Do your B2B email subject lines perform like a great race horse? Or more like a tired nag?

by Karen

Are your B2B email subject lines producing winning results for you? Or are they tired, worn out and not winning any races? Are you sending out race horses or nags?

Per a recent survey published in BtoB Magazine (March 12, 2012 issue), email is still the marketing workhorse.

To quote, “Marketers favor email for its effectiveness in acquiring customers and nurturing prospects.” Or stated another way:

•    32% of respondents cite “customer acquisition” as the primary goal of email programs

•    27% of respondents cite “lead nurturing” as the primary goal of email programs

But to acquire customers or to successfully nurture leads, you first need subscribers to OPEN your email.

That’s where your subject line comes in. And yes, you want it to perform like a winning race horse.

I’m often asked: “Karen, do you recommend using formulas to write subject lines?  If so, what are those you like best?

I don’t use formulas, but here are the top five “guidelines” I recommend:

1 – SHORT: 2 or 3 words. If it’s longer, make the first two words the most impactful. Most email software allows 50-60 characters (not much) to display in a subject line. But if your subscribers are using a mobile device, it may be as few as 10 characters.  Get to the point fast!

2 – URGENCY: Cite a deadline, a date, or a phrase that clearly expresses how their help or action is needed now.  It might even be a “reminder” of a pending deadline.

3 – USE A NUMBER: People respond to numbers whether it’s in a headline, subject line, or wherever.

4 – CURIOSITY & BENEFIT: Combine them, or use one or the other.  Arouse their curiosity by hinting at, or citing a benefit they’ll receive by reading the email.

5 – EMOTION: Appeal to an emotion and stir it up.  It might be excitement, fear, anger, feeling safe or independent, feeling wise or intelligent, and on it goes.  It all depends on what you’re promoting. And yes, emotion has a big role in B2B marketing.

Another point to consider which may help you write a subject that stirs emotion is this: The subject line either moves the reader “toward passion” or “away from pain.”

Those guidelines ought to help you get more of your B2B emails opened, regardless of whether your purpose is  customer acquisition, lead nurturing, or anything else. Go win with a strong race horse — a strong subject line.

Related posts:

Who is this email from?

B2B email: HOW it’s being read and WHY this matters

WHEN to send B2B email


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