Content Marketing Blog

How to write the ideal cold email subject line

Cold emails are the same as cold calls, just written out.

The goal of any type of cold contact is to build a relationship.

It’s like sending that first message on a dating app – a bit of a shot in the dark but you’re hoping to make a meaningful connection. Those opening words can be the difference between another lonely Friday night and wedding bells. You never know!

While many people dismiss cold emails as a long shot, they’re actually a really great practice in raising brand awareness. Just think, the more you see a business name, the more prone you are to think of them when you have a need that must be met.

However, without a strong cold email subject line, there’s no chance your content will get the contact it needs to cement your brand into the reader’s mind. No need to fear, we have everything you should know about writing a cold email subject line below. Let’s jump in.

How Do You Write An Email Subject Line?

We’re not going to lie, writing good cold email subject lines is hard. You have just a few words to differentiate yourself from every other cold email floating around in the user’s inbox. You can’t waste a single letter.

The Importance of Personalisation

The best subject lines are always personalised to the individuals at hand.

It’s important to note here that personalisation doesn’t always come in the form of a name. Sometimes it means targeting a specific interest, or mentioning a shared business connection.

Personalise your emails.

Whatever route you take, just know that personalisation is as close to a sure-fire tool as you can get with cold emails. In fact, according to  a trial conducted by Woodpecker, personalising your emails has the potential to double your reply rate.

The team at Woodpecker examined their own cold email campaign results and found that emails with personalisation resulted in a 17 per cent reply rate, compared to a 7 per cent reply rate for non-personalised emails.

Employ Different Types of Subject Lines

There are a few templates that tend to catch people’s eyes and provide businesses with a reliable formula for creating a cold email subject line. Here are some of our favourites:

The Connection Template

This style of subject line offers an implied connection between you and the recipient. It’s useful because people are often more inclined to engage with something when they feel like they have a special connection to the messaging.

Example: “Just saw your comment on [industry platform].“

By leading with something familiar you eliminate distrust with the reader by removing the unknown. It’s worth noting that this type of subject only works when it’s not over-used, so we suggest using it as a starting point and then retiring it.

The Benefit Template

When you offer a clear benefit to opening the email, chances are people will be keen to do just that. This template plays on the natural idea of ‘what’s in it for me?’

Example: “Here’s how to hit your revenue targets.”

If you can craft a subject line that speaks to an important pain point for your audience, you’ve likely grabbed their attention.

The Question Template

Questions are there to be answered. When you pose a good open-ended question, your prospects will likely want to share their opinion.

Example: “Are you making these mistakes?”

While questions can be really effective, remember to avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ options as they don’t prompt knowledge-sharing. Also, make sure the query targets your audience’s area of expertise. Without these two caveats your question can fall flat.

Question Marks

What Remaining Tips Do We Have for You?

We’ve got the personalisation down, we have an idea of the range of templates, what’s left to consider?

Keep It Short and Sweet

Shorter is better with most instant forms of content, and email subject lines are no different. Try to keep it between three to six words where possible. Otherwise you run the risk of losing readers altogether.

Stay Genuine

If you think something sounds like marketing, chances are it reads like marketing. People don’t want spammy headlines like “Click here now” or “Open this email ASAP”. If they see that, you’ll likely go straight to the bin. Talk to your audience like you’d like to be talked to.

Keep Your Promises

When you promise to provide a solution to something in your subject line, your body copy better deliver. There’s nothing worse than clicking on an email you think is relevant only to find it covers something completely out of left field.

Pinky promise

Examples of Killer Cold Email Subject Lines

Now, what does all of the above look like when  in action? Here are just a few cold email subject lines that really hit the mark:

Example One: “[Name], looking forward to seeing you at [event]!”

A double whammy of personalisation is sure to catch the eye of your intended audience. It shows a level of familiarity while demonstrating you have shared professional interests.

Example Two: “A faster way to reach [a specific goal].”

You’d be hard-pressed to find a professional who isn’t looking to make their world more efficient. The personalisation from this email comes from pinpointing the user’s most pressing pain point. You’re coming to the prospect with a solution, who wouldn’t want to interact with that?

Example Three: “[Name] said we should connect.”

This will require an understanding of the target’s business, bonus point if the name you use is their boss. Using a reference’s name establishes a certain level of trustworthiness from the very beginning. If you share an authoritative mutual connection, it shows that you’re someone worth talking to.

Example Four: “Let’s get to the bottom line.”

While personalisation is a strong tactic, sometimes a little mystery can work in your favour. This subject line creates a sense of urgency for your readers which can prompt them to open the email to ensure they don’t miss out.

What Have We Learned?

Writing cold email subject lines isn’t an exact recipe, but now you know the ingredients you need to get moving.

With a dash of personalisation, a careful attention to word count and just a bit of originality, you should be well on your way to improving those open rates.

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Sabrina Dorronsoro
Sabrina Dorronsoro About the author

Sabrina is the Editorial Manager overseeing the Enterprise team here at Castleford. Home to some of our largest and most high profile clients – Sabrina ensures the likes of Greenpeace, Hilti Australia, WWF, and BDO get the best from her team of writers, Strategists and Project Managers.

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