Brilliant subject lines (when emailing strangers)

20th June 2023

Last week’s Tip was very popular! I explained how to change your email subject lines, so your contact opened them more quickly.

This week’s Tip is Part 2 – the best subject lines when emailing strangers.

Remember: the only aim of a subject line is that someone opens your email.

But this is especially hard when you’re emailing someone who doesn’t know you. Here are my three favourite subject lines for strangers…

#1 Using a mutual contact’s name

  • If I want to email a stranger (assume she is called Sally), I find someone who knows both Sally and me (assume he’s called Michael Smith)…
  • … I ask Michael if I can use his name in my email to Sally
  • Assuming he agrees, my subject line becomes “Sally, I was talking to Michael Smith about you today…”
  • Sally will open the email. She wants to know what her friend Michael has been saying!

#2 Refer to something the reader has written

  • Another option: go on LinkedIn, to see if the stranger you’re emailing has recently posted anything (assume she posted something last week called “I Preferred Lockdown!”)…
  • Email her, referring to the post’s title in your subject line – “Your Post ‘I Preferred Lockdown!’ – A Quick Question to Ask…”
  • She’ll open this – because she’ll like that I’ve read her post, and will want to see what my question is
  • Or… if she hasn’t posted anything recently, search her name and her company’s name on Google to see if there’s any recent news about them. And then put this recent news in a similarly worded subject line

#3 Use intrigue = a relevant topic + the word ‘new’

  • If I can’t find one of her recent posts, some news about her or her company, or a mutual connection (and we almost always can find one of these)…
  • …I then include two things in my email subject line – a topic they’ll find interesting and the word “new”
  • For example, if I’m emailing a Head of Sales, the subject line might be “New Sales Best-Practices Your Sector Is Using to Maximise Sales”
  • This often works well: the reader wants to know what the best-practices are. They want to see what their sector (in other words, their competition) are doing, and whether it’s better/worse than what they’re doing. The word “new” draws them in – they think “do they know this new thing?”

All three work. I find that 1 and 2 are much more reliable than number 3.

Which titles do you find work best?

Action Point

Next time you email a stranger, use one of these three options.

And if you have other techniques that work well, please let me know what they are!

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