Messaging  August 16, 2022

Selling Fintech? You might be using the email subject and first lines wrong in cold emails

Selling Fintech? You might be using the email subject and first lines wrong in cold emails

Have you ever questioned why you use the subject lines you use? Why do some work while some fail? In this article, I’m going to discuss how not thinking about the intent of the subject line-first line combo could hurt you–and how this could make your efforts to personalise the first line hurt your open rates instead of boosting them.

Here’s how your typical fintech cold emailer thinks about the different parts of the email:

  • Subject line: meant to pique interest and get an open 
  • First line: a mention of something personal to show that the salesperson did their research. Or a recent event (for example, funding) that hints at why the emailer is reaching out.
  • Third line: Pitch
  • Fourth line: Third-party social proof. 
  • Fifth line: Call to action

But if you think of this from the perspective of the person opening the email, here is how everything looks (overwhelm 101).

If your cold email (plus follow-ups) lands here, it is in competition with tens of other emails, with nothing but the first lines and subject lines working together to catch your prospect’s attention.

While many concentrate on crafting their subject lines to get email opens, have you noticed how first lines are just as visible as the subject lines? And I’d argue–especially on mobile devices–more important…

The nature of inboxes is putting a demand on the intent of the first lines to evolve from a tool designed to show recipients that the emails are relevant to them and you’ve spent time personalising your outreach.

First lines now need to be clickbait, not in the extreme sense of the word of course but serving the same function as article headlines: to get the reader to click.

Changing subject line and first line Intent

To get this right, we first have to determine what we want the subject line (in collaboration with the first line) to do. What is the intent? If you guessed, “to pique enough curiosity to get an open…,” you’re right. 

This can be done in various ways including:

  1. Mentioning a problem that the recipient is thinking about (though needs your timing to be perfect).
  2. Mentioning a colleague or a common connection.
  3. Mentioning a desire/problem that’s common within your ideal customer profile (ICP).
  4. …the list goes on, share your thoughts in the comments.

Subject  lines and first lines on mobile devices

According to a 2018 study by Campaign Monitor, across demographics, 47% of people open their emails on mobile phones. That means, for every 10 emails you send, 5 of your well-crafted first lines will be cut off.

Instead of this 

It’ll only show 50% of the first line (yes, I counted…)

So next time you write a cold email sequence, send it to yourself, open it on mobile, put on your customer’s panties, sorry pants and ask, “is the text that’s visible compelling enough for me to open and why?”

(This is also why first lines like, “Hey {first name}, my name is Gabriel, from company XYX” are a waste of email real estate. I even remove greetings from the first lines if it benefits the email.)

Use this checklist to keep your subject-line-first-line intent clear

  • Does the combination of the subject line and first line snippet pique interest?
  • Is the first line about yourself? (The answer should be no)
  • When the first-line snippet is shortened on mobile, does the visible part still create curiosity?
  • Does the combination of first-line and subject line show your intention to sell? (The answer should be no)
  • What’s your email recipient’s answer to, “why am I opening this email”?

Once you start considering all these factors, crafting first lines and subject lines will come easier for you. 

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Gabriel Onyango
Gabriel Onyango
[email protected]

About Me

A writer, in a marketer's skin, wearing a cold emailer's floppy socks. The unorthodox combination of these is what you've probably experienced in this blog. Freelance cold email manager; open to working with teams on cold email campaigns, copy, ICP research (snooping()and custom list building. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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