A note on subject lines for cold email

Estimated reading time: 2 min

I am subscribed to get emails from Nick Johnson from Incite.  His copywriting is exemplary and I regularly find myself wanting to take the actions he requests.

Look at this picture taken from my in box of recent messages I’ve received from Incite.

Cold email subject lines

Cold email subject lines

Did you notice that few of the subject lines actually say what’s in the message.   So if I want to know what it’s about I HAVE to open the email.

some of the message subjects aren’t written with capital letters – makes it look like Nick wrote it quickly and forgot – but it’s more a feature of personal email not mass email and so I think this is clever, if used occasionally.

They clearly experiment with subject lines – one of them is a ‘Newsletter’ and is titled as such, but the content of many of them could be classified as news.

I have highlighted two parts because they show best practice.

The Red box surrounds subject lines in which they’ve included my name.  It feels like it was written just for me – but I know it’s just a personalisation insert from their database – but nonetheless it’s effective.

The Orange box encloses a subject “a quick heads up” which they used twice.  The first one follows the pattern of not saying what’s in the body of the email.  The second is sent with the same subject but as a forwarded (FW) message from Nick’s colleague, Kate.  It is the same message inside, but it makes me think I’ve overlooked the earlier message and so I feel more inclined to open this one.

Very clever people – I recommend you subscribe to their newsletter – Insight and Debate on Marketing Innovation.

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