How to get a response with a catchy email subject line ?

Piotr Zaniewicz in

Blog/Cold Mailing/How to get a response with a catchy email subject line ?

You’re slowly 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 happen – from prospects disregarding your emails because the title isn’t interesting, to your messages falling into spam folders because of bad wording.

Think about your dream subject line as of a movie trailer

How about an unusual approach and treating your email campaign and the subject line like a trailer for an epic Hollywood masterpiece from the very beginning? I bet you’ve already watched a few of them, and you must have noticed that they usually:

  • only highlight the best moments (not always in the chronological order)
  • tell a short and captivating story
  • intrigue everyone because they’re perfectly put together as a sequence of remarkable scenes

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 of getting responses from cold emails… uncovered!

If you think your goal is to get the highest open rate possible, you’re wrong. Stop thinking about your sales email campaign in terms of “gaining attention by any means necessary” and as an unstoppable run. You can do your business a big harm.

Of course, it’s good to have subject lines that get your email opened, but the way to achieve it lies elsewhere.

Main cold e-mail campaigns’ purpose, in general, is to aim for the bullseye – in other words, to prepare messaging that appeals to your target decision-makers.

Have you ever tried to meet everyone’s expectations? Throw a party with guests’ favourite meals? It’s almost impossible. You can’t satisfy all people. If someone wants pizza, you don’t give them a steak. It’s better not to give them anything.

Okay, enough joking. Let’s focus on how can you really achieve that goal?

Many think that catchy email subject lines for sales need fancy words, expressions, and literary tricks to get attention. This might get high open rates (that are nice but give you nearly nothing when comes to numbers)…but terrible response rates.

Selling can be broken down to 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 in catchy email subject lines straight away

cat with  uniform

No time for bullshit. It’s a stupid feeling when you take the time to open e-mails, the subject lines are very promising, just to realise there’s no value for you inside. It’s been done so many times that I believe people are becoming immune to this. But there are still people who get angry and feel fooled, people who not only won’t make use of the company’s products, but also remember the name of the company for a long time and associate it badly. Only honesty can convince people to open e-mails.

Example of best cold email subject lines

Say you’re selling Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). As the competition is high and there are many similar companies, it’s very difficult to stand out from the crowd. 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:

  • #1 – 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 the attention. Plus it’s way too long, recipients would see only half of it on their smartphones.

  • #2 – 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.

  • #3 – Best CRM for {{company}}

    This cold email subject line 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.

  • #4 – 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. And it’s a bit personalised because of the {{company}} custom field. Everyone likes to see their name mentioned.

  • #5 – 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 additionally presents the “purple cow” (the thing that isolates you from the competition).

  • #6 – 10x more deals closed with {{company}} CRM

    Is there any salesman who doesn’t want to sell more? If you can prove it (which is very difficult without surveys and audits) go for it without hesitation.

  • #7 – Know this impressing fact about….?

    We all like trivia and facts unknown to others. This line can work, but might as well look like a cheap clickbait.

  • #8 – 10 tips for smooth lead management with {{company}} CRM

    Numbers help to estimate how long is your email and how much knowledge does it provide. People love to be provided with free tips. Eye-catching email subject lines with a nice promise of little help encourage to open.

  • #9 – A monthly savings of $25k on CRM for {{company}}

    Clear? Absolutely. Catchy? Probably a good subject line that gets your email opened. But when it comes to numbers, make sure you know what you are talking about, and that you can afford this promise.

  • #10 – 3 ideas to start using CRM in {{company}}

    What if this company already use CRM but you are not aware of it? Be careful with too much advising.

Think about your email subject lines and their length – 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 think you found a way to provide better customer support than others (on any field), and you can prove it, don’t hesitate and put it into your message. It’s gold. Add “with best customer support” and wait for the responses of those customers who are fed up with poor support. They will easily feel your flow.

Remember – if you describe yourself as the master of customer service… just be the master of customer service and keep the high level. Your rivals read your emails!

General rules

Before we sum up, let’s see what patterns emerge from the example above:

  • don’t use sketchy, salesy expressions
  • don’t make false promises (you have only one first impression!)
  • don’t be too general

Instead, you should:

  • be straightforward about your offer
  • keep it short
  • in no more than 1 or 2 words, try to identify what distinguishes you from the competition


In order to find the best cold email subject line, do an A/B test with different 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. The very best and effective phrases and solutions can be extremely surprising. Even a weirdly worded email subject lines can deliver great response rates, so keep your mind open and think outside the box.

Don’t forget about other blog articles that guide you through the complete process of lead management and sales improvement.

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Piotr Zaniewicz

Founder and CEO at RightHello. Believes that the most important validation of business ideas is to find paying clients. That’s when you know you’re going in the right direction.