Best cold email subject lines that are sure to start a conversation with prospects + examples

Communication is the base of any relationship, whether personal or professional. We live in a digital era, where relationships are forged electronically. This has further become a mandate in this time of social distancing, wherein electronic mail serves as the best means to extend a hand towards a potential professional relationship. Cold emails serve as a perfect recipe to break the ice here – but only if you get your subject line right!  

In this blog post we will teach you how to write the best email subject so that you can be successful in your outbound campaigns, why? If you are interested in knowing the power of these little phrases we recommend you read the blog post:  Why is the subject line of a business email important?

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.
Robin Sharma

A cold email, to put it in the simplest of terms, is direct electronic communication between two parties who have not interacted previously. This is a mail of introduction for one party who wishes to connect with the other party with respect to business collaborations. And no, it’s not an uncommon tactic. 

Do you know that as per the Email Statistic Report, 2015-2019, there are over 205 billion emails being exchanged per day?

Well, that’s a lot of emails landing up in our inboxes – and our prospect’s inbox too. 

So how do you make sure your email is the one that gets noticed? How do you grab the recipient’s attention as they sift through their inbox? 

By crafting the right email subject line. And we’re here today to share what we have learned so far!  

What should be the traits of the best cold email subject lines?

Anyone can write an email subject line. But how do you write one that immediately interests the particular recipient you’re reaching out to?

1. Research about your prospective client

Make sure you conduct appropriate research before creating your pitch. Understand the goals, challenges, and competition of the prospective client. Now, use that knowledge to create a subject line, one that appeals immediately to either their pain points or their goals. On the other hand, you can also address by hinting at the solutions they are using and the content they are engaging with. All in all, use your research to create a crisp cold email subject line, one that immediately resonates with the addressee.

2. Keep the cold email subject line short

There is no need to go for verbose and lengthy subject lines. Cold email subject lines need to be precise and perfect. Keep it as short as possible and stick to the point. In many email servers, subject lines get trimmed. Make sure yours is short and manages to convey the message without getting cut abruptly. You’ll get the idea better with the following example:

❌ What not to do: Long cold email subject line

Get your healthcare woes sorted in a faster and better manner with [brand name]

✅ What to do: Short cold email subject line

Healthcare woes? We can solve it in [time]

3. Add a personal touch

You have spent a lot of time researching your prospective client and refining your cold email. But, what about your cold email subject line? If that does not reflect your personality, half the battle is lost. The best cold email subject line serves as an entry gate to the email. It has to be so good that the person is half-convinced before opening the email itself. You know how to convince the client by using their pain points and solutions, but what about putting in your branding? Use your strengths to create a subject line which speaks for you as a solution. Add a personality to your cold email subject line.

For instance, refer to the following,

[Business/Brand] got a major boost!

We are doing [function] 10 times faster now!

Make sure that you mention the function which is most required by the client whom you are addressing. Be earnest but not robotic or salesy when you approach. You need to look daring and not desperate. Pitch your personality to the client with confidence in your cold email subject line in a way that it induces them to open it and listen to what you have got to say.

4. Add an element of urgency

How many times do you click on a mail because it highlights the element of urgency? Quite often, right? Try the same with your cold email subject line as well. The best of subject lines work when there is an urgency attached. Take for example the following ones:

Hurry! The key to [business function] expires in 10 minutes

The [business function] fair is coming up! Did you register?

urgency in best cold email subject lines

5. Spark a bit of curiosity

If your brand allows you to do that, add an element of curiosity to your cold email subject line. Most of the time it serves as perfect bait to make the client click on the email. Then, retaining the client to read the email depends on how well it has been drafted. Make sure that your cold email subject line is contextual to what you are saying inside the email. You don’t want to mislead the prospective client, you are not creating a clickbait here.

Consider the following example

This could be the [business pain point] fix you’re looking for!

Looking for [solution]? This could be the answer.

best cold email subject lines - curiosity

6. Keep testing different subject lines

The best cold email subject lines were not crafted in a day. They were the results of continual experimentation, testing different approaches and measuring their impact.  Change one little aspect of your subject line with every campaign you send.

For example, vary between first person and third person in two campaigns. In the next campaign, test a practical subject line vs a personal subject line. Take note of the impact these little changes have on your cold email open rates and identify what helps you succeed. 

Too many things to keep in mind for drafting something as simple (yet so important) as a cold email subject line?

Well, don’t get overwhelmed. We have some examples for you! 

Some of the best cold email subject lines we found (and tested)!

Here are some of the best cold email lines that have actually worked in the past, are working out right now and will be working their charm in the future as well. Of course, you’ll need to change them often as per what’s trending and who you’re talking to. But the framework can lie at the core of your cold email subject line strategy! 

writing a cold email

The curiosity-generating cold email subject lines 

  1. How to do [business] ten times better?
  2. Do you know the secret of booming [business]?

The cold email subject lines  where competitor comparison comes in handy

  1. How does [competitor] do [business] better?
  2. The secret behind [competitor’s] 10x sales

The cold email subject lines that create   a sense of urgency

  1. A 15-minute guide to a 100% profit boom!
  2. Got 5 minutes? Here’s a solution to [a specific business or marketing problem you may have come across the whole researching]

Follow-up cold email subject lines that don’t sound desperate 

  1. Call Recap: Do you have a minute?
  2. Can we take another look?

In case you are concerned that your calls and messages are being left unanswered, the best way is to set up another follow-up cold email sequence. Here are some of the best cold email subject lines that you can use for this campaign:  

  1. Oops! Looks like I missed you again
  2. Am I bothering you?

The cold email subject lines before the last touch (you need to know when to stop)

The best of people know when to stop trying. Even the best of cold emails or subject lines sometimes do not work. This may happen even if you follow all the rules in the book. Cold emails are a way to reach humans, to create connections. Sometimes, that wall cannot be broken no matter how much you try. That doesn’t mean you didn’t try hard enough! 

best cold email subject lines - know when to stop

Maybe, your last cold email subject line would do the trick. If not, you can test some other waters and let this one simmer for a while.

Here are some tips and cold email subject lines that you can send as a ‘last try’ to get in touch – again, without sounding too desperate. 

1. Get emotional: It’s your last email. You’ve got nothing to lose. Nevertheless, know your boundaries.

  1. [Name of the receiver], I am disappointed
  2. Did I lose you?
  3. Did I go wrong anywhere?

2. Use goodbye salutations: Maybe, this last cold email subject line may get you some response and get the conversation going. However, you have to create a subject line which indicates a closure and a goodbye. Say the same and close this file to move on to the next one. 

  1. Do I have the permission to close your file?
  2. Crossing you off the list, is this fine?

There comes a point in your cold email outreach when you should draw the line. While it might sound like a bad idea, it is good to know when to stop. You can put these prospects in a different email list that you could reach out to later with more value to offer. But when they’re not responding, stop bothering them before you get the rapport of being spammy! 

Like we always say, send emails with a lot of love. Love does not mean spamming someone. 

Apart from the aforementioned, here are a few more generic yet best cold email subject lines that can work for you. Make sure to add your own personal touch and customize it to address the person you’re reaching out to.

  1. Feeling [insert emotion]? We can help 
  2. X ways to do [business] 10 times better 
  3. X ideas to treat [organization’s pain point or bottleneck]
  4. I found you through [name of the person who referred] 
  5. Feeling stuck? Steps to treat [pain point]
  6. 3-step plan to boost your productivity
  7. We don’t want to fill your vacancies!
    (This is a classic way to get the attention of the client, especially if you are a recruitment company. Why wouldn’t you want to fill the vacancies? Because you are looking to fill the work-family and create an overall comfortable environment rather than mechanically supplying human resources. Checkmate!)
  8. Don’t open this email
    (This is yet another example of reverse psychology, like the aforementioned one. We, humans, are designed to touch things that are forbidden. The client will click and it is upon you to make sure that your cold email inside is worth their attention span.)
  9. It has finally happened!
    (This will immediately lead to a pop-up of questions inside the head: what has happened? How has it happened? Is it something good or something bad? To know the answer, the client would click on the email.
  10. Bad SEO advice
    (This is a classic example of a negative subject line. However, it works. The reason behind this is that nearly every person will be bombarding the client’s email with sugar-coated realities. A negative one will stand out like an eyesore and coincidentally, standing out is exactly what you need to get attention.)

25 ways to make your cold emails 25 times better!

Did this heading capture your attention? That’s exactly what you have to do with your cold email subject lines. 

Spice them up, personalize them, and make sure they intrigue the receiver enough to click on the email. But make sure that the rest of your email is not a disappointment or you’ll be marked ‘spam’ in 1..2..3! 

Looking for more tips to improve your cold email campaigns? Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog. 

If you’re just getting started with cold emailing, remember to read our complete guide on nailing your campaign here. It has got everything we’ve tried and tested, succeeded (and failed) at!

Want to learn cold emailing from experts to growth hack your sales? Check out our latest webinars here.

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