11 Tips for Cold E-mail Marketing


Are you a startup founder looking to reach out to investors or a salesperson trying to turn cold leads into warm ones? Whether you like it or not, we are all in sales and you will have to rely on cold emails for lead generation, business development and public relations. In this article, you’re going to discover subjects that will dramatically increase the open rates of your cold emails. In fact, 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes. And there’s nothing more important to the effectiveness of email than your subject line. Almost half of the email recipients open their email based on the subject line and 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based on the same reason — the subject line!

Cold emails continue to work if done correctly. As much time as we spend on social media, email is still the #1 way business communication is done. Here are 19 types of subject lines that will certainly grab the recipients’ attention and prompt your prospects to open your emails.

Make it personal

Did you know that emails with personalized subjects lines are 22% more likely to be opened. Personalization works because it softens the edges of business and adds a level of human connection between you and your prospect. One simple method is to add the recipient’s name on the subject line. Check out examples below:

  • [Prospect’s name] – We have a present for you!
  • [Prospect’s name] – You’ll love this
  • [Someone the prospect  know] recommended I get in touch with you
  • [Prospect’s name], need a bit of advice?
  • [Prospect’s name], can you help me out?
  • So nice to meet you [Prospect’s name]

Include numbers

Subjects line with hard numbers tend to have a higher open rate generating as high as 53.2%. Adding digits in the subject line attracts attention because our brains are naturally drawn to numbers. This is the reason why top 10 lists are so successful. Also, recipients love numbers because this gives them concrete information about what you are giving them. Take advantage of this if it is applicable to your email.

  • 10 reasons you should invest in us
  • 11 gift ideas for you this holiday season
  • 7 effective tips for new investors

Use the word ‘free’

Emails with a subject line that includes the word “free” were opened 10% more than those without. If you are giving away something of value to your prospect take advantage of this.
According to Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics in his book “Predictably Irrational”, “FREE! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.” Be careful when using this word as this is also used in subject lines marked as spam. It’s safe to use the word “free” if it’s included in a relevant, engaging and interesting subject line like the ones below:

  • Free standard shipping on all orders
  • 25% OFF + Free shipping worldwide
  • Grab your free mystery gift today
Spark curiosity

Make your subject line so interesting that it sparks curiosity from your prospect. You can pull this off by asking a question or promising something interesting. You can also use power words to arouse curiosity in your prospect. Words like confidential, top secret, limited, controversial, behind the scenes, and unbelievable are only few of the power words you can use to pique your prospects’ curiosity. When you accomplish this, the recipient can’t help but open your email.

  • Is your business doing this mistake too?
  • This strange tactic doubled my revenues
  • 10 bizarre habits successful people do
Offer immediate value

Make your subject line simple and straightforward by offering immediate value. Let’s be honest, most of us only open emails that we deem important or will benefit us. Take advantage of your subject by offering help or a solution to a prospect’s problem. If the prospect sees something profitable on your email’s subject line, they will click it.

  • Ideal for [Prospect Investor/Partner]
  • How your [Competitor] gains [Benefits]
  • This book is just for you, [NAME]

Add a sense of urgency

Subject lines with a sense of urgency and exclusivity get 22% higher open rate.  Make your prospect feel that they are missing something important if they don’t open your email.
You can approach this by creating demand with scarcity. Make the prospect feel that they need to get your offer before it runs out. For example, subject lines that include “get it before it’s gone,” “only 3 spots left” or “while supplies last.” You can also set a deadline or use time-sensitive language to convey a sense of urgency to your prospect. Words like “good until [date],” “time is running out,” “last chance” or “don’t miss out” are effective for this. Lastly, try including the word “tomorrow” in your subject line as this boosts open rates by 10%. Here are some examples to do this.

  • [Prospect’s Name], are you free [Date – Soon for Urgency]
  • Holiday sale ends tomorrow
  • Only 2 spots left, reserve now

Add emojis

Adding an emoji in the subject line leads to a 56% higher open rate. The same study reveals that using the black sun increases open rates by 15 percent while the emoji umbrella can improve the open rates by 50 percent. Emoji convey emotions, so make sure to use what’s appropriate for your audience and keep the emoji relevant to your content. Also, make sure to not overdo this because it can decrease the effectiveness. Examples:

  • Meet [Introduce new member] our new [Position] 👨‍💼
  • It’s been a year! Happy Anniversary 🎉🎉🎉
  • 📌 Save the date for our November conference

Reverse psychology

Reverse psychology is a concept used when you can’t get someone to do what you want, so you instead tell them to do the exact opposite. Telling your prospects not to do something on your email will intrigue them and will only make them want it more. According to Dr. Jeanette Raymond, reverse psychology works because of our need for independence. “It’s more empowering to think that you did something out of your own free will than because you were forced, threatened, shamed into it or are afraid of losing that relationship.” Dr. Raymond explained. Examples include:

  • Do not open this email
  • This offer is not for you
  • You don’t belong here

Use flattery

When sending cold email, you have to recognize your prospect. Steve Young used the subject line “Your Amazing Photo” in a cold recruitment email and received a 70% open rate and a 25% conversion rate. Flattery is a great way to get your prospect’s attention. When you do this be careful not to bait and switch. Don’t sell a service. This approach is best for recruitment especially if you want an influential person to join your organization or be a guest on your podcast, blog or web show. Examples:

  • I love your Instagram photos
  • Your Facebook page rocks
  • Your service is amazing!

Get emotional

Invoke an emotional response from your prospect by getting sentimental in your subject line. Humans have a innate need to connect so strike an emotion from your prospect and you are likely to elicit response. There are also power words that effectively evoke an emotional response. You can use “shocking,” “outrageous,” “terrible,” “malicious” and “desperate” to name a few. Here are some examples for you.

  • [Prospect’s Name], I’m disappointed
  • 10 desperate ways to close a deal
  • Don’t miss this or you’ll regret it

Bid goodbye

If you’ve been sending cold emails and haven’t received a response, breakup subject lines may work. Remember, these are only reserved after your fourth or fifth follow-up. When you say goodbye to your prospect, you trigger a sense of urgency. This lets your prospect know that it’s the last time they’ll hear from you, so they have to check and consider your offer. Examples of bidding goodbye:

  • Should I cross you off my list?
  • Should I stay or should I go?
  • Permission to close your file?

Make sure to use an effective subject line in your cold emails otherwise, your efforts will not be fruitful. As mentioned, cold emails still work but you’ve got to do it right.
And the best way to get an open? Start with an effective subject line!


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Kristy Price

Kristy Price

Kristy Price has been developing marketing strategies for telecom and software companies since 2014. She has a passion for creating stories that grab people and create a memorable, persuasive effect. She joined the the TechTrack team in September of 2018 as a marketing strategist.

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