Email Marketing

How to Craft the Best Subject Lines for Cold Emails

May 1, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Keep subject lines short, ideally under 50 characters, to avoid truncation and ensure they're easily readable on mobile devices.
  • Cold emailing aims to establish and maintain business relationships with prospects who have no prior contact.
  • Marketing emails include promotional emails, transactional emails, newsletters, re-engagement emails, event invitations, and lead nurturing emails.
  • Subject lines for each type of marketing email should be tailored to maximize engagement and drive desired outcomes.

Cold emailing is undeniably a formidable challenge, given the lack of a prior relationship with your target audience and the constant battle to stand out in a cluttered inbox. With feedback scarce and emails often lost in spam folders, the stakes are high.

But there's a secret weapon that can be the deciding factor between your email being opened or ignored: the subject line. More than 90 percent of constant contact survey respondents say email marketing is important to their company’s overall success.

So whether you're an in house email marketer or freelancing, we're determined to help you unlock the power of subject lines, as they carry a significant responsibility in determining the success of your cold email and affiliate marketing campaigns. We have prepared examples of the most effective tips for crafting perfect cold email subject lines that will make your prospects eager to click.

The Importance of a Killer Subject Line

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That's precisely why your subject line is the most critical aspect of your cold email. It's the first thing your recipient will see, and it determines whether they'll open your email or send it straight to the trash. I'll say it again, and I'm not exaggerating: your email subject lines have a direct impact on your business's success.

If you already know who your receivers are, we have a Triggered Email Guide that can help you send even better emails.

A well-crafted subject line from a recognizable Gmail email serves as a beacon of interest in the tempestuous sea of an overcrowded inbox, enticing recipients to engage with an email's content. Try blending attention-grabbing elements, relevance, personalization … and viola! A superb subject line sets the stage for meaningful interactions and positions the email as an essential read among a plethora of competing messages.

Embodying the first impression, it skillfully navigates the delicate balance between capturing attention and avoiding the dreaded spam filter, ensuring that the email reaches its intended audience. In essence, a masterfully written subject line is the linchpin of a successful email campaign, paving the way for fruitful connections and elevated open rates.

Secrets to Crafting the Best Subject Lines for Cold Emails

Subject lines are your initial point of contact with your reader in email communication, so developing an impactful and succinct one is critical for getting your email seen.

1. Keep it Short and Sweet

Nobody likes a chatterbox. Keep your subject line concise and to the point. Aim for 50 characters or less to ensure it doesn't get truncated in the recipient's inbox.

Short subject lines are more effective at grabbing the reader's attention and increasing the chances of them engaging with your message.

Studies have shown that shorter subject lines tend to have higher open rates because they are easier for the recipient to comprehend and quickly identify the email's purpose. Concise subject lines also make it easier for recipients to scan through their inboxes and prioritize which messages to open first.

Furthermore, shorter subject lines reduce the risk of emails being marked as spam, which can happen when subject lines contain excessive punctuation, capitalization, or special characters.

Optimizing subject lines for shorter lengths also means they are easier to read on mobile devices, where more and more people check their emails these days. 

Additionally, concise subject lines not only encourage the sender to be precise about the email's main point, thereby facilitating effective communication within the email body, but are also easier to remember and can encourage the recipient to revisit and act upon the email later.

2. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Personalized subject lines are a no-brainer for improving the email experience. People love hearing their own names! When recipients see a subject line that speaks to their specific persona, they're more likely to take notice and engage with the content. 

In fact, this is a strategy that's been proven to boost open rates, as recipients are more likely to open and engage with emails that feel relevant and appealing to them.

But it's not just about getting your email opened - personalization can also help establish a connection and foster trust between you and the recipient as it makes them feel seen and valued, which can lead to more productive and meaningful interactions later down the line.

3. Arouse Curiosity

Pose a question, or use a thought-provoking statement that piques the recipient's interest and entices them to open your email to learn more.

Incorporating power words into your email subject lines is an effective strategy for arousing curiosity and capturing the attention of your recipients. Power words are persuasive and emotionally charged terms that evoke strong emotions, such as excitement, curiosity, urgency, or even fear of missing out (FOMO) prompting readers to take action.

One approach to using power words is to create a sense of exclusivity, making readers feel special and as though they have access to privileged information or offers. Additionally, emphasizing urgency or scarcity through power words can provoke immediate action from your recipients.

Similarly, leveraging curiosity gaps can heighten interest. By revealing just enough information without giving away the full story, you create an information gap that encourages recipients to satisfy their curiosity by opening the email.

Using strong action verbs at the beginning of your subject lines can make them more compelling and curiosity-provoking. Test different combinations of power words and analyze your open rates to determine which ones resonate most with your audience.

4. Provide Value

Show the recipient what's in it for them. Highlight the benefits they'll gain by opening your email.

You gotta give your email subject lines some serious juice if you want your recipients to actually open your messages. And how do you do that? By clearly communicating the benefits and relevance of your email content to them. So, let's talk about value-driven subject lines.

First off, know your recipient well. I’d research a bit on their profile and see what CURRENT problems they are facing in relation to my content goal. I’d even research the market to see what hot products and services are doing with their newsletter subject lines. If you can somehow connect your goals to theirs, you'll show them that your content is the real deal - something that's actually worth their time and attention.

Next, don't hold back on the benefits. Instead of focusing on the features or details of your content, hit your recipients with the outcomes and solutions they can expect to see. Make it clear how your email is going to improve their lives or solve a problem they're facing. People appreciate a good value proposition.

You can also leverage numbers and data to show off the real value of your email content. Tangible crystal clear and to-the-point stats and figures will make your message even more appealing and impressive.

5. Create a Sense of Urgency

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a powerful motivator. Use time-sensitive language to encourage recipients to act quickly.

Crafting email subject lines that imbue a sense of urgency can be a potent technique to entice recipients to promptly engage with your content. Leveraging time-sensitive language, and persuasive terminology will definitely accentuate the pressing nature of your message.

Here are some strategies for creating subject lines that exude urgency, accompanied by illustrative examples:

  • Employ time-sensitive language. Utilizing explicit temporal expressions can instill a sense of immediacy, prompting recipients to take action before the opportunity elapses. 

For example: "Last Chance: Register Now for the Exclusive Webinar – 2 Hours Left!" or "Flash Sale: 24 Hours Only – Secure Your 30% Discount Today"

  • Capitalize on the fear of missing out (FOMO). By appealing to your audience's intrinsic aversion to missing out on valuable opportunities, you can provoke a heightened sense of urgency.

For example: "Limited Stock: Get Your Hands on Our Best-Selling Products Before They're Gone!" or "Don't Miss Out: Early Bird Pricing Ends Tonight – Book Your Spot Now"

  • Integrate persuasive power words. Incorporating evocative power words that convey scarcity, exclusivity, or urgency can amplify the pressing nature of your message.

For example: "Act Now: Uncover the Secrets to Skyrocketing Your Business Success" or "Final Reminder: Claim Your Exclusive Offer Before It Disappears"

  • Utilize strategic formatting. Emphasizing urgency through formatting choices, such as capitalization or punctuation, can heighten the sense of immediacy. However, exercise caution to avoid overuse or the appearance of spam.

For example: "URGENT: Confirm Your Attendance at the Annual Conference" or "Time-Sensitive Offer: 50% Off for the First 100 Customers!"

  • Leverage personalization and relevance. Combining urgency with personalized, relevant content can create a more compelling reason for recipients to act swiftly. 

For example: "John, Your Exclusive 48-Hour Offer Awaits – Don't Miss Out!" or "Unlock the Full Potential of Your Membership – Offer Ends Tonight!"

6. What’s in It for Me?

Crafting subject lines that resonate with your audience and emphasize the benefits they can reap is critical to making your emails stand out.

It's time to shift your mindset. Move from selling your product to showcasing the benefits your audience will enjoy. Use subject lines that create value and prioritize outcomes, showing your recipients that your email is worth opening. Pull on those heartstrings. Craft subject lines that trigger emotions and make the potential benefits tangible.

Use social proof to showcase the successes of others who have already benefited from your offerings. This can build confidence in your recipients and make the potential advantages more tangible.

Incorporate powerful call to action. Use actionable language that encourages your recipients to take advantage of the benefits you're presenting. This can add some extra oomph to your subject lines and inspire them to engage with your content.

7. Avoid clickbait

Clickbait was once an SEO Trend that worked wonders! But as good as grabbing your audience's attention sounds like, it's equally important to avoid clickbait tactics that can erode credibility and trust. Clickbait subject lines are deceitful or misleading, designed to entice people into opening emails that do not live up to the standards set in the subject lines. To create subject lines that honestly represent your content and resonate with your audience, consider these tactics:

Simply be truthful and avoid exaggerations, false promises, or misleading claims. Honesty builds trust with your audience and ensures that your emails are perceived as valuable and reliable.

Secondly, emphasize relevance and value: your subject lines should accurately convey the benefits your recipients can gain from engaging with your content. Focus on the value proposition and relevance to your audience's interests or needs. Doing so creates compelling subject lines without resorting to sensationalism.

Maintain a professional tone. Avoid using an unprofessional and disrespectful tone in your subject lines to prevent them from being perceived as clickbait. Strike a balance between engaging language and professionalism.

Utilize specific and quantifiable information: integrating precise details, data, or figures into your subject lines enhances credibility and minimizes the risk of being perceived as clickbait.

Avoid overusing capitalization, punctuation, or sensational language: using excessive capitalization, exclamation marks, or provocative language can evoke the appearance of clickbait. Practice restraint with formatting and linguistic choices to maintain credibility and ensure that your subject lines are perceived as genuine and trustworthy.

What Cold Email Is Supposed to Be

You, as a cold emailer, are tasked with the challenging mission of reaching out to complete strangers in hopes of reaping the rewards such as sales or networking opportunities. Major brands such as Uber, ProductHunt, and Godaddy rely heavily on cold emailing as their primary form of communication. To turn cold emails into leads, you must follow a few crucial steps that involve authenticity, personalization, trust-building, and clarity.

While it is crucial to make a connection, you must avoid coming across as too generic in your message. Personalization is key, and you must include relevant information to gain the prospect's trust.

credit: @hostreviews

Cold emailing is a subset of email marketing and differs significantly from transactional and warm emailing. It is an intimate, one-to-one message aimed at building a relationship with a specific individual rather than promoting a product or service to a large audience.

The ultimate goal of cold emailing is to establish a relationship with leads, with the intent of nurturing them into business partners. The process requires patience and persistence, as the objective is not to achieve instant conversions, but rather to foster a sustainable business relationship with someone who was once a stranger. In summary, cold emailing is an effective method for initiating and maintaining business relationships with prospects who have no prior contact.

Types of Marketing Emails

Credit: @tima-miroshnichenko

Marketing emails play a crucial role in engaging customers, generating leads, and driving sales. Different types of marketing emails require distinct subject lines to maximize their effectiveness. Here, we will explore the main types of marketing emails and discuss how to craft compelling subject lines for each type, using examples and statistics to illustrate the points.

  1. Promotional emails. These emails showcase products, services, or special offers to drive sales or conversions. Subject lines for promotional emails should be attention-grabbing, highlighting the value proposition or urgency of the offer. Something like, "Introducing Our New Product Line – Get a Sneak Peek Now".

  1. Transactional emails. These emails provide information related to a specific customer transaction, such as order confirmations, shipping updates, or password resets. Subject lines for transactional emails should be clear, concise, and informative. Example: "Your Order #12345 Has Been Shipped – Track Your Package Now".

  1. Newsletters. Regularly sent to subscribers, newsletters aim to inform, educate, or entertain readers while keeping them engaged with the brand. Subject lines for newsletters should be engaging, and relevant, and provide a glimpse of the email's content. "April's Top Travel Destinations: Discover Hidden Gems".

  1. Re-engagement emails. These emails target inactive subscribers or customers, aiming to rekindle their interest in the brand. Subject lines for re-engagement emails should evoke curiosity or offer incentives to encourage recipients to reconnect. Like "We Miss You! Here's a 20% Discount to Welcome You Back".

  1. Event invitations. These emails promote upcoming events, webinars, or workshops, encouraging recipients to register or attend. Subject lines for event invitations should convey excitement, exclusivity, or the event's value. "You're Invited: Exclusive Launch Party for [Brand Name]'s New Collection"

  1. Lead nurturing emails. Aimed at moving leads through the sales funnel, these emails provide valuable content and resources to establish trust and credibility. Subject lines for lead nurturing emails should be personalized, focused on the recipient's needs, and highlight the email's value. Some thing like "John, Boost Your Productivity with These 7 Time Management Tips".

Read: How to Connect Sources to Quickly Curate Newsletters

FAQs: Crafting the Best Subject Lines for Cold Emails

Q: How long should a cold email subject line be?

Aim for 50 characters or less to avoid truncation in the recipient's inbox.

Q: Is it essential to personalize cold email subject lines?

Yes! Personalization can significantly improve your open rates and show that you've done your homework.

Q: Which email service provider should I use?

While we recommend sending cold emails from your professional email account (not for example), you can select from a variety of email service providers. Each of these providers has a different advantage so take your time to select the right one for your business.

Q: Can I use emojis in my subject lines?

Emojis can be an eye-catching addition to your subject lines but use them sparingly and only if they align with your brand's tone and target audience.

Q: Should I use all capital letters in my subject line?

No, this can come across as spammy and aggressive. Instead, use proper capitalization and focus on crafting a compelling message.

Wrap Up

We have given you helpful hints and tactics for writing captivating subject lines that can enhance open rates and generate interaction for your cold emails. Subject lines should be clear, succinct, customized, and relevant in order to have the most impact. Curiosity, urgency, social proof, and A/B testing may all be used to boost their efficacy. If you’ve made it this far thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic on our social media networks.


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