30+ High-Converting Cold Email Subject Lines

Learn how to write a great cold email subject line and draw inspiration from our list of real subject lines that we've used in successful email lead generation campaigns.

by Jason Bagley

Email Lead Generation | Lead Generation

| 4 min read

Man looking at phoneSending someone a cold email is like walking up to their table in a restaurant and asking to speak to them while they’re enjoying a meal with their family or friends.

Imagine approaching the table, tapping them on the shoulder, and blurting out “Maximize your sales by 150% using our sales engine tool.” Picture the look on that person’s face after interrupting their day with such an awkward sales pitch. Now picture their face after you’ve accosted them in the same out-of-touch way at two other restaurants in a span of several weeks.

When it comes to writing successful cold email subject lines, the key is to remember that you are a human being trying to engage with another human being. Just as there is etiquette to consider when approaching people for in-person conversation, and the same principle applies to digital communications like emails and direct messages.

Imagine approaching that table at the restaurant, but instead of spouting off some sales nonsense, you politely ask, “Hey Gary, can we have a quick chat?” or “Charlene, quick question for you.” They’d stop to look at you and continue to listen, wouldn’t they?

Ultimately your subject line must fulfill two things. Firstly, it must be human enough for a person to feel like they’re not being sold to. Secondly, it must clearly state its purpose. In this post, we’ll share tips for writing cold email subject lines that will significantly improve your reply rates, and we’ll also give you some subject line ideas you can take away with you.

Tips for writing a great subject line

Woman typing on laptop

If you want to make your email subject lines stand out among the infinite number of sales emails that hit prospects’ inboxes every day, there are three guidelines we recommend following that will steer your subject lines in the right direction and secure replies.

1. The goal is simple — get them to open your email.

Remember. The only goal of a subject line is to get someone to open your email. The most critical factor here (and the most common mistake people make) is to hold yourself back from selling your product or service in the subject line. Release yourself from that pressure and focus only on one question. What do I need to say in order for them to open this email?

2. Keep it short and sweet.

There’s a misconception that the smarter and more professional you sound, the more someone will want to talk to you and do business with you. This is wrong on many fronts, but it’s an especially bad idea for subject lines.

The best subject lines typically share the following qualities:

  • Short and concise (no longer than 4-5 words)
  • Friendly
  • Use one-syllable words

These are the ingredients for a natural-sounding subject line that improves open rates.

Also, avoid longer question-style subject lines. In your day-to-day emails, when was the last time you wrote a long sentence as a subject line? Never. So don’t do that for your cold email subject lines either. Plus, long subject lines are often used for mass newsletters and email blasts, so people have become conditioned to ignore them anyway.

3. Make sure your data is clean.

This should go without saying, but any personalized data that you include in your cold emails (such as prospect names and company names) should be appropriately capitalized. A subject line like “Hey REBECCA, coffee next week?” gives your cold email a spammy, impersonal appearance.

Additionally, sometimes a company may be registered under a stuffy sounding name such as “ACME Corporation, Ltd.,” but they may use a different, casual trading name like “ACME”.  Use the short trading name and don’t use the stuffy registered name. We’re here to get a “quick 15-minute chat”; not chase debt.

Treat your email list data like your car (if you have one). Scrub, wax and polish it frequently. Enriching your contact list data helps you prevent the kinds of rookie cold email mistakes mentioned above.

Our ultimate list of cold email subjects

Hand holding sign that says hello.

Now that you have our tips for writing subject lines for cold emails, we’ll share some examples to use as inspiration in your own campaigns.

We’ve seen great success using these subject lines in our clients’ email lead generation campaigns. And we’re not just saying that for fun. We’ve literally run hundreds of email campaigns, and these are the subject lines that we’ve found to receive the highest open rates.

Notes for how to use this list: The placeholders are for the prospects’ details. {Prospect Name} will be replaced by the person you’re emailing, and {Company} is the name of the company you’re trying to get in touch with. A number of these can be tweaked to turn them into questions by adding a “?” mark. In addition, you can personalize them further by adding in the person’s first name at the end of the subject line.

  • Hey
  • {Your Name} <> {Prospect Name}
  • {Prospect Name} <> {Your Name}
  • {Your Name} // {Prospect Name}
  • {Prospect Company} x {Your Company}
  • {Prospect Company} <> {Your Company}
  • {Prospect Company} // {Your Company}
  • Next week’s call
  • Our call next week?
  • call next week?
  • Quick question
  • Hangouts or Zoom…
  • Skype or Zoom…
  • Zoom or Skype work?
  • zoom call
  • Note: Purposely not using a capital “Z”
  • Coffee
  • Skype call
  • Coffee meeting?
  • Cappuccino catchup
  • Sending PDF
  • Call invite?
  • Coffee meeting
  • Introduction
  • Intro
  • {Prospect Company} intro
  • {Prospect Company} meeting
  • {Prospect Company} – {Product/Service}
  • Connect
  • Next week availability
  • {Prospect Name}
  • Chat about {Prospect Company}?
  • Time to chat?
  • Interested in {Product/Service/Benefit}?
  • Need help with {Problem/Pain Point}?
  • There’s a smarter way…
  • An idea for {Prospect Company}
  • Hey {Prospect Name} – about {Prospect Company}
  • Idea to {X}

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Jason Bagley | Vice President, Digital Strategy