3 of the Best Subject Lines I’ve Found

Inbound marketing is the rage in B-to-B marketing. But there’s no substitute for diligent prospecting: cold calling and cold emailing. No, these techniques are not dead. They work. But only if you have an effective, repeatable process to interrupt and spark conversations with new prospects.

Inbound marketing is the rage in B-to-B marketing. But there’s no substitute for diligent prospecting: cold calling and cold emailing. No, these techniques are not dead. They work. But only if you have an effective, repeatable process to interrupt and spark conversations with new prospects.

Yes, I said interrupt. So shoot me.

An effective digital prospecting process starts with your opening line. In an email (or LinkedIn InMail) message it starts with your:

  1. subject line and
  2. first sentence

Your first few words will make or break your “cold” digital approach.

So let’s have a look at an effective, repeatable email messaging approach that helps you interrupt prospects in a way they appreciate.

A Cold Approach Process Prospects Like
This is the effective technique practiced by the top 5 percent of digital sellers when prospecting. Remember to always structure what you write to:

  1. earn attention and quickly direct it in ways that …
  2. spark curiosity (in what you said, not your product/service)
  3. provoke response (immediately, without hesitation)

Once you’ve completed this process with the “first touch” message you can connect the conversation you sparked to your product/service — naturally, with integrity and without feeling pushy.

The output of this process is lovely: Buyers that self-identify or poor leads that self-disqualify.

All thanks to your effective, repeatable email messaging approach that scales your time. Thanks to your ability to interrupt in a way that is appreciated by potential buyers.

3 Subject Lines That Provoke Opens
The job of your subject line is to get your email opened—in a way that doesn’t backfire in your face. Remember to never:

  • Signal what is inside your email by being too specific. Weird or odd is good. But a total disconnect with the prospect risks the delete key.
  • Ask for a meeting in your subject line — or telegraph you want someone’s time!

And for Heaven’s sake don’t write your subject line like an email newsletter headline. What do you do with anything looking like that — coming from someone you don’t know? That’s right. You delete it!

1. “Not spam — I read your profile”

I wish I could take claim for this one. It was originally suggested by a client. It works for him, other students and me, too.

This is a LinkedIn-specific approach that works because it:

  • Bluntly capitalizes on the spammy environment inside LinkedIn by being honest about it
  • Separates you out … draws bold distinction between you and the crap (noise)
  • Suggests you invested time researching the prospect (setting you up to prove it)

Pair this kind of honest approach with a bold, no-nonsense first sentence and you’ll earn better response. The “curiosity factor” here is secondary to the “wow” factor you get with blunt honesty. And sounding different than most of your competitors.

Inside your email message be certain to focus on one (minimum) or two specific noteworthy items from the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Don’t be general. That won’t work. You must be specific about what you see and link it to the “why” (why this spurred you to contact them).

Be specific. Even if it’s anecdotal (e.g., they’re into mountain biking, tennis, cars, Star Wars, etc.).​

2. “Have you considered?”

Think of what your prospect is aware they need to know … or suspects they might not know enough about. That’s what to focus on. Leverage that uncertainty. Here’s how: Inside the email, reveal a specific fact or alarming trend most customers don’t know right now — but should.

Warn them.

A warning is a mental trigger. We all appreciate being warned about unseen dangers or hidden opportunities.

Don’t waste time introducing yourself in the first sentence. They can see who you are in your signature.

Help your prospect think, “I didn’t consider that. I didn’t know this was an option. Doggone … what else does this person know that I should know?” or “Wait. I didn’t realize that. I need more details. How exactly does that work?”

Focus on making your email message sound like a message from a person—not a marketer or sales rep. This way you can get invited into a discussion about what they are receptive to talking about right now.

At least half of your success depends on a willingness to try something different, or a little weird.

3. “Worth a discussion?”

This technique can be super effective because it’s direct. Many of my students feel an urge to not be so mysterious. Well, this is for you. Because it balances being direct with a mental trigger.

It helps readers wonder, “Is what worth a discussion?”

It sparks curiosity. That’s your subject line’s only job.

The only downside to this effective subject line is how it:

  • requires you to write a message that is both direct and a little bit mysterious (inducing questions)
  • relies on a “yes/no” answer (earning a “no” gets you deleted … although this is also a plus as it qualifies yeses)
  • usually works with messages that are near-term (pain/goal) focused (generate yeses only from immediate-term buyers … people who know they’re buyers right now)

All of that said, it’s a handy subject line that works with many of my clients. Me too!

Do you have any subject lines that are working lately?

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

3 thoughts on “3 of the Best Subject Lines I’ve Found”

  1. Hi, Dave. You seem so sure 🙂 but a cold email from a sales rep is outside of CAN-SPAM in my opinion. Preface: I am not a lawyer. Continuing, a cold email does not need to be labeled an ad — unless it IS an ad or soliciting commercial activity. Neither of which make effective cold email approaches. A good cold email is not an ad; instead, it solicits a conversation.

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