22 Best Cold Email Subject Lines: Examples and Best Practices
Creating targeted emails goes hand in hand with knowing your prospects’ aspirations and challenges. And while that’s equally true for all kinds of emails, it’s far more challenging when leveraging cold emails to boost your sales.
Statistics show that 47% of recipients open emails based on the subject line alone. As you can tell, coming up with a click-worthy cold email subject line for sales is key to successfully engaging subscribers. The challenge is that it requires thorough market research and a deep understanding of your target audience.
To save you valuable time, we compiled a list of the best cold email subject line examples, as well as the best practices, to make the most out of them. But before anything, let’s explore what a cold email is all about.
What Is a Cold Email?
A cold email is an initial communication sent to a specific individual without prior contact. Cold emails are one-to-one messages with the objective of getting into a business conversation with recipients. This means they aren’t limited to sales prospecting but could serve different purposes, such as reaching out to a potential partner.
Cold emailing can have uncertain results in terms of open rates, response rates, and engagement. And that’s because recipients aren’t willing to open emails from people and brands they haven’t done business with.
In fact, research indicates that the average email open rate for all industries is only 21.33%. These low rates are heavily due to the subject line (not relevant or interesting), how many emails are sent (too few or too many), and the target audience (a wide variety of subscribers).
For this reason, it’s imperative that you collect and use any audience data you can get your hands on before targeting recipients with cold emails. We talk about adding personalization elements and a human touch to your cold emails to get them to open and interact with them. What’s the first step toward this goal? Let’s start with a great cold email subject line.
Cold Email Subject Line Best Practices
Everyone involved in email marketing knows that an email subject line is probably the most decisive factor for readers to open your cold email campaign. No matter the email type, if you get your email subject lines right, you’re one step closer to getting readers to take action. But what makes an effective cold email subject line? Keep reading to discover the best practices to create attention-grabbing cold email subject lines for sales outreach.
1. Use personalization.
Recipients want to receive emails sent by people instead of faceless corporations. Even when it comes to B2B sales and cold emailing, they still need to know your message is addressed to them and them only. Studies show that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those without any relevance attached.
So, you would want to add at least one personalization element to your cold email subject line. It’s easier than it sounds since you can leverage one of the best bulk email service providers to customize every email component.
Including their name is always an effective option, but in case you don’t know it, create a subject line that appeals to the recipient’s personal interests and goals. For instance, you could leverage sales data like their company’s name, position in the company, an event they attended, and any relevant information in your possession.
2. Make it about them.
Obviously, a sales email is destined to sell. But don’t go advertising it right from the subject line. It’s already a difficult task to urge recipients to open an email from a person or company they know little to nothing about. If your brand offers a product or service that helps prospects meet their goals or take some of the load off their shoulders, your subject line is the perfect place to highlight it.
Make sure you show readers that your email isn’t just another cold outreach but focuses on how you can offer them true value. How? Identify the most relevant resources your prospect could find useful and use them in your subject line. Ask them about their goals and achievements and show interest in their pain points to stand out in their inboxes.
3. Keep it brief and clear.
With many professionals checking their emails on mobile devices, keeping your email subject line short is a no-brainer. Subject lines that are long or exceed sixty characters will almost certainly get cut off by most email clients. The ideal email subject line length is around forty characters, so everyone can read it in full, no matter the device used.
But don’t go overboard with too-short subject lines since they won’t pass your message across and will probably confuse recipients. Cold email subject lines that convey clear messages help readers understand what to expect from your email.
3. Stay away from clickbait.
Brands should respect their audience enough to not mislead them with their email subject lines. We know going for the clickbait sounds easy, but the thing is, it will only work once. Clickbaity tactics annoy recipients, to say the least. What’s the worst-case scenario? They could end up marking your email as spam and seriously damage your sender reputation.
Best cold email subject lines should be aligned with your email content and can live up to your unique selling proposition (USP). You may need to limit your creativity. Concise and straightforward subject lines perform better with audiences, seeing that they are busy people that want to know what to expect beforehand.
4. Make a relevant and interesting offer.
Readers have to make it through the email subject line to read your message. So, keeping the best part for the email content perhaps isn’t a great idea. Find a piece of information your prospect cares about to showcase that you’ve done your research. Maybe you could include an exciting update regarding their industry or an engaging statistic they’ll find relevant.
Speaking of relevance, your offer should be as relevant as it is interesting. You may have a great value proposition, but if it doesn’t land in their inbox at the right time, it will serve them nothing. Especially for B2B cold email subject lines, it’s essential that you understand their buyer journey, priorities, and current needs before crafting the perfect line for your sales pitch.
5. Create a sense of urgency.
Evoking a sense of urgency in your cold email subject line motivates subscribers to open and interact with your email. You want recipients to open your emails as soon as possible before they get buried in a full inbox. It’s common for subscribers to filter their emails based on their time sensitivity. When they come across a limited-time offer, at least they will want to know what they could miss out on—even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase.
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a psychological principle mostly used to target B2C consumers. But the same tactic applies to cold email subject lines for B2B lead generation. However, ensure you don’t go overdo it. Using urgency in B2B cold email subject lines brings great results when not used excessively. Constantly creating a sense of urgency might turn against you, potentially tiring prospects out.
6. Establish trust.
People in the B2B industry hate feeling like they’re tricked into opening an email. To overcome this obstacle, you have to establish trust beforehand. For your cold email to fulfill its purpose, consider adding words that instill trust and make your brand appear credible, such as “guaranteed.” Statistics also have proven to do wonders, given their persuasive power and objective nature.
Another effective way to build trust and generate a higher open rate is to mention mutual connections in your email subject line. When you establish common ground, you reduce some of the discomfort coming from cold outreach. But this ground isn’t limited to mutual connections, so take advantage of any shared interests, such as attending the same events or joining the same social media groups.
7. Avoid spammy practices.
Did you know that 69% of recipients report an email as spam only because of its subject line? And let’s face it, your carefully crafted email ending up there is every marketer’s worst nightmare. So, stay away from spammy practices like fully capitalized subject lines or using “RE:” when there hasn’t been any prior communication.
Also, avoid the excessive use of exclamation marks. Opt for ending your cold email subject line with a full stop or no punctuation at all, or consider using questions to pique your recipient’s interest. Last but not least, your subject line shouldn’t include spam-triggering words like “buy now,” “click here,” “no obligation,” etc., as they alert both readers and email clients for potentially spammy emails.
8. Always perform A/B testing.
No matter if you’ve used every email subject line practice in the book, A/B testing enables you to figure out what resonates best with your audience. That’s why 39% of companies choose A/B testing to monitor the performance of their subject lines.
Nothing compares with real-time data that helps you optimize your cold email subject line performance based on results. Create two subject line versions that differ in a single component, like the use of an emoji, different copywriting, or two personalization options.
Then, use the insight collected through A/B testing to determine the elements and templates that work best according to your cold email objective and your audience’s preferences. Just make sure to test one parameter at a time to be positive as to which element made a difference in your email subject line performance. By doing so, your email subject lines and content can boost a higher ROI by 28%.
22 Best Cold Email Subject Line Examples
Now that we’ve established cold email subject line best practices, it’s time to look at some real-life examples of subject lines that rely on tried and tested email marketing strategies. Here are the twenty-two most engaging cold email subject lines and tactics to inspire your next email:
Addressing common pain points
Nothing proves your cold email’s value better than showcasing it can address your prospect’s pain points. If recipients understand you have the solution to common challenges in their niche, they won’t think twice about opening your email. Here’s how to get them to react by addressing their pain points:
- Can I help you solve [pain point]?
- [Product/Service name] is a proven solution to [pain point].
- The best resources to address [pain point]
- Are you struggling with [pain point]?
Helping save the prospect’s time
In the modern business world, everybody wants to save time and effort. By mentioning your selling proposition does exactly that, you’ll hit every individual’s soft spot. Who wouldn’t want that extra time, right? Try these questions to spark their interest:
- What would you do with X additional hours?
- Are you interested in saving time?
- [Product/Service name] helps you save time and trouble.
- Do you want some of the workload off?
Establishing common ground
As mentioned, establishing common ground takes some pressure off and helps build B2B customer loyalty. People are more likely to do business with someone sharing their interests or a brand if they have mutual connections. Remind them of how you know each other:
- Hi, [Name]! Remember me from [Event name/LinkedIn group]?
- [Mutual connection’s Name] said you would be interested in [offer].
- Hey [Name]! We met at [Event name].
Providing clear value
The best cold email subject lines in B2B are all about making a clear and straightforward offer. By referring to a specific goal or the reason why they need your company, readers understand this is not just another sales pitch, and there’s something in it for them, too. Show users your value with these openers:
- Looking for a smart way to increase your revenue/sales?
- Why [Company name]?
- Can I help with [goal]?
Leveraging social proof
Professionals in every industry love measurable outcomes and tested solutions. Social proof is a powerful content marketing tactic to urge people to act on an offer. When they have tangible results that your product or service works, they’re less reluctant to take the next step. Here’s how you can convince them to take action:
- [Company] increased sales with [Product/Service name].
- [Company] used [Product/Service name]. Check the results.
- Here’s how companies in your industry fixed [common problem].
- Check what experts/other users say about [Company name].
- Look what [Publication] wrote about us!
Making them feel connected to others
People have trouble acknowledging that other people or companies may face the same problems as them. Showcasing that their emotions or challenges are common among business representatives makes readers feel connected. If others have made it, so can they. Start by asking these questions:
- Want to overcome [common challenge]?
- Facing [common emotion/challenge]? You’re not alone.
- Did you know that X percentage of [job title] struggle with [challenge]?
Grab Prospects with Your Best Cold Emails
First impressions matter—especially when it comes to cold emails where you might not get a second chance. When sending cold emails to potential customers, your email subject line is the first thing they will notice. That’s why it should be short, intriguing, and relevant while leveraging personalization elements to show recipients that it’s mostly about them.
Hopefully, the best cold email subject lines for sales will inspire you to create converting headings that grab recipients’ attention and showcase your products or services' value. Follow the best practices above to increase your open rates and generate more sales. And whatever you do, never stop testing your cold email subject lines to keep optimizing your email outreach.