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In the world of B2B marketing if your email open rates are less than 30-40% something is terribly terribly wrong. So why are your open rates so low? Probably because the subject lines used don’t CAPTURE the reader’s attention. Subject lines that are ambiguous and uninspired or immediately portray themselves as trying to sell a product are instantly moved to spam (you’ve probably done it yourself a countless number of times).

Lines beginning with ‘Complimentary’, ‘Congrats’ or ‘Free’ are usually triggers that land emails instantly in the recipients trash folder.

9/10 times people merely just take a glance at the subject line before deciding whether to open the email or not, leaving approximately 2.7 seconds to make an impression and convince the recipient to open your email. If your emails aren’t being opened they’re definitely not being seen, making it more important to come up with a great subject line.

Coming up with such a subject line that grabs the right kind of attention is not an easy task and so here we have compiled some of our best tips and tricks to help YOU make sure your prospects are opening your emails.

Invest in Personalisation

The first step to making sure you’re reaching maximum open rates is to segment your database so subject lines used can be tailored to suit the prospects that you’re targeting. No-one likes to feel like they are receiving mass blanket campaigns, so personalising the subject line to suit their job role, location or industry with a few key words can play an important part in increasing open rates.                                                                                                                                     

According to a recent study by Experian Marketing Services, email subject lines that were personalised by including a name boosted open rates by 29.3% on average across all industries.

But including your prospects name is only one way to make your subject lines more personal. You can also use casual language, share something personal, or use copy that implies familiarity or friendship.

To make this more effective try to keep important words at the beginning of your subject line as prospects who view emails on small devices will most likely be able to see only the first few words.

DO NOT READ THIS: Reverse Psychology

Telling a child not to touch something instantly triggers them to want to touch it even more but telling them to touch it doesn’t quite trigger the same response. Believe it or not reverse psychology doesn’t just work on kids, cold emails with subject lines instructing the recipient NOT to do open the email can actually prompt them to do just the opposite. Reverse Psychology can be an effective way to get somebody do something you want by suggesting that they do the opposite.

There can be no great love without exclusivity

Let’s face it; everyone likes to feel special even if it is just an email. The psychology of exclusivity is a powerful tool to use when writing subject lines. When people feel like they’re special and in on something, the more compelled they would be to open your emails and better respond to them. 

 A few ideas for phrasing include: 

  • “For our beloved customers only”
  • “An exclusive offer for you”
  • “My gift to you”
  • “You’re invited!”
  • “Private invite”

Send your email from a real person

Nowadays people are bombarded with spam, so receiving an email from an unknown sender may cause them to hesitate to open your email. A more beneficial approach is always to avoid using email addresses such as or and to personalise the ‘From’ name. To send an email appearing as if the email is coming from a specific person and further more personalising the ‘Send Mail as’ address for that person for instance an email from our organisation would appear in a prospects inbox list as:

Opposed to the more unfriendly and unknown or Tom Simpson. Giving this appearance within prospects inbox, makes your email standout from the crowd and gives the impression that you are one of their existing contacts.  You can also further play with this text to further standout.

To change this behavior in Gmail:

1.    Sign in to Gmail.

2.    Click and click Settings.

3.    Go to the Accounts tab.

4.    Under Send mail as, find the email address that you want to configure and click edit info.

Don’t be afraid to add a little humour

A sure fire way to get your readers engaged is to make them laugh, everyone has a funny bone in their body and most people love a good cheesy joke (extra parmesan?) Having a punny subject title is a good way to delight your recipients and pique their curiosity into reading the actual content of the email. But be careful to not stray too far from the company voice and subject of the email.

Here are a few examples :

  • Groupon: Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)
  • BuzzFeed: Not Cool, Guys
  • Uber: Since we can’t all win the lottery…

While this article may help you with coming up with good subject lines, it is important to note that what works for some companies may not work for others. Constantly tweaking and A/B testing subject lines can help figure out what words result in best open rates and really work for your audience. Long or short subject lines? Including numbers or not including numbers? Questions or statements?

In the B2B Sales prospecting world here are a few of our favorites:

1) “Question about [goal]”

What’s your question? They’ll have to open your email to find out.

2) “[Mutual connection] recommended I get in touch”

Few things are more powerful than referrals. If you share an acquaintance with your prospect, be sure to put that person’s name in your email subject line. The more your prospect trusts your referrer, the more compelling your email will be.

3) “Hi [name], [question]?”

Questions provoke answers. Emails with question subject lines provoke opens and replies.

4) “Should I stay or should I go?”

If you haven’t heard from a prospect in a while, pull out this subject line and pair it with a cleverly crafted breakup email.

5) “Did you get what you were looking for?”

Use this one to follow up with an inbound lead or a website visitor. They’re clearly looking for help with a challenge — ask how you can be of service.


No, I didn’t forget to write anything and make a rookie subject line mistake. After a leading marketing automation platform analysed more than six million emails, they found that messages where the subject line was left blank were opened 8% more often than those with subject lines! So if you really can’t think of something, you might consider giving into your writer’s block, and just hitting send.

Crafting new and creative, humorous and personable subject lines and constantly A/b testing them is just one of the services we offer as standard to our clients. If you don’t have the time or expertise to be constantly improving your outbound campaigns then you are shooting your outbound marketing in the foot! Before you even have your foot in the door!

Article by Thaminah Thassim – Lead Generation Specialist

@ Edmeades & Simpson

Office Tel: (+44)1157140440

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