When it comes to email, the B2B world has its own unique (and sometimes frustrating) set of challenges. Standing out in the inbox is difficult in itself, but B2B marketers can have even more of an uphill battle in order to cut through the clutter and turn not-so-glamorous subject matter into something that will foster relationships and drive sales.

The subject line is often the first impression that comes across to potential clients. As marketers, we put a lot of time into thinking up strategies, designing layouts, and crafting the perfect messaging, so why are subject lines so frequently overlooked or left as an afterthought?

Don’t leave your first impression up to chance! Here are some things to consider when creating B2B subject lines.

Personalization

It’s a widely known statistic in the email world that adding personalization to your subject lines can help improve open rates by up to 26% (Campaign Monitor), so including information like first name, where you met, company details, or other significant data points are a great place to start if you’re looking for a way to improve open rates. Not only do these details stick out in the inbox, but they set the tone by creating a 1:1 experience that proves you know your audience and what they’re looking for.

Subject Line: Remember adding this to your cart, First Name?

Length

When it comes to subject lines, less is more. The majority of people quickly scan their inboxes rather than read every single word, so getting your point across in a concise way is extremely important. It’s also important to note that many people check their email from smartphones or tablets, which means you have about 41 characters (or about 7 words, tops) before your subject line gets cut off. When you’re trying to make a good impression and encourage people to open your email, keeping it short and sweet is key so that readability isn’t negatively affected.

Subject Line: You can do this

Relevance/Value

In email, the most successful strategy is to get the right person the right message at the right time. This is especially true in B2B emails. When creating your subject lines, you should focus on what is valuable to your customer and their needs, rather than making it all about you and your brand. Find a way to summarize how you or your services can solve problems for your customers to help establish credibility right away in the subject line.

Subject Line: Our efforts to keep local businesses afloat

Testing

A/B testing is an email marketer’s best friend! The great thing about subject line testing is that it’s quick, easy and effective to implement (the emfluence platform has a great A/B and multivariate testing tool!). If you have multiple options and can’t decide which one to use, test them and find out what your audience responds best to. Then, use what you learned to create the subject lines for the next campaign – and just keep testing!

Here are a few A/B Testing ideas to consider in B2B subject lines, but the possibilities are endless:

  • Using numbers vs. letters only
  • Sense of urgency vs. no sense of urgency
  • Generic vs. specific messaging
  • Questions vs. statements
  • Offer vs. no offer
  • Emojis vs. no emojis
  • Humor vs. serious

What to Avoid

Using gimmicks, tricks, or false information in your subject line – or at all, for that matter – is the number one way to turn a potential client into a non-existent one. With B2B, it can be tempting to pull out all the stops to increase opens, but starting off a relationship by misleading a potential customer doesn’t set the stage for a long-lasting business partnership. Using misleading tactics in the subject line, like false replies, forwards or fake “oops” messaging may artificially increase opens in the short term, but it more than likely won’t result in high conversions or happy customers. Respect your audience, their time and their intelligence. Don’t use deception to try and hook them.  

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