Penning subject lines for cold emails can be a daunting task. This is because cold emails tend to get a bad rap because of their “spammy” nature.

As a marketer, this can make you shy away from the whole idea of writing marketing emails. When done right, cold emails can prove to be a powerful tool in your arsenal.

The subject line is of particular importance as this is where you get to introduce yourself. As such, it needs to ooze confidence and provide real value.

Fear shouldn’t be part of the equation.

To help you out, we’ll show you all the tricks on how to send a cold email. While at it, we’ll share some of the top subject lines for cold emails that will get your foot in the door. 

Why you should send cold emails

The projections show that the global number of email users is set to grow to 4.3 billion in 2022.

Considering that this is about half the world’s population, it’s safe to say that email marketing hasn’t lost its charm.

To succeed in cold emails, you need to have the right perception about them.

It often eludes people that cold emails aren’t supposed to be a replacement for inbound methods. Rather, they’re meant to supplement them. You can use cold emails to drive near-term growth while inbound campaigns gain traction.

Compared to other outbound communications, cold emails have a number of advantages:

  • Cold emails get users where they spend most of their time: It’s no secret, many people spend a good portion of the day checking out their inbox. As a marketer, you can use this information to reach more prospects by the day.
  • Cold emails are persistent: Social media channels provide the perfect platform for salespersons to deliver their pitch to prospects. While this is all good, it’s easy for prospects to miss what you’re saying if they don’t check their timeline right then. In contrast, emails have staying power. They just sit right there in your inbox waiting to be opened when you’re ready.
  • Cold emails are scalable: at the click of a button, you can reach thousands of prospects. This is something that’s simply not possible with cold calls and door-to-door visits. However, with great power, comes great responsibility. While this is an admirable quality, when misused, prospects may identify your cold emails as spammy.

How to send cold emails

Cold emailing needs to be approached with caution for two reasons.

The first being that you have zero relationship with your audience.

The second is the lack of non-verbal feedback. Without this, it’s not possible for you to tweak your approach in real-time.

Still, cold emails can work. There’s a host of individuals and companies who’ve managed to rise above it all established themselves.

For an effective cold email, you need to:

1. Tailor the message to the recipient

What makes a great salesperson? Well, depends on who you’re asking.

For some, a great salesperson should be able to sell sand in the desert. For others, a great salesperson needs to be an extrovert because they are comfortable talking to prospects.

Cliché aside, the most important trait of a successful sales rep is their focus on being helpful.

Instead of selling sand, wouldn’t it make more sense to sell water to desert people? It certainly would.

Before you send out cold emails, it’s necessary that you do your research. The objective is to build an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

To find the right prospects, you need to do more than just identify basic information. This means figuring out:

  • Sales team size and structure: this information can prove pivotal in strategy and targeting. It will help you identify what kind of approach to use before sending that cold email. When you’re certain you’re talking to the decision-maker, you’re likely going to be more direct. If you’re talking to a subordinate, you’ll likely going to encounter more red tape.
  • Demographic information: knowing the average age and education level of prospects can help you get the right tone for your content
  • Psychographics: this will help you come to terms with the “why”. An understanding of what problems your customers need handling and their perceptions of your product is important. The insights you gain from this can help you tailor relevant content.

2. Be authentic

You need to lay the groundwork for future communication to happen with prospects. This is important because your recipients have no prior connection to you or your business.

The best way to do this is to ensure that the address the communication is originating from is authentic. By clearly displaying relevant credentials, you’ll be helping prospects identify with your company.

The content should also speak volumes about the brand. You want the message to have a natural flair to it, not sound robotic. For this to happen, the tone needs to be conversational, short, and friendly. While at it, you can inject some humor and wit to take things up a notch.

While it’s true that you’re looking to sell, it shouldn’t sound like a sales pitch. Before you hit send, you need to re-read it to ensure that it’s naturally flowing, not forced.

When this is achieved, you’ll have better chances of resonating with audiences.

3. Create a connection

The objective of cold email outreach is to form relationships.

Using templates can prove detrimental to your goal since most tend to focus on the sales aspect of things.

To connect with audiences, you need to go for the tiny details. Calling prospects by name is a great way to lead things off. This is because doing this tends to register at the back of their minds that you’re actually concerned about their welfare.

As shared earlier, research is an integral part of the equation. It can help you establish the common ground to engage in conversation and build a formidable relationship. 

Since people received loads of cold emails on a daily basis, it’s crucial that you work on creating a connection. When you do, you’ll realize that your email is able to stand out from the rest of the pack.

4. Validate your offering

On the internet, strangers have no reason to trust you. Not unless you give them a reason to.

You need to validate yourself and provide sufficient social proof that you’re trustworthy. If you happen to share common contacts, make sure you mention them by name in the email. If not, you can name drop other customers or renown figures in the industry who use your products.

The more reliable you seem, the better the odds are that you’ll get a reply to your cold email.

5. Keep it concise and actionable

Your recipients don’t know you. Therefore, they’re not obligated to read through long lines of text.

If the value you offer doesn’t jump out of the mail at first glance, they’ll swiftly press delete.

To ensure that this hardly ever happens, you need to keep the messages short. With brevity, your messages have better odds of being opened and read.

To win over prospects, you need to avail clear directives and explicitly state the objectives of the mail.

6. Communicate the value

As alluded earlier, while you may be working towards a sale, your email should not feel like a sales email.

A good way to do this is by first communicating your value proposition. When you do this from the word jump, prospects will be well aware of how they can benefit from your services.

Your email body should be insightful about your offering. It’s also important to invite them to inquire further about the product and state your commitment to clarifying issues. In the ensuing conversations, you need to provide more information about how the product can sort out their problems.

If you embrace this structured approach, your cold email will feel less like a pitch. Customers will also find it easy to seek business with you.

7. Track your performance

To ascertain whether your cold email strategy is actually working, it’s necessary that you check out the open and response rates for your emails.

With tracking systems in place, you’ll be able to know what’ working and what isn’t. This information will also inform you about what changes to implement in order to notch better numbers.

You may find yourself having to tweak the copy, the value proposition or the subject lines for cold emails. The more feedback you collect, the better placed you’ll be about implementing changes.

Best subject lines for cold emails

There’s no way around it really. You simply have to get the subject line for cold emails right.

That’s the best way to spark your prospects’ curiosity and get them to open the email.

Still, composing a good subject line is somewhat elusive. With the times constantly changing, what’s considered a fad today isn’t guaranteed to be the same tomorrow.

Having been in the sales field long enough, these are the subject lines for cold emails we consider most effective:

1. “Your annual [X] target”

Everyone has targets to meet.

Cognizant of this fact, it’s important to pair “your” with a particular pain point the prospect is experiencing. By doing this, you’ll be making the cold email relevant right from the subject line.

This is a masterstroke approach. Why? Because people innately love talking about themselves than listening to others.

This assertion has now been proven by researchers from Harvard. Looking at the brain, they realized that when people talk about themselves, something peculiar happens. The same regions of the brain pertaining to reward and motivation tend to light up.

2. “Who is in charge of X at [company]?”

Cold emails are a great way to introduce yourselves to prospects. This subject line shows the intent to identify with the right people from the onset.

This sense of directness and curiosity is a great way to get correspondence from prospects. By asking questions in the subject line, you’re paving the way for a conversation to ensue.

3. “Talk on [day] at [time]?”

When sending out cold emails, the onus is on you to suggest an appropriate time to converse.

To make prospects interested, it’s great to suggest appointments on the :45 mark. This tends to work better than :30 or :00 appointments because it implies the meeting is less demanding. Subconsciously, prospects will be thinking that you only need 15 minutes of their time. As a result, they’ll be more open to reaching out.

4. “Will cut to the chase”

Talk about intriguing.

This subject line for cold emails promises a sense of conciseness that uniquely appeals to prospects. Once they see this email, they’re automatically thinking “cut to the chase about what?”

As per the curiosity-drive theory, people don’t like uncertainty. It’s a natural human trait to try and make discoveries about elusive subjects. That’s probably the reason why people make pattern associations when they spot clouds in the sky.

Since prospects will be eager to satisfy their curiosity, they’re likely going to respond to your email.

A brilliant strategy.

5. “Can I make your life [X %] easier?”

This subject line for cold emails is all about the optics of things.

Customers will immediately want to know how you can enhance their productivity. Since you’re focusing on value addition, they’ll be all ears to listen to your proposition.

Know how they do that? By opening your email.

Mission accomplished.

6. “Will I see you at [event]?”

This friendly subject line is best used when you’re confident prospects will be attending the same event as you.

It’s a brilliant way to approach prospects because it leaves a good impression. This is true even if they fail to respond to your email. With your brand name etched at the back of their minds, they may find themselves wandering over to your booth during the event in question.

Of course, you’re hoping they respond in kind since this allows you to schedule a conversation.

7. “[Referral name]”

As covered earlier, this subject line for cold emails works because it draws upon the power of referrals.

By simply mentioning the name of someone both you and prospect know about, the magic happens. Not only will your email stand out from the rest of the emails, but they’ll also be curious enough to open it.

8. “Fellow [University] grad here!”

This subject line attempts to build a connection from a shared experience. By drawing upon a similar alma mater or hometown, you’ll be attempting to build a rapport with your recipients.

Since people love feeling connected to one another, this strategy enhances your odds of success. You can use this knowledge to forge bonds that last with prospects who would’ve otherwise ignored you.

9. “So, you speak sign language?”

It’s all about personalization.

People love it when they know you can relate to their life experiences. While you may have sourced this information from their social media pages, the value isn’t lost.

By making your subject line seem like a one-to-one message, your recipients will feel inclined to respond.


To succeed in cold emailing, you need to focus on helping prospects. Once you’re able to do this, you can expect high conversion rates.

In our review, we’ve analyzed a couple of best practices about how to send cold emails. We’ve also shared insights about the best subject lines for cold emails.

Given the wealth of information provided, we’re confident you have what it takes to create compelling cold emails.

What’s your favorite subject line?

Let us know in the comments below!


Jack is known for leading the charge in sales innovation. He has a proven track record of working with top organizations to help them integrate social into their traditional sales process.

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