B2B email subject lines – use the‘£’ sign to double interaction rates

By Jim Buchanan

Think email subject lines are not important for a B2B audience? Think again. Any email marketing campaign will fail if the subject line sucks. If marketers truly want to increase response rates, they must carefully choose the right words. ‘Money’ words are in, personalisation can supercharge response, and ‘whitepapers’ and ‘webinars’ are over-used.

Adestra research into a random sample of 1.159billion emails in the B2B sector, to see which word choices in subject lines make a difference, were released at Econsultancy’s FUNNEL event recently. See http://www.adestra.com/b2bsubjectlinestudy .

The key finding shows that if marketers focus on the outcomes of the product/service then buyers will respond.

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. Marketers spend hours focusing on all sorts of criteria, and yet the most basic (and causal) variables are often forgotten.

So which words in B2B subject lines elicit a better response?

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%.

Graph: B2B subject line response rates for business terms:

A12 030113

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.

About the author

Jim Buchanan is PR Consultant for Adestra.

About Adestra

Founded in 2004, Adestra set out to be the most respected Email Service Provider. Today, Adestra is a market leader, with offices in Oxford, London and New York. Over 300 organisations globally and more than 4,500 marketers across most sectors, work with our technology, people and deliverability solutions to generate effective email marketing that deliver results. Developed entirely in-house by our staff, Adestra’s MessageFocus gives clients an extremely scalable and configurable email service platform that consistently delivers.

Adestra offer a very honest approach to deliverability, quite simply there is no silver bullet. Our inbox placement rate, which peaks at 99.8% and our expertise, gives your emails the best chance of arriving in the destination inbox.

Phone: +44 (0)1865 242425

Email: moreinfo@adestra.com


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