data-driven insights

How to start an email: 25 high-conversion greetings & intro lines

lemlist team
April 10, 2024
7 min.

Ever gotten stuck figuring out how to start an email?

It’s tough to come up with a greeting and opening line that will keep the recipient hooked, especially if you don't know the recipient.

Consider this your guide to avoiding writer’s block and making a personal connection with your email prospects.

We analyzed the data from millions of lemlist cold outreach campaigns to figure out how to start emails that get the highest open and reply rates. Plus, 25 examples of greetings and opening lines that convert.

Before you dive into the best opening lines, take advantage of our free cold email generator below

Why is the start of your email so important?

The subject and first line of your email are what determine if the recipient actually opens your email and reads what you have to say. That’s because this is the only content that they can see as soon as they check their inbox.

So if you haven’t optimized these details, there’s less of a chance that your email actually gets read.

Think about the typical inbox layout. Generally it will look like this:

A screenshot of an email inbox. The sender name, subject line, and intro lines of each email are the only visible sections upon first look.

Your prospect’s decision to open your email depends on your name, subject, and the first few words of your email.

So the goal is to make your email stand out, and to make prospects want to open your email without thinking that they're just one more person on your list.

For example, take a look at this email introduction:

An example of an email preview in the inbox. It reads: subject - "presentation of digital expert company," preview - "Good morning Lucille, I work at Digital Expert company and our go..."

It’s descriptive, but a bit boring. It focuses on the sender, without paying any attention to the recipient.

Now, check out this optimized version:

A screenshot of an email in an inbox. The preview reads: subject line - "collaborate?" preview - "Hi Lucille, let me just say I'm a big fan of lemlist. Just so you know I genuinely think that,..."

It's got a sharper subject line, and the greeting gets right to the point. The opening line focuses on the prospect (lemlist) and shows that the sender is focused on them.

In fact, this email got a 90% open rate - the opening line and subject made people want to know what was inside.

Not only that, but once your subject line and greeting inspire prospects to open the email, its opening line is a key factor in whether they read the rest of your message, and ultimately take the action you’d like them to take.

Now, what does the data say about the best way to start an email?

What is a good email opening?

According to our 2023 analysis of millions of cold outreach campaigns, the best way to start an email is with a 4-12 word opening line that gives value to the prospect. That means: start your emails with a concise opener that focuses on the person you’re emailing (not on you!).

Let’s take a closer look at that data.

To test the best email opening lines, we examined the first full sentence of millions of emails, excluding the greeting (e.g. after phrases like “hello {{firstName}}”).

First, we wanted to get an idea of how long the start of your email should be: should it be short, to grab attention, or long enough to give more context?

According to the data, the highest-conversion opening lines were between 4-6 words. Opening lines with 7-12 words also performed well, so we recommend that you aim for a sweet spot between 4-12 words.

Here’s the full breakdown:

A bar graph with the title "how long should your email opening line be?" The Y axis shows the "average reply rate" and the X axis shows 5 bars with 1-3, 4-6, 7-12, 13-16, and 16+ words. The bars with the highest reply rates are 4-6 and 7-12, followed by 1-3, 16+, and 13-16

Now that you know how long your opening line should be, what is the best way to actually write it?

To test that, we grouped opening lines into different categories, based on whether they contained certain words or phrases.

The categories are:

  • Introductions: “Hi, my name is [Name],” “Nice to meet you,” “To introduce myself…” etc.
  • Prospect-focused: “congratulations {{firstName}}!” “I saw your post on…” “You might like to hear…” etc.
  • Small talk: “Hope you had a lovely week” “I hope this email finds you well” “I hope you’re well,” etc.
  • Giving value: “Here’s my feedback on…”, “here’s a free [product / service]”, “Do you want…?” etc.

We generated an AI-powered database of hundreds of words and phrases that fell into each type of opener, and then used that to categorize millions of real cold email opening lines that lemlist users have sent.

Once we had thousands of email openers in each category, we found the average reply rate of each type of opening line.

Here is how each type of opening line performed:

A bar graph with the title "how should you write your email opening line?" the y axis shows the average reply rate, and the x axis is labeled "type of email opening line." The 4 bars show Introductory, focused on prospect, small talk, and delivers value. The delivers value bar is the highest, follows by introductory, focused on prospect, and small talk.

The opening lines that got the most replies were those that provided value to the prospect: offering feedback, giving a free service or advice, providing expert insight, etc.

Other methods like classic introductions or commenting on the prospect’s recent activity can also pique a prospect’s interest.

Small talk was the least successful category, so if you want to start an email with casual chit-chat, you’ll need to make sure that it’s well-targeted to your prospects.

Of course, there are many other factors in a cold email campaign that contribute to the reply rates. You’ll want to optimize not only the start of your email but also its subject line, call-to-action, signature, and your cold email copywriting as a whole.

Now that you know the data behind email opening lines, here are some examples of the best way to start an email.

25 best ways to start an email (greetings and opening lines)

First, we’ll start with the greetings.

Keep in mind that with an email greeting, you should:

✅ Align your email greeting to your prospects' tone of voice

✅ Personalize your greeting with the prospects' name

✅ Match your greeting with your email's context

For the full guide on picking the perfect cold email greeting, use this list of 20+ email greeting examples.

1. Hi / Hey / Hello {{firstName}}

You can’t go wrong with a classic: simply say hello!

This is a great greeting for when you’re reaching out for the first time to this person, and you aren’t sure about what tone to take.

If you’d like to err on the side of caution, pick “hello” over “hey” or “hi” so you don’t come off as too casual.

Just make sure that you include their first name - and double-check that you’ve spelled it correctly.

2. I hope you’re having a great week, {{firstName}},

A longer greeting that incorporates a bit of small talk, this allows you to open the email politely, and then get straight to the point.

If you use a greeting like this, we recommend you follow up with an opening line that immediately delivers value to the prospect. Don’t follow it up with chit-chat openers like “I hope this finds you well.”

You’ve already broken the ice in your greeting, so use the first line to deliver your message! You’ll see examples of to-the-point opening lines further down in this list.

3. {{firstName}}, I’m reaching out to…

If you’d like to deliver your message as directly as possible, start your email with this greeting.

You can add a personal touch by using your prospect’s first name, so it doesn’t come off as too blunt or impersonal.

At the same time, there’s no fluff: your prospect sees immediately why you’re contacting them.

Depending on the length of the subject line, they’ll be able to read why you’re reaching out to them in the preview in their inbox. That makes your email stand out, and it saves the recipient time - which makes them more likely to respond.

4. As promised {{firstName}}, here’s…

This greeting is a to-the-point example for when you’re following up after having already spoken with your prospect.

It’s direct, referencing a conversation you’ve already shared, and immediately communicates the value of this email: a deliverable that the prospect has been waiting for.

5. Following up on our meeting, {{firstName}},

Another follow-up greeting, this one is appropriate if you haven’t already agreed to send something after the meeting.

It keeps the conversation going and encourages your prospect to reply by reminding them that you’ve already met in person.

We recommend you include a recap of what you and the prospect spoke about, then give them clear and simple next steps to move them down the funnel.

6. {{firstName}}, can you please update me on…

If you have already met this person and they have agreed to follow up with you, this is a good greeting to use to check in on their progress.

You keep it polite with the “please” but show right away what your expectations are with the message: to be kept up to date on what the two of you have already discussed.  

If you want it to sound less severe, you can add a “hi” or “hello” before {{firstName}}.

7. {{firstName}}, it was great to have you at…

Here is a greeting for prospects who have attended a talk, webinar, or other event that you’ve hosted.

It’s a good idea to send emails with this kind of greeting to everybody who came to your event, to keep them engaged.

This communicates your appreciation (”great to have you”) and makes it feel personal by using their first name.

Use the rest of the email to provide them with additional helpful info that relates to the event they attended, or to make a pitch that connects to the same topic.

8. Following up on my last email {{firstName}},

A classic follow-up greeting, this is a good one to use for slightly more formal prospects who haven’t responded to the first email.

If you’re unsure of the best tone of voice to use with this person, this greeting is nice and neutral.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with sending a follow-up if the recipient doesn’t immediately reply - in fact, it increases your chances they'll get back to you.

9. Thanks for getting back to me / Thanks for the update {{firstName}},

Here’s a greeting to use for prospects that have replied, to give them some appreciation for having taken the time to get back to you.

Especially if your first email was a cold email, meaning the recipient had no other connection with you, this kind of greeting is great for moving the conversation along and building a relationship.

10. Great to hear from you {{firstName}},

One last follow-up greeting.

This one helps the prospect feel appreciated and interested in continuing the conversation. It sounds a bit like you’re responding to an old friend and opens up the exchange for a casual dialogue.

Now that you’ve got 10 email greetings to choose from, let’s move on to 15 opening lines that will hook prospects and inspire them to act.

11. “Hope you had a lovely week - my name is [name], and I work at [company].”

As we mentioned in the data above, small-talk opening lines like this are among the least successful types of openers.

However, this example is a classic, meaning more formal prospects will likely prefer it.

If you target this kind of opening line to the right prospect and tailor the rest of your email to clearly communicate the benefit you can offer, it can still convert.

Here’s an example of a successful email with this opening line:

An example of a cold email with the following text: "Dear firstname, I hope you had a lovely week so far - by way of introduction, my name is Anna and I work at Convelio, the fine art shipping company. I hope you don't mind me reaching out, as I visited your website earlier today, and I thought that there might be some nice synergies between {{companyname}} and Convelio. To give you some background information, Convelio is currently helping 2000+ dealers to save up to 40% of time and costs when shipping internationally..."

In fact, Anna’s gallery-specific email template got an 88% open rate with this intro line. Similar template can be find here.

12. “How about I [create a positive business impact] for you, for free?”

The data shows that opening lines that immediately deliver value get the highest reply rates. An opening line like this one does just that, with an offer that’s tough to decline.

Here’s an example of an email with this opening line. Notice how Romain connects the opener with a concrete pain point that is relevant to the prospect.

A cold email with the following text: "Hello firstname, How about if I try to bring you customers over the next seven days, completely free? My name is Romain Carpentier, and as I have built prospecting data software, I seek to demonstrate its value by bringing initial contacts to certain consultants. Your site has impressive references (freelancerepublik, EDT ENGIE...), and that's why I thought of you! Having a lot of contacts who could be interested in your PPC services, the idea is to bring you first contacts by email..."

This prospecting cold email got an 84% open rate.

13. “Decided to send you and {{teammate}} my feedback on {{companyName}}.”

Another opening line that immediately delivers value, this option requires you to do a bit of research.

You’ll need to follow the opener with real, concrete feedback on the company. It should tie into the offer you have for them and position you as an expert on the subject.

Plus, if you’ve been following this person on social media and have seen them share a specific pain point, you can make this even more personalized by offering them feedback on that specific issue.

Here’s an example of a successful email that used this opening line:

A cold email with the following text: "Hi firstName! Decided to send you and your teammate {{teammate}} my feedback on {{companyname}}. I found {{company url}} while searching for the best {{industry}} websites in {{city}}. It looks user friendly and has an individual design..."

This cold email selling to e-commerce clients got an 80% open rate.

14. “While chatting with {{mutualConnection}}, they told me I HAVE to [talk to you / bring you on as a guest / reach out, etc.]”

Bringing up a mutual connection in your opening line creates an immediate link between you and the person receiving your email.

Here’s an example of this opening line successfully bringing in a heavy-hitting podcast guest:

While interviewing Morgan Ingram, he told me I absolutely have to get in touch with you and bring you as one of my next guests.

Plus, I just finished watching your recent video on prospecting in the time of a global pandemic, and it just adds to all of that.

With this kind of opening line, it is easy to transition into a conversation.

The prospect sees it as an implicit recommendation from the mutual connection, which lends you extra credibility.

15. “What if {{ceoFirstName}} heard you’d [created positive business result] by 50%?”

For a powerful opening line that allows your prospect to imagine a clear business result, give this one a try.

It delivers value right off the bat, with an exciting metric that the prospect could attain if they respond to your email. Mentioning a team member, manager, or CEO of the company they work for makes it even more personalized.

Here’s an example:

A cold email with the following text: "hey {{firstname}}, what if {{ceofirstname}} heard from you that you've managed to increase the numbers of deals in your pipeline by 50%? Wouldn't that be cool? Gabriel Frasconi, head of sales at Zendesk, was able to say so as, thanks to lemlist, his sales team was able to increase his open rate from 35 to 75% and book 2x more meetings. Let's have a coffee to discuss how we can do the same for you?"

You’ll just want to back up this claim by putting a social proof right after the intro. Don’t pull numbers out of thin air - connect it with a real win you’ve had in this area.

16. “Just stumbled on your LinkedIn profile and noticed something unique about you!”

Here’s an option for a different category of opening lines: focusing on the prospect.

LinkedIn is a powerful place to do that, as everyone includes their career info, former projects, and in some cases, posts about professional difficulties and wins.

That's a good opportunity to find common ground or highlight a moment from their past experience.

For example, if you notice a change in their job title, you can use this intro line to say something like:

Just stumbled upon your profile on LinkedIn, and noticed something very unique about you.

From CTO to Director of Business Development is a pretty rare occurrence. :) It made me really curious!

Showing your interest flatters the prospect and shows that you understand the position they’re in.

You create a connection, which you can then transition into the message or business offering that you want to send.

17.“I love [common interest], and I’m [activity related to common interest + business pitch]”

You might consider this opening line to be too close to the small-talk category to be successful.

But if you really personalize it to the recipient’s interests and connect it with your pitch, you’re inviting them to respond.

Here’s an example:

A cold email with the following text: "hi Sarah, I'm a caffeine addict, sipping my second double espresso today - and it's only 11 AM. I recently googled "best coffee shops in Atlanta" and noticed your competitors are ranking higher than Caffeine Atlanta..."

This email came from a coffee-addicted marketer who was looking to do some marketing work for a local coffee shop. Starting off this way showed that they have a personal interest in the shop and fit the narrative of the business pitch.

Thanks to this tailored opening line, this email got an 81% open rate.

18. “I saw [recent social media interaction] and thought we should connect.”

Another opening line that focuses on the prospect, this option is a good opportunity if a prospect has interacted with one of your posts on social media.

It proves that the reader is already interested in your work, and that you have an established connection.

After this line, it helps to build your credibility further by offering even more in-depth information on the subject that the prospect interacted with.

Here’s an example:

A cold email with the following text: "Hey firstname! I saw you voted on my LinkedIn poll about link-building and thought we need to connect. Based on your answer I understood {{linkbuildingmethod}}, but have you tried other strategies? This is something I do on a weekly basis, so it's always interesting to exchange knowledge and see how other people do it..."

When Daria used this opening line in her campaign, she got an 85% reply rate.

19. “[funding amount or milestone] - well, you did it!”

If you’re targeting prospects that have hit certain milestones or are making big changes (e.g. funding rounds, hiring, IPOs, acquisitions, etc.), use this opening line to congratulate them.

Once you’ve done that, connect their milestone to your pitch to drive interest.

Here’s an example of a campaign that paired this opening line with a humorous personalized image to grab the prospect’s attention:

A cold email with the following text: " Hey firstname, {{amount}} - well, you did it! I assume there's a lot of pressure on you now to scale the business faster. When we raised our Series A, we focused on the cold emailing campaigns, and for me the first months felt like running endless trial-and-error marathons..."

20. “Just saw that you recently became [name of promoted role] at {{companyName}}!”

In addition to a company's milestone, you can also use the opening line to celebrate someone's promotion.

This creates an even more personal connection between you and the reader, as it shows you’re not only following the company news, but also their progress as an individual.

Here’s how a member of our team used this kind of opening line to connect with a prospect:

Just saw that you recently became Director of Business Operations at {{companyName}}.

It must be exciting to lead a team for a project with such a cutting-edge approach to customer relationships management!

21. “[news in prospect’s industry] - I would love to hear your take on this.”

Again, this kind of opening line could fall into the small-talk category, but if you target it well, it will stand out to your prospects.

Use industry news to position yourself as an expert in a domain that matters to the recipient, and to build credibility for yourself. Make sure that it’s truly relevant to your prospect’s work and to your pitch for the best chances of them booking a meeting with you.

Here’s an example of a successful email with this opening line:

A cold email with the following text: "Hey firstname, now that people can't leave their houses, VR seems to be a hot topic. But maybe you are a bit like me and like to think critically and form your own opinion before jumping on hype. Read on and I'll let you be the judge - would love to hear your take on this. Here at Tiledmedia we don't just talk about VR. Instead, it is at the core of our platform and allows us to create a truly immersive experience..."

This recruitment campaign scored a 71% open rate with this intro line.

22. “I noticed yesterday’s conversation about [topic] in the [mutual social media community / forum].”

Another intro line that makes good use of social media, this one calls out someone’s recent activity and connects your pitch with their needs.

For example, if you’re part of the same Facebook community or forum as the prospect, that shows that you share mutual interests. If you then reference a specific post or comment that the prospect made, you’re building the relationship.

Here’s one way you can use it:

A cold email with the following text: "Hey firstname, I noticed yesterday's conversation around email deliverability in the cold email closers community. Your comment caught my attention, but don't worry, I come in peace! In the past two months, my team went from 3 to 8 people, with everybody sending outbound campaigns. It hit our deliverability hard, so I faced the same challence you're facing right now. But, there are few things you can do to fix it and keep your open rates at 50%+. Let me show you..."

Vuk got an 83% open rate with this email campaign.

23. “As promised, I’m sending [deliverable].”

Similar to one of the greetings above, this opening line gives an immediate benefit and follows up on an existing connection with the prospect.

When we asked our team for successful opening lines for follow-ups, this was one of the most common hooks.

Here are a few examples of how we’ve used it to continue the conversation with prospects:

As promised, I’m sending [XYZ]As we discussed on the call…

A short and sweet (or at least just short 😅) reminder about my previous email:

Thanks for the quick response!

It was great to see you at {{Event}}!

24. “Yesterday you attended my webinar about [topic].”

This follow-up opening line is best for when the prospect has already attended one of your events.

It’s direct, reminding them what they attended and what the topic was. Then you should continue with more in-depth information about the topic, a request for feedback, or another transition that connects with your pitch.

Here’s how Andrei used this opening line:

A cold email with the following text: "Hey firstname, Yesterday you attended my webinar about revenue-driven marketing at The Sales Expert Channel. Quick question: was it valuable for you? Did you get some insights? Please share your feedback..."

This webinar follow-up template got an 81% open rate

Also, a small tip for your attachments - don’t forget to name them! It makes a difference when you have a preview of the email.

A screenshot of emails in the inbox. One has an attachment with the title "image-53aef..." And another one has the file name "Tips for lemlist..."

25. “Hey there FirstName - just kidding, {{firstName}}!”

Finishing the list with a silly example - if it’s the right tone with your target audience, you can even play around with them using joking intro lines.

It helps remind the prospects that they’re more than a name on a CSV file.

Here’s how Ilya used this opening line:

A cold email follow-up with the text: "Hey FirstName, Ahaha I'm just kidding {{firstName}}. I bumped into your LinkedIn profile recently (thanks for accepting my connection request, btw) and was quite impressed with what you and {{companyName}} have been up to. So, I thought you might be interested in joining the fastest growing sales & growth oriented community..."

Since the first line is more of a pattern interrupt than a value-add, make sure you add real information and a strong pitch to give more substance.

Ilya used this campaign and got a 55% open rate with 1000+ emails sent.

P.S. You can leverage the power of AI to write engaging icebreakers (without any manual work!)

Key takeaways: how to start an email

To sum up, here’s everything to keep in mind about how to start your emails:

  1. Grab attention: Your email's subject and opening line are crucial to stand out in busy inboxes. Keep your opening line concise, engaging, and focused on providing value to increase the chances of your email being opened and read.
  2. Make it skimmable: Busy professionals don’t read in-depth: they skim. Write opening lines at 4-12 words to get the message across, quickly.
  3. Personalize at scale: Address prospects by their first names, and use a tone that is a match for your target audience.
  4. Deliver value early: Provide immediate value to the recipient in your opening line. Share insights, solutions, or valuable content that matches their needs.
  5. Leverage social proof and connections: Mention mutual connections, recent interactions, or industry news to establish a connection and credibility.

The most important factor in high-conversion email campaigns is making them personalized to every prospect. But it will take hours out of your day to manually target every single email to include your prospects’ first names, pain points, common interests, etc.

That’s why we recommend using a tool like lemlist, which allows you to personalize at scale with custom intro lines, images, dynamic landing pages, video thumbnails, and more. You simply upload your leads, fill out their information, and lemlist will personalize each email for you.

You can send your first personalized campaign right now, for free. (We won’t even ask for your card info!)

lemlist team
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Multichannel Expert

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Per user / 5 SENDING EMAIL
Everything in Email Pro
Email finder + verifier (500 credits/mo)
500 free credits per month
Linkedin prospection
LinkedIn voice notes
with Aircall
Cold calling prospection with Aircall
with Aircall
Advanced campaign conditions
Custom landing page
Premium support chat

Outreach Scale

/ MO
Per user / 15 SENDING EMAIL
Everything in Multichannel Expert
Email finder + verifier (1,000 credits/mo)
1000 free credits per month
Dedicated account manager (4+ seats)

More than 10 users?

Multichannel Expert

/ MO
Per user / 5 SENDING EMAIL
Everything in Email Pro
Email finder + verifier (500 credits/mo)
500 free credits per month
Linkedin prospection
LinkedIn voice notes
with Aircall
Cold calling prospection with Aircall
with Aircall
Advanced campaign conditions
Custom landing page
Premium support chat

Outreach Scale

/ MO
Per user / 15 SENDING EMAIL
Everything in Multichannel Expert
Email finder + verifier (1,000 credits/mo)
1000 free credits per month
Dedicated account manager (4+ seats)

More than 10 users?

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