an afterthought in business communications—but they shouldn’t be.
After all, 35% of email recipients open an email due to the subject line alone. In other words, your email won’t matter unless you master your subject line.
To help you take your email subject line to the next level, we’ve listed some of the best cold email subject line tips and examples below as well as best practices to follow in all your sales and marketing emails.
This way, you can command the attention of your prospects without coming off too pushy or aggressive and, in turn, close deals faster.
The Perfect Subject Lines for Cold Prospects
The key to a successful subject line for a new prospect is to quickly convince them to open the message out of urgency, time-sensitivity, a perceived benefit, or sheer curiosity.
Below, we’ve listed a handful of excellent subject lines for cold email outreach that inspire one of these essential reactions in the recipient.
1. “I noticed you on [Social Platform/Group]. Can we connect?”
If you’ve crossed paths with your prospect before, be sure to mention that point of contact in the subject line.
This way, you will prove that you aren’t a total stranger because there is at least some mutual overlap between yours and their social networks.
The connection point can be in-person, like a business conference, or virtual like a professional Facebook or LinkedIn group.
2. “Would you be interested in a 5 minute connection at [Local Cafe]?”
Mentioning the name of a local bar, coffee shop, or restaurant anchors your location in the mind of the recipient.
By taking this route you communicate that you’re located nearby and are eager to meet to discuss a potential opportunity.
Mentioning that it will only take 5 or 10 minutes will make it clear that it won’t cost the recipient much of their valued time.
3. “[Your Industry] has a real problem…”
Bringing up your industry or niche in your subject line can go a long way to build rapport with your prospect.
Identifying your shared industry and that you have a unique insight into it (i.e., “a real problem”) builds intrigue and arouses in the other an eager want.
4. “Quick question, [Name]”
Nothing inspires curiosity like a “quick question” in a cold email subject line.
A good marketing email or sales email sets the tone right off the bat and succinctly communicates the point of the email—in this case, it’s a short question.
It’s important that you stay true to your word and keep your question short in the email body. Otherwise, you’re going to bleed the email recipients’ trust very quickly.
5. “[Name] recommended I get in touch with you”
Mentioning the name of a mutual connection who recommended that you speak to the recipient is a great way to build rapport and familiarize yourself in their mind.
Far too many unsolicited emails slip through spam filters from mailing lists or faceless corporate brands, which makes your pitch stand out if you can prove that you share a real connection in your professional networks.
6. “Here’s a better way to [X]”
This is an excellent example of a value-driven, effective email copy because it demonstrates that you have something to share that can help them refine their business processes.
Using lowercase letters instead of title case can also help your cold pitch because most spam mail or generic corporate email blasts use titlecase—therefore, your email stands out by comparison.
7. “[Name], are you free [Date]?”
This cold email pitch cuts right to the chase and helps solidify a sense of urgency in the recipient’s mind.
To take the urgency level up a notch, pick a meeting date that is fast-approaching, ideally within one week.
This way, you prove that you’re appreciative of their time (by cutting right to the point in the subject line) and you need to meet them quickly.
8. “We’ve studied the best companies in [Industry]. Here’s what we found that sets them apart.”
Create an immediate sense of value by mentioning that you have done market research in your subject line.
Value-driven lines such as these are among the best email subject line examples because they prove that you’re offering key insights into the recipient’s industry.
Unless the recipient believes that they have something to benefit from your message, it’s unlikely that they will take time out of their busy schedule to open it.
9. “Here’s a quick idea to improve [Topic relevant to prospect]”
Like the sales email subject line listed above, this line hints that you’ve done your homework to provide value to the recipient.
The key to getting this email read is to include a topic that is as relevant as possible to your prospect.
For example, if you are vying for the attention of a C-suite executive, mentioning how you can optimize data entry in Excel probably isn’t going to cut it.
10. “Here’s how we saved [$ Amount] on [Relevant Expense]”
Business leaders are constantly on the search for ways to reduce expenses and save money.
If you have a winning strategy for saving money or other resources, bringing this up in the cold email subject line can generate a lot of attention.
The tricky part is maintaining their interest in the body of the email.
Try These “Warm” Subject Lines
If you have some semblance of an existing relationship with a prospect, you should take a “warmer” approach to your email subject lines.
These lines shouldn’t be as formal as a cold email and should communicate succinctly that there’s either a quick question at hand, or you have information that can benefit them.
1. “Hoping to help”
It’s more important that you’re always pushing yourself to help your customers and prospects. Don’t focus on the close, because that will come in time.
Instead, reach out to constantly provide value and insight to your customers so that they associate your relationship with growth, candor, and mutual benefit.
2. “Hey [Name], [4-5 word question]?”
If you’ve met your prospect or shared a phone call with them, you can use your email subject lines to cut right to the chase while sparing the niceties you might reserve for a cold prospect.
If your answer is clearly stated and short, the chances are high that you’re going to get a response.
Stating a question makes for a great cold email subject line or “warm” subject line, but it generates more responses if you had a relationship with the recipient.
3. “Pleasure chatting with you, [Name]”
This is a classic follow-up email example after you’ve spoken with a prospect for the first time.
At this point, your emails are no longer “cold” and don’t need to communicate a sense of urgency or value in the subject line because the connection has already been made.
Instead, this phase of the sales conversation is about building rapport and setting the stage for the next meeting.
4. “I forgot to mention…”
This is another example of an excellent follow-up to a meeting or phone conversation.
Although this is one of the best response email subject line examples, you should only use it if you have something of value to say that you didn’t bring up during your earlier interaction.
Sending this follow-up email routinely can annoy your prospect and can ruin whatever rapport you’ve built with them.
5. “Thank you from [Your Company Name]”
Sending a generic “thank you” email to your potential customers can trigger curiosity because they probably won’t know why you’re thanking them.
This email subject line works well for getting them to open the message, but be sure not to pull a bait-and-switch.
Genuinely thank your prospect for their time, and let them know that you’re available at any time for a follow-up conversation if they ever want to move forward with the relationship.
Best Practices for Sales Email Subject Lines
Sales reps are not immune to making mistakes in their email subject lines. Far too often we find that the sales process can be foiled by a subject line that has the makings of a generic cold email blast.
Since these are seldom read by decision-makers, it’s important that you make sure you keep your subject lines succinct and personable. Below, we’ve listed some of the best practices for crafting the perfect sales email subject line.
Don’t Resort to Clickbait
Using a sensational, attention-grabbing subject line can have the opposite effect on your recipient.
Your email isn’t a news piece, so don’t go overboard with it by writing an over-the-top subject line in the style of a headline (e.g., “you won’t believe what these mega-rich CEOs had to say about…”).
Similarly, it’s probably a good idea that you stay clear of using all capital letters to emphasize words—instead, use lowercase, or title case for more formal messages.
Include a Call to Action
Every sales email template includes a call to action (CTA) at the bottom of the email body. There’s a reason for this: CTAs inspire action from recipients.
Whether it’s to proceed forward to the next meeting, to sign-up for a newsletter, or to schedule a phone call, you should always include some form of CTA toward the bottom of a sales email.
Run A/B Tests
If you’re sending out batch emails to your prospect list, don’t use the same subject line for every email.
Instead, run an A/B test by dividing your mailing list into two groups, each of which should be assigned a different subject line.
Compare the open rates and response rates of the two groups to see which performed better. Ditch the one that didn’t fare as well, and stick to the winning formula in future emails.
Don’t Be Afraid to Borrow Ideas
Nobody owns the copyright to an email subject line. Sometimes the best place to find inspiration for a creative email subject line is to scan your inbox to see what captures your attention.
If you find something that you believe would suit your sales message, feel free to repurpose it for your prospects. If it worked for you, chances are that it will work for your prospects too.
Keep It Simple
Subject lines with fewer than 75 characters (ideally, fewer than 50 characters) tend to perform well compared to longer, more convoluted ones.
Whenever possible, be succinct with your message. Doing so will help you maintain your recipient’s attention.
Hold Off On The Emojis
Although you might have been told that the best email subject lines include emoji icons, we caution against using them in cold email subject lines.
A recent survey found that 56% of brands include emojis in their cold email campaign subject lines.
By holding off on emojis, you can stand out from the majority of corporate brands and demonstrate that you’re an individual interested in sparking a discussion rather than a company trying to sell a product.
Putting it All Together
Unless you master the art of the subject line, whatever’s included in the body of your email won’t amount to much.
The best strategy for sending the perfect cold email subject line is to be succinct, clear, non-sensational and cut right to the chase.
Whenever possible, try to use your subject line to hint that you can provide something of value to the recipient simply by having them open your message.
Human psychology dictates that personalization, urgency, and the fear of missing out are some of the key drivers of action.
If your subject line can capture these three factors by mentioning the recipient’s name, communicate time-sensitivity, and provide something of potential value, then you’re virtually guaranteed a winning formula for a high response rate.