Despite all the flashy newcomers to the digital marketing scene (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, the list keeps growing), in the world of B2B marketing, email is still the big boss. It continues to top the list of channels that B2B marketers cite as the top ways to generate and nurture leads (like in this recent survey).

Even a small-scale business will receive dozens of emails a day, and top level executives (the decision makers that you want to be targeting as a B2B marketer), will receive so many emails that they simply don’t have time to open them all. Since they have to be selective with how they devote their time, step 1 of email marketing means making sure they select yours.

And that means your subject line is the all-important first impression.

If you’re struggling to see the click-through rate your campaigns need to succeed, here’s a bank of tips to help give them a boost.

1. Short and snappy wins

Use as few words as possible, but make sure it still makes sense - the reasons for this are twofold:

  • You’ve got a finite amount of time to capture people’s attention.
  • If your subject line’s too long it’ll truncate.

It’s tricky to offer a standard as different email browsers and devices can have wildly diverse ways of displaying subject lines, but a good rule of thumb is to keep it within 50 characters.

2. Make it personal

Include unique information - like the recipient’s name or location - in the subject line to make it feel tailored. Only do this if you’re certain your data’s accurate though - if you refer to ‘John’ as ‘Mark’ there’s only one place your email’s going; the trash.

3. Use simple language

People don’t tend to take their time when they’re scanning their inbox. So, don’t make it difficult for them to skim over your subject line. Use simple language that’s easy to understand and gives a clear indication as to what’s inside.

4. Make it actionable

The reason you’re sending the email in the first place is because you have a desired end action in mind, so incorporate that goal into your leading line. For example, if the email’s promoting a special offer, instead of saying ‘Trainers are now 20% off’, you could say ‘Get 20% off your trainers today’.

5. Create a sense of urgency

If people think something’s about to expire or run out they’re much more likely to act sooner rather than later. Adding something as simple as ‘ends soon’, ‘act now’ or ‘hurry’ to your subject line can send this message.

That said, it’s important not to overuse this tactic. If you do, it’ll become a classic case of the boy who cried wolf and your recipients will stop falling for it full stop.

6. Use numbers

Numbers are mostly used for things like listicles, events or sample sizes. For example:

  • 8 ways we can improve your team’s productivity
  • Join our 2,000 happy clients
  • 200 others are coming to our event.

They sound better than ‘How to improve your team’s productivity’, ‘Join lots of other happy clients’ and ‘Loads of others are coming to our event’, right?

Just like that, numbers help make your subject line stand out, set expectations, and get straight to the point.

7. Ask a question

Questions draw people in, pique interest and get them wanting and needing to know the answer. So, for example, if your email exists to promote an article on ‘7 common subject line mistakes’, you could introduce it with questions like:

  • Are you making these subject line mistakes?
  • How successful are your emails?
  • Do you know where your subject lines are going wrong?

8. Dare to be different

If you don’t want to get lost in a sea of monotony don’t fall into the trap of being the same as everyone else. Be bold with your subject lines and don’t be afraid to inject a bit of humour, sarcasm or eccentricity.

So there you have it, eight easy-to-implement subject line tips - and these are just the tip of the iceberg!

So now you've got the way to get your audience to open the emails, but what do you put in them?

We've got templates for welcome emails here, and templates for cross-selling here.

Maybe you need some tools for managing all your email marketing. Check out our guide to email marketing tools for B2B marketers here.