How to write eye-catching cold email subject lines

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If you’re sending cold emails, subject lines matter. But how much do you truly think about your email subject line?

Here’s why email subject lines count, and how to write the best subject lines for cold emails during your next campaign.

What is a cold email?

Before we discuss the subject line for a cold email, let’s be clear on what cold emails are.

A cold email is a message sent to recipients who you don’t have an existing business relationship with. You’re contacting someone who has no reason to expect an email from you.

Why send cold emails?

There are various reasons why you might send cold emails. Common reasons include:

  • Building brand awareness

  • Fostering new connections

  • Promoting company products

  • Generating new leads

The most obvious reason for cold emailing is to look for new customers. However, you can also use cold emails to:

  • Build relationships with thought experts and influencers

  • Arrange product testing

  • Explore new business opportunities

What is an email subject line?

Every email starts with the subject line, not the content. It’s an introduction. Your cold email subject line is a chance to summarize what your email is about and why you are contacting the recipient.

There are over 333 billion emails sent and received globally every single day. Your email subject line is an opportunity to stand apart from every other email landing in your recipient’s inbox. It’s the perfect balance to your email signature, which ends your message.

Types of email subject lines

Cold email subject lines are designed to:

  • Generate value

  • Address problems or pain points

  • Pique curiosity

  • Build excitement or urgency

We’ll cover each of these types of cold email subject lines below.

The importance of avoiding spam filters

Cold email subject lines can be the difference between landing in spam filters or reaching the recipient’s inbox.

Here are some tips to avoid falling into the spam spiral:

  • Use email authentication tools to reduce the chances of emails being marked as spam.

  • Personalize your cold emails based on your audience.

  • Don’t send multiple follow-up emails, especially not within a short space of time.

  • Avoid sending high volumes of similar emails every day.

From an analytics perspective, your open rates and replies can also influence whether your emails land in spam filters. Ultimately, the best way to avoid spam filters is to send relevant, engaging, and targeted emails

Let’s consider how to use cold email subject lines to help you do just that.

Creating cold email subject lines that generate value

You’re competing for your reader’s attention in a crowded inbox. Your cold email subject line should advertise something of value which makes the reader click through. However, what’s valuable, depends on your target audience.

For example, if your ideal reader cares about leaving a positive impression over email, they might benefit from a well-crafted email signature. Something along the lines of “Use your signature to make a lasting impression” could work. Or if you’re targeting general consumers, offer discounts, offers, or store specials.

Cold email subject lines for improving inefficiencies

Your prospective customers all want to make improvements. If you can show that you understand the problems and have a solution for them, you’re more likely to get positive engagement with cold emails.

For example, you’re selling task automation software. Your target customer needs help streamlining business operations. A cold email subject line could be akin to “Boost business efficiency with [product].”

Cold email subject lines for piquing curiosity

Sometimes, the best cold email subject lines ask a question. In other words, they pique curiosity.

The idea here is to give the reader a hint of the email’s content. Otherwise, they might not open the email at all. You’re prompting the recipient to discover what you have to say.

For example, you might promise to reveal a secret. Not only does this stimulate the reader’s curiosity, but shows you as an authority in your niche. For example, you might say something like “The productivity hacks your competitors don’t want you to know”.

You can also encourage the recipient to ask questions. For example, you could make a statement such as “The email you’ve been waiting for”.

How to use cold email subject lines to generate FOMO

No one wants to feel like they’re missing out. That’s where “FOMO”, or “Fear of Missing Out”, comes from.

There are two occasions when you might use this:

  • You’re running a time-sensitive campaign, like a seasonal discount.

  • You want readers to feel like they’re falling behind if they don’t act now.

For a time-sensitive campaign, generating urgency may persuade a prospect to buy. Here are some examples:

  • Only 24 hours left to get 50% off

  • Join [X] today and enjoy [bonus/perk]

And you could spark a business owner’s interest if they think they’re missing out on a product which could grow their company. Types of subject lines which could work include:

  • The productivity hacks your competitors use (but you don’t)

  • Successful retailers use this tool – do you?

Use FOMO tactics sparingly. If it’s not urgent or a truly time-sensitive offer, it might come across as clickbait.

Don’t forget, while you can create urgency within your subject line, you can use the same technique in your email signature, too. Use email signature management platforms to change your signature depending on which audience segment you’re targeting.

4 cold email subject lines examples

To summarize, here are four cold email subject line types which can be effective, and why.

1. Get personal: “A special offer just for you, [X’s name]

Short, simple, and effective; that’s what we get with this example. It works because it combines multiple successful strategies:

  • It offers something of value

  • It pique’s the reader’s curiosity

  • It’s sufficiently personalized

The best cold email subject lines leverage more than one marketing tactic.

2. Add value: “Unique gift ideas for this holiday season

Succinct cold email subject lines like this work because they clearly offer something of value. They also indirectly propose a solution.

Again, don’t be afraid to combine multiple strategies when you’re sending cold emails. And the clearer your proposition, the more likely it is that a recipient will engage.

3. Drive curiosity: “Want to know the [product] your competitors can’t stop talking about?

Every business wants to stand out. A cold email subject line like this one not only invites curiosity but makes the reader feel like they could lose out if they don’t read on. It also offers a possible solution to an issue they might be having.

Again, we’re leveraging various marketing tactics to create an engaging, highly clickable subject line.

4. Spark FOMO: “No joining fee for 24 hours only

This email subject line offers a time-sensitive proposition, and invites the reader to become part of a community like a gym.

Making a reader feel included, wanted, and welcome can spark interest and increase email open rates.

The value of crafting cold email subject lines

Without a compelling subject line, even the best-crafted email may only get a cursory glance or be deleted. Let’s summarize why cold email subject lines deserve your attention.

  • Recipients will often ignore emails with impersonal subject lines.

  • A well-crafted subject line piques curiosity and sparks interest in your content.

  • Cold email subject lines reinforce your brand message and build consistency across marketing channels.

To help your messaging stand out from the crowd, you need an attention-grabbing opener. Used wisely, a cold email subject line can boost your marketing success.

Craft compelling email signatures with Exclaimer

We’ve covered how to write engaging and clickable cold email subject lines. However, the subject line is only the introduction. But what about the ending? The goodbye?

That’s where we can help. Our leading email signature management platform lets you craft compelling signatures to compliment any marketing campaign. Whether you’re looking to add a personal touch to business emails or make it easier for readers to engage with you, we have the tools you need to succeed.

To learn more, contact us today or get yourself a free online demo.

FAQs about cold email subject lines

What are cold emails?

Cold emails, or “unsolicited” emails, are unexpected messages. Businesses send them to new customers to introduce their services and explain how they can help.

When used wisely, they play a key role in any outreach or lead generation strategy.  

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