18th September 2012

B2B Email Marketing—How to get Emails Opened, not Junked

“My email marketing’s not working” is an oft-heard cry from businesses that are just not going about it the right way.

B2B email marketing is an art form which, if you master, can pay huge dividends. So let’s look at the factors you need to take into account when designing your campaigns, looking at things from the recipient’s point of view – after all, how many emails do YOU send unread to the JUNK folder? Other people are no different.

Date and Time – Is it Beer o’clock?

Firstly, the day and time you send emails affects whether or not they get opened, so consider when your recipients are most likely to have the time and interest to open it.

Obviously no one in business will read an email sent at 5.30 pm on a Friday right away. Most people claim that Tuesday or Wednesday mornings are a good time and that Friday afternoons and Monday mornings are way more likely to attract the delete button. Test alternatives to see whether they work better for your industry and for your prospects.

The Subject line‘Is this Content Personally Relevant to Me?’

The subject line must provide a compelling reason to open the email. It should be engaging, arouse curiosity and offer some promise of relevant, important information. The more personal and relevant to them, the more likely they are to open it and that’s the first step in any B2B email marketing campaign.

Keep the subject short—ideally 25-40 characters—so people can see at a glance whether it’s relevant.

Capitalise only the first letter of the first word. IF YOU HAVE A SUBJECT LINE THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS you will alienate your reader, as using all capitals is the internet equivalent of shouting, and most people don’t like it. Also, it is likely to end up blocked by spam filters.

Curiosity is a big factor that drives people to open an email. One of the easiest ways to arouse curiosity is to start a sentence, then put an ellipsis and continue the sentence in the email body. E.g. “Here is a Method that Helps (your target audience)…” and you reveal the rest of the sentence as your first line of the email. These teasers can be very effective.

An unfinished subject line creates a little tension, making the reader want to find out the rest of the sentence and thus, open the message.

However, a word of caution: a teaser subject line should be composed carefully. If it looks too spammy, it will hurt your open rate, ruin the recipient’s faith in you as a reputable business and potentially destroy the results of your B2B email marketing.

With all that said, the best way to write a teaser is to use implication. It should imply that the answer is in your email and tease the reader to open the message looking to find it.

Another effective way of encouraging opening is to include a time clause in your subject line to prompt them to act quickly and read now, and not just to leave it to look at later.

Words and Symbols to Avoid in the Subject Line

If you include certain words or symbols in your subject line, junk mail programs will recognise them and banish you to the junk folder. These include:

  • The word “advertisement”
  • “!” and “$”
  • “!” and “free”
  • “money back”
  • “Guarantee” and “satisfaction” or “absolute”

The ‘From’ Line – ‘Who the Devil is that?’

The ‘From’ line needs to explain exactly who is sending the email. The name needs to be recognisable.

Your company name will suffice if you are emailing to existing clients or people who’ve subscribed to receive emails from you.

If you’re sending to people who haven’t registered to receive information from you, this may make them wary of opening. However, if you use just any name or your name and they don’t recognise it, you may make them even warier. After all, many people won’t bother to open emails if they don’t know the sender.

Be consistent over time with your ‘from’ line, so that you build up brand recognition.

Following the above suggestions should have your B2B email marketing campaign pitched correctly and ensure a good “open” rate for your emails. That’s the first step to a successful campaign.

Read more about B2B Marketing here.

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About James Eastland

Creating Customer Communities for companies selling B2B is my passion—shortening their sales cycle and building market leadership. My role sets the direction and vision of Lead Creation, tapping into the online experience of our large team of young professionals to implement cost effective strategies for B2B businesses.

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