12 Cold Email Subject Line Examples and Why They Work
When sending cold emails the email subject line is the first thing your recipient sees. A well crafted subject line can grab the attention of your recipient and compel them to read further. In fact, 35% of email recipients will open an email based on the subject line alone1. This makes choosing the right subject line a critical factor that will influence your open rates.
“Subject lines can make or break the success of your email”
Here’s a more personal reason that you should focus on subject lines when sending cold emails – think of all that time spent crafting the perfect email body, sweating over details like the perfect call to action, personalisation, and formatting. That perfect email body will go to waste if your subject line doesn’t compel your recipient to open your email!
So what makes a good email subject line?
We took a closer look at the characteristics of effective subject lines and provided some examples to help you boost your open rates.
The Secret Sauce Behind Effective Cold Email Subject Lines
When it comes to subject lines, there isn’t a one size fits all solution. The best cold email subject line is going to depend on the context of your email and will vary based on your audience and intent. With that said, there are some basic principles that will help make any cold email subject line more effective:
1. Be Personal
Use human rather than “salesy” language. Including a personalised detail such as the recipient’s first name or location can help. One study found that personalised email subject lines increased open rates by up to 50%2.
2. Be Relevant
Make it obvious why your recipient should open the email. Highlighting a benefit is a great way to do this. Just make sure that the benefit you describe is related to a problem that you know your recipient experiences.
3. Keep It Concise
Aim for between 6-10 words. This is because long email subject lines will get cut off on certain devices and platforms.
4. Quote Statistics & Numbers
Statistics & numbers are easier to understand than abstract concepts and can make your email appear more credible.
Compare these subject lines:
- “Tips for better cold email subject lines” vs “6 tips for better cold email subject lines”
- “How [competitor] increased referrals” vs “How [competitor] increased referrals by 200%”
In the above examples, using a statistic provides a concrete number that makes it easier to visualise and understand the benefit being offered.
5. Activate Curiosity
Subject lines that activate your recipient’s curiosity can influence them to open your email. This includes subject lines that ask a question (that is answered in your email body), promise to reveal a secret or something unknown, or promise something interesting like a surprise or a gift. Your aim should be to create interest and intrigue without giving away too much information.
12 Cold Email Subject Line Examples
To help you boost your cold email templates, here are 12 cold email subject line examples and an explanation of how they work:
1. “[First Name], a question for you”
This subject line utilises personalisation (by including the recipient’s first name) as well as an indicator that it will be easy to reply to. When using this subject line, make sure the email body only contains a single question that is easy to answer. Using a scale based question, e.g. “rate your problem from 1-10, with 10 being the most difficult” can make it easier for your recipient to respond. When your recipient replies, follow up with emails that delve more into the problem or question you are asking about, and explain what you have to offer.
2. “Quick question”
This is a variation of the previous email subject line but in a more concise format. This subject line works because it is casual, helping it to appear personal. Using the word “quick” also indicates that replying will not be a hard task for your recipient. Just like the previous subject line, make sure your email body only contains a single question and that it is easy to answer.
3. “[A Benefit] for [Recipient’s Company]”
This subject line is personalised (includes the recipient’s company name) and relevant (includes a benefit). Before you send this email, try to gauge if the specified benefit will help your recipient or their company. Researching the recipient (via LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, etc.) will help you verify this.
Examples of this subject line include:
- “Increased email open rates for Acme Inc.”
- “A new cold email strategy for Acme Inc.”
4. “How [Competitor] gains [Benefit]”
This is a variation of the “benefit” subject line that includes a sense of urgency & intrigue as a competitor is being referenced. Quoting a specific statistic will make this subject line more effective.
- “How Asana generates 25M in monthly traffic”
- “How Slack grew from 500K to 1.7M daily active users”
5. “A better way to [Benefit]” / “A question about [goal]”
Another variation of the”benefit” subject line but more concise and targeted.
6. “The truth about [topic]”
This subject line implies that secret knowledge will be revealed, which creates curiosity.
- “The truth about cold email open rates”
- “The truth about buying cold email solutions”
7. “The problem with [problem]”
This subject line uses the opposing side of the “benefit” subject line by mentioning a problem. Problem solving phrases can be effective in capturing your recipient’s attention as they may have a personal experience with the pain point being mentioned. This subject line also creates curiosity as it implies that further knowledge on the problem will be revealed in your email.
8. “[Name], can you help me out?”
Posing a personalised question can create curiosity in your prospect, increasing the chance that they open your email. Just make sure to clearly explain what you are asking for as early as possible in your email so that the recipient doesn’t become frustrated.
9. “Hey [Name], congrats on [recent news]!”
This subject line is extremely personalised since you will need to research your recipient to find recent news that they can be congratulated on. It’s also flattering and includes a positive sentiment, which has universal appeal.
10. “can I call you tomorrow?”
Using all lower case text makes this subject line look like it has come from someone that the recipient personally knows, which the recipient may react to by opening the email. Just beware that many recipients may find this subject line to be deceptive, so use it with caution.
11. “Fellow [Commonality] looking to [Action to Discuss]” / “We have [fact] in common….
Using a commonality is a great conversation starter as it builds rapport with your recipient. Commonalities can include:
- Job title/role
- Personal interests
- Area you grew up in
An example of this subject line could be “Fellow startup founder looking for honest feedback”.
Other variations of this subject line could refer to a mutual connection or event:
- “Mutual connection with [person]”
- “We met at [event]”
12. “Hi from [Name]”
This email subject line can create curiosity as it is personal (since you are introducing yourself) yet does not reveal much about the email. It’s also neutral as it won’t turn your recipient off of your email, which a more specific subject line that includes a benefit or more details can if the details are irrelevant.
Don’t Forget the Snippet
When your recipient sees your email for the first time, they will see both the email subject line and the snippet. The snippet is a short fragment of the email body shown by most email apps and platforms that previews an email’s content.
Email Snippet (highlighted in red) in the Gmail Desktop app (above) & Mobile app (below)
Email snippets also affect cold email open rates, as they are the second piece of information (after the email subject line) that your recipient will see when you send them an email. To maximise your open rates, avoid using spammy words, or appearing impersonal in the first sentence of your email body.
Do you have any other email subject line tips? Let us know in the comments below:
1. Convince & Convert: 15 Email Statistics That Are Shaping The Future
2. PR News Wire: Data: Personalized email subject lines boost open rates by 50 percent