B2B sales. The right way.

How get response with catchy email subject line ?

You’re preparing a cold-email campaign, but are afraid that all your efforts will go unseen because you’re having trouble figuring out a catchy subject line?

This is a very common problem, wrong subject lines cause bad things to happen – from prospects disregarding your emails because the title isn’t interesting, to your messages falling into spam folders because of bad wording.

Think of a movie trailer

How would you approach creating a trailer for an epic Hollywood masterpiece? If you watch a few of them, you notice they usually:

  • only highlight the best moments
  • tell a short story
  • intrigue everyone because they’re perfectly put together

And the format doesn’t really change over time (most trailers have always been very similar).

Same goes for your cold email subject line – there are a few methods that simply work, and there isn’t much room for innovation.

The secret to getting responses

Funniest memes let me tells you a secret

You probably think the goal is to get the highest open-rate possible.

It isn’t.

And it’s really important to stop thinking in terms of “gaining attention by any means necessary”. The goal of cold e-mail campaigns in general is to aim for the bullseye – prepare messaging that appeals to your target decision makers.

Have you ever tried to please everyone when ordering a meal? If someone wants pizza, you don’t give them a steak.

Ok, joke attempts aside, how do you achieve that goal?

Many think that you need fancy words, expressions and literary tricks to get attention. This might get high open-rates – but terrible response rates.

Selling can be broken down as a process of perfectly matching a client’s pain with your original and effective solution. From this point of view, approaching subject email lines is simple:

Say exactly what you’re offering

cat pick over uniform sailor

Because it’s a stupid feeling when you take time to open an e-mail that sounds very promising from the title, just to realise there’s no value for you inside. Plus, it’s been done so many times that I believe people are becoming immune to this. Only being honest can convince people to open e-mails anymore.

Example of email subject lines

Say you’re selling Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). There are many companies that do it, so to stand out you might need to fit in a keyword that says how you’re different.

Let’s try to figure out the best subject line for this situation:

  • Special offer with the best CRM on the market just for {{company}}

No one believes in “special offers” anymore. Your recipients most probably know that you’re not preparing different offers for each company on your prospect list. Forget about using silly tricks to grab attention. Plus it’s way too long, recipients would see half of it on their smartphones.

  • Close all deals with our CRM

You can’t really promise they will close each deal, it’s up to them. You just offer software that might help them do it. In general, don’t make false promises, you’re not a fairy and you don’t grant wishes.

  • Best CRM for {{company}}

.

This is definitely too general, plus no one believes when you say your product is the best one. A quick google search might prove that it’s not the best choice for everyone.

  • CRM to help organise sales @{{company}}

This one just might work. It clearly states what you’re selling – CRM. It obviously says what it does – helps organise sdr sales. And it’s a bit personalised because of the {{company}} custom field, everyone likes to see their name mentioned.

  • CRM with twitter integration for {{company}}

Here we have all the elements necessary for a good catchy email subject line – checks the same boxes as the previous subject line, and additionaly presents the “purple cow” (the thing that isolates you from the competition).

Think about it long enough, and you’ll find that even the smallest things can be the special asset you use to convince people to read your e-mail. Just be honest and comb through your offering.

If you notice that you found a way to provide better customer support than other companies – go ahead and add “with best customer support”. This will position you to acquire those customers that are fed up with poor support.

General rules

Let’s see what patterns emerge from the example above:

  • don’t use sketchy, salesy expressions
  • don’t make false promises
  • don’t be too general

Instead, you should:

  • be straightforward about your offer
  • keep it short
  • try to indentify what differentiates you from the competition in 1 or 2 words

Summary

Remember to be patient and try new things. You can A/B test different email subject lines (send 100 emails, 50 with one and 50 with the other). Try switching it up word-by-word if it doesn’t seem to be working.

The only way that you’ll hit the sweet spot is through testing, sometimes you might find that a weirdly worded subject line delivers the best response-rates.

This should help you in inventing the best subject lines for your campaigns. Let me know if you have any questions. :)



  • Cathy

    Now that’s what I call a valuable piece of content! Love the movie trailer analogy — that’s pretty much how I think subject line should work in cold email indeed.

    “Special offer with the best CRM on the market just for {{company}}” – YUCK! Sounds straightforward salesy and vain… Not to mention, it uses the words triggering SPAM (check an article on Hubspot blog about that http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30684/The-Ultimate-List-of-Email-SPAM-Trigger-Words.aspx)

    Great article, Piotr! :)

    • Piotr Zaniewicz

      Thanks Cathy, good looking out with spam triggers :)

  • Claire Hillsmith

    Once again RightHello has provided me with helpful, engaging and succinct information regarding cold emailing. I have read both subject lines and cold email templates via blog posts from you, and I’m so grateful that I’ve subscribed to your updates as well.

    It’s only my second week in my current job and I’m still learning all the tips and tricks.

    I have also found your Quora questions and answers a big help.

    Thanks Piotr!

    • Piotr Zaniewicz

      Thank you Claire! That’s great to hear. Appreciate the kind words, glad to help.

  • Dipak Singhavi

    Many thanks for your healthy 😉 and helpful :-) content for cold mailing.

    Are you suggest me some sample format for cold mail ?

    I will thankful for it.