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The Difference a B2B Email Subject Line Can Make



Recently while reading an article on Inc.com written by Geoffrey James, I came across a thought-provoking infographic about the best email subject lines for B2B sales emails. While many marketers and salespeople take the subject line for granted and just fire away with their latest pitch to unsuspecting prospects, research is starting to show that certain types of subject lines can outperform others. Before you run off and start coming up with a list of great email subject lines you might want to take a minute and read this article because the findings might surprise you. I know that they were surprising for me.

The information below is taken from a study conducted by Sales for Life and Contact Monkey on over 30 million sales emails sent from Outlook and Gmail to see which subject lines have a better chance of being opened, and I am sure you will agree that some interesting facts came to light.   

Re: So what makes a good subject line for a B2B sales email?

One of the most interesting findings in this study was that while email subjects make a big difference in open rates, they don't have to be overly complicated. In fact, the study listed the top 5 best subject lines as:

#1 Re: - 92% open rate
#2 Re: Follow Up - 90% open rate
#3 Re: Update - 89% open rate
#4 Re: Introduction - 88% open rate
#5 Re: Checking In - 87% open rate

One reason for the high open rates on emails with the subject “Re:” is that the recipient of the email may believe they have already corresponded with you and are just keeping up with the email thread. Either way, it seems as though “Re:” can be a great subject line when you are at a loss for words.

Some of the worst subject lines according to the study were:

#1 The Results Are In - 7.25% open rate
#2 4 Management Headaches that can be Solved in One Hour - 8.25% open rate
#3 10 Secrets for Driving Accountability and Accelerating Business Results - 8.59% open rate
#4 Are Your Students Protected - 9.36% open rate
#5 10 Secrets for Accelerating Business Results - 10.92% open rate

One of the commonalities of the top 5 worst email subject lines is that they each have more than 3 words in the subject line. The study referenced above found that subject lines with more 3 words have an average open rate of less than 15%. If you look back at the best performing subject line you will notice that they each have 3 or less words. So if you want your emails to get opened, keep the subject line short and to the point (and preferably less than 3 words).

Track and Test

While the article doesn’t get into other ways to improve your email open rates, one thing that marketers and salespeople should be doing is making sure they are tracking these open rates and metrics and doing some A/B testing of subject lines to see what works for your specific audience. Studies like the one above are great for giving marketers and salespeople an overall concept, but it’s best to test these theories in the real world and on your own prospects.  

If you have a real interest in learning more about how to use marketing or sales software to improve your marketing or open rates, let’s set up a time to talk.

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