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How To Write an Effective Cold Email Subject Line

7 min read
August 3, 2022

What Does a Cold Email Look Like?

Cold emails initiate contact with potential customers and introduce a mutually beneficial arrangement or solution. 

Every salesperson approaches cold emails differently, but there are three primary formats:

  • Solution-based: This format opens with the lead’s pain point, then proceeds to explain how the sender’s offering can solve it. 
  • Narrative-driven: This format spins a story backed by social proof. It grabs the prospect’s attention with a relatable problem and unveils the solution (the sender’s offering) in the story’s climax. 
  • Complimentary: This format targets a business’ strength (e.g. a highly praised feature), then details how the recipient can improve their already-fantastic brand with the sender’s offering.

Whatever format you choose, the success of your cold email depends on two things: whether your reader sees your email and whether they open it. 

Both obstacles are overcome by writing effective sales email subject lines. 

Today, we’ll teach you how to do just that, plus a few additional tips and examples for cold email subject lines.

How to Ensure Readers See Your Email

Cold emails sometimes land in the spam folder instead of the prospect’s inbox. The good news is that there are ways to improve email deliverability.

With the help of our sales engagement platform, we’ve outlined a few ways to ensure readers see your email: 

Minimize your email list

If a cold email goes out to thousands of email recipients, it’s more likely to be flagged as spam. That’s a key benefit of the one-to-one communication that Salesloft delivers. It is also what sets us apart from email marketing automation which sends out thousands of emails with lower deliverability and minimal personalization.

Plus, by emailing people individually, you can edit each cold email template to add deeper levels of personalization. 

Use a business domain

Not only do business domains increase your authority, but it shows email providers that you’re not sending phishing emails.

Avoid using the same address as your marketing department since marketers can send out hundreds of emails at a time. To avoid such crossover, all emails sent through Salesloft always come from the sales rep’s email address. 

Use an email address customers can reply to

Addresses such as “noreply@companyname.com” tell recipients that you’re only interested in a one-way conversation.

You should also pay attention to the bounce rate of this address. To improve deliverability, Salesloft automatically monitors bounce rates across your team.

Create an opt-in system

By giving the recipients the option to opt-in for future correspondence, your emails avoid the spam folder and boast higher open rates. 

Luckily, with sales engagement, an opt-in system isn’t needed. Since you’re sending one email at a time, your cold email is more human than any opt-in mass email. This also improves response rates.

Here are a few other ways that sales engagement ensures readers see your email:

email deliverability with cold subject lines

How to Write a Top Performing Subject Line

According to research, business professionals receive an average of 126 emails per day

To cut through all the noise, senders need to stand out with their cold email subject lines.

After all, the subject line is the first thing that grabs the prospect’s attention. It increases open rates and establishes a connection between the sender and recipient.

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of interactions within the Salesloft platform. Our goal? To bring you this ironclad list of tips for writing top-performing subject lines.

Don’t Create a Sense of Urgency

Email outreach might be time-sensitive, but you don’t want to create a false sense of urgency either. 

Why? Because people have natural spam filters. If you’re pushing too hard, your subject line may appear unnerving or distressing. 

Remember that your cold email is trying to make a connection—not scare them into buying. You also don’t want your subject line to distract from the email copy. 

We’ve found that the best cold email subject lines look the same as an internal email. They should be straightforward and reflect the content of your email. 

To avoid creating a sense of urgency, don’t use buzzwords like “deadline,” “limited,” or “final.” You should also avoid all caps. Writing LIKE THIS is eye-catching but aggressive.

Avoid Punctuation and Emojis

Punctuation should be used sparingly and authentically in cold email subject lines. 

Exclamation marks are fine to use, but don’t go overboard. Meanwhile, question marks demand effort from the recipients. And forget about commas—if you need commas, your subject line is way too long.

You should also leave emojis to your social media team. Although popular, emojis are salesy, unprofessional, and widely overdone according to Nethunt’s cons list.

Plus, how many of your colleagues send you emails with emoji-riddled, catchy subject lines? None, right? It’s a sure sign it’s a sales email.

As we’ve previously mentioned, your cold email subject should have the same tone and voice as an internal email. Your target audience should expect the same language from you as they would a coworker. 

Use Personalization

We’ve undertaken in-depth research on email sales prospecting and found that personalization isn’t optional.

By incorporating personalization, you are immediatley building a connection with the reader and showing that you’ve taken time to learn about them. Examples of personalization include the recipient’s name, company name, or a mutual interest. 

Whatever you choose, be sure to avoid clickbaity personalization. If you can’t follow through with a clickbait promise, you risk losing the trust of the reader.

We understand that writing the perfect sales email isn’t easy but a personalized email gets closer to the potential buyer. Recipients want to know there’s another human on the other side of a cold email—not a brand or company. Personalization helps achieve this. 

Keep It Short

Readers prefer easily digestible content. Good subject lines should be short, much like the body of your email.

Ideal subject line length will vary from desktop to mobile devices, but in general, six or more words is too many. Try to aim for something simple but relevant to your message.

Short subject lines should pique the reader’s interest. We’ve found that you can do this with one word. In fact, one-word subject lines earned an 87% higher reply rate than other subject lines!

10 Effective Cold Email Subject Line Examples

We know how hard it is to come up with great subject lines, so we’ve put together a short list of examples (If you’re agonizing over your next follow-up email, you can also grade different subject lines for free with Subject Line Grader by Salesloft Labs).

  1. “<<Prospect name>>”
  2. “Hey!”
  3. “Congrats”
  4. “Hey [name], check this out”
  5. “Your Company Name”
  6. “<<One-word goal or topic>>
  7. “Hoping to help”
  8. “Quick question”
  9. “[Mutual connection] said we should connect”
  10. “Meeting”
  11. “<<Mutual connection name>>”
  12. “<<Sender company name>>”

Monitor Cold Email Open Rates with Salesloft

Cold emails set the tone for future opportunities between a buyer and a seller. With the help of a fantastic cold email subject line, your sales reps now stand a chance.

Boosting open rates is your next step. 

Through Salesloft, sales reps don’t have to micromanage another spreadsheet ever again. Our all-in-one sales engagement platforms offer tools for cold emailing, including customizable templates, multi-channel messaging, and analytic tools like A/B testing to help you track and improve open rates. 

Sell with Salesloft to optimize cold emails and boost conversion rates. Book a demo today to learn more.