October 21, 2022

Increase your Open Rates with these Cold Email Subject Lines

Written by The Apollo Team

Your prospect opens their inbox and there it is: a message from a stranger (aka your cold email). She reads the subject line and decides in a split second whether to open it or move it to trash (or even worse—send it to the spam folder).

What will make the difference? The email subject.

If you don’t master the subject line, the rest won’t matter, because your potential customer won’t read the award-worthy sales pitch inside.

In this article, we will talk about the art of cold emailing and focus especially on cold email subject lines for B2B sales.

Ready? Let’s go.

A quick review of cold emailing

A cold email is the written version of the cold call, an outreach email to a prospective customer who has not heard from you or your company, or who may have heard of you but doesn’t have a direct relationship with you.

Most sales reps send cold emails regularly as part of their sales prospecting efforts.

Here’s a reminder of a few cold emailing basics:

  • Make it about them, not about you
  • Stick to a few sentences max and make it interesting and mobile-friendly
  • Use conversational language
  • The smaller the ask, the easier it is for your recipients to answer (and the more likely it is you’ll get an answer)
  • The more personalized, the better – reference their name, company, industry, and competitors, call out unique situations they’re facing, reference a real (relevant) use case of your product by a similar company, use language they use, and offer specific solutions
  • Follow-up, and follow-up your follow-ups

Sometimes it can be helpful to think about cold emailing like a first date.

Rather than telling your whole life story, bragging about your achievements, or dumping all your personal details on a new connection, you should approach the new relationship step-by-step. If you do this effectively, you’ll have your target intrigued, curious, and willing to have a second date or follow-up. If you overwhelm them with information (or a long-winded email), you’ll likely get rejected and ignored.

It’s not until the third or fourth interaction that you can really dive into your offering. You can start to use case studies, name-drop clients and success metrics, point out value, and try to convince them to take a chance. Getting them to take a call or demo is the goal.

Remember, setting up a successful relationship takes guided steps and isn’t a sprint to the finish line.

How to Write Cold Email Subject Lines

Now the most important part—the email’s subject line.

What makes a cold email subject line great? Here are our top tips:

Personalize the subject line

When writing a cold email subject line, be informative, focus on clear value propositions, and make use of snippets like {{first_name}} and {{company}} to be more personalized and targeted.

Try to get as specific as possible, even including a particular pain point, to increase your email open rate.

Here’s an example of a personalized subject line:

“{{first name}}, we’ve noticed you’ve been searching for [pain point]”

Tip: Intent data can help you easily identify your prospect’s online activity—perfect for hyper-personalizing subject lines!

Test different approaches

Your target audiences may prefer different things.

Conduct A/B tests with your cold email subject lines to pinpoint the exact message that resonates with your audience. Try mentioning a mutual connection, asking a question, using power words, or including emojis, then test which one gets you the best open rates.

Remember: you can split-test different versions of your email body, as well, but never at the same time. Testing both together will make it impossible for you to identify which factor leads to better engagement rates.

Here’s an example of an A/B test in an Apollo sequence that shows how the slightest change in language (‘targeted’ vs ‘qualified’) can lead to a big jump in open rates–over 10% to be exact!

Use common sense

Put yourself in the shoes of your prospect: if you read the subject line and feel that it is too sales-y, then it is too sales-y (the same is true for the body of the email).

And do not use dishonest practices like using clickbait-type subject lines that are not related to the content of the email. If you don’t deliver on the promise of the subject or the subject is not connected to the content of the email, you may get decent open rates but awful responses.

And that’s not what wins you deals.

Cold Email Subject Lines Examples

Cold emails with a great subject line will not only avoid the spam filter but will help you stand out in your prospect’s inbox.

Try out some of the subject line examples below in your next cold outreach:

  • “Let’s connect {{first name}}”
  • “{{first name}}, I saw your post on [topic]”
  • “Did you find what you were looking for?”
  • “[topic] resources that can help right now”
  • “A proven solution for [pain point]”
  • “3 tips for [pain point]”
  • “A great tool for {{company name}}”
  • “[Mutual connection] recommended I get in touch”

Whether you’re doing email marketing, conducting a cold email campaign, or simply writing a sales email, use subject lines to break through the noise and convince the email recipient to open the message. Try the proven examples above and start booking more meetings.

The Apollo Team