Cold Email Subject Lines That Get Your Emails Read

BY Jessica Helinski
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An email’s subject line has an undeniable impact on open rates: 33% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. But, just knowing the importance of a subject line doesn’t mean you will write effective ones. Sujan Patel, in a SalesHacker article, points out that a subject line is especially important for reps who write cold emails; the recipient isn’t going to recognize your name, so you need to entice him or her to click and read. You can do this with a standout subject line.

Patel shares seven types of subject lines that will catch readers’ attention and encourage clicks. For each, he explains how to use it and why it’s effective, along with easy-​to-​implement examples. Read on for two of his suggestions:

The Question

A subject line that asks a question can be very effective at getting a reader to open an email. Questions naturally pique one’s curiosity, and who doesn’t love to share their opinions? But, there are things to keep in mind when crafting this type of line.

  • Make sure the question posed is direct. Or, if you use the subject line to allude to a question within the email, state it clearly. Give the reader a reason to open the email.
  • The question should be open ended. If you ask a question that requires a simple “yes” or “no” answer, there’s really no incentive to open and respond.
  • Quickly resolve the question’s uncertainty, either in the email’s opening line or early in the body.

Examples of this strategy include:

  • Question for [prospect]”
  • Are you making these mistakes?”
  • Can you help me out?”

The Connection

This subject line can be especially useful for reps who send cold emails. Even though the recipient doesn’t know you, he or she has an immediate connection with you. “Subject lines that indicate a shared connection also overcome the initial distrust most people have of sales emails by removing all or part of the ‘unknown’ aspect of cold messages,” Patel explains. These lines can take different forms, including:

  • A referral from a mutual connection (or just the suggestion that a mutual connection is shared)
  • A reference to common participation in a recent event
  • A reference to common participation in online communities, readership of industry blogs or other social conversations

Make sure that you use the connection to start a new dialogue (rather than dwelling on it, especially if the connection is tenuous). Simply pointing out a shared interest or acquaintance is all you may need to appear more trustworthy and credible.

These are just two examples of attention-​grabbing subject lines that can prevent a recipient from instantly deleting your emails. Using these subject lines, especially when sending out cold emails, can boost open rates and drive further engagement. Patel encourages reps to use these suggestions as springboard for improving cold communications. “Work to continually improve your performance by iterating as you go if you’re serious about cold email success,” he writes.