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The Best Cold Email Subject Lines for Marketing and Sales Teams

A good subject line for cold emails can help your business put it’s first foot forward in building a rapport with a new customer. A great subject line will land you in that potential customer’s basket. When executed correctly, cold email outreach will lead to long-lasting consumer relationships, which promote the selling of your products and services in the perfect conditions. 

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However, using a cold email outreach campaign, without training or expertise can produce dire results; where the number of spam flaggings drastically outshine the number of real leads. One thing to remember is that cold emails should form just one component of your broader email marketing strategy. Depending on your product or service, this could include: 

  • creating an opt-in which requires an email to sign-up

  • enabling you to grow your email list, sales emails, list segmentation, and follow-up emails 

If you’d like to learn more about selling via email, Anyleads offers a free sales email template that you can base your strategy around. It allows you to turn capitalize when turning cold messages into warm leads. 

Importance of a cold call email subject line

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The most common issue facing business owners who use cold outreach campaigns is being flagged as spam. In fact, 48% of all emails were flagged as spam in March 2018 alone, so the odds are not particularly in your favor. 

Most email providers use spam filters to determine which messages are likely to be genuinely valuable or important to its account holder. This means that your email won’t even reach the inbox of the intended reader, but instead lie unseen and unopened in the ‘junk’ folder. Sometimes, having your emails go into the spam folder can be unavoidable. For example, this can happen in the cases that you’ve sent attachments or have not been given permission to contact the recipient.

Another feature that helps filters determine whether your email is spam is the open rate. This means avoiding spam trigger words in the subject line, which instantly activates suspicions of deception or automation. 

Here are some cold email subject line examples which are likely to be flagged as spam:

  • Get [this product] for FREE today!!

  • You have been selected for ...

  • Open me for [insert a too good to be true offer]

  • This is HUGE! Buy 1 get 2 free!! 

Note: these are all taken from the junk folder of my actual inbox! Trigger words and phrases include ‘free’, anything in all caps, and exclamation points. 

Unfortunately, having a good open rate is much more than ensuring delivery to the inbox by simply avoiding spam filters. Depending on your industry, the average open rate is between 13% and 27%. There are several techniques you can use within the subject line to ensure yours are at the higher end of the scale. 


By providing value to your audience from the get-go. The subject line should be optimized to aid your reader in instantly ruling that your email is not in fact spam, but instead is useful and can be beneficial in one way or another. Something that lead generators or email marketers often get wrong is pushing the sale too early. It’s a sure-fire way to shut down the sale instantly! 

But there’s an easy fix: drip-feeding your products and services in a mask of value, which begins in the subject line. This way, any consumer relationship feels mutual to the customer, as you’re able to solve problems or aid development with your products and services in exchange for their hard-earned cash. 

An introduction to subject line examples

The primary aspect to consider is why you’d like to use cold emails. In general, cold outreach is used for one of these four reasons: 

  1. Build trust with your audience

  2. Enhance your credibility as the go-to expert within your niche

  3. Drive traffic to your website

  4. Increase sales

Depending on which purpose you’re using cold email outreach for, determines how to approach your subject line. Purposes can include:

  1. Personalization

  2. Credibility

  3. Driving traffic to your website

  4. Avoid the junk folder

Personalization is key and is the most effective method to convince your audience to open their email. Here are some examples of good personalized subject lines:

  • [friend’s name] recommended I send you this

  • [first name], here’s an article I think you’ll love

  • Could you point me in the direction of [insert company and position]?

To build trust with a new audience, it’s important to find some common ground that will allow them to easily relate to yourself or your business. You’d be using similar techniques as if you were optimizing your networking email subject line. Finding common ground with your audience allows them to relate to you, and enables the building of trust in your newly formed consumer relationship. Some examples of cold email subject lines which build trust are: 

  • What’s your opinion here [first name]

  • How to [something that they’d be interested in learning]

  • 10 problems all [profession]’s understand- can you relate?

To enhance your credibility with your audience, you’ll need to be specific and relevant in the subject line. This method is particularly useful for those looking to build their reputation with speaking gigs and press opportunities. The crux of this method is ensuring that your audience fits the subject of your email. 

It’s useful to keep a spreadsheet of your cold email prospects after you gather their email information. It enables later segmentation of your list by different variables and ensures that your cold email recipient is within the intended audience, which is useful for a/b testing. For example, if you were targeting legal professionals through LinkedIn, your records would look something like this:



Email Address



Emily Adams


Johnson & Foster

Seth Oliver

Corporate Lawyer

Facebook HQ

Duncan Wright


The Supreme Court

Lisa Smith

Personal Injury Lawyer

Farmers and Sons

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to comb through LinkedIn looking for the email addresses of every qualified connection, you could try a done-for-you service. One such service is Anyleads’ Prospecting Tool which automatically searches and enriches a list of domains, giving you an exported list for any company online today. Plus, with over 40 data points, it’s easier to segment your list and be specific in your subject line as you’re more likely to know if your email is going to provide value to the individual recipients.

Some examples of good subject lines which would offer specific and relevant value: 

  • What it’s really like to [do something successful within the target industry]

  • How [competitor] gets over 5,000 website hits per day

  • Why [their profession] needs [your product]

In the case that you’re looking to increase traffic to your website, your cold email subject line must reflect that you’re sharing or gifting the recipient with knowledge or resources that would likely be of value. We’ve already established that the subject line has a strong relationship with the open rate, and in general, people are unlikely to open a cold email unless they feel confident in the benefits it will bring. 

Presuming that you’ve previously taken the above step to clearly records your potential prospects and information about them, you’ll have a good idea of your target audience’s problems along with how your product solves these. Focus on this for your cold email subject lines! 

Granted, you’ll need a store of ‘valuable’ content pre-written to send in these emails, but once published, these are totally recyclable when reaching out to new customers. Plus, it can be advantageous to use in a/b testing to determine the recipe for success with your specific audience. 

Some examples of ‘value-added’ subject lines include: 

  • EBook link inside- no charge

  • Finally sharing my secret to [something impressive]

  • Here’s the [something relevant] you’ve been searching for

Note: Whilst ‘Free’ is a spam trigger word, ‘no charge’ is not- use this to your advantage!

Research shows that once landing on a site, you have (on average) an 8-second window to impress the customer before they click off, and that the best way to retain their attention is by driving engagement


Within the SaaS market, in particular, telling users 'what to do next’ is one of the most effective methods to boost engagement. This is because people prefer the path of least resistance. So your subject line should reflect this: include actionable phrases. It might be simple, but it’s effective to spell out the exact knowledge or resources that your customers would expect to receive, to get [something they want], then follow these instructions. Follow the rule that even an alien with no idea of your product or service should be able to easily understand and follow your instructions, which means being clear and concise is important. 

Some examples of good actionable subject lines include: 

  • Want to learn how to [solve your problem]? Watch this video

  • How to [solve your problem]- Easy as [step 1, step 2, step 3]

  • Read the exact steps I took to [create these results]

Cold sales emails are potentially the hardest to perform successfully. This is because too many salespeople write cold subject lines completely wrong, and these emails either end up in the junk folder or remain unopened.

Common mistakes in sales email chains

Mistakes in Selling via Cold Email

Why this Fails

How to Fix

Talking about me, my background, my company

Nobody cares! People aren’t interested in random contacts whom they’ve never met or chatted with before.

Build a relationship. Ask your prospects about their business, their daily struggles, their successes.

Go straight into the selling

It’s annoying and comes across like both spam and a scam.

Build trust. Offer social proof to build credibility and a reputation. People tend to purchase once a trusting relationship is established.

Being impersonal

It feels automated and not relevant to the exact customer's position.

Use the names of people, companies, or competitors to grab attention and ensure your customer feels special.

Being vague 

There is a lack of material for the customer to relate to.

Be specific in your methods and results to efficiently display the potential transformation.

Only sending one email

The customer might be busy, might not remember you, might not connect with the copy in your first email.

Follow up! With a specific chain of emails designed to create a number of various brand touchpoints and convert your new customer.

The last point in the table is especially important because here’s the thing: the process is not

  1. Cold email

  2. Sale

It requires a much more drawn out and effort-intensive approach, which will probably resemble: 

  1. Introduction cold email

  2. Trust-building cold email

  3. Relationship-building cold email

  4. Sales cold email

  5. Follow-up cold email

  6. Sale

Let’s take a look at examples for each step of the process in case you’re ready to build your own cold email marketing system. 

Introduction email subject line examples for sales

Introductory emails are all about setting the scene and building a new connection. You’re likely to be a complete stranger, and so it’s a better layout to focus on who you’d like to connect with, or the topic you’d like to steer the conversation towards. At the very least, sparking curiosity within the subject line is the key to getting strangers to open your emails. 

  • Can I help you share your message [name]?

  • Can you point me in the direction of [position name]?

  • How did we [do something impressive] within [such a small time frame]?

Above, you’ll find both trust-building and relationship-building cold email subject lines. These should most definitely both feature in your overall cold email strategy even if your ‘end goal’ is to sell, rather than to network. They will be a good secondary email if you don’t receive a response from your initial introduction. 

To quickly recap, these subject lines should instantly indicate either your credibility or that you want to build a genuine relationship with the recipient. A good way of establishing yourself and your brand through a cold email is to provide the recipient with valuable information which is likely to be helpful. For example, you might send the link to a recent blog post about how to write the perfect email signature using email signature templates if you’re targeting junior marketing professionals who are likely to want to learn how to perform email marketing effectively.


  • How does your business currently do [the service you provide]?

  • Learn how to [solve your problem] within 10 minutes with this 3 step process

  • What did you think of [most recent blog post]?

Sales email subject line examples

As previously mentioned, even when people are leaning positively towards taking an action, they still prefer the path of least resistance. This is why giving actionable instructions in your subject line is key. In fact, giving the reader an opportunity to buy makes up 10% of the top conversions in cold emails. 

Plus, creating scarcity within your subject lines leads to a minor panic and a faster click through! You’ve probably heard of the popular term ‘Fear of Missing Out’, and this method capitalizes on the concept,  allowing email marketers to gain:

  • Let’s chat. Only 3 slots left for a 15min call

  • 84% of marketers double their income after [buying your services]

  • It takes just 15 minutes of your time to [get these results]

Follow up email subject lines for sales

Sometimes, your cold email subject lines are absolutely fantastic but you still lack the results you’re after. It’s 2019, we’re ALL far too busy to pay attention to anything and sometimes, things just slip through the cracks. Even things likely to provide benefits! According to research, even if the first email you send goes unanswered, there’s a 21% chance you’ll receive a reply on the second. Besides, 80% of prospects say ‘no’ before they say ‘yes’, so persistence is key to cold emailing. It’s good to acknowledge that you might have been forgotten about within your subject line, as this invokes an emotional response within your reader and gives the cold email a higher likelihood of being opened.

  • Did we slip through the cracks? 

  • I know you’re busy but this will just take exactly 26 seconds…

  • We’ve changed, have you?

The overall cold email marketing process

One important factor for any cold email marketer to consider is the time frame between emails in the sequence. Let’s face it, daily emails are annoying to most and are likely to land you in the spam folder. But if wait too long, your recipient won’t remember the previous credibility established or relationship built. According to common practice, the general rule of thumb is to wait 2-3 days between emails when following up. It’s also useful to consider gradually increasing the time between emails, with the final follow-up sent approximately one week after the last, dragging out the follow-up process to around 4 weeks. You could send emails on: 

  1. Day 1

  2. Day 4

  3. Day 8

  4. Day 13

  5. Day 19

  6. Day 26

Alternatively, it may be beneficial to consider the time of day or day of the week when sending cold emails. According to research, emails sent between Tuesday and Thursday are more likely to be opened. The general consensus is that emails sent in the early- mid-morning local time (between 4 am and 10 am), garner the highest open rates. There’s also an argument that if your cold email is assuredly brilliant, or completely awful, the result will be unchanged no matter the time of day you send. 

A/B testing for optimizing cold email subject lines

Image source: Optimizely

A/B testing allows the sending of varying campaigns to different recipients of the same target group to find out which has the most positive response. Subject lines are a great feature to a/b test when sending cold emails, as you’ll get a clear picture of which key phrases or copy resonate best with your audience. There are several metrics to help indicate which subject line works best, but you should focus on the open rate. When you a/b test, you can also change the time of day emails are sent, and time between follow-up emails to help determine which has a more positive effect on your open rate. 

Subject Line A: 50% off your first order when you use code: [insert discount code]

Subject Line B: Everything half price for new customers before [this date]

Sending subject line A to half of your prospects, and subject line B to the other half (with all other variables remaining the same) will enable you to find the difference in open rates, and thus the better subject line for your target audience. Other metrics to look at when a/b testing could include response rates, click-through rates, and leads generated. 

Best practices for cold email subject line: Building a digital presence

Lastly, as part of your overall cold marketing strategy, it could be useful to build a digital presence with your recipients on other platforms. This could include: commenting on blog posts, following on social media or attending events within the industry. Not only would this provide more of an insight for your specific and credibility based approaches to cold email marketing, but previous engagement is more likely to help you turn a cold prospect into a warm lead

Furthermore, building a digital presence simply gives you greater insight into your target audience. This would aid with list segmentation, as you’ll be more confident in the interests and needs within your niche, meaning you should be able to provide high value within your cold email sequences.

Essentially, the subject line is the deciding factor on whether to open the email for 33% of users. Use this knowledge and the examples discussed to insight curiosity in, connect with, and follow-up on your specific target audience to give you the best chance of success with a cold email campaign. Plus, if you need a free email list to get started, you’ll find one at Anyleads




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