14 Cold Email Opening Lines a.k.a. first lines

What is an opening line?

The opening line (also known as first line) is the beginning sentence of an email right after the greeting.

Why care?

This is going to set the tone for the rest of the email.

This is probably your best chance to show the prospect that you’ve well researched about them, because in most cases, the rest of the copy is going to talk about either you or your offer.

How does intro line affect the open rate?

While any person is on the verge of deciding wether to open an email or not, there’re three things that affect the decision - the sender name, the subject line and, the first few words of the opening line.

While optimising for open rates, people often spend considerable amount of time testing their subject lines (which they definitely should!) but forget that the opening line has also got a small role in determining the success.

A good opening line, from the perspective of open rates, is the one that either expands on the subject line or complements it some how.

How to write a good opening line?

In all honesty, there’re no shortcuts here. There does not exist that one magical line which will make all your prospects fall for you.

But you can certainly keep a few pointers in mind while writing it. This is more important to read and absorb than the 14 lines.

Core principle, personalisation always wins.

Consider writing the open line for one prospect at a time. Then repeat it for 5-6 more such prospects before drafting a generalised one for everyone.

In our experience, a good opening line can be:

  • based around recent activity - saw a recent linkedin/twitter/facebook post or comment, saw hiring activity, announced a fundraise, got promoted, started a new position, watched a podcast, etc.
  • based around an existing relationship - met at an event, went the same school, introduced by a mutual connection, etc.
  • about the problem
  • an insight
  • something that instates you as the subject matter expert - preferred only in cases where personalisation isn’t feasible

Apart from the above, you can always get creative, use some tasteful jokes, misspell intentionally, etc. but those are all tad experimental, unpredictable ways.

14+ opening lines

{{first_name}} - {{mutual_connection_name}} suggested I get in touch with you regarding [the outcome mutual_connection achieved]  

{{first_name}} - I'm familiar with you through our work with {{mutual_connection_name}}, {{mutual_connection_role}} at {{mutual_connection_company}}

Hi {{first_name}} - Noticed an opportunity in the [something painful] process that can potentially help you boost [objectives].

Hi {{first_name}}, Saw that you follow [your competitor’s name or handle] and couldn't stop myself from reaching out.

Hi {{first_name}}, we both happen to be of the same batch of 07, thought i’d reach out.

Hi {{first_name}} - Loving the Deal or Bust Series. Was interesting to hear your thoughts on how [a unique take].

{{first_name}} - your episode with Nathan was excellent. I used it for reflecting during a recent negotiation and had a much more productive conversation.

{{first_name}} - I've been inhaling your videos. It was interesting to see how you  [something you learned from the video].

{{first_name}} - saw on linkedin that you're looking to 3x your sales team by end of q3.

Hi {{first_name}} - big congrats on your new role with Carta.

Hey {{first_name}} - Are you opposed to seeing a different approach for calculating and running commission for 100+ reps without hard-pasting entire Excel pages into Google Sheets?

Hey, {{first_name}} - I can sign this off to anyone, you must be a X wizard - that's the only way you could survive running a merit cycle for 50,000 employees. With Pave, you do X, and Y happens. Worth a peek?

Hey, {{first_name}} - I stumbled across your name through our work with Lindsey Comeau, Director of Customer Experience, on Sunday.

{{first_name}} - I noticed you're hiring SDRs in Austin, which suggests you're looking to scale outbound sales.

{{first_name}} - I saw you're looking for BDRs with chops in cold calling, personalised emailing, and LinkedIn prospecting.

X% of [function/industry counterparts] are experiencing [problem]. If you happen to be in the same boat, I wanted to reach out to introduce you to [your company].