Want to convert on your next cold email? Subject lines are your golden tickets to higher open rates and more sales.

David Ogilvy said it best: “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

When you send a cold email, subject lines are your headlines. Before anything else, you have to get someone to open it. That’s eighty percent of the work.

But how do you get people to open your emails? Particularly when the recipient is cold?

There is no surefire way for every situation. But you can refine your strategy and tweak your subject lines, so the results start to show up. Once you figure out your audience and create a plan, those messages will start popping open.

cold email subject lines

Automate vs. manual: how to choose the right email strategy that works

The first step to cold emailing is choosing an outreach strategy. You can use a CRM that automates your emails or manually write them to each person. Of course, there are pros and cons to each, so let’s break those down for you.

Pros for automation:

  • Saves time by writing only a few emails for many people
  • Outreach is much faster than manually sending each one
  • Easier to track open rates and what types of cold email subject lines work

Things to consider:

  • Segment your contacts into specific categories and target small groups
  • Personalize your emails as much as possible, so they don’t feel automated
  • Constantly revise your templates and test them for better performance

lead-managerlead-managerSeamlessly integrate cold emailing into your sales process with Blitz. Schedule a free demo of our sales follow-up software and see how it works!


Pros for manually writing:

  • Allows you personalize emails in much more detail
  • Opportunity to mention specific connections or relevant information
  • With a cold email, subject lines can include the recipient’s name

Things to consider:

  • Try to use a template to guide you (writing out each one is time-consuming!)
  • Save the emails that work so you can refer to them again and again
  • Manually write emails for vital contacts

Either way, your first step is the same: write a subject line that sticks. If your target audience has very similar pain points, automation may be more efficient. If your recipients are unique, write your emails manually to make a better connection.

cold email subject lines

Mastering the cold email: subject line examples you can steal right now

If you’re just starting out, it’s a little difficult to write a cold email. How do you approach the subject line? What would interest someone who doesn’t know you or hasn’t opted into your marketing funnel?

It all starts with using a few tried and true email templates.

  • Start out with the first name. Example: “Hi John. I wanted to ask you a question.” If you can, using a person’s first name creates trust quickly and makes him curious.
  • Ask a “Yes” question. Example: “Kira, aren’t we all trying to save money?” If you ask a question with an assumed “yes!” answer, you get the person thinking about your message.
  • Refer them to a valuable resource. Example: “Dante, I think you’ll appreciate this.” Referring someone gives them an impression of close friendship and connection.
  • Name a personal connection. Example: Hi John, your colleague Mary Ann thought we should connect.” Naming a personal connection provides immediate credibility. But you can’t lie, or you’ll lose every time.
  • Create value and urgency. Example: “Today is a very special occasion.” What’s the occasion? Give the reader a reason to open your email and find out.

cold email subject lines

Recap: the essential points to writing cold email subject lines that convert

You’ve picked a strategy. You’ve found some templates that could work. Now it’s time to learn the golden rules of writing subject lines for cold contacts.

With such a small space to work with, it’s not possible to hit every rule. But combinations of these tips, matched with an excellent template, could be the tipping point for you.

  • Conciseness is beyond crucial. You should aim to write the shortest subject line possible. Rewrite it until you nail the shortest, most straightforward message. People should understand it within a nanosecond.
  • Sound like you’re a human. People don’t like automated messages, especially those cold contacts that don’t know you. Make your subject lines personal (even if they are automated). They should sound as if a friend, confidant or close colleague sent them over.
  • Avoid spam language. Most email providers have automatic filters to weed out spam messages. Learn the words, symbols, and phrases that get flagged and avoid them at all costs. Otherwise, your email won’t make it to the inbox.
  • Time your messages correctly. Sending your email at the right time, when your reader is free to open and scroll, is essential. Study and record your open rates. It may take a while to figure it out, but testing is time well spent.

lead-managerlead-managerSeamlessly integrate cold emailing into your sales process with Blitz. Schedule a free demo of our sales follow-up software and see how it works!


Have any good tips for cold email subject lines? Share your thoughts in the comments!