First, there was cold calling. And then, there was cold emailing. Say what you will about these two prospecting tactics, but they are proven, vital sales and networking tools for many companies.
While not everyone is happy to receive an email from someone they don’t know and not everyone is keen to send emails to people they have no previous dealings with, many relationships have been forged through cold emails.
Some examples include:
- A cold email got Peter Roper his sales executive job at music app Songza, which was later acquired by Google.
- Cold emailing a CEO salvaged Jason Lemkin’s dying startup, which he then sold for $50 million after 12.5 months.
- Email platform Salesfolk “got many of its over 250 customers through cold email.”
- Numerous startup founders used cold email to initiate early traction. Examples include Uber, Product Hunt, and Storefront.
The power of email subject lines
A blog post’s headline is what initially captures a reader’s attention. In email marketing, that honor goes to the subject line. To illustrate how powerful email subject lines can be, particularly in cold emails, HubSpot put together the following statistics:
- 1 out of 3 email recipients open an email based on the subject line
- Short subject lines, i.e., those with 30 or fewer characters, have above-average open rates
- Personalized subject lines are more likely to be opened 22% of the time
- Email open rates for subject lines conveying a sense of exclusivity or urgency are 22% higher
- Approximately 7 in 10 email recipients report an email based on the subject line alone
Best subject lines for cold emails
Cold emails can be used for several purposes, including:
- Pitch your business
- Get an industry influencer to mentor you
- Land an interview with a VIP
To boost your chances of your cold emails getting opened, write email subject lines that make your recipients curious and eager to click. To help with that, we’ve compiled a list of the best email subject lines for you.
1. “I found you through [name of referral]”
LeadGenius says this subject line has an outstanding 86.6% open rate and a 26.1% reply rate.
2. “A better way to [goal to achieve]”
Here’s an example:
3. “The truth about [person or topic]”
If you’ve done your research and know that your prospect is looking for information on a certain topic or person, this email subject line is worth a shot.
4. “A quick question about [goal]”
This sparks curiosity, and they’d have to open your email to know your question.
In a cold emailing experiment, Contently co-founder Shane Snow’s version of this subject line (“Quick Question”) got him a 51.2% open rate and 66.7% of the total replies.
5. “The real reason [target market] like [your company’s product/service]”
This subject line is direct and piques the curiosity.
6. “We have [fact] in common”
A commonality between you and a prospect is always a good conversation starter. So take the time to find at least one thing you and your recipient both find interesting.
7. “Let me [what you can do to address a pain point]”
Example: “Let me double your email response rates in two months.” This subject line lets your recipient know right off the bat what your intent is.
8. “Can I help?”
Most people appreciate an offer to help, even when they don’t need it.
9. “The problem with [problem]”
Example: “The problem with cheap SEO.” This subject line elicits curiosity and is direct to the point.
10. “I’d love to chat about [topic]”
As long as you’ve done your homework and the topic is something your recipient cares about, expect excellent open rates with this subject line.
11. “An idea for [topic]”
A free idea can be hard to resist, especially if it’s something that addresses a pain point.
12. “[X] ways to [address a pain point]”
The same way list posts are widely effective, numbers in email subject lines work. Insert a number whenever possible.
13. “[Name], thank you for your time [yesterday/today/last week]”
This is a subject line to use for a follow-up email. It shows gratitude and personalization.
The secret sauce behind successful cold emails
Cold email subject lines that encourage people to click are what get your foot in the door, but your job is far from done. To ensure your emails get the attention they deserve, keep in mind these five things, says bestselling author Tucker Max in a Harvard Business Review article:
- Personalize your message. It’s not enough that you know their email address, name, or company designation. Do your research and make sure to tailor your message to the prospect. Frame your message in a way that makes the recipient feel uniquely qualified to help - if their help is what you seek.
- Show them you are trustworthy. When people know nothing about you, the first thing you do is show them you can be trusted. Mention any direct connections or mutual acquaintances. If these are not available, find anything that’s common between the two of you, such as a personal hobby or being part of the same organization.
- Give your audience something they want. When it’s a busy person you’re sending a cold email to, make sure there’s a definite “what’s in it for them” aspect
toyour message to increase your response rates. This is where researching the challenges your recipient aspires to hurdle and how you can offer a solution step in.
- Keep your message short and actionable. A lot of people sincerely wish to help and even proactively seek ways to extend a helping hand. However, make it easy for them to do so by keeping your emails short and direct to the point.
- Be grateful. Being appreciative can go a long way. Give your recipient a way out if they’re too busy or just not interested, and ensure you don’t sound entitled or overly demanding. Messages like “Let me know when you can get this done” to someone who doesn’t personally know you won’t necessarily inspire that person to take any action.
Cold emailing can be challenging, but with subject lines that have been proven to boost open rates, you’re off to a good start.