B2B Email Marketing Tip #1: Subject Lines

Far too often I have seen email creative efforts focus 99% of their time on the body of the email, that is, the copy, layout and graphic design and only 1% on the subject line. This is a huge mistake. Sometimes the subject line is a mere afterthought. In our experience conducting B2B email marketing campaigns, sometimes we receive the creative with beautiful images, HTML design, good copywriting and no subject line at all. We then ask for the subject line only to have one thrown back at us with minimal consideration. It is my opinion that 50% of the creative effort should go into development of the subject line itself and I will tell you why.

It does not matter how good the content of the email is if it does not get opened.

It’s like spending all your time decorating the interior of a store and ignoring the storefront window display. If a customer does not walk into the store because of a poor display, it does not matter how nice the interior looks, you can’t sell them anything. The first thing a customer sees is the storefront window. That is what will compel the customer to open the door and walk inside.

The sole focus of the subject line is to compel the recipient to OPEN the email. Subject lines can make or break a B2B email marketing campaign. Testing subject lines is crucial as well. Try 2 different subject lines in an A/B split test and track which subject lines get more opens. Remember, this test is not designed to track conversions or clickthroughs, that is for the body of the email. Use the better performing subject as the new standard and continue testing until you have a subject line that performs well.

Keep subject lines short and focused on benefits to the customer. You have two seconds to grab the recipients attention and compel them to open the email, or it’s deleted. If you are targeting an executive in your B2B email campaign, you are not alone. They are bombarded by offers. The subject line better be very compelling without being salesy.

Avoid keywords that will get spam filtered such as “free”, “money”, “for sale”. Avoid ALL CAPS and excessive punctuation marks!!! Keep the subject line under 75 characters because many email clients cannot display more than that e.g. Blackberry, iPhone, and Outlook. The key point is that the subject line is the first impression the customer gets of your company and your offer. Spend the same amount of time crafting and testing the subject line as you do designing the body of the email. Here are 2 subject line examples:

Bad subject line:
Act now and get a *FREE* whitepaper and save money with our *FREE* 90-day evaluation of our VoIP call center management software. And enter to win a *FREE* iPhone also!!!

Better subject line:
Complimentary whitepaper on VoIP call center mgt software

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