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The perfect B2B subject line (says 1.159 billion emails)

It’s not breaking news that subject lines are one of the key elements to a successful email marketing campaign, yet they are merely an afterthought for many marketers. It can mean the difference between a ROI storming email campaign and a mediocre one.

So, how do you know what works and what doesn't?

Adestra's Account Director, Parry Malm, looked at 1.159bn B2B emails to find the words that work and those that don't. Here is a sneak preview of the results:

Money words drive response

For a long time, it was thought that including currency symbols in subject lines was a marketing ‘no-no’ and spam filters would simply send messages straight into the junk box. But this is not the case anymore. Using the pound symbol (£) in your subject line, across the long-run average of over 1bn emails, increases open rates by 25% versus the average. The dollar symbol ($) follows suit at 15%.

But that’s not all. There is a strong correlation between higher open rates and subsequently higher response rates. To this end, “£” brings marketers an amazing increase in click through rates (CTR) of 96% - nearly double the average. And it’s not just with currency symbols. The word “revenue” saw increases of +2.4% and +39% (open rate and CTR, respectively), while “profit” saw increases of +17% and +77%.

The explanation for this is that in an increasingly polluted inbox, users care about outcomes. It’s great if people download your “whitepaper” (-34%, -63%) or attend your “webinar” (-17%, -70%), but how will that help them now? 

The key is for marketers to put themselves in the shoes of the buyer. It’s not their money they are spending, however it is their reputation they’re putting on the line. To be blunt, what they care about is achieving their targets and getting a bonus at the end of the year. 

A subject line with “conference” (-6%, -53%) won’t help them achieve that…  but “money” (+10%, +38%) will. 

Personalisation can work

When using a person’s name, their company name or other personalised information in a subject line, our research shows a 22% increase in open rates. Good news, but the CTR shows a 16% decrease.

Why is this? Think about it from a user experience standpoint. If someone knows enough about you to personalise a subject line, then surely they know enough to personalise the rest of your user journey. But sadly, this isn’t the case most of the time. Following a personalised subject line with generic email content is a disjointed user experience.

If marketers personalise the subject lines, they will generate more opens. But they will only get more clicks if the email content is equally personalised. Response rates will skyrocket if you can achieve this. But if that’s impossible now, then focus instead on improving the data set – gather more information about customers and use it to personalise your marketing efforts. Simply put – get the building blocks in place first to enable more sophisticated techniques, and better return, in future. 

You can download the full report from the Adestra website >