Whether you’re an email marketer, cold emailer or a founder, there’s a ton of pressure to craft effective opening lines.
At face value, the goal is simple—keep eyes glued to the page and engage readers from the get-go. But let’s face it, this is a Herculean task, especially when most readers are quick to hit the delete button.
An opening line holds such gravitas because it’s the difference between recipients responding or dismissing a message altogether. And at Mail Merge, we recognize the value of crafting an introduction that goes beyond a polite greeting.
So, whether you're reaching out to new leads, targeting loyal customers, or writing a follow-up email, this article is your ultimate guide to crafting compelling opening lines.
Ready to learn how to make a great first impression? Let's dive in!
What is the opening line for an email?
Although it may be obvious, the opening line for an email is the first sentence of your message, typically found right after your greeting. It serves as the initial introduction to your message and sets the tone for the rest of your email.
You’re probably already familiar with lines like “My name is John, and I'm a sales agent for…” or “I hope this email finds you well.” While these are common, they’re not the most effective way to engage your audience.
Common cold email opening sentences include a polite greeting, a reference to a previous conversation, or an objective statement. And even though it’s easy to plug in an opener that’s been used a million times, it’s worth taking your time.
Remember—email is 40 times more likely to secure customers than social media when done well.
What makes the opening lines of an email so crucial?
Convince your readers to read on
By persuading your readers to continue reading, the chances of them engaging with your content and taking action skyrocket. If your opening lines fail to pique interest, recipients may delete or ignore your emails entirely (and nobody likes being ignored).
Grab your recipient’s attention
Since 80% of people prefer to be contacted by email, competition among salespeople is fierce. That means your first sentence needs to be compelling enough to stand out from the crowd.
A well-crafted email should feel as if it was written specifically for the person who receives it. This is incredibly important—research shows that adding personalization improves reply rates by up to 142%.
Opening lines set the tone of your emails
In a lot of cases, your opening line is the first impression someone has of your company—no pressure! As a result, opening lines have an outsized impact on how your message is perceived. Setting the tone early establishes the purpose of your email and let’s people know why they should care.
Things to consider when writing opening lines for email
As we touched on earlier, cold email opening lines are an opportunity to grab the reader’s attention, establish a connection, and communicate your purpose. Not only do they pave the way for positive outcomes, they also increase your chances of getting a response.
Consider the following when crafting opening lines for your emails:
Be relevant and timely: Did they go through a funding round? Did they post something interesting on social? Start with something that makes it seem like you know a thing or two about them or follow their career.
Appropriately address the recipient: How you begin an email to a colleague differs from how you address a potential lead. And as we all know, establishing mutual respect propels fruitful relationships. Make the process of tailoring your communication even easier by using Mail Merge. Try it out to personalize your emails when contacting multiple recipients.
Display social proof: Start with a relevant case study. Use testimonials. Providing unique insights into issues your leads may be experiencing helps demonstrate your expertise. Opening with a compelling statistic is a great way to position yourself as a valuable resource right off the bat.
Keep it short As we know how essential opening sentences are, it can be tempting to make them lengthy. But as you want to persuade readers to move onto the main parts of your email, your opening line should act as a gentle push in the right direction.
Invest in AIDA
Utilizing the AIDA formula (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) for more logical recipients is your best option in securing attention.
Follow these simple steps:
Open with an attention-grabbing headline
Generate interest by providing benefits
Create desire by presenting compelling reasons to engage
Encourage audience to take action by telling them what to do next
17 of the best opening lines for emails
When ensuring credibility, observing email etiquette is essential. But if you’re unsure of how to begin or craft an opening line, you risk losing potential clients. With that in mind, take a look at our best opening lines for inspiration:
Use their competitors
Let’s start with something cheeky.
Referencing an action taken by their competitors positions yourself as a valuable resource.
Questions like “your competitor, (company name), has recently implemented (insert process/tool/tactic). Are you planning on doing the same?” creates a sense of urgency and encourages ongoing communication.
Research your lead’s current solution
Here’s a simple formula:
“Quick question: I noticed your company is currently using (solution) to (purpose). If you don't mind me asking, what's been your experience with it so far?”
This question demonstrates that you have done your research. But rather than promoting your solution, you’re inquiring about their current satisfaction. This shows you’re interested in developing a longer-term relationship built around alleviating their pain points.
Make use of questions
Asking questions like “is email tracking important to you?” engages your recipients and encourages them to respond. Questions pique their curiosity and get them interested in reading the rest of the email’s content. They also demonstrate your knowledge of their business.
Add context without delay
Companies are inundated with marketing emails, so clearly stating the purpose of your email immediately helps recipients understand why you’re reaching out to them. This eliminates any confusion and fast-tracks their response. A simple example is, “I came across your post on (forum) and wanted to reach out with a potential solution.”
Use relevant compliments
Everybody loves a compliment, and starting an email recognizing an accomplishment (e.g., speaking at an industry event or closing a big deal) breaks the ice and ignites a discussion. It also illustrates that you have done your research.
Something as simple as, “Congratulations on…” and “I’ve long been a fan of your…” goes a long way.
Leading with statistics
Statistics can be used strategically to characterize the problem that you want to solve for email recipients. Plus, research often conveys a sense of urgency that’s great for encouraging swift action and responses. Consider starting your email with “Did you know that (interesting statistic)?”
Mention a common connection
Immediately mentioning a shared contact in your opening line establishes trust that will add weight and credibility to the remainder of the email. A common tactic is “(mutual connection name) thought we would work well together, and passed along your contact information.”
Starting with a strong, personalized greeting, such as “Hey (name),” increases the average open rate by nearly 20%. However, choosing an appropriate greeting (such as “Greetings…” or “Dear…”) that aligns with your brand voice is crucial.
Highlight existing customers
Opening with a sentence like “We’ve helped many other businesses deal with this issue by…” helps recipients visualize themselves achieving similar levels of success.
Sharing stories that show your expertise in action assures clients that you can and will do the same for them.
Inflate their ego
Sentences like “your posts on (subject) were really insightful” and “I know you’re an expert in this field, so I wanted to share this with you…” appeal to the ego of your recipient. A little flattery regarding accomplishments or actions encourages them to read on. It also shows that you’re genuinely interested in learning more about them and their needs.
Highlight something you have in common
In the same way that mentioning a shared contact is effective, establishing common ground helps you kick-start the process of forming a connection. For example, if you love the same sports team or grew up in the same city, use these commonalities to form a relationship and encourage collaboration.
Open with a joke
Similar to making a wedding speech, opening with a joke is an effective way to capture attention. It helps break the ice and create a sense of familiarity. When someone laughs or smiles, it puts them in a positive mindset.
Here’s a favorite we recently received: “Hello from the other side, I must have emailed a thousand times…”