Best Cold Email Subject Lines From Freelancers/ Consultants

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Stephen M. Lowisz
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Blog & Cold Outreach

  1. The Classic Check-in Email

Subject line: {CompanyName} Check-in
Open rate: 57%

This subject line is only slightly deceiving. Check-in implies the sender has a relationship with the recipient. However, it works well to get your email opened. Because it involves some level of trickery, make sure you have something of immense value to add to the recipient.

From Jesse Hernandez, Email Deliverability Consultant / Founding partner at MailGenius

  1. The One Shot Email

Subject line: Was on {CompanyName}’s Website, had one question!
Open rate: 52%

You only have one shot. One opportunity. This is a classic outreach email. Make sure you have ONE question and don’t get all sales-y.

From Lloyd Yip,LWY Consulting

  1. The Open-ended Q Email

Subject line: What’s next for {CompanyName}?
Open rate: 62%

This subject line works because it’s direct, yet open-ended. It’s a solid way to spark conversation and start building a relationship with your prospect.

From Stephen M. Lowisz, B2B Sales Consultant

  1. The Warm Cold Email

Subject line: This email should be in your spam {FirstName} but…
Open rate: 87%

Despite this being a cold email, the fact that it lands in the prospect’s inbox creates some credibility with the recipient and piques their interest enough to open and read the first sentence for some context.

From Gonzague de Bellaing, Consultant at Mailwarm

  1. The Quickie Email

Subject line: Quick Read
Open rate: 52%

This is a classic cold outreach subject line that works because of its brevity and clarity.

From Morgan Williams, Freelance Content Marketer, Founder at The B2B Sales Podcast & Enterprise Account Executive at Yelp

Unraveling The Patterns Of Pros: Cold Subject Line Best Practices

Apart from the subject line, many factors affect open rates, including your brand’s reputation, credibility, and targeting. You don’t have direct control over everything, so focus on what you can control. Here are three tips and best practices I’ve learned after going through all the email responses from the pros.

Tip #1: Targeting: The Sniper Vs The Carpet-bomber

Most of the cold emails above have abnormally high open rates, even when comparing them to industry benchmarks for warm emails. This is because they’re highly targeted.[*]

Almost all were sent to batches of 50-100 researched recipients. You don’t want to be carpet- bombing thousands of people with a templated email that has a minimum level of customized personalization. That’s called spamming.

Marketers who are doing this are “poisoning the well” and ruining it for everyone else. Put in the work to understand your prospects.

Just look at the email Massimo Chieruzzi of AdEspresso received. The sender sent the actual instructions on how to customize an email with the greatest subject line of all time…”Please link to my website.”

Don’t be that guy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing unethical about crafting a beautiful script and using automation to make your cold outreach more efficient.

I use them. The pros use them. No one likes doing robotic, manual tasks. Cold email outreach is time-consuming.

It takes work to do it right, but the results are worth it. It all comes down to how much effort you’re willing to put in.

Tip #2: Use Digital Psychology

Digital psychology is the combination of behavioral economics and psychology.Some examples of digital psychology in the subject lines above are:

  • External triggers like call-to-actions that you can have in your subject line.
  • Internal triggers like FOMO that make your prospect act out of fear of missing an opportunity.
  • Loss aversion: people move faster to avoid pain than to seek pleasure. Use this to get your prospect to act.
  • Rewards: everybody likes rewards and appreciation. It releases dopamine. Flatter your prospect. But don’t overdo it and be too cheesy.
  • Shameless corruption: bribe people with cakes and other shiny things.

Tip #3: Always A/B Test

Most of the subject lines in the examples above have been A/B tested.

It’s easy to get complacent once you have something that’s generating results. There’s always room for improvement. Testing is the only way to know if you’re improving.

Keep it simple. Split-test your subject lines on batches of ~50 recipients.

The image below is a screenshot from Chris Von Wilpert’s cold subject line split test. Which do you think got a higher open rate?

Hint: I used the winning subject line as his contribution in the shock & awe email.

Want More Tips To Master Your Cold Outreach Game?

Now you have everything you need to craft an effective cold email subject line and get your recipient to click open. But there’s more to get them to reply:

Before you go, let us know which subject line you can’t wait to steal and put to the test!

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