Cold Email Subject Line Best Practices To Increase Engagement and Sales

You’ve carefully gathered a huge list of prospects from companies to individuals, you even got the company’s capitalization correctly (which you should always do).

And you probably used a tool like and/or to find their email address- if not, I admire your patience going to each and every about page/footer and searching for an email address.

It’s part of your marketing plan after all, right?

Now that you’ve got all the contact details you will need to set up your cold outreach email campaign, you’ll need to take a step back and consider your email subject line.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to spend as much time as possible to craft that subject line.

Imagine crafting the most amazing pitch ever, showcasing each and every aspect of your product or service, in a way that is not sales-y at all, to end up with only a couple of people reading it.

I understand that you might have the following questions “But, how do I create a cold email subject line that will bring results?” or  “I am not sure whether this is a good subject line” and frantically start throwing pieces of paper with potential subject lines to the recycle bin.

Fear not, because in the next 5 to 10 minutes you will be able to create some of the most compelling subject lines.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at 4 best practices and examples you should follow to create the most irresistible cold email subject line!

1. Personalization is your number one priority

cold email subject lines-personalization is your number one priority

As the title suggests, personalizing your email subject line should always be a top priority when it comes to cold email.

In fact, it’s something you should be doing no matter if it’s a cold email outreach campaign or a press release you want to get published on a news blog.

The most common personalization techniques out there is; simply using your prospects name or company name within the subject line as well as within the copy of your email.

And by using their name more than twice will reflect a homely and relatable feeling to your prospects.

That simple modification will have a tremendous impact on your open rates and increase the odds of actually converting that prospect!

Let’s take a look at some of the most common placements for your prospect’s name within the subject line.

And to be exact there are three possible scenarios here:

    1. At the end of the subject line,
    1. At the beginning of the subject line,
  1. And within the content of your subject line

There is not a right or wrong way here, because it totally depends on how you structure your subject line in the first place.

Let’s take a quick look at three examples one for each scenario we mentioned:

    • A couple questions for [Name] about x,y,z
    • Loved your blog post, [Name]
  • [Name], got 2 minutes for some quick-fire questions?


2. Keeping things cool and offhand

cold email subject lines-keep things coolKeeping your writing style offhand basically means being as informal as possible.

You might be thinking that if I write on an informal tone maybe my prospects will not get that I am serious about what I can offer to them.

What if I told you that’s exactly what you should be doing in order to capture their attention.

You have to get in their shoes for a moment, and think how many similarly structured cold emails they’ve received accompanied by all the formalities and the same salesy email subject line.

Keeping it casual will provide you that additional edge you want to make your email stand out among all the others.

3. Keeping it short matters

cold email subject lines-Keeping it short mattersNobody likes long and wordy subject lines, it will intimidate your prospect resulting in possibly never opening your email.

According to a study by ReturnPath:

    • Most subject lines were between 41 and 50 characters
  • Subject lines 61 – 70 characters long had the highest read rate (17%)

The use of short-form email subject lines will provide a casual scent to your email making it less and less salesy, which is the ultimate goal of every sales rep out there!

And as we mentioned on the previous tip being casual will actually help you stand out and prompt a conversation that will result in closing more sales!

If you are looking for inspiration here are a couple of short-form subject lines you can use on your next cold-email campaign by Klenty :

    • Request to connect
    • Hey!
    • Are you ready?
    • 26 seconds (or less)
  • Just tried calling you

And due to the popularisation of mobile devices and their use, short-form subject lines look great on mobile.

If you are not a believer take a look at how a long-form subject line looks on a mobile device:

cold email subject lines

As you can clearly see the subject line gets cut off which makes it less likely to be clicked!

Bonus Tip:

You can see a small preview of the email just beneath the subject line, optimizing that section to immediately capture your prospects attention can increase your open rates dramatically! That section also appears on regular desktops.

4. Bona-fide is the way to go

cold email subject lines-bona-fide is the way to go

I know what you are thinking, what in the world is bonafide.

Bona-fide is a phrase that all sales rep should abide by, in my opinion at least!

In short, it encompasses that no matter what you are selling you should always avoid deception and/or fraudulent claims.

The same goes with cold email subject lines, you should try to not bluntly bait o deceit your prospects trust for the sake of opening your email.

It is possible that such sneaky ways might increase your open rates but you should expect no closed deals!

After all, it’s all about establishing a trustworthy connection with your prospect.

5. Establishing a proper connection

cold email subject lines-establish connection

Following on the same note from the previous section, I can’t overstate the importance of establishing a proper connection with your prospects.

And guess where that first point of contact starts from; your email subject line and that tiny preview text mentioned above.

But how do you establish a connection with a prospect?

Well here comes the power of social networks especially LinkedIn! Do some research in regards to that prospect try and find some common ground.

This can be a piece of content he or she shared on Twitter/Linkedin try adding that to the mix either in your subject line or better yet within your content!

Finding similar interests with your prospects will build what I call a trust-wall.

Think of it as a mind-map of interconnected interests between you and your potential prospect, it’s great to build those as it will not only allow you to break the salesy ice between you two but also increase the odds of closing the deal!

This will also help you when you transition from email communication to having a proper call with them!


That concluded our list of cold email subject line best practices you should at least consider when creating that cold email campaign.

And don’t forget that all of the above require a lot of testing.

Nothing is certain the more you practice and do your due diligence the better the results!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Author Bio:

Nick is a Growth Marketer working for Moosend, one of the top email marketing and automation platforms in the industry. When he is not writing articles, you’ll find him running his SEO magic site-wide, or making friends from blogs and companies discussing the expert power of Email Marketing.

Enjoyed this article? Please share away!
Get instant access to our free sales training:

Why Prospects Push Back on Price, Give 'Think-It-Overs,' and Ghost in Sales Until They Meet a Sales Superstar Who Is Following These 7 Simple Keys

9 reasons why top salespeople succeed

About the Author Marc Wayshak

Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.

Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.

Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.

Related Articles

7 Keys to Handling the “This Is Too Expensive” Objection

7 Keys to Handling the “This Is Too Expensive” Objection

Sales Mindset - The Way Successful & Rich Salespeople Think

Sales Mindset – The Way Successful & Rich Salespeople Think

How to Sell to Power [C-Suite Sales Must-Knows!]

How to Sell to Power (C-Suite Sales Must Knows!)

The Martial Arts Approach to Closing Sales

The Martial Arts Approach to Closing Sales

The 7 Secrets to Mastering Cold Calling

The 7 Secrets to Mastering Cold Calling

The Absolute Best Way to Start a Sales Conversation [WITH ANY PROSPECT]

The Absolute Best Way to Start a Sales Conversation [WITH ANY PROSPECT]