How to easily find the perfect subject line for cold email

Finding the right subject line for cold email is crucial if you want to get anything out of the process. It doesn’t matter how valuable or interesting your offer is – if the subject line sucks, the recipient will not open it.

Heck, you might be offering just the most perfect thing that this person is desperately looking for. And they would miss out just because the subject line put them off.

Read on for a quick and easy guide to finding the right subject line and start getting better leads from cold email.

Finding the right subject line for cold email

Think of the subject line as your only chance to make a good first impression. If you get it wrong, it might also be the last impression you ever make on them. So be careful and take the time to learn more about this topic.

While there are many aspects to doing it right, the one thing that helps most is if you actually write like a human being. If your subject line (and email) feel like they are canned or generic, the odds of a good open rate go way down.

The crucial thing here is to make it feel as if though you’re casually approaching that person at a networking event. While there are specific ways to achieve this feat, that should, in fact, be your overall mindset. “How can I make this email feel as a friendly human-to-human introduction at a networking event?”

Make it feel as if you’re casually approaching the person you're emailing at a networking event.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a recipe that works for every scenario and we can’t cover every possible situation in this guide. We can, however, give you some general tips on how to think about and come up with the right cold-email content and subject line for most scenarios.

You actually have to take the time and think about this potential client that you’re emailing. You have to try to understand what they want and need. There’s no way around this and nobody can give you a pre-made list of lines that work in every situation.

Tips and examples

These are some tips that might help you find your perfect subject line. That doesn’t mean that you should apply all of them to one subject line. Rather, you want to see what fits your situation best, experiment and test a bit, and learn what works for you.

Show concern for the receiver

It is more likely for the receiver to open the email if you show concern about them. For example, you can use this subject line – “I hope everything’s fine”. That’s because the decision makers in companies get a lot of emails with people trying to sell them something, only looking out for their own benefit. Seeing genuine concern in their email box will make them open the email.

You should, of course, follow-up on this concern past the subject line. For example, if you’re contacting them about their newly launched service. The subject line can be “I hope everything’s fine with (the new service)”.

Relate to them about their recent product launch, and only then mention that (oh by the way) you have something that they would find useful in ensuring the success of their new service.

Use a personalized subject line

People hate getting an email where it feels like the same thing was sent to thousands of other people. And people can definitely tell when an email or a subject line is generic. The previous tip about showing concern is a great way to make it feel personal, but you might also want to experiment with even more personal sounding subject lines.

You can use something like the person’s first name, their physical location or any identifying marker. Let’s take their first name as an example and look at two possible subject lines that you can use.

  • “Good morning, [Name]” – greeting people in the morning helps build healthy relationships. Nowadays, we can see that the number of people who greet each other decreases. This is a nice way to start your cooperation with the receiver because it shows politeness.
  • “Can I help you [Name]?” – shows that you’re here for them and you want to help them. When the receiver gets this email, they will think – What do I need help with? In order to get an answer to their question, they will open the email.

People hate getting an email where it feels like the same thing was sent to a 1000 other people.

Use the word “your”

This shows that you’re interested in their work and want to help them.  For example, you can use the subject line – “Your annual goal”. This is a very relevant subject line because it shows interest in their problem. Besides, it is a well-known fact that people like to talk about themselves more than they like listening to others. Use that to your advantage.

Make them curious

Curiosity can drive humans crazy, this is a basic part of human psychology. Use this to your advantage to make them open that email.

However, do note that “curiosity-inducing subject lines” is an entire broad category in itself.  We can’t go into every possible example, but here’s a cool classic that works well. Try using the subject line “Quick question”.

This subject line is uncertain and the receiver doesn’t know what exactly you are referring to. Teasing them without telling them what it is, will definitely make them open the email.

Now, depending on what the email is actually about, this might backfire, but it’s a good idea to test and get you started.

You should distinctly determine the context and your relationship with the receiver

If you know the person you’re emailing, be sure to mention the context by which you know them. Perhaps you’ve both worked with a third party in some capacity. Perhaps you learned about them because they had a presentation at some business event.

Be sure to mention these kinds of things if they are true. It can make a huge difference. For the above example scenarios, the subject lines would be something like this:

  • How did you like working with Company x?
  • I loved your presentation at Business Event x

However, don’t just use this to get them to open the email and go straight to selling. Do try to actually make the first part of the email about this context.

Even if the context is that you randomly found them on Google, you can still make this sound good if you use a little flattery.

For example, let’s say that you’re contacting random web hosts in the Dallas area for a possible joint venture. You can admit that you’re looking to partner with a web host in the Dallas area and that you found their website on Google.

But here comes the important part – make them feel unique. You need to contact them for a reason other than just “you were a random listing on Google”. For example, if they have a really unique frontpage – you can compliment them on it.

In your email, you can admit that you were looking at different web hosts, and then saw their really cool frontpage and knew you just had to reach them out. The subject line can reference this by saying something like “I love the animations on your front page”.

In the email, you would list specific things that you love about it, so it shows this is not a generic email sent to everyone in Dallas.

If you actually know of the person you’re emailing, be sure to mention the context by which you know them.

Use the referral’s name

If the context is that you got their email from someone, it will be a good thing to mention it in the subject line. If the referral is someone they trust, they will automatically trust you too. You can use a subject line like “X told me about you”.

Make an appointment

If your goal is to meet the receiver in person, your subject line can be about the appointment – “Possible meeting on [date] at [time]”. This is very specific and it adds valuable information to the receiver.

Bonus tip: remember that it is always best to set up the time as :45 because it puts less pressure on the receiver than :00 or :30. It also gives out the sense that you will only take 15 minutes of their time.

Get straight to the point

Sometimes, being blunt and direct works best. Let’s use an example from before – you’re looking to do a joint venture. You could use the previous tactic of complimenting them on their website… Or you could just set the subject line as “Interested in doing a joint venture?”

You’ll notice that the above example also utilizes the curiosity trick. It makes them curious about what this joint venture could entail.

Let’s look at another way of using directness to make an impact. Let’s say that you want an introduction to a decision maker in the company. You can use this as a subject line: “Who is in charge of [something]?”  You’d be surprised how often it works.

Finding more examples

The previous tips and examples were just some of the many possibilities you could use. There are literally thousands of examples out there. Depending on the industry you’re in, you can find many more of them on the internet. Do your research and try to learn what your competition is doing if you can.

Also, go ahead and subscribe to some popular newsletters to see what their subject lines look like. Obviously, those are not cold emails per se, but they can serve as inspiration when you’re crafting your cold email subject lines.

Subscribe to some popular newsletters to see examples of great subject line for cold email.

Be sure to test everything

You can test them out yourself to see which subject lines make you open the email and which don’t. That’s how you’ll get a better insight into the whole situation.

After you find the subject lines you’d like to use, remember to see how people respond to them. Did you get a response? Which subject lines got you more replies? Also, you must remember that you need to test everything and see what works for you. It might be a long process, but eventually, it will be worth it.

Cold emails are easy when you let someone help you.

Writing cold emails is a skill that takes time and effort to master. It will take quite a bit of time and experimentation before you get it right. You will need to test many different cold email subject lines and strategies until you find the perfect formula. Whether you want to go through this process is a decision that only you can make.

However, if you ever decide that you want to outsource this process, there is help out there, all you have to do is ask.

At DemandZEN, we have years of experience in writing cold emails for businesses just like yours. In fact, we can help you set the entire cold-emailing process on autopilot. We do the hard work, and you get highly qualified leads delivered straight to your sales team.

But that’s not all we do as an agency. We combine digital marketing with our unique cold calling team in order to provide the best service to our clients. We can set up meetings with qualified prospects, help set up better closed-loop marketing, and streamline digital marketing services. If you need help with anything, feel free to drop us a line here.