If your email is not opened, no one will read it. In a way, subject line is one of the factors that will determine the success of your campaign.

In this article, you will find 56 best subject lines I guarantee will bring fire to your cold emails and help you crush your next campaign.

Whether you're searching for ideas for sales, follow-ups, networking, SEO, or recruiting, I got you covered.

Crash course on writing a great cold email subject line

Before we jump into good subject lines for cold emails, let's go over some rules, truths, and myths about one of the important components of email outreach.

Are "clickbait" subject lines worth the risk?

Hell no. It's loser DNA!

There's a big difference between a "clickbait" and a catchy subject line. The basic principle around the clickbait logic is "get that traffic". Write subject lines that will make all people click on them.

It won't work because cold emails rest on targeting the right people and building long-term relationships with them. Your subject line sets an expectation in your prospect's head about the rest of the email.

You fool them once and not only will you lose that prospect, but you will damage your brand and email reputation.

My open rate is low, the subject line must be the problem

One of the typical mistakes in the cold email world. Let me give you two insights as a guy who's been in the outreach biz for a long time.

If you see an open rate that's below 50%, this is a problem. The first thing you wanna check is your deliverability. In most cases, people didn't have a chance to see your email, therefore couldn't open it.

The subject line and target audience analysis come after you're 100% sure your deliverability is intact.

How long should a cold email subject line be?

With mobile devices in play, the rules have changed a bit. A typical desktop inbox shows around 60 characters of a subject line, whereas your phone reveals 50% less.

In my experience, short and sharp subject lines are outperforming longer ones. But, if you decide to go wild, remember to mention the most important thing in the beginning. That way, it won't disappear on mobile.

Top tips to master subject lines

These are the four core principles I believe everybody should put in the back of their head and pull them out whenever they're sending cold emails;.

  • think like a journalist, not as a snake oil sales rep

Not sure if you caught the era of newspapers and magazines before the web blew up. A headline on the cover of a magazine or on the front page of a newspaper is like your subject line.

Sometimes I'd go to buy one magazine and end up purchasing three just because they caught my eye while browsing. If the content delivers once I read it, guess what magazine got another reader.

But, you never wanna be a tabloid and sell "snake oil". Remember, opening the email is not the goal, you want to get a reply. The open rate is just a checkpoint.

  • forget subject line generators

There are online tools that can write subject lines for you based on some input. I never used them. They don't have emotional intelligence. They don't know your brand nor your prospects.

  • always a good idea to A/B test

Don't know if your audience prefers pizza or pasta. Let them try both. Send one subject line to 50% of your audience, and let the other half interact with the second version of your subject line.

subject line A/B test

As a general rule, you want to have 100-200 people in your email list, in order to make your split testing relevant.

Recommended read: How to run A/B tests in lemlist?
  • subject line for follow up email

We'll talk about this in more detail below, but it usually depends on the type of a follow-up.

If I'm sending a sequence of 4 emails in total, I don't want to have a separate subject line for my follow-up emails. But, when I finish a demo with a prospect, my follow-up will have a super relevant subject line on its own.

Best cold email subject line examples

It's time to show you my examples. I've divided them in five categories. You have sales, networking, follow-ups, SEO and recruiting.

Email subject lines for sales

Let's start with sales...

  • Question?

I think this subject line is like Michael Jackson's album Thriller. It will never get old. People use all kinds of variations like "Quick question" nowadays, but the original version was this one beautiful word with the sign at the end.

In combination with the right audience and a powerful brand behind your email domain, it's a killer subject line. Got a 83% open rate.

  • I think it's a match

The origin of this subject line is closely tied to our Tinder cold email template. A 75% open rate is of the latest results from one of our users who leveraged this strategy.

Tinder cold email

It's ideal to use for prospects that you feel can be a great client or partner of yours. The subject line and the template leave enough room for you to be creative and demonstrate why it's a match.

  • To {{companyName}} with ❤️

If you know anything about lemlist, then you know we're very much obsessed with emojis. For me, it's the same and a subject line is one of the key places where I use emojis a lot.

This example is my go-to subject line when I'm sending an email with a personalized video thumbnail. It has never let me down. Plus, if you've managed to build a powerful brand behind your company, the results are INSANE.

  • For {{firstName}} the 💪

This subject line is a close relative to the previous one. Unlike when you use a {{companyName}}, here you're more focused on developing a relationship with the person instead.

My use case scenario is to leverage it after establishing the first contact on LinkedIn with the prospect. That way, they kinda know me already and the way I speak, so a subject line like this matches my personality and the email content.

  • Something for you {{firstName}}

A more serious version of the previous subject line. It also performed really well in my own tests.

81% open rate...

  • love your growth {{firstName}}

With a 57% open rate score, the example here is from a friend of mine who used it to approach people working in the growth marketing department.

  • Hit your {{Goal}} with [PRODUCT]

I've seen various variations of it on the web and I played with it in my own campaigns early on. There were moments when it worked perfectly (62% open rate), but also those when it underperformed.

My learning was that you have to nail the {{Goal}} tag. It really needs to be spot on for it to work, especially because it's quite a sales-y subject line.

  • Introducing [Product] - franchise opportunity in {{country}}

Another subject line from one of our lemlisters of the week that scored a 91% open rate.

lemlister of the week

It's super specific and not everybody can just copy/paste it, but you can use the winning formula behind it. It's sales-y, but it smells like a win-win if the audience targeting is right. It got an 82% open rate.

  • {{companyName}} & [Product] integration?

Many startups and SaaS businesses as one of their growth strategies leverage partnerships and integrations.

  • Build {{companyName}} like {{commonInterest}}

A perfect subject line if you've been able to identify a common interest between you and your prospect.

It can be anything from your favorite entrepreneur to a sports team, you just have to make sure it's relevant and it makes sense.

  • # ideas for {{painPoint}}

Another cold email subject line classic. It calls for in-depth research prior to sending your campaign to understand different pain points.

The thing I hate when people pitch me using this subject line is when they give me a broad pain point, like "increasing revenue". Go narrow and come up with something more relevant and creative.

  • Let's meet at SaaStock {{firstName}}

The subject line I've used when I went to the SaaStock conference in Dublin 2019.

Not much explanation needed for this one. Focus on writing a personalized cold email and just copy/paste the subject line. Maybe add a beer emoji in there like I did for Dublin. :)

  • No {{firstName}} No Party

I'm a big fan of football... European football of course. A long time ago, Italy played awful at one championship and they didn't invite one of their stars to the team that year. It was Andrea Pirlo.

After Italy failed, Andrea came wearing "No Pirlo No Party" t-shirt. I laughed my eyes out and have been using this as a subject line in cold email and drip/onboarding campaigns forever.

{{firstName}} tag can be many different things, depending on your pitch. An average of 68% open rate.

  • {{firstName}}, you’ll love this

The best usage of this subject line is when you know for a fact that someone needs a particular feature, product, or service.

And then you just deliver the great news in their inbox.

  • {{Connection}} recommended I get in touch with you

Straightforward option if you're playing the referral card. {{Connection}} is the first word they see and that's quite important.

80%+ open rate...

  • How {{Competitor}} gains {{Advantage}}

A very interesting way to grab the attention of prospects who are competitive. Somebody I know uses this really well.

Especially if you can turn the {{Advantage}} tag into something meaningful that will struck a chord in your prospect's head.

  • A better way to {{xFactor}}

An interesting angle through which you can identify a pain point and propose a solution.

Mind the rule. Don't talk about features, focus on how you solve their pain.

  • Hey {{firstName}}, congrats on your funding round

Personally, I've never used this one, but I've talked to a bunch of salespeople who're playing with it frequently.

Essentially, when a startup raises a round, it sends a few signals. Depending on their business model they can, for example, use the funds to expand their sales team. And if you have a product for sales teams, that's a good fit.

The results range across different people who are sending cold emails and their quality, but it's fair to say it's between 40 and 60% open rate.

  • Intro

One of the simplest subject lines I've seen and it's coming from Benoît D'koko from Groowster, a user of ours.

He's scoring an average of 80% open rate with this line which is pretty amazing.

  • We are losing you {{coolName}}

This is an idea from a colleague of mine that was used on another lempire's project, scoring some nice conversions and reducing churn.

{{coolName}} tag can be replaced with a "nickname" for your product user. For example, we call people who use lemlist - lemlisters.

Networking email subject line

Without a doubt, one of the most fun cold email outreach campaigns to do.

Let's set you up with some good subject lines here...

  • Lunch?

A brilliant subject line example from Guillaume, our CEO. I was in our Paris office when he was preparing this campaign. Got a 96% open rate with it.

The goal? Meet with people working in Marketing & Growth, in top startups in Paris. You can see his cold email template in this article.

  • Exclusive invite {{firstName}}

Building a community? Organizing an event? Or a webinar?

I love this subject line and it has a great response - 87% open rate.

  • Interview invite

This subject line I've used to invite sales and growth experts to join our live webinars.

It's proven to be the best variation bringing me a nice 84% open rate.

  • I've got a story for you

If you're trying to get your or somebody from your team featured on a podcast or a show, I found this subject line to be the bomb. It brought an 84% open rate as well as the previous one.

It's not mine, but I'm going to modify a quote from Pablo Picasso... "Great artists borrow!" You can see the entire campaign here.

  • Invitation for {{firstName}}

Many of us are actively using this subject line to build communities, grow beta signups, and for many other targets. The last open rate I've seen is 90%.

  • Your story

Will Cannon from Uplead and his team use this subject line to get founder interviews for their blog. It has a nice 80% open rate.

  • love your work {{firstName}}

With a solid 80% open rate score, it's a perfect subject line for networking email. It's usually used to ask for a favor, exchange a backlink, or simply connect with someone.

  • Business Partnership: {{companyName}} and [Your Company]

The example you're seeing is from another lemlister of the week.

lemlist of the week

A great campaign and a fantastic 82% open rate on the scoreboard.

  • Closed group for marketers

It's the choice of mine while I was building the Game of Content community on LinkedIn.

It didn't perform spectacularly having got a 55% open rate, but it's not too shabby either.

  • Invite-only Marketing Pod is on the rise... wanna join?

One more variation used to grow the Game of Content group. The open rate was 52%.

  • Cold email guide from [Your Name]

The next from examples of subject lines you'll see are from Ilya Azovtsev, one of the fierce members of lemlist's growth marketing team.

He used this one to send a cold email guide to people who have submitted a form for early access and got a 65% open rate.

  • Invite-only Growth Hacking community

Ilya also inherited a Facebook group for LinkedIn Growth Hackers and managed to grow it like crazy.

The subject line here was used for an email invitation to the group, bringing a 63% open rate.

  • Invitation to the closed group for growth marketers

But later down the road, he updated the previous subject line with this one, which in turn has scored an 87% open rate, completely outperforming its predecessor.

  • LinkedIn connection

Being a person who lives and breathes LinkedIn, Ilya decided to test lemlist and Phantombuster integration to automatically connect with key people on LinkedIn and later send them a cold email.

"LinkedIn connection" subject line got him a 72% open rate.

  • Really like {{companyName}}’s SMM

This subject line was used to reach out to Social Media Marketing specialists and resulted in a 57% open rate.

  • LinkedIn group

Being a growth marketer, Ilya started joining groups on LinkedIn to achieve different outcomes. He often sends cold emails to group members, so he decided to test this subject line and it paid off - 81% open rate.

  • Liked your post on LinkedIn

Whenever somebody likes a post on Ilya's LinkedIn profile, he uses cold emails to reach out and establish a more close connection.

88% open rate shows it was a job well done.

  • Fan of your LinkedIn

A subject line variation used to reach out to various LinkedIn experts and trainers that brought a 63% open rate.

  • Liked your #recruitment content on LinkedIn

While building his connections in the recruiting world, Ilya leveraged this campaign to reached out to everyone who published posts about recruitment on LinkedIn.

Open rate? It's 82%.

Follow-up email subject lines

Now we need some dope subject lines for follow-up emails.

  • As promised

My favorite follow-up subject line. It's usually used after a meeting or when I already exchanged a few messages with someone.

Whatever is that we agreed upon earlier, my follow-up is coming super fast and this subject line usually has some emoji at the end.

  • Next steps 👊

This is an ideal subject line after you've finished a sales meeting or a demo. In the first phase of lemlist's growth, I was involved a lot in demos.

Both my open and conversion rates were solid. I'd wrap up a meeting, see if the deal has potential and the follow-up is coming in less than 30-45 minutes. A 70% open rates on average.

  • Call recap

Another example you can use after sales meetings. Don't have open rate proof for this one, but I saw that many people use it online and I think it's good.

  • 🔥 links coming your way {{firstName}}

As a growth manager, you deliver a lot of links. To potential customers, for backlink exchanges or to drive some awareness.

This subject line requires one thing to work. A prospect or a client asks about something on a call and you're not able to show it straight away for some reason, deliver it via email with this subject line... 91% open rate.

  • Here's the info I promised you

A more formal way of my previous variation. It's good, straight to the point, and will probably get you a high open rate.

  • I was excited to meet you

The subject line that scored a 53% open rate, mostly used after you meet someone at a conference.

  • I had this idea since we last spoke

I noticed some salespeople like to use this when a lead is slipping away. Might be worth giving it a shot.

Unfortunately, I don't have data for it, but I think it deserves a mention. If you end up using it, send me your open rate score at [email protected], and I'll feature you in this article.

Good subject lines for SEO outreach

One of the toughest outreach tasks for any marketing crew...

  • Collaborate?

Another cold email subject line classic, used in thousands of ways. I personally used it frequently for backlink building.

Usually, it brought me an open rate average of 50-60%, but keep in mind backlink outreach is really specific.

  • Wanna contribute to your Roundup {{firstName}}

A backlink cold email template with the focus on roundups. A standard of 75% open rate in 3-4 campaigns where I've used it.

  • Love your YT channel... have an idea

Sometimes, you wanna have your tool (or anything else) featured on a strong YouTube channel.

I've used this subject line for a campaign to get in touch with some YouTube creators... a 62% open rate.

  • From one SEO to another

To be entirely honest, I was lazy about targeting with this one. Didn't have enough time to go in-depth on my email list and I believe that was the reason for a 51% open rate.

Nevertheless, I think it has the potential for a higher number.

  • Editorial enquiry

A 69% open rate example if you're willing to guest post.

  • Loved your articled about LinkedIn tools

This subject line is one of Ilya's favorites for SEO backlink outreach. It got him a 73% open rate.

  • You are featured in the post on {{topic}}

A solid strategy to get your article shared more is to mention somebody (person, company, or a tool), give them a backlink, and reach out to let them know.

  • We want to feature you on [Your Website]

An idea if you're looking for content reinforcements for the upcoming article.

Subject lines for recruiting

Finally, two examples for a very important component of every company, regardless of whether you're a recruiter or not.

  • [Your Company] wants you {{firstName}}

I've always been a big advocate of approaching people to join your team, if you feel they are the right choice.

When recruiting, you want your subject line to tell the point straight. This variation has never let me down, scoring an average of 70% open rate in the way.

  • We're looking for a {{jobPosition}}

My second variation, kind of a substitute for the first variation above.

Similar open rate score, with the average in the "sixties", it's another example of a clear and straightforward cold email to follow.

Bottom line

I hope these examples were inspiring and that will help you get some great open and reply rate scores.

Remember, a good open rate is just a checkpoint. You need those replies and conversions to get things moving, so make sure to analyze your subject lines against that as well.