4 Proven Strategies To Create Successful Cold Email Subject Lines (70% Open Rates)

Looking to skyrocket your cold email open rates?

This in-depth guide dives into the four proven strategies suggested by Reply.io—and which I personally swear by—to craft compelling subject lines that can achieve a staggering 70% open rates. Get ready to elevate your cold email game!

Main Takeaways

  • The Importance of Subject Lines: Your subject line is the gatekeeper to your email content. Get it right, and you’re halfway to a successful cold email campaign.
  • Four Cornerstones by Reply.io: Curiosity, Urgency, Fear, and Excitement are the four pillars of compelling subject lines. Each has its own merits with some potential pitfalls, so use them wisely.
  • Personalization is Key: Personalized subject lines can boost your open rates by up to 50%. It’s not just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have.
  • Tools and Resources: Utilize various tools to help you craft, test, and optimize your subject lines for maximum impact.

Quick Table: Four Strategies Suggested by Reply.io To Craft Compelling Subject Lines

StrategyExample from Reply.ioHow It Increases Open Rates
Curiosity“Quick Question for You”Grabs attention and compels the reader to find out more, leading to higher open rates.
Urgency“There are only 1200 tigers left in the wild. Act now to save them”Drives people to act quickly due to implied scarcity or time-sensitivity.
Fear (FOMO)“There are only a hundred copies left, will you be able to snag the last one?”Creates a sense of scarcity and urgency, compelling the reader to act immediately.
Excitement“The New Book of Strategies is Out!”Motivates the reader to open the email to learn about the exciting news or benefit.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    • Why You Need to Have High Open Rates in Cold Emails
    • Why Subject Lines are Important in Having High Open Rates
    • Real Stats of How Subject Lines Affect Open Rates
  2. The Four Cornerstones of Irresistible Subject Lines by Reply.io
    • Curiosity
    • Urgency
    • Fear (FOMO)
    • Excitement
  3. Bonus Tip: Personalize Your Subject Lines
  4. Tools and Resources for Crafting Subject Lines
  5. Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Crafting Subject Lines
  6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  7. Conclusion

Introduction

Why You Need To Have High Open Rates in Cold Emails

High open rates are the lifeblood of effective cold emailing. If your emails aren’t getting opened, they’re not getting read, and if they’re not getting read, you’re not getting responses. It’s as simple as that. High open rates are indicative of a well-targeted and well-crafted campaign, which in turn increases your chances of achieving your desired outcomes, be it sales, partnerships, or brand awareness.

Why Subject Lines Are Important in Having High Open Rates

The subject line is the first thing your recipient sees when your email lands in their inbox. It’s your foot in the door, your first impression. A compelling subject line can be the difference between your email being opened or ignored. In essence, your subject line is the gatekeeper to achieving high open rates. A well-crafted subject line not only piques interest but also sets the tone for the entire email, making the recipient more receptive to your message.

Summary Table: Importance of Subject Lines in Achieving High Open Rates

Key AspectImportance
First ImpressionThe subject line is the first thing recipients see, making it crucial for grabbing attention.
Gatekeeper to Open RatesA compelling subject line significantly increases the likelihood of your email being opened.
Tone SetterThe subject line sets the emotional and contextual tone for the entire email.
Brand PerceptionA well-crafted subject line can enhance how recipients perceive your brand.
Relevance IndicatorThe subject line helps recipients quickly gauge the relevance of your email to their needs.

Real Stats of How Subject Lines Affect Open Rates

Summary Table: Real Stats on the Importance of Subject Lines

StatisticImpactSource
64% of recipients decide based on the subject lineDemonstrates the subject line’s role in the initial screening process.Finances Online, 2023
33% of users open emails due to catchy subject linesHighlights the importance of creativity and relevance in subject lines.Finances Online, 2023
Average open rate of 22.61% across industriesProvides a benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of your subject lines.Mailchimp, 2022

The Four Cornerstones of Irresistible Subject Lines by Reply.io

So, how do you craft a subject line that not only stands out but also resonates with your target audience?

In this section, we’ll explore the four proven strategies and examples suggested by Reply.io—and which I personally vouch for—to craft subject lines that can achieve open rates as high as 70%.

They basically split up the subject lines into four different kinds of approaches: curiosity, urgency, fear, and excitement.

So, let’s break down each strategy, shall we?

1. Curiosity

Curiosity is all about sparking interest without giving too much away. It’s the “teaser trailer” of email subject lines.

Example Subject Line from Reply.io:

Why It Is Effective:

This subject line is a masterclass in sparking curiosity. It’s short, doesn’t give too much information, and makes the reader curious to find out what exactly the question is. The reader is left wondering, “What’s the question? Is it relevant to me?” This intrigue often leads to higher open rates.

Why It Might Not Be Effective

The downside is that it can sometimes feel like a bait-and-switch, especially if the email content doesn’t live up to the curiosity generated. This can lead to a loss of trust.

Personal Experience and Insights

This is the one I normally use, to be honest. For instance, in my Woodpecker account, I have a subject line ‘Call This Week?’ which kind of brings up a curiosity like, “Did I have a call with this person?” or “Is this important?” It makes you feel like you might have missed something, so you’re compelled to open the email. 

I’ve got a 64% overall open rate with this “Call This Week?” subject line. So, it does work, but be cautious because you could trick people.

Curiosity-Driven Tips

  1. Keep it vague but intriguing.
  2. Use open-ended phrases that invite the reader to learn more.
  3. Avoid giving away the main point of the email; let the subject line tease it.

2. Urgency

Urgency aims to create a sense of immediate action. It’s the “limited-time offer” that you can’t resist checking out.

Example from Reply.io:

Why It Is Effective

Urgency compels action. The subject line implies that there’s valuable information on offer, but only for a limited number of people. This creates a sense of scarcity and prompts immediate action.

Why It Might Not Be Effective

If used too often or without genuine scarcity, this tactic can wear thin and erode trust.

Urgency-Driven Tips

  1. Use time-sensitive language like “Last Chance,” “Limited Time,” or “Today Only.”
  2. Be specific about the urgency; if there’s a deadline, mention it.
  3. Don’t fake urgency; it can erode trust if the reader finds out.

3. Fear (FOMO)

Fear, specifically the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), plays on our natural desire not to miss out on something valuable or exclusive. It can improve click-through rates in the short term, but be cautious—overuse can backfire.

Example from Reply.io:

Why It Is Effective

This subject line taps into the fear of missing out by suggesting that an exclusive offer is about to expire. It creates a sense of scarcity and urgency, compelling the reader to open the email to not miss out on the opportunity.

Why It Might Not Be Effective

Overuse can lead to fatigue and skepticism. If every email is a “last chance,” the urgency and exclusivity lose their impact. It can backfire, just like curiosity, if done poorly.

FOMO-Driven Tips

  1. Use scarcity as a tool, but don’t overuse it.
  2. Phrases like “Don’t Miss Out” or “Last Chance” can be effective.
  3. Make sure the offer or opportunity is genuinely limited to maintain credibility.

4. Excitement

Short Description:
Excitement is about generating enthusiasm and anticipation. It’s challenging but rewarding; if you manage to get readers excited about your content, you’ve likely gained loyal customers. 

Example from Reply.io:

Why It Is Effective

This subject line generates enthusiasm by announcing something new and directly tying it to a benefit. It aims to create excitement for something that’s happening, which can be a powerful motivator to open the email.

Why It Might Not Be Effective

If the feature or news isn’t as exciting as the subject line suggests, it could lead to disappointment and a loss of credibility.

Excitement-Driven Tips

  1. Use positive and energetic language.
  2. If there’s something new or improved, make that the focus.
  3. Pair the exciting news with a benefit for the reader, if possible.

Summary Table: Four Strategies Suggested by Reply.io To Craft Compelling Subject Lines

StrategyExample from Reply.ioHow It Increases Open Rates
Curiosity“Quick Question for You”Grabs attention and compels the reader to find out more, leading to higher open rates.
Urgency“There are only 1200 tigers left in the wild. Act now to save them”Drives people to act quickly due to implied scarcity or time-sensitivity.
Fear (FOMO)“There are only a hundred copies left, will you be able to snag the last one?”Creates a sense of scarcity and urgency, compelling the reader to act immediately.
Excitement“The New Book of Strategies is Out!”Motivates the reader to open the email to learn about the exciting news or benefit.

Bonus Tip: Personalize Your Subject Lines

Why Personalization Matters

Personalization isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a proven strategy to increase your email open rates. According to a study by Mailmodo, personalized subject lines can boost open rates by a staggering 50%.

How to Personalize

Personalization is not just about adding the recipient’s name; it’s about making the email relevant to them.

Personalization Tips:

  1. Use Their Name: The simplest form of personalization. “Hey [Name], quick question.”
  2. Refer to a Recent Interaction: “Following up from our chat last week…”
  3. Mention a Mutual Connection: “Your colleague [Name] suggested I reach out…”
  4. Tailor the Offer: “Exclusive offer for [Company Name] employees.”

The Impact of Personalization

Personalization can make your emails stand out in a crowded inbox, making the recipient more likely to engage with your content.

Why It Works:

  • Relevance: Makes the email feel like it’s specifically for the recipient.
  • Trust: Builds a sense of trust and rapport.
  • Engagement: Increases the likelihood of the email being opened and read.

Tools and Resources for Crafting Subject Lines

Crafting the perfect subject line is part art, part science. While the strategies we’ve discussed provide a solid foundation, there are tools and resources that can help you take your subject lines to the next level. Let’s explore some of these.

1. A/B Testing Tools

A/B testing allows you to send two different subject lines to a small segment of your audience to see which one performs better.

Recommended Tools:

  • Mailchimp
  • SendinBlue
  • HubSpot

Why They’re Useful:

These tools provide robust A/B testing features, helping you understand which subject lines resonate most with your audience.

2. Subject Line Generators

Struggling with writer’s block? Subject line generators can provide you with a variety of options based on your input.

Recommended Tools:

Why They’re Useful:

These tools use algorithms to generate subject lines that are likely to result in higher open rates.

3. Analytics Tools

Understanding how your subject lines perform over time is crucial. Analytics tools can provide this data.

Recommended Tools:

  • Google Analytics
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Litmus

Why They’re Useful:

These tools offer detailed analytics on open rates, click-through rates, and engagement, helping you refine your subject line strategies over time.

4. Copywriting Courses

Sometimes, the best tool is knowledge. Consider taking a copywriting course focused on email marketing.

Recommended Resources:

  • CopyBlogger’s Email Copywriting Course
  • Udemy’s Copywriting secrets
  • Coursera’s Copywriting Specialization

Why They’re Useful:

These courses offer in-depth knowledge and techniques for crafting compelling subject lines and email content.

5. My Totally Free Cold Email Course

Looking to master cold email marketing? My FREE 6-day email crash course is designed for freelancers and business owners who want to get hundreds of booked meetings each month.

Why You Should Sign Up:

This course will teach you how to master cold email prospecting so you can utilize this marketing channel to get more demos and scheduled sales calls. You’ll learn:

  • The exact strategies that work consistently
  • A simple framework to write high-converting cold emails
  • The exact tools I use to streamline, automate, and scale

How to Sign Up:

Sign up for the free 6-day cold email course here.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Crafting Subject Lines

Even with the best strategies and tools at your disposal, there are some common traps that marketers often fall into. Let’s go over these pitfalls so you can avoid them.

1. Being Too Vague or Misleading

A subject line that’s too vague can confuse readers, while a misleading one can erode trust.

What to Avoid:

  • Subject lines that don’t relate to the email content
  • Overly mysterious or cryptic phrases

Why It’s a Pitfall:

Misleading your readers can result in high unsubscribe rates and low engagement.

2. Overusing Punctuation and Capitalization

Excessive punctuation and ALL CAPS can make your email look spammy.

What to Avoid:

  • Multiple exclamation marks (!!!)
  • ALL CAPS

Why It’s a Pitfall:

Many email services flag such emails as spam, reducing your chances of getting seen.

3. Ignoring Mobile Users

Many people check emails on their phones, so your subject lines must be mobile-friendly.

What to Avoid:

  • Long subject lines that get cut off on mobile screens
  • Using fonts or symbols that may not display correctly on all devices

Why It’s a Pitfall:

Ignoring mobile users can significantly reduce your open rates.

Summary Table: Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Pitfall What to Avoid Why It’s a Pitfall
Being Too Vague or Misleading Subject lines that don’t relate to the email content; overly mysterious or cryptic phrases Misleading your readers can result in high unsubscribe rates and low engagement.
Overusing Punctuation and Capitalization Multiple exclamation marks (!!!); ALL CAPS Many email services flag such emails as spam, reducing your chances of getting seen.
Ignoring Mobile Users Long subject lines that get cut off on mobile screens; using fonts or symbols that may not display correctly on all devices Ignoring mobile users can significantly reduce your open rates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How long should my subject line be?

Aim for 50-60 characters. This length is generally mobile-friendly and provides enough information without overwhelming the reader.

  • Can I use emojis in my subject line?

Yes, but use them sparingly and make sure they are relevant to your message. Emojis can add a touch of personality but can also appear unprofessional if overused.

  • Should I personalize my subject lines?

Absolutely. According to a study by Mailmodo, personalized email subject lines can boost open rates by 50%. Use the recipient’s name or refer to a recent interaction to make the email more relevant.

  • What’s the best time to send cold emails?

The best time can vary depending on your audience. But according to a 2023 study by Siege Media, the best time to send cold emails is between 6-9 am PST on Mondays, with Tuesdays as a close second. The study is based on the analysis of over 85,000 personalized emails. They recommend scheduling delivery between 7-8 am PST to take advantage of a two-hour spike in open and click rates experienced between 8-10 am.

Conclusion

Crafting a cold email subject line that gets a 70% open rate might seem like a tall order, but it’s totally doable. By understanding the psychology behind subject lines and leveraging various strategies like curiosity, urgency, fear, and excitement, you can significantly boost your open rates. 

Don’t forget to make use of the plethora of tools and resources available, including my totally free 6-day cold email course.

Remember, the subject line is your email’s first impression. Make it count!

Further Reading

If you found this article insightful, you’re in for a treat. We’ve got a treasure trove of cold email expertise, from must-know strategies to using AI for crafting perfect first-liners. Also, don’t miss our in-depth reviews of 22 cold email tools for 2023!

Check Out

  1. 5 Must-Know Strategies for Cold Email Success (Backed by Real-World Data)
  2. How to Use ChatGPT for Writing Personalized Cold Email First Liners: Step-by-step guide
  3. 5 Powerful Ways To Personalize Your Cold Email Outreach (For High Response Rate)
  4. Boosting Cold Email ROI with Authentic Video Prospecting: Must-Know Tips
  5. 22 Of The Best Cold Email Tools for 2023: Tested Reviews on Features, Pros, Cons & Pricing
Philip Ilic

Philip Ilic

B2B Growth Specialist

Phil helps B2B SaaS companies with growth marketing and is a deep specialist in Linkedin advertising and paid social more generally (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). He runs a paid social agency called Superlumen.co and is the founder of B2Bhero.co.

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