Cold Cover Letter Email Title

Getting the right subject line for cold email is the difference between having your message seen and not seen.

Writing cold emails is hard enough, right?

But what if all your effort is wasted because people aren’t even opening your emails? Many people think of the subject line for cold email as an afterthought. Noooooooo!

Nobody will click through to your website if they aren’t first opening the email.

What The Experts Say about Cold Email Subject Lines

The question of cold email subject lines is something that every business owner has had to deal with at some point. Several business owners have laid out their experiences and advice across the web.

Here’s the thing: it’s different for everyone. What works for me may not work for you. With that said, here are some best practices to consider when writing your subject line.

Context is incredibly important when it comes to what works. For instance, at the LeadFuze office, we’ve found that a less personalized subject line has worked better than one that has even the company name in the subject.

But if you’re coming from a local business meeting, you may want a highly personalized networking email subject line. Something like, It was nice to meet you at [XYZ event] Mr. Smith.

Having said that, the tips today will be relatively useful to all. But remember to test everything and keep what works.

Cold Email Subject Line Tip #1: Keep It Short

Most email clients truncate subject lines after a certain number of characters, but if you’re anything like me, you don’t even read all the characters that are shown. Why would your prospects be any different?

Keep your subject line as short as possible. Bryan Harris at Videofruit recommends 3 words or less.

Takeaway: Shorter is better.

Cold Email Subject Line Tip #2: Keep It Real

Most people send out cold emails that are so obviously marketing, it’s a wonder anyone opens them. Don’t be that guy.

If you wonder if it sounds too much like a ‘marketing email’ then it does sound too much like a marketing email” – Steli Efti,

One thing that can help make an email look human is actually the lack of capitalized words. Think about it. If you’re writing a quick email to a friend, do you take the time to capitalize the subject? Probably not.

Takeaway: Write your subject line like you are writing an email to someone you actually know.

Cold Email Subject Line Tip #3 : Keep It Personal

Before you email someone, you should have at least done enough research on the company to get the name of the person you are emailing. You may have even come across someone in your network who knows the prospect and can help give you a warm referral.

Takeaway: Use your prospects name or company in the subject line if it makes sense.

Cold Email Subject Line Tip #4: Keep It Relevant

No one likes to be tricked into opening email (or snail mail) that looks like one thing and turns out to be another. Make sure your subject line is appealing, but relevant to the content of the email.

Takeaway: Don’t bait and switch your prospect.

Cold Email Subject Line Tip #5: Keep It Genuine

Ok, so this last tip isn’t directly related to the subject line itself.

That said, it’s incredibly important that you live up to your incredible subject line. There are so many one-liners and hacks online that, sure, they’ll get people to open up your message. But when they see it’s just a cold pitch to your company’s products/services—it’s like they never opened it.

Let’s say you met someone at an event and you used our networking email subject line to peak their curiosity. What if they went into the email and found a warm genuine compliment along with a resource that you thought the person might enjoy?

Don’t go for the hard sell. Rather try to be genuinely helpful by giving a resource. (Either one you’ve created or from another source.)

We’d put that up against a cold pitch any day of the week.

Takeaway: Make sure to genuinely reach out and offer value

Try These Subject Lines for Cold Email

If you are stuck on coming up with a subject line, Steli recommends trying the following variations:

  • “Introduction: {Name}” or “Introduction {your name/company} <> {their name/company}
  • “quick request”
  • “Trying to connect”
  • “{name of their company}”

He also recommends trying questions in the subject line and making it as specific as possible.

Bryan similarly recommends using the company name along with a very short description of what’s inside the email.

From my end, I have seen good success with simple subject lines such as “quick question” and “proofreading and editing”, i.e. a short description of my service.

Snippets: The Extended Subject Line for Cold Email

An often overlooked part of the subject line for cold email is the snippet. A snippet is the short length of text that is shown as a preview of the email content.

When you are working on your cold emails, be sure to think about what your snippet might look like. Encourage your prospects to open the email by making it feel like it could be coming from a customer.

The start of the email is another place to personalize the email and to show your prospect that you have done your homework, without being creepy. Open the email with a casual salutation, and use the prospect’s first name if you have it.

Doing Your Own Experiments

It will take some experimenting to find the best subject line for cold email that will work for you. Even when you find a subject that’s working, remember your ABT’s — Always Be Testing.

When you are first getting started with cold emails, you should try vastly different subject lines to get an idea of what direction you should go. Once you have some initial data, you can start refining a single type of subject line.

Getting input from your prospects can be invaluable at this point. As you are sending your cold emails, think about touching base with your current clients, as well as any prospects who respond to your cold emails.

Try to find out what about your email made them open and respond. Some questions to consider are:

  • Why did you open this email?
  • What did you expect to find inside?
  • What made you respond?
  • Why did you feel this email was relevant to you?
  • Why didn’t you just delete or archive it?

By getting the answers to these questions, you can craft better, more relevant subject lines and copy for your cold emails.

Cold Email Subject Line Conclusion

Don’t let the subject line kill your cold email. Experiment with different types of subjects and refine once you have some data.

Start with some tried-and-true subjects that others have found success with, but don’t be afraid to create your own variations.

The cold email subject lines that work best for your outreach will vary depending on your business and your prospects. By continuously testing, you can make incremental improvements in your open and response rates.

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When it comes to learning in-demand tech skills, you’re on the right track. That you’re certain of.

Perhaps you’re a developer or web designer, or you’re trying your hand at both. You’ve worked hard to get to where you’re at in your career, and you are ready for your tech skills to give you a leg up in the job market.

However, once you’re ready to go after a new career in tech, you still have to track down your dream job, grab the company’s attention, and make a great first impression, before you can even show off your abilities. What’s more, we’re all familiar with the tendency for many of the best jobs to be filled through personal connections and employee referrals.

So, if your only option is to apply online, how do you manage to get your dream employer to see that you’re the best person for the job?

You need to be extremely proactive. It may seem intrusive at first, but I’ve personally gotten my last two jobs in tech by sending a strategically crafted cold email to the person I suspected to be the hiring manager for the role. Both of these emails opened up a dialogue that led to a phone call, interview, and subsequent offer within about a week’s time. The same principles apply if you’re pitching your freelance services to potential clients.

It can be extremely difficult to stand out in a crowded inbox. Many of us receive hundreds of emails each day. You have a very limited amount of time to make a great impression, so if you send a cold email without careful thought and planning, there is a high likelihood that nobody will ever read it.

Here are my 6 tried and true steps to writing cold emails that will make a stand-out first impression, and get you the interview you’re after:

1. Research the Best Person to Cold Email.

The first mistake you can make when gunning for a new job is applying directly on the company’s career page, or sending your cold email to a generic address (unless you’ve already ruled out the possibility of direct contact). Your goal is to make an incredible first impression. Crossing your fingers and hoping that your email will end up in the inbox of the appropriate decision maker is hardly proactive.

You need to do some research. In particular, you need to determine who makes the decisions about hiring on this specific role. It’s ok if you take a best guess at this, or find someone who looks like they’re in a slightly senior role in the same department at the company. This person could be the head of a particular department, senior manager, or even someone who’s in a similar role and may be able to route your query to the right person.

LinkedIn is a great starting point for browsing through potential contacts by searching for people by keyword, at the company you’re targeting to work at. Here’s a screenshot of a search I ran on people in “Marketing” at company, “CreativeLive.” From here, you’ll have a targeted list of potential people you can reach out to.

Refrain from messaging them on LinkedIn if possible. You’ll have much more success by landing in their inbox. In fact, the average American employee spends 6.3 hours each day in their email inbox.

Once you’ve landed on your ideal target, do a Google search on them and see if you can locate a personal blog, social media accounts, or other relevant information that’ll help you formulate a personalized cold email.

In my experience, most companies use one of three different email formats:


There are plenty of alternative company email structures, but what’s most important to note is that you can check the validity of any email address using the Rapportive extension for Chrome. Once installed in your Gmail inbox, it’ll display information about the person on the other end of any email address you place in the “To” field – pulled in from their LinkedIn account. Use this extension to test out different email possibilities before resorting to applying without first making personal contact.

2. Take Time to Come up with the Perfect Subject Line.

Fast Company recently conducted a study in which they sent 1,000 cold emails in hopes of learning what the perfect cold email looks like. In their results, they determined that the open rate was primarily driven by a combination of the sender name and subject line. You cannot do much about your sender name (aside from making sure you name’s capitalized and spelled correctly), but you sure can control the subject line.

One of my best business relationships started out with a cold email featuring the subject line, “A Mutual Love for Animals and Compelling Content.” While it had very little to do with the reason I was writing this person, it sure sounded a lot different than everything else in her inbox, which got her to read on and evaluate my propositions.

Adam Grant makes the great point that “people are more likely to read emails with subject lines that create curiosity or provide utility. When people aren’t busy, they’re drawn in by subject lines that intrigue them. But when they’re busy, curiosity fades in importance; the emails that get read are the ones with practical subject lines.”

Do your best to craft a subject line that’s creative, short, and tells the reader why they should open and read your email. If you need some more inspiration, here are 171 email subject lines that are designed to pique the curiosity of your readers. (Also check out Skillcrush’s 9 Simple Tips to Get People to Respond to Your Emails).

3. Find a Connection to Make Your Email Warmer.

The less cold you can make your email, by showing you’ve done your homework on the recipient, the higher your chances of getting a response. Look for any mutual connections, shared interests, professional societies, or notable achievements that’ll give you the opportunity to mention something relevant to them.

With my example email above, I mentioned a mutual love of animals in the subject line. In my research on the person I was reaching out to, I found that she loved sharing photos of her dogs on Twitter and Instagram—so much so that she regularly talked about dogs on her personal blog as well. I happen to love dogs, so this was a natural way to make an instant connection with her. With a little time, you can find something that’ll genuinely connect you with your recipient, too.

Once you’ve built your personal messaging into the email, here are a few helpful templates you can grab for structuring what that email looks like.

4. Begin With an Elevator Pitch.

Nobody wants to read a long-winded email, especially from someone they don’t know. If the recipient has decided to open your email in the first place, you need to put value on the table instantly.

You need a captivating entrance that demonstrates you will provide actual value if you’re chosen for the role. Start with how you found the position, and give a specific example of why you would be a great fit for the job. Think of the mindset they’ll be in when reading your email. Why should they select you? What makes you stand out from the crowd? (Check out Skillcrush’s Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Email Cover Letter for more tips on exactly what to include in your cold email.)

5. Sell Your Strengths.

Since this role is in tech, the person you’re trying to establish a rapport with, will likely want to know what you can do to help the company move more quickly and effectively. What relevant experience have you had that would give them confidence in trusting you to join the company? This is a great opportunity to link to a specific example of work you’ve done.

Be sure to tailor your strengths and examples for a particular position, so that you’re putting your most relevant works first. Don’t make the mistake of linking out to your most recent project if it has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for. In your email, I suggest including a link to your best work on Github, your portfolio website, or a client project you’ve done in the past.

Provide enough details to get them interested in wanting to learn more, but not so much that they’ll stop reading halfway through.

6. Follow Up the Right Way.

More than likely, even when you’ve taken the time to carefully construct an email that’s designed to start a conversation with your decision maker, you won’t immediately hear back.

This is where most people give up. They think that not hearing back means they’ve been rejected, but that’s simply not the case. Most people involved in hiring are extremely busy and have many competing priorities—including other duties, in addition to spending time vetting new team members.

If you don’t hear back within a week, acknowledge the fact that they’ve probably missed your email or just haven’t had the chance to respond yet. After a week’s time, reply to your original email on the same thread, following up asking succinctly if they’ve had a chance to look over your email, and if there’s anything you can help elaborate on.

In your follow up, always strive to be helpful and refrain from coming across as demanding a quick response.

Here’s a basic template to get you started:

Hey [First Name],

I found your post up for a [Role Title] up on [website/job board + link to posting] the other day, and I wanted to share with you the [strategy/deliverable/etc] I already took the time to develop for [Company Name].

It’s built around what I know works, through my experience in building [Previous Company’s] [X,Y,Z Project or Product] with [JS, Ruby, HTML, etc]. Check out [Link to Project Example] I created, that’s done X,Y,Z for [Previous Company] and has had [Results, # Downloads, # Signups, etc].

I have a very solid foundation for working in/with [Relevant Languages/Relevant Tools]. I’m looking forward to helping [Company Name] deliver even more unique value to the industry.

Let me know when you have a moment to chat this week.


[Your Name]



Content Marketing Lead at CreativeLive. Online educator at where I teach entrepreneurs how to start a business while working full-time.

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