Best Cold Email Subject Line Examples & Tips From Experts

Read our article for the top cold email subject line examples and tips from top sales and business experts, including a standard framework to follow.

Cold email subject lines are the short messages that appear in cold leads' inboxes before they open an email; they essentially serve as a preview of the email. The goal of the subject line is to grab the recipient’s attention and influence them to open and read the sales email. Salespeople can craft effective cold email subject lines by following a specific subject line framework and best practices, or they can use field-tested email subject lines as templates for their own. 

  • Standard Cold Email Subject Line Framework: Learn the framework for writing subject lines that get your emails opened. Read more below.
  • Examples of Powerful Email Subject Lines: See examples of cold email subject lines submitted by sales experts who know they work. Read more below.
  • Tips for Writing Cold Email Subject Lines: Review some special tips for crafting an email subject line, each sent in by an experienced sales professional. Read more below.

Standard Cold Email Subject Line Framework

Salespeople use cold email subject lines to evoke feelings of curiosity, urgency, or desire in their leads, and therefore influence them to open the email and read their sales message. It can be difficult to grab the attention and interest of a lead because you’re competing with hundreds of other emails from salespeople, marketers, and people they know. Fortunately, there’s a framework you can use to help your subject line stand out from the crowd. 

Here is the best framework to follow when writing a cold email subject line: 

  • Stick to Roughly Nine Words: A short email subject line is economical in regards to the lead’s attention span and the available space in their inbox for the preview. You want the lead to be able to read the entire subject line.
  • Personalize the Subject Line: Including information about the lead that you found during research or know from your ideal customer profile will help you connect with them and get their attention. 
  • Give the Lead a Reason to Open the Email: Mention a pain point, goal, challenge, benefit, or something else that the lead will want to know more about. Also tie your subject line to your email’s pitch. 
  • Consider Sentence Case: Writing your subject lines like you would a regular sentence, with only the first word capitalized and the remaining words lowercase, can help you come across as more conversational. 

A quality cold email subject line that follows this framework will help you win the battle for your lead’s attention. Keep in mind that these are more so guidelines than rules, so you have the liberty to break them if need be. Below we share examples of effective cold email subject lines that for the most part adhere to the framework above. Some vary from the framework but are still viable options due to their upsides and impressive psychological tactics.

Top 10 Cold Email Subject Line Examples

We reached out to business, marketing, and sales professionals to figure out which cold email subject lines have brought them the most success. Below we share these great subject line examples and explain why they work. Feel free to use them verbatim for your cold emailing efforts or tweak them to fit your target audience.

Jar Kuznecov

Jar Kuznecov

Owner, Water Softeners Hub

1. Can I Help You With [Reaching a Specific Goal]?

Using the information you have on your ideal customer, include a probable goal or pain point in the subject line plus an offer to help. Business owner Jar Kuznecov explains why this subject line works so well:

“Rather than outright offering your services, skills, or expertise, you're asking the recipient if they require your help. This tactic shows that you understand their situation but does not make any overt assumption about your ability to solve it.”

— Jar Kuznecov, Owner of Water Softeners Hub

Assuming the lead cannot solve this issue you’re mentioning might make them feel a bit defensive toward you, so this slight change of using a question rather than a statement can make a positive difference in your open and reply rates.

Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman

Host, Faster Than Normal

2. It's OK If You Delete This Email.

This subject line can spark curiosity because of the self-defeating nature of its message and help you come across as personable. Customer experience expert Peter Shankman explains why this subject line is so effective:

“The subject line above has worked more than once. It sets me up right off the bat as someone who understands that they're busy, and they don't necessarily have all the time in the world for someone they don't know. I've gotten a bunch of replies from people who have said the subject line is what caused them to open and read the email.”

— Peter Shankman, Host of Faster Than Normal

This subject line falls under the category of what marketers call pattern interrupters. The message is so distinct from the other subject lines in the lead’s inbox that they notice it and feel tempted to click it.

Farhan Advani

Farhan Advani

Marketing Director, Buy Here Pay Here

3. Are You Prepared to Overcome [Specific Challenge]?

Use what you know about your average customer to include a relevant challenge in the subject line. That way, the lead will think of you as a problem solver who did their homework and perhaps deserves attention. Marketing director Farhan Advani explains another reason why this subject line works:

“This subject line indicates your understanding of the recipient's challenges. You'll have to do some research to make an informed guess at what challenges are most pressing to them. If you have that information, you'll be able to spark the prospect's interest in a potential solution.”

— Farhan Advani, Marketing Director at Buy Here Pay Here

If it’s a challenge that the lead is unaware of, like an industry shift, this can make the lead feel a sense of urgency to prepare. If they’ve heard of the challenge and are struggling to deal with it, they’ll feel a desire for some help.

Andre Kazimierski

Andre Kazimierski

CEO, Improovy

4. Let’s Talk About [Topic/Idea]!

Find an idea or topic that your lead might be interested in and mention it in the subject line to evoke a feeling of curiosity. For example, if you were selling to people interested in personal finance, the topic could be “HSA accounts.” CEO Andre Kazimierski explains why he uses this cold email subject line:

“When writing a cold email subject line, you want it to be personalized and engaging. 'Let’s talk about [topic/idea]!' works great because you’re able to tailor your topic based on the interests of your prospect. It sparks curiosity in your reader and increases the probability that the email will be opened.”

— Andre Kazimierski, CEO at Improovy

This subject line works best if the topic or idea is something important or new that the lead wants to learn more about.  “New regulations and fines for building owners” would surely make the lead want to learn what you have to say.

Daivat Dholakia

Daivat Dholakia

VP of Operations, Essenvia

5. [Name], Looking Forward to Seeing You at [Event]!

This email subject line is good for salespeople going to the same place as a lead. It sparks curiosity because the lead starts to wonder who you are. Vice president Daivat Dholakia tells us other reasons why it works so well:

“This subject line is perfect for when you know a prospect will be — or even might be — attending an industry event. It assumes a level of familiarity, which ticks that personalized box, and also shows that you share some of the same interests, which hits the mark for engagement.”

— Daivat Dholakia, VP of Operations at Essenvia

It’s only natural for leads to want to know the identity of the person who says they’ll be looking for them at an event. This email subject line can certainly get your emails some more opens and help you book meetings at an industry event, or just kickstart a relationship.

Tony Martins

Tony Martins

Founder, Profitable Venture

6. Did You Know That [Competitor] Outranks You for [Keyword]?

Although this subject line is specifically for people selling online marketing services, the principle behind it can be used to create effective headlines in other industries; people want to stay ahead of their competition. Founder Tony Martins explains why he uses this subject line:

“This subject line is very effective because it conveys to the recipient that you have conducted research on them as well as their competitor. Furthermore, you've brought to their attention the fact that their competition is doing something better, and you're telling them why. This piques their interest, and as a result, emails with this line always have a higher open and click rate for me.”

— Tony Martins, Founder at Profitable Venture

Showing your prospect you did your homework and sharing the way you’ll bring them value in the subject line is a great way to win their attention and get a click.

Tim Connon

Tim Connon

Founder, ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors

7. Urgent [Demographic] in [Location]! This Is Important Information You Need to Know!

This subject line is incredibly effective at creating a sense of urgency and desire to learn what your email says. Business founder Tim Connon dissects the subject line to help us see why it’s so powerful:

“You want to start with the word 'urgent' or 'attention' plus 'important information for,' then put in whatever type of consumer you are looking for. When a prospect reads words like that, it hits their subconscious and they are compelled to read and want to learn more about this information, which is exactly what the main body of your email should be. These are powerful psychological words. Think about a radio program — when they announce an 'urgent' weather issue, it captures your attention immediately.”

— Tim Connon, Founder of ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors

This email subject line would also work well for B2C marketers running email nurturing campaigns or sending a marketing email in bulk. People who fit the descriptor will have to open it.

Ryan Yount

Ryan Yount

COO, Luck Luck GO

8. [Mutual Connection] Suggested I Contact You.

If someone in the lead’s network recommended them as a potential client, let the lead know off the bat. This can make them view you as more credible since you have the backing of someone they already know. COO Ryan Yount elaborates on why this subject line gets opens:

“It’s estimated that the average professional receives 126 emails per day, meaning they can’t read all of them, respond, and handle other pressing responsibilities. To attract responses, you need a tactic to pique the prospect’s interest by sounding relevant. Otherwise, your cold email will fail to generate the expected lead. Mentioning a mutual connection, such as a person or event, in your subject line is effective because it personalizes your email, establishes a sense of familiarity, and builds trust, thus increasing the chances of your email starting a conversation.”

— Ryan Yount, COO at Luck Luck GO

In sum, this subject line tells the recipient that you are a part of their social group, and they’ll therefore be more likely to open the email.

Tyler Garns

Tyler Garns

CEO, Box Out Marketing

9. Must-Have Resources to Aid in [Challenge]

This subject line tells the lead right away that you’re giving them something for free. And who doesn’t like a gift? CEO Tyler Garns explains further why this subject line works:

“This subject line is extremely successful since it tempts every audience to look at it because it could be the answer to their problems. It simply means that you are willing to assist them. Remember that the more specific the challenge, the better.”

— Tyler Garns, CEO at Box Out Marketing

This subject line is best for those trying to start a relationship with a cold lead by sharing helpful content like ebooks, videos, blogs, and more. After they review your resources, they might become more open to a one-on-one conversation about your product or service.

April Maccario

April Maccario

Founder, Ask April

10. [Name], We Have a Gift Voucher for You

Starting with a lead’s name is always a good way to get their attention. After you have their attention, you can offer them a free gift, a tactic business founder April Maccario discusses below:

“This cold email subject line is convincing for the recipients to open the email because customers want vouchers when shopping. Giving them vouchers will encourage them to shop at your business and use it as much as possible.”

— April Maccario, Founder at Ask April

This is likely best for B2C brands looking to get people onto their online website or into their store. Variations of this email could offer other valuable giveaways, like a buy-one-get-one-free deal or 15% off all men’s clothes.

7 Best Cold Email Subject Line Tips

As you create your own subject line, there are some tips you can follow to produce the most effective one possible. Read on to learn what expert sellers and businesspeople have to say about crafting cold email subject lines for their lead generation efforts.

Scott Hasting

Scott Hasting

Co-founder, BetWorthy LLC

1. Use a Topic From the Lead's Podcast or Book

Show the lead that you’ve done your homework and mention a topic from something they’ve published. Co-founder Scott Hasting tells us more about why this strategy is so useful:

“When you use this, you create a sense of personalization and interest at a deeper level. It means that you have spent some time listening and reading their work, so this will result in a higher click rate and opening rate. It even has a higher conversion rate, so be as personal as you can!”

— Scott Hasting, Co-founder of BetWorthy LLC

If they aren’t authors or podcast hosts, you could check the internet to see if they’ve written any blog posts. Many decision makers do so to build authority. Also, check LinkedIn to see if they’ve made any posts worth citing.

Craig Miller

Craig Miller

Co-founder, Academia Labs

2. Include Specific Data About Their Business or Site

Another tactic for personalizing the subject line is including information such as their company name, its size, or its site’s ranking statistics on Google. Co-founder Craig Miller explains why it works:

“This makes it a lot personal and it signifies that you studied their account well in order to produce data. For instance, you can put their site's traffic and domain ranking/domain authority rating, then suggest ways on how to improve that. This way, it will result in high click and opening rates.”

— Craig Miller, Co-founder at Academia Labs

An example of a cold email subject line following this principle is “Retail stores with over five locations need this tool.” The recipient will feel as if the content of the email is meant specifically for them and be more curious to open it.

Kyle Boerner

Director of Sales & Marketing, Veloxy

3. Lead With Pain Points, Not the Product

Write a pain point in the subject line to grab the lead’s attention. This could be a pain point you found from manual research or one common to your customers. Sales and marketing director Kyle Boerner further explains how to do use this tip:

“Did you know that pain killers outsell vitamins every year? Talk about a sense of urgency! If you've done the necessary research and created rock-solid buyer personas, you'll know the top 5–7 pains for each customer. On average, it takes 5–7 cold emails to get the first open (NOT using this strategy), so what better way to accelerate your path to engagement than pain points. But don't just list the pain point; list the 'relief' with the pain. For example, 'automate non-selling tasks,' where non-selling tasks are the pain and automate is the relief.”

— Kyle Boerner, Director of Sales & Marketing at Veloxy

If you hit on a pain relevant to the lead, and preview its solution, it’s nearly impossible for them to resist clicking on the email and learning about how to fix it.

David Latimer

David Latimer

Head of Sales, Petzyo

4. Ask an Open-Ended Question

Instead of asking “Are you losing money from X?” try phrasing it in an open-ended manner: “How much money are you losing from X?” This simple tweak changes the way the lead thinks. Their mind now assumes money is being lost, and they’ll want to know how much. Head of sales David Latimer elaborates:

“For cold emails, think about it. If you use a close-ended question, you have a 50% chance of being wrong. With an open-ended question, you have a much higher chance at your desired result.”

— David Latimer, Head of Sales at Petzyo

If you asked “When is the right time to start saving for retirement?” you’d likely get far more opens than if you’d said “Is it the right time?” because the lead’s impulsive mind is less able to default to no and move on.

Eric Ang

Eric Ang

Director, One Search Pro

5. Use Curiosity-Piquing Words

Include powerful words that make the lead extra curious about your email’s content. This can also make your subject line more visible to the drifting eye. Director Eric Ang gives some examples for how to use this tip:

“Accentuate a subject line with words like ‘bizarre,’ ‘unusual,’ or ‘unbelievable.’ An example would be ‘5 bizarre marketing tricks you need to try.’ Most of us are curious by nature and will click on emails that have an odd subject line. Make sure you deliver by rewarding their curiosity with useful content!”

— Eric Ang, Director at One Search Pro

This tip works especially well when used to give extra life to a benefit in a subject line, which we discuss next.

Yeremia Poco

Yeremia Poco

Co-founder, Eggplain

6. Use a Benefit-Focused Subject Line

Mentioning a benefit in your cold email subject line is a fantastic way to evoke the feeling of desire. Give a sneak peek as to how you accomplish this benefit for clients, and they’ll have enough trust to take the time to see the full email. Co-founder Yeremia Poco explains why this tip works:

“As a small online business owner, I send quite a lot of cold emails or proposals to my potential customers. And one tip that I always use is the benefit-driven subject line. Instead of telling them who I am or what I am selling, I use a subject line that shows some benefit they will get by reading my email. For example, 'How to speed up your computer with these 3 tricks.' That subject line shows you a benefit inside the email, so the audience is more likely to open it.”

— Yeremia Poco, Co-founder at Eggplain

Other examples might be “Increase website traffic by 30% with this SEO tool” or “Enjoy a stress-free, low-cost vacation in Hawaii.” The stronger and more relevant the benefit, the more likely your leads are to feel enough desire to open the email.

Christopher Liew

Christopher Liew

CFA & Creator, Wealth Awesome

7. Add Numbers to the Subject Line

Adding a number and stats to a benefit can make your claim more believable. For example, “reduce costs by 23%” is more specific and therefore might create more trust with a lead than a subject line that simply says “reduce your costs.” Founder Christopher Liew explains why this tip is effective:

“Adding numbers in your subject lines makes people want to click your email more frequently. They are anticipating the value they can get from your email. This is why this strategy works most of the time. Based on statistics, a headline with an attached number to it outperformed a how-to post by as much as 200%.”

— Christopher Liew, CFA & Creator of Wealth Awesome

It’s all about creating a clear image in the lead’s imagination. If they can wrap their mind around the benefit, they’ll be more likely to open your cold email.

Bottom Line: Cold Email Subject Line

Cold email subject lines influence a lead to open and read your sales email. They can do this by creating feelings of desire, curiosity, or urgency. Remember, if you don’t get a response, be sure to follow up. After you’ve crafted your subject line, you have to write the email body. To learn how, read our article on how to write a cold email that works.

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