“If you aren’t split testing your subject line, start now. But, if you are, follow this cardinal rule: Be creative but don’t be crazy.” – Parry Malm

Many marketers find B2B subject lines the hardest of all to write. How to strike the right balance between informative and succinct? Between engaging and professional? Between standing out and sounding serious?

Let’s take a look at some top strategies and examples of B2B subject lines that are killing it right now.

Read on to learn more about:

  • Sounding professional
  • How long to make your subject lines
  • Nailing the tone
  • Segmentation
  • Words and phrases to focus on (and avoid)

Let’s dig in.

1. Sounding Professional But Not Snobbish

Before we get started on the practical stuff, let’s just clear one thing up: professional does not equal boring. Just because you’re offering something serious, doesn’t mean you need to transform into some sort of robot. Trust us, that doesn’t help.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should start overcompensating with frivolity. The answer is not to shoehorn in clunky, irrelevant pop culture references when you’re trying to sell business insurance or whatever (although they can work sometimes!).

The key is to remember that you are a human talking to other humans. No matter what you’re selling, you need to sound natural and engaging. Sure, you also need to be persuasive and professional and all the rest of it, but you never want to stop sounding like a human.

A rule of thumb is this: if your subject line reads like it was written by a spambot, Google Translate, a legal contract or a dictionary in a washing machine, rip it up and start again.

Okay, with that in mind, let’s get into the practical stuff.

2. How long should you make your subject line?

First of all, keep your subject lines short. People’s work emails are crammed with junk and other things they don’t want to read, so do them a favour and make this easy for them. Plus, you want to make sure they show up properly on mobile devices – and that means keeping your subject lines under 50 characters if possible.

3. Be sure your email subject line will add value

Next, focus on value. How will opening the email fix a particular problem? Save them money? Make the best use of their time?

Remember that people are busy and stressed and so the last of these – time – is key. Whatever you’re selling or promoting, make it clear that this won’t add to their workload while they get their head around it.

For example, try using subject lines like:

  • Fix your hiring strategy in 5 minutes
  • The Super Speedy Guide to Saving Money with VOIP
  • 10 Easy Ways To Cut Office Electricity Costs
  • 3 Steps to Perfect Project Management

We’ve talked about this before, but be very careful about using hyperbolic language. This can make you look dodgy and often triggers spam filters. Words and phrases like “guaranteed”, “#1” and “Join millions…” are known offenders.

4. Nail the tone

Bear in mind, too, that when you’re talking about B2B emails, “value” means two things: the value your product, service or email content brings to the company and the value it brings to the person who is receiving the email. This is super important.

You may be thinking, but aren’t they the same thing? Well, sort of – but not quite. Different people within the same company have different priorities depending on their job role, department, position… even how keen they are to impress their boss. You can use this to your advantage when crafting B2B subject lines.

For example, if you’re emailing a middle manager or the head of a department, something that specifically addresses their pain points works well. Consider something along the lines of: “Free up time and budget with this awesome new tool”, “5 Steps to a No-Headache Payroll”, or “How to Get 25% better ROI on Your Facebook Ads”.

Alternatively, you could focus on how this makes them more valuable to the company, e.g. “Impress your Finance Director – Save $1000”.

5. Segmentation is Key

This brings us neatly onto the next point: you really do need to segment your emails carefully for this to work. Unless you get a clear idea during sign-up of where someone fits into their company structure, you could end up sending CEOs irrelevant emails saying things like “Your promotion is in the bag with XXX”.

Or, at the end of the scale, emails with subject lines like “Streamline your business and save with XXXX” to people who are worried about losing their jobs to automation. You can see how sending the wrong messages to the wrong people can do more harm than good.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, if you want some general tips about the kinds of email subject lines that grab attention, check out these 27 Ideas for Irresistible Subject Lines. Just remember to adapt the general concepts for your B2B audience. Split testing will help you perfect your tone!

Ready to create your amazing, perfectly segmented B2B email campaign?

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