Some people might think of B2B emails as "drab" or "less sexy" than those that are designed and written for B2C. And sometimes that sentiment might hold some truth depending on who is drafting the emails.
However, B2B emails need to be just as “openable” as their B2C counterparts. And how is any email going to be opened without an enticing subject line?
The answer is “never,” of course.
These days there are a whole host of tactics and options when it comes to “spicing” up your B2B subject lines.
No, they might not be as zesty and creative as some that you might receive from B2C companies like Starbucks or Dominos, but B2B subject lines don’t have to be as dry as their reputation would have you believe.
Here are some tips and tactics for creating B2B subject lines that practically beg to be opened.
Highlight the Target Audience
This first tip might sound obvious at first. Of course, you’re catering each email to your desired target audience. However, are you including them in your subject line?
On a recent episode of Sell Smarter. Sell Faster. (LeadG2’s podcast focusing on sales growth), Jay Schwedelson, founder of Subjectline.com, offered this insight: “If you mention the job function or title of the audience that you’re marketing to, the open rate goes up exponentially.”
He continued, “When you get that email that says, ‘this is for marketers,’ I’m like ‘oh, I’m a marketer, that’s me, I gotta check this out.’ And the irony is, this is who you’re trying to reach! You're just telling them who they are. And they know it’s not for everybody. It’s just for them.”
By including your specific target audience in the subject line, you’re creating a sense of exclusivity that enhances the desire to find out what’s on the other side of that “click.”
Everyone likes to be catered to. By merely mentioning who that email is intended for, it automatically becomes that much more “openable.”
Think about any time that you’ve received an email with your name or your company’s name in the subject line. Did you open it?
Jay put it this way, “My company [is] Worldata. If I got a subject line that says, ‘Is Worldata at risk?’ And it was personalized with my company name in the subject line, I’m like, ‘oh my god, they’re talking about my company!’”
“The closer you can bring it to that individual, whether it’s their career, company, or responsibility, put that in the subject line. That is the gamechanger that is generating opens right now on the B2B side specifically.”
Next time you’re writing a subject line, ask yourself, “How can I personalize this as much as possible?”
How can you bring that subject line “closer” to the intended recipient?
Emojis and “No No’s”
As stated at the beginning of this blog, what’s the first goal of an email? To be opened!
How else are people going to access the great content and offers you worked so hard to produce if it all just sits there unopened?
Thankfully, there are some fun tactics long relegated to B2C that are slowly making their way into B2B subject lines.
First, there are emojis. Yes, emojis. “What?! A B2B email using an emoji?” Jay said in a recent webinar. “Yes! It works. B2B marketers, what if they were called ‘business icons’ and they weren’t called ‘emojis?’ You would be using them.”
Consider the fact that B2B subject lines that utilize emojis saw a 21% increase in open rates. He’s right, they work!
The same goes for using brackets, capitalization, exclamation points, and words like “free.” All increase the likelihood that your email will be opened.
And if you’re reading this section and think, “All of this sounds like the fast lane to the junk folder,” think again. There are several common knowledge “no no’s” when it comes to email that is increasingly outdated.
“Unfortunately, that’s legacy information from ten years ago,” Jay said. “It comes from where...if you sent out an email and you put the word ‘free’ in the subject line with an exclamation point, you would get filtered. Because filtering used to be based on the content of your words...Now, you get filtered because of the technical sending reputation of your IP address and your domain and the engagement that you have with your database.”
“You do not get filtered for the words or the symbols that you’re using.”
Track and Test
For any new tactic or strategy that you fold into your email marketing approach, it’s important to measure the effectiveness of each change. Be sure to track open rates and perform A/B tests as you begin experimenting to see what resonates most with your target audience. But, chances are, if you adopt some of these tips, you’ll begin to see your open rates increase.
See, who said that B2B emails have to be boring?
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2016 and has since been updated.