20 Cold Email Subject Lines Proven to Get Over 85% Open Rates

December 9, 2020 | 
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Your cold email subject lines hold a lot of power for such a small word count. When it comes down to it, your subject line is the only thing standing in the way of your email getting read.

So it’s important to get it right.

But what subject lines are getting prospects to click in 2021? 

We conducted a study that consists of 1.2 million anonymized data to find the current most successful cold email subject lines. These subject line templates have been tried-and-true and sent to thousands of recipients by sales professionals and account executives.

We picked the top-performing subject lines and altered them for anonymity. We also analyzed the data to uncover patterns to help you boost the open rates of your next outreach campaign.

The Best Cold Email Subject Lines We Found

Let’s dive into our favorite subject line examples.

Cold Email Subject Lines That Are Questions

As humans, when presented with a question we develop an urge to know the answer.

So what does this lead to? Opening the email to find this answer.

In this study of 1.2 million cold email subject lines, we found that subject lines that are questions get higher than average open rates — about 10% more open rates.

cold email subject lines with questions vs average

Now let’s look at some top-performing subject lines that include questions.

1. “What more could you want?”

This subject line generates curiosity and the desire to know more because it doesn’t reveal the details of the question just yet.

There’s only one way to understand the root of this question, and it’s to open the email and read what’s inside.

The key to using this subject line is to ensure your email messaging aligns well with the subject line. Complete this question in the opening line and provide more detail in the body of your email.

2. “Why [Company]? And why now?”

This subject line persuades you to find the answer.

Why is this company reaching out to me in the first place, and why now?

The subject line provokes curiosity and an urge to answer the question of why.

3. “Are you ready?”

Similar to the first subject line, the only way to understand what this question is referring to is to open the email.

Asking an incomplete question will help elicit action.

The thing about these questions is that they’re not complete. They keep you on your toes and get you to take action to find the root of the question in order to know the answer, which means they do their job.

The job of subject lines is to get you to open the email, now the pressure is on the email to answer the question with effective messaging, value, and personalization.

Cold Email Subject Lines That Address a Pain Point

Nothing triggers working professionals quite like addressing a pain point that burdens them daily.

Your job as a sales professional is to address your prospect’s pain point in the subject line to get an open, and then solve it for them in the body of your email to get a reply.

pain points

Another benefit of using a pain point in your subject line? Even if the recipient doesn’t respond, you know the pain point resonated with them to produce an open. Now you can leverage this information to shape your follow-up email.

But in order to do so, make sure you have a tool that tracks when your emails are opened.

Now, let’s look at some subject lines that address a pain point head-on.

4. “Remove the guesswork from [Task/Activity] today”

Be direct here, remove the guesswork from what?

Guesswork is a common pain point. Research your prospect and cater this subject line to them.

The word “today” helps to create a sense of urgency — if you can remove the guesswork today, why wait any longer?

5. “[Name], is there too much on your plate?”

There’s no question why this subject line is as successful as it is.

Professionals everywhere have too much on their plate right now. It’s a pain point that hits home on various levels.

This subject line is also effective in the way that it includes the prospect’s name. Another powerful trick when it comes to subject lines, and a technique that can be used to personalize email templates to build a mutual connection.

cold email subject lines with personalization

No two prospects are the same – by making it known that you’re writing to them rather than your entire email list, they’ll be much more inclined to open.

6. “What would you do with [Number] more hours per week?”

Everybody needs more time in their days, weeks, and months.

If you have a powerful data point on how many hours a customer has saved using your product, use this in your subject line.

Take the metric of success that your customer achieved to entice your prospects and give them hard numbers right off the bat, for example: “175 Hrs/Month Back.”

Know what subject lines are resonating with prospects in real-time with Email Tracking. Download a free trial today.

Cold Email Subject Lines That Provide Value

Here’s the thing, you need to give in order to get.

We feel obligated to repay to others what they provide to us. This is the power of reciprocity. 

Reciprocity is a universally accepted social rule, it refers to the practice of exchanging things for mutual benefit. And it’s instinctively engraved in all of us.

When you give someone a relevant resource that’ll help them, they will feel more inclined to respond to your email.

It’s the same reason we say thank you when someone holds the door.

When you understand this equation, it’ll help you in various aspects of sales.

the reciprocal equation

Now, what’s better than using the power of reciprocity in your subject lines to generate opens and replies? Let’s take a look at some subject lines that exceed at using this concept.

7. “Some content to go on [Relevant topic]”

When sending cold emails, show that you’ve done your homework.

Find relevant content that will provide value to your prospect. This will immediately put you ahead of the game because you’re not just sending an ordinary sales email. You understand that their time is precious and you’re well-prepared to help.

They’ll also feel much more obligated to return the favor.

8. “[Relevant topic] Resources that can help right now”

Similar to the cold email subject line above, you immediately provide the prospect value.

Provide resources that will benefit your prospects and are as relevant as possible.

And including “right now” is the cherry on top. This helps to promote a sense of urgency and feeling that you could be using this information to your advantage at this very moment.

9. “Tips to help increase sales during a tough time”

As long as you’re providing the prospect with the content you’re promising in the subject lines, these are super useful.

This subject line even hits a relevant pain point, trying to increase sales during the tough circumstances we’re faced with today.

Fun fact: Another pattern found throughout our study is that subject lines with the word “increase” get higher than average open rates.

cold email subject lines with "increase" vs average

Cold Email Subject Lines That Generate Curiosity

It’s highly effective to write subject lines that appeal to emotions.

This activates a part of the brain called the insula (our emotional powerhouse). And we all know emotion drives us to react.

One of the best ways to do this is to generate curiosity.

How? Don’t give away all of the information in your email subject line. Get them to click open to learn more. Then win them over with a compelling email.

subject lines that appeal to emotion

10 “Discover what’s possible with [X]”

What’s possible? When you leave something out and don’t give prospects the full sentence, you will pique their interest and leave them more inclined to click.

If you tell recipients more, they may believe they have all the information they need to skip over the email.

Take advantage of cliff hangers, they’re one of the best tactics for generating more opens. But make sure to answer the cliffhanger towards the beginning of your email so you don’t continue to drag them along.

11. “It’s really easy”

Again, the sender is leaving something out.

What is really easy?

I don’t know about you, but my mind wouldn’t allow me to skip this email without reading what’s inside. WHAT IS EASY?

12. “Got problems? We’ve got solutions.”

This subject line is similar in the sense that it leaves out what exactly the problems are the sender is referring to.

And what are the solutions?

The sense of mystery to this subject line has you clicking for more context, which is exactly what you want. Now, make sure to write a highly effective and personalized email to get them to take the next step — the reply.

Always know what’s working, what’s not, and how you can get better open/reply rates with Yesware Reporting. Download a free trial today.

Cold Email Subject Lines With Numbers

With such a small word count, numbers can be your power of persuasion.

Numbers stand out. And they communicate something that words may not be able to. 

Hard numbers build credibility. Especially in sales, credibility is something you need to gain right off the bat.

Matter of fact, we found that subject lines that include numbers get a 45% higher open rate than the average open rate.

cold email subject lines that include numbers vs average

Let’s look at some subject lines that use the power of numbers to their advantage.

13. “For every [$ Amount] customers spend, they earn [$ Amount] back”

Take your ROI stories and turn them into engaging subject lines.

By using hard numbers, you not only catch the prospect’s eye but provide them with proof and evidence of how effective your solution really is. 

And what’s more compelling than money? Tell them the value of your product/solution, so they have no choice but to click and read more.

14. “Save [Number] hours per week with [Product/Solution]”

How many hours per week do customers save with your solution?

This is another powerful subject line that will undoubtedly grab the attention of your prospects.

Cold Email Subject Lines That Generate FOMO

FOMO (fear of missing out) has long been a powerful psychological principle. And studies show that 56% of people experience it.

FOMO

Nobody likes missing out or falling behind.

Many studies have found using this principle compels recipients to take action. And it helps to plant a seed of urgency.

15. “5 things you didn’t know about [Topic relevant to prospect]”

One of the best ways to produce FOMO is to include a phrase like “you didn’t know.”

Nobody likes to miss out on important information that others may be using to their advantage right now.

Especially if this topic is relevant to the prospect.

16. “[Topic relevant to prospect] trends you should know about”

Similar to the above example, nothing generates FOMO quite like hearing you may not know something.

Tap into their fear of missing out by tailoring the topic to the prospect. Do your research to learn what they care about so these subject lines are as persuasive as possible.

17. “Companies are saving big with [Product/Solution] right now”

Companies are saving money and you aren’t. What are you missing out on?

This is another form of FOMO that prospects can’t help but click on. Especially when it comes to money.

Cold Email Subject Lines That Use Social Proof

Social proof is one of the most powerful drivers of behavior. 

And there are various types:

types of social proof

It’s pretty simple — if others are doing it, it must be right.

If the companies are well-known, and the numbers are impressive, you’ll entice the recipient to learn more. And they’ll feel more comfortable and confident taking the next step when they have proof your product/solution works.

18. “How [Company] used [Product/Solution] to turn their business around”

Use one of your most well-known customers.

You’ll give your prospect the feeling of “if they’re using X product and got Y results, it must generate the same for me.”

This also helps clear any doubt that prospects intuitively produce when receiving a cold email.

19. “[Company] increased sales by [Amount] with [Product/Solution]”

Use hard numbers here. Every company has some form of a case study or customer testimonial. Use real-life examples and evidence of your product/solution working.

When the prospect clicks on your email to learn more, provide them with that information.

And remember, never exaggerate your subject line, remain truthful and honest, or you’ll only dig yourself a hole.

20. “[Product/Solution] empowers [Company] like never before”

This subject line not only ties in social proof but promotes curiosity.

You need to keep reading to understand why/how the product empowered a company.

And the phrase “like never before” helps attract prospects even more.

Conclusion

Use these cold email subject lines to inspire your own. The key is to be different and stand out. 

Keep trying new subject lines with patterns and strategies that have proven time and again to work.

Also, make sure to use a tool like Yesware to track all your emails so you know what’s working and what’s not.

Yesware Email Tracking

If prospects aren’t clicking on your email, it’s your subject line that needs work.

If prospects are opening your email and reading your message but not responding, it’s the messaging of your email that needs work.

With a tool like Yesware, you and your team are able to dissect what’s resonating with your audience and what’s not.

Keep testing different subject lines and trying new techniques to boost open rates today.

Start using the power of Yesware today

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