5 Secrets to Help You Write Compelling Cold Email Subject Lines

by | Apr 26, 2018 | Email Marketing, Marketing Automation, Marketing Strategy

If the thought of sending cold email as part of your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) program sends shivers down your spine, you’re not alone.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Cold emailing is harder than most communication for two reasons. You have no relationship with your audience yet, and you lack non-verbal feedback, so you can’t modify your approach in real-time.”

Add to that, getting your targeted ideal customers who are part of your ABM campaigns to even open your cold emails can be easier said than done, with average open rates hovering between 15% and 28%.

When crafting your cold email campaign, you need to do everything in your power to increase your open rate—and that includes focusing heavily on the content of the cold email subject line. In fact, one study found that about 35% of recipients open an email based solely on the subject line.

With that kind of data working against you at the earliest stages of executing your successful ABM campaign, it’s important that you spend some time, up-front to create email subject lines that are as valuable as the message inside. Really, what good is your great content if your message is never even opened?

So, what does it take to get your cold emails opened? Here are some tips to help you make that positive first impression to better connect with your targeted contacts to drive active engagement and move them through your buying process:

15-28% is the average email open rate for cold emails

5 Tips to Get Your Cold Emails Opened

1. Use the Right Words and Phrases

The use of so-called “power words” in marketing can go a long way in transforming your generic email subject lines into eye-catching content that compels your recipient to read further. Long-standing research in marketing and advertising has found that when you’re able to elicit a reader’s emotions through the written word, you’re more likely to catch your reader’s attention.

In the case of writing an email subject line, choosing the right power words can make all the difference—especially when you consider the limited space you have to work with. Subject lines, by their very nature, are usually no more than a sentence long, so your word choice is extremely important.

Different “power words” can be effective in eliciting a wide range of emotions, so incorporating the power words that correlate to the emotions you’re going after will increase your chances of a higher open rate. For example, if you’re looking to arouse curiosity in your readers, consider using words and phrases like:

  • “become an insider”
  • “behind-the-scenes”
  • “super-secret”
  • “off-the-record”

As you’ll likely recognize, many of these phrases allude to the notion that the reader is being offered access to something special and exclusive, which is bound to pique their interest.

Different "power words" can be effective in eliciting a wide range of emotions

2. Incorporate the Name of the Business

If you have any experience with writing marketing copy, then you probably already know that personalization is key. Generally, consumers are more likely to respond to a message positively or engage with it when the content feels like it’s directed specifically at them, rather than an obvious “canned” marketing ploy.

The same applies to cold email copy. And the easiest (and most effective) way to personalize an email subject line is to incorporate the name of the business you’re sending your message to directly into the text. Or, if you’re sending the email specifically to somebody within the business and you know their name, you may want to use their first name for personalization instead.

In some cases, it may even be smart to experiment with including only the person’s name or business name in the subject line—as this can further pique curiosity. Think about it; if you were to receive an email with a subject line that contained just your name, wouldn’t you be curious?

3. Allude to Special Offers and Promotions

If you’re sending out a cold email blast that contains special offers and promotions, don’t make your readers open the email to figure this out. You’ll lose a lot of valuable business this way. Instead, be sure to refer specifically to the offer in the subject line of your email. Including special money-saving offers are an excellent cold email strategy, but only if your reader can determine from glancing at the subject line that clicking on the email will provide them the opportunity to save some money or receive a great value. Alluding to promotions in your subject line can be as simple as using, “Your 30% off coupon is enclosed.”

35% of recipients open an email based solely on the subject line

4. Take it Over-the-Top in a Good Way

There are some far-fetched email subject line strategies that, depending on your audience, could be surprisingly effective and thus may be worth giving a try.

For example, subject-line-only emails have been used increasingly among businesses to generate interest without launching into a paragraphs-long pitch. Some readers appreciate this to-the-point style of marketing because it saves them the time and hassle of sifting through email body. Again, this is a situation where knowing your audience will really make all the difference.

In some cases, using lowercase text and making purposeful typos in your cold email subject line can also be effective, if a bit unconventional. Lowercase text, for example, isn’t the “grammatically correct” way to format an email subject line, yet it also helps to communicate a sense of informality that some readers may appreciate. Lowercase subject lines can also make your email seem more personal—like it was written by a human being rather than being generated by a computer. This, along with purposeful and minor typos, can actually work in your favor to increase open rates.

5. Avoid Taking Things Too Far

On the other hand, when taking an “unconventional” approach to writing your cold email subject line, it’s important not to take things too far. For example, some misspellings will give your reader the impression that you were in a hurry when writing your subject line and made a basic human mistake. Other typos or errors in your subject line may communicate to readers that you don’t understand basic grammar—and that’s not something that will bode well for your company’s brand in any industry. For example, a subject line that reads “Can yuo give me a call?” may be seen as an innocent mistake, as “yuo” is a common typo for “you.” But an email subject line reading “Your invited, will we see you their?” is less likely to be seen as an innocent mistake by readers.

Alluding to promotions in your cold email subject line can be as simple as typing "Your 30% off coupon is enclosed."

Next Step – Brainstorm Your Own Cold Email Subject Lines

The power of cold email marketing cannot be denied, especially in 2018. And when it comes to crafting compelling email subject lines, these tips and tricks are key to achieving a higher open rate as part of your ABM strategy.

Now, we encourage you to practice writing your own cold-email subject lines right now by using some of the five tips shared here today. If you don’t have content planned for a current email, use this blog post as your inspiration.

Do your marketing and sales colleagues or a member of your staff need help to write better email subject lines? Drop them a note using your own, newly created subject line and suggest they read this blog post before they start their next email campaign.

Or perhaps you’re too busy worrying about your overall digital marketing strategy right now and don’t have the resources or time to practice writing email subject lines. In that case, MESH is here to help you and we should talk.

We are helping other marketing professionals, like you to spin up revenue-generating strategies that include Account-Based Marketing and Marketing Automation. And, we’d love to work with you, too!


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