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Best Cold Email Subject Lines

Increase your cold email open rate with subject lines that will pique the curiosity of your audience.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When it comes to sending cold emails, this definitely rings true. That’s why the subject line of every cold email you send is so vital. It’s your 2 second chance to entice the recipient and make them want to open the email to learn more. 

The quality of your subject line can mean the difference between a prospect opening your email or ignoring it all together. 

Here, we cover the main things to consider as you are brainstorming and writing cold email subject lines.

Make It Personal

Even if you have no prior relationship with the recipient, it is still possible to make your email subject line personal. Personalized subject lines result in a higher-than-average open rate, which increases your sales prospecting and customer outreach. 

One of the best ways to do this is to make your subject line relevant to the recipient’s needs or interests. This not only will pique the interest of the prospect, it also will impress them because it shows you have done some research about them. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all good places to discover important information about your prospects.

Here are examples of personal subject lines:

  • I’ve learned so much following your work 
  • From one [occupation] to another 
  • A personal note for you
  • I noticed that you know a lot about [topic]
  • How are you dealing with [pain point]?
  • Thinking about [specific goal]?
  • Congrats on [specific accomplishment]
  • We have something in common

Keep It Short

Remember that you are competing with a lot of other emails in each recipient’s inbox—not only emails from other sales reps but also ones from the prospect’s co-workers and clients. Your prospects are busy and likely don’t have time to read every email they get. Therefore, it’s important to grab their attention in the shortest amount of words possible, preferably three to four. 

In addition, by keeping your subject line short, your content will seem more conversational and less sales-driven. That’s definitely more appealing to the recipient.

Another reason to keep your subject line short is to ensure that the entire subject line appears on any type of device your recipient is using. Some devices may cut off a longer subject line. 

Zurb.com offers a helpful tool, Test Subject, to utilize before you send your emails. The tool allows you to test how your subject line displays on the most popular mobile devices and email clients. You can also view how your sender name displays on the most popular mobile devices, as well as preview your pre-header text.

Here are examples of short subject lines:

  • Let’s connect
  • Are you ready?
  • 26 seconds (or less)
  • Next step?
  • Just tried calling you
  • Introduction
  • You’re invited
  • Check this out
  • Potential match


Express Urgency

No one wants to experience FOMO (fear of missing out), including your recipients. When you express a sense of urgency in your email subject line, your recipient will likely want to know more to make sure they don’t miss an opportunity. The key is to create this urgency without sounding too sales-like.

Also keep in mind that you don’t want to write every email subject line in an urgent tone. If every one of your emails comes across as urgent, then they all lose their value and credibility. 

Here are examples of subject lines that express urgency:

  • You don’t want to miss this
  • Get ready for [event]!
  • One last quarter to go!
  • Few seats left  for [conference/training classes/etc..]
  • Tick Tock…
  • Got 5 minutes? 
  • Free for a quick chat Monday?”
  • Next week only
  • 10 minutes — [date]?
  • 3 weekend ideas for you
  • You almost missed it

Share Your Value 

This subject line really shows what you are about and how you can benefit your prospect. The most important thing here is to be genuine about what you offer in order to build credibility. This is your chance to give a quick shoutout about your solution that will make the recipient realize your value and want to know more.

It’s important not to over promise anything in this subject line. It’s very hard to build up credibility yet very easy to lose it, so don’t take that risk. After all, you know that your product or service is great or you wouldn’t be marketing it in the first place! Therefore, there is no need to oversell it.

Simply tell it like it is in order to create a relationship of trust with your prospects.

Here are examples of value prop subject lines:

  • Want to learn more about [solution]?
  • [Product Benefit]
  • Improve Your Team’s Performance
  • I’d like to help
  • A solution for [pain point] 
  • Slow season? Try this!
  • Resources to help with [pain point] 
  • There’s a better way…
  • [Industry] has a real problem… 
  • It’s my job to [solution]
  • Ideas for [goal]
  • A better way to [benefit offered]


Ask a Question

Asking a question is one of the best ways to pique the curiosity of your recipients. They will automatically wonder what the answer is and will likely open your email to find out.

Make sure that your question is short yet enticing. And be sure that you clearly answer it in the body of your email.

Here are examples of subject lines with a question:

  • Are you ready for [solution, event, etc.]?
  • What’s your next step?
  • Are you making these mistakes?
  • Have you thought about [your offer]?
  • Want to learn more about [solution]?
  • When can we talk?
  • Want to collaborate?
  • Are you the right person?
  • Can I help?
  • Want to chat about [topic]?
  • Can we touch base?

The Bottom Line

The most important thing to remember when writing cold email subject lines is that there is no one-size-fits-all method. Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works—and what doesn’t work—for your audience.

And finally, do one last thing right before you click send on any email. Ask yourself, “Would I open this email based on the subject line I wrote?” You may even want to read your subject line out loud and think about how you would react to it as the recipient. Since you know your audience best, your answer to that question may be the best indicator of success. 

If you’re looking for more help with your email campaigns, Funnelfly is an email automation platform that offers pre-written email templates, including cold email subject lines based on the content being automatically sent. This ensures that at just the right time, your prospects get the right email to move them through your sales funnel. And it all starts the moment it arrives in their inbox.

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