Learning how to start an email is one of the most important skills to have that will lead you to higher open and reply rates, and ultimately conversions.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • Why you should spend time on your email intro
  • How to find inspiration to start your email and write awesome icebreakers
  • 29 email opening sentences examples

Why are email intros important?

The email opening sentence is one of the first things your prospects see, along with your name and your subject line. Its influence is twofold:

  1. whether or not your prospect opens the email
  2. if your prospect will continue to read your message and what kind of a first impression you'll leave

One thing that you have to keep in mind is that most inboxes look like this:

good ways to start an email

The goal is to make your prospects want to open your email without thinking that they're just one more person on your list.

For example, how would you feel if you saw this email intro in your inbox?

A bad way to write your intro line

"Meh", right?

There's all this me and my company talk, but nothing relevant for the prospect.

What about this one?

how to start an email

It's different.

When people say they love your work, you wanna know more about what they have to tell you. 😇 That's why, unlike the first message, I'll open this email. And so did the 90% of people who received it.

What you need to do is catch their attention and leave a good first impression. Your intro line is there to melt the ice and lower the prospect's guard down.

Different ways to start an email depending on circumstances

When writing intro lines, there are plenty of places that can inspire your next move, such as:

  1. LinkedIn, their comment or recent activity
  2. Online communities or Social Media
  3. Referrals and recommendations
  4. Podcast or webinar they were on
  5. Buying signals (e.g. job ad to hire more SDRs which means they are scaling and need a cold email tool to get more clients)
  6. Common topics between you too that you find online

How to create powerful email intro lines? Say there are 3 different outcomes I'm chasing:

  1. Sell my product/service
  2. Start a conversation with a prospect
  3. Invite somebody to my podcast

Let's start with number one. For this, I can leverage a relevant Facebook community, SaaS Growth Hacks for example. I'll open the group and start playing with internal search filters relevant to my business. For instance, "outreach" or "email deliverability.

Find inspiration for your intro lines

If I have a specific prospect in mind and I know they're part of the community too, I can filter for their posts only or search their name under "".

Filters for your opening lines

Then, I might stumble on a post like this.

Informal greetings

Here, there's a chance for me to be a bit more direct. So I can go with something like:

Hey Myk,

I saw your recent post in the SaaS Growth Hacks group where you were looking for ways to market your tool with a small team.


Here are a few tactics we used to grow lemlist to $1M ARR with 6 people (2 in marketing). Hope they bring value to your world. :)

If I connect it with a teasing subject line and make sure my content delivers, I am golden. And of course, lemlist will be one of the growth tactics I've used.

In the rest of the email, you can add a bit more context and make Myk feel you really understand the challenges in that growth stage and potentially add a video to the mix.

Something like this.


Let's move to the second scenario. The goal is to sell something to a bigger company.

As it's colder outreach than number 1 example, I don't want to go in guns blazing, but focus my email on starting a conversation and aim to build a relationship.

For instance, I can google recent news about their company and stumble upon something like this.

how to begin an email

Give these articles a read and you’ll find relevant angles to exploit, like that “double your workforce” for Canva.

Congrats on your $40 billion valuation! What a journey it has been for Canva! 🎉

I saw that you have exciting projects in your plans, with doubling your workforce maybe being one of the biggest and most exciting ones.

For example, if I'm selling an HR software, my conversation can be around new developers they might bring to further develop the product thanks to the new investment as I've already confirmed in my research they're planning to bring more people.

As soon as I get them talking, I can match their pains with the solutions my tool can offer to them. The trick here is to chase win-win situations.

Finally, in the third scenario, imagine my ambition is to bring Scott Leese as my podcast guest.

What I can do is search his name on YouTube and Google, then see what kind of podcasts has he been doing lately to make sure my offer is special.

How to start a good email

I'm also going to listen to a few of them and use this as my intro line... like this:

Just finished listening to your interview on “Sales Secrets From The Top 1%” podcast. Was quite interesting to hear you share how you handle sales meetings, your urgency tactic and how you navigate the conversation from there.

Btw, I did this and Scott accepted the invitation as you can see in the image above. First result on YouTube, not bad.

The rest of the email would be a topic proposition and explain what's in it for Scott if he agrees to join. You can see this entire strategy in the Tiramisu cold email tactic.

But overall, anything can be inspiration for an intro line. You can focus on the industry, company, or prospects themselves. :)

Later on, the setup is easy. You add a column in your CSV file that can be called "IceBreaker".

ways to start an email

Once ready, upload your CSV into your cold email tool. In my case, that's obviously lemlist.

email intros for your leads

Then, add the variable {{IceBreaker}} in your email sequence.

starting an email

And let the magic happen ✨

starting an email with catchy opening lines

Another cool thing that you can do on LinkedIn is to leverage lemlist's Chrome extension.

Let's say you browse on LinkedIn and you stop on the profile of one of your prospects.

As soon as I open the extension, it will enrich the lead with relevant information needed and you can also send add an icebreaker right then and there.

how to start a professional email

Once good and ready, send the lead directly to your lemlist campaign and, thanks to the integration with Dropcontact, get their professional email address too.

Boom!


Want to test all these tactics in lemlist? Tap here to get started for free.

One of the challenges after writing email intros is transitioning into your sales pitch.

The idea behind any cold email is to optimize to get a reply, not to sell. At least not immediately. In most cases, your job is to start a conversation and get a reply.

There’s one catch though. You need to personalize cold emails, but you also need to make them relevant for the prospect. Personalization for the sake of personalization won’t get the job done.

When transitioning from email opening lines to a pitch, stay on the same topic. In other words, connect your intro to the pitch. One of the strategies is to demonstrate your expertise. Show them how you had a similar challenge in the past and how you solved it.

Alternatively, the pain-solution framework also works great. Have them see you understand their pain and position your product as the pain remover. It's never about your product feature, but how it solves their pain.

Let’s compare one good and one not so good example, starting with the latter.

Hey Nadja,

Saw your YT channel with Simon - loved how actionable your tips were on writing icebreakers, just about to test them in my campaign.

We are a HR software, so curious if you’re now hiring new people on the team?

The transition feels unnatural, right? It’s a fine intro, but then it goes straight to the sales pitch and outlines that the seller didn’t do a lot of research on Nadja.

For instance, they didn't check our career page and see what roles are we hiring at the moment.

But check this one out.

Hey Nadja,

I’m reaching out because a friend of mine Milovan liked one of your LinkedIn posts from last week. I saw your YT channel and noticed that lemlist is trying to crack into the US market as part of your expansion strategy.

So tons of companies all over the world have been reaching out to us and using this tactic to penetrate the US market. {{companyName}} is one of them.

This is a good transition because it might tease Nadja if the company mentioned is meaningful to her, plus it gives the seller enough room to pitch it in a valuable and relevant way in the next sentence. Plus, it's naturally connected with the icebreaker.

Let's add some more intro line examples to this story.

How to start an email in 29 examples

How you start a cold email will vary based on your target audience, cold email strategy, and the type of industry you're in.

Email small talk examples

Email small talk is an okay way to start an email when you don't feel super inspired or you have a difficult time finding info about someone.

funny ways to start an email

Let's see some email templates.

Talk about news in your industry

how to start a formal email
  • We've seen it already, but industry news are a good idea to start your email
  • On the other hand, you position yourself as an expert of the domain, you show you're involved and you're a student of the game
  • You have more credibility and your reader will be more likely to trust your solution and might book a meeting with you
  • Ola scored a 71% open rate with this intro line

Simple chit-chat can also work

how to start an email
  • Informal greetings can be a good idea if you haven't found anything specific on your prospect
  • Try to write these things in a slightly different way, so they sound as friendly as they possibly can
  • Anna go a 88% open rate with this intro line

Cold email opening lines for marketing & sales

When you send an email to someone who has never heard about you, you only have a few seconds to make a good impression and make your prospect read the rest of your message.

Be personal and connect it with your pitch

ways to start an email
  • This is an email from a coffee-addicted marketer wanting to do marketing for a coffee shop. It can go even one step further if you're drinking coffee from that very coffee shop. Go personal in a smart way!
  • It perfectly fits the narrative and it's relatively easy to make a transition
  • This email got an 81% open rate

Too hard to decline offer

email opening lines
  • Romain plays on a very appealing offer that's tough to decline
  • If you connect it with an existing pain or objective, you will motivate them to see what your cold email is about
  • This intro line got 83% open rate

Be the person who gives value

how to start emails
  • Imagine you've seen your prospect talk about something in a community or share it in their LinkedIn post. Now, imagine you tease them with what they are looking for straight in the intro
  • You can also give them feedback on things that will bring value and position yourself as a trustworthy source on that subject
  • This cold email got 80% open rate.

Mention mutual connections

You can also mention a mutual connection because recommendations are a no-brainer.

Vuk got John Barrow to join one of our webinar episodes, and this intro line definitely helped make his case. 👇

While interviewing Morgan Ingram, he told me I absolutely have to get in touch with you and bring you as one of my next guests. Plus, I just finished watching your recent video on prospecting in the time of a global pandemic, and it just adds to all of that.

After these kinds of intro lines, your transition is smoother since your prospect knows you have mutual relationships. Remember the saying, the friends of my friends are my friends too. 🌈

Using social media to write email opening lines

Social media interactions are a smart way to have the first interaction with someone. You begin to build your relationships and your prospects can see your face.

Thank them for interacting with you

proper way to start an email
  • This intro line brings the proof that her reader has already been interested in Daria's work on LinkedIn
  • You can also add your thoughts and dig deeper together on the topic. Daria even used the personalized video thumbnail strategy to go from the intro line to her pitch
  • Using this kind of opening line gave an 85% reply rate to Daria

Reference the same Facebook community you're in

how to start a casual email
  • Reference the same community you're in to have that "we're the same you and I" message effect
  • Use words that will make your prospects feel excited about reading the rest of the email --> "Your comment caught my attention"
  • Vuk got an 83% open rate

If you need more explanation for the dynamic landing page, here is a tuto from Anaëlle just for you!

Start a conversation that's more about them

On LinkedIn, everyone completes their career info, former projects, etc.

That's a good opportunity to find common ground or highlight a moment from their past experience.

For example, if you notice a change in their job role...

Just stumbled upon your profile on LinkedIn, and noticed something very unique about you. From CTO to Director of Business Development is a pretty rare occurrence. :) It made me really curious!

Showing your interest will please your prospect who sees that their career is attracting attention. You show you understand the position he's in, so you don't send your message to just anybody, but wisely to specific kinds of profiles like them.

How to start emails using prospects' milestones as opening lines

The golden rule of email outreach is that 51% of your success depends on your research. The more you know your prospect, the better.

The question now is... how to start an email and what milestones can you use?

  • Company raising money or successful exits
  • Revenue milestones they hit
  • Beta or big product launches
  • New hires that you're mutually connected to
  • Business victories (good SEO, great content, awesome videos)

Here's an example:

email intro lines about success
  • {{amount}} custom tag is simply replaced with the exact amount the company was able to raise
  • The personalized image was part of the intro line, really sticking out, adding friendly humor to the conversation, and grabbing prospects' attention

Mention team members or managers

how to start emails
  • Reading the name of your CEO in an email will catch your attention, even if it comes from someone you don't know
  • This cold email intro line may be a bit sales-y, but you can focus it on the promised land... something really connected to your prospect and they see themselves in the future
  • Putting a social proof right after your intro line helps to build trust, and you'll have more chances to book a meeting

Congrats on promotion

In addition to the company's milestone, you can celebrate someone's promotion to a high position in the team (head of, director, etc.).

Just saw that you recently became Director of Business Operations at {{companyName}}. It must be exciting to lead a team for a project with such a cutting-edge approach to customer relationships management!

Good ways to start an email follow-up

Finding inspiration for follow-up intro lines is perhaps easier as you have context.

Here are a few starters our team uses:

As promised, I’m sending [XYZ]

As we discussed on the call…

A short and sweet (or at least just short 😅) reminder about my previous email

Thanks for the quick response

It was great to see you at {{Event}}

It all comes down to your strategy. Are you following up after an event, meeting, or webinar? Or you have yet to meet your prospect?

Here's an example of a webinar follow-up from our dear friend.

how to begin an email

A small tip for your pictures, don't forget to name your attachments! It can make a difference when you have a preview of the email.

how to start an email with images

You can also find inspiration in our 9 follow up email template.

How to start off a professional email with a little fun

Using funny ways to start an email can be a good choice, notably because it's a pattern interrupt.

Funny opening email lines come and bring a good mood.

Play with automation jokes

how to start a friendly email
  • People know they might be part of a prospecting list, but show them they're not just a name on a csv file with humor ;)
  • In this case, the second line can also be considered as the opening sentence since the first one was just a pattern interrupt and didn't bring value. So make sure to prove you've done your homework and you're not just a nice fun person
  • Ilya used this campaign to grow our community and got a 55% open rate with 1000+ emails sent

Funny email greetings

funny email greetings
  • Using a meme can trigger a little smile on the prospect's face and put them in a good mood
  • Again, make sure to provide value later to prove you're trustworthy.

Final points on the best ways to start emails

The answer to how to start an email depends on various factors. Number one is your style, then comes your audience and the cold email strategy of your choice, finishing with the type of industry you're in.

If you're not sure, test and use A/B tests to tell you where to double down and what to avoid.

And always, but ALWAYS, spend time understanding what your audience is about and what's the best ways to start an email for them. Personalization and being relevant are THE BEST combination.