So you’re emailing someone who’s never even heard of you, never seen your email address in their inbox and hasn’t a clue who you are and how you can help them. Does your email even stand a chance of getting read?
If you’ve made it to the inbox, the next hurdle is getting opened and then clicked on. A good subject line makes an inroad possible; a bad subject line gets the door slammed in your face.
Here are five types of email subject lines that stand a chance of nudging open that door.
1. Timely: Triggered event-based subject lines using words about something that just happened.
- In pop culture
- Inside the recipient’s industry
- Something that occurred inside their company, like an earnings report, an expansion, a department closing (you can find information in a company’s website or on recent press releases). The bigger the shake-up, the more attentive your reader will be to the reference.
- Recent news that effects the reader’s business.
- Job titles: For specific position holders, the use of their title shows you know who you’re talking to, you’ve done your homework, and you understand what they do every day. (Put some effort into finding out what that is!)
- Proper names: Some people advise not to use names in subject lines, but I don’t agree. Something about my name in print always stops me in my tracks. Pair it with one of these other ideas and you might make an instant connection. A personal reference works well, too. For example, “Stuart Rogers asked me to call you” (assuming the reader knows the referring party) compels a least a look.
- Even using the word “You” in a subject line carries more weight than a generic implication. If it’s meant for everyone, then it might not be useful to you (your mind automatically filters everyone else out…after all, they’re not “you”) Whenever you hear the word “you,” you fill in the blanks because you know who they’re talking about. Make sense? The word “YOU” could make more of an impact in some situations than others. Try it on a couple of sentences and test it for yourself.
3. Insider info/lingo: Do you pay attention to your target market’s discussions? Is there a way to find out how they think and what they talk about? If you could hang out with them behind closed doors (warning: another cute cat pic), what would they say? Use the words they use with each other and your message will sink in like a familiar confidant’s, not a marketer’s tactic. On the other hand, if you want to repel a potential customer right off the bat, use buzzwords from your own industry. How fast can you say “Delete?”
4. Help them! Right now, in this very moment, show readers they can instantly get something cool out of your email. Don’t mention what you do…instead say what you can do for them. Results oriented subject lines get a second look because they hold promise. They don’t feel like they are going to suck the time and energy right out of you. Wouldn’t you rather read more about “How company X got 30 new accounts in 30 days.” rather than “We train sales people for success.”
5. Something quasi-controversial: Provocation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Expressing an unpopular opinion arouses curiosity. I recently received an email with the subject line “Five questions you’ve never been asked.” I couldn’t delete it without taking a peek. One word of warning, though…keep this extremely NON-personal. You don’t want to offend, just plant a seed of interest. Unresolved issues, comments that raise an eyebrow, pointed questions (the kind you wouldn’t walk up and ask a perfect stranger) are all fair game. Just make sure the content is relevant and useful once the reader pulls the thread.
When you need to contact someone via email without any past correspondence, your subject line is the crucial entry point. Tweet this!
Try one or more of the attention getters above and then over deliver on the content of the email. Remember the mindset behind your first cold email, combine that with an irresistible email subject line, and you may rivet your prospects attention on the first try.
Photo: Flickr CC, Ross Berteig