These days, almost everyone is drowning in emails. Take a look at anyone’s inbox and you’re bound to see an assortment of emails–from spam and discount codes to newsletters and messages from friends and colleagues. With all of these emails vying for your readers’ attention, how can you rise above the clutter?

A compelling subject line can mean the difference between someone opening your B2B marketing email, deleting it or, even worse, marking it as spam. Take this statistic for example–47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone. With this in mind, you need to know how to create more effective and engaging email subject lines.

We’re sharing a few tips for writing subject lines that convince your prospects to open, read and click on your emails:

1. Focus on their pain points

Before you can create effective email subject lines, you need to know your target audience’s biggest pain points. You can then offer a solution to these challenges in your subject line.

Here are some examples of email subject lines that address specific pain points someone may be experiencing with marketing:

  • What’s holding back your marketing strategy?
  • 5 marketing mistakes and how you can avoid them
  • Want to improve your content marketing? Read this.
  • Steal these 4 content marketing ideas
  • How to plan a marketing strategy on a small budget

2. Watch your subject line length

Keep in mind that your readers are using a variety of different email clients and devices. More emails are being opened on mobile devices, which typically show fewer characters of a subject line than a desktop. According to Return Path, a typical desktop inbox displays about 60 characters of an email subject line, while mobile devices show only 25-30 characters.

Before you can determine the best subject line length, you need to know what percent of your subscribers open your emails on a mobile phone vs. desktop vs. tablet. Depending on what email marketing tool or marketing automation platform you use, you should be able to find this information in your email reports.

If you’re having trouble keeping your subject lines short, think about what words will matter most to your readers. Don’t waste space with unnecessary words like “newsletter” or “update.” Your subject lines should contain words that will pique their interest and elicit an emotional response.

3. Take out anything spammy

Subjects lines that are overly salesy have a higher chance of getting marked as spam. In fact, 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. That means you should avoid using spam trigger words like free, no cost, bargain, buy now, act now, best price, incredible deal and so on. (For more email spam words to avoid, check out this list from HubSpot.)

Instead of focusing on a promotion, why not focus on your expertise or share useful information? If you’re sending them a link to download an eBook or a whitepaper, the subject line could be the title of the content piece or what they will learn after reading the eBook. For example, you could send an email with the subject line, “5 Ways to Increase B2B Marketing ROI.” It’s short and sweet, triggers a pain point and delivers a clear message.

4. Use personalization

Personalization is key to boosting engagement and improving the results of your B2B email marketing. One way you can personalize your emails is to add the recipient’s first name to your email subject line. This is easy to do in many marketing automation platforms and email marketing services. For example, you could send an email with the subject line, “Eric, thanks for being a loyal customer.”

Adding a person’s name to the subject line can give the email a more personal tone and feel. It also helps your email stand out in a crowded inbox. I know my eyes are immediately drawn to any email with a subject line that addresses me by name, even if it is a promotional email from a company I’ve never heard of.

Before you send out a personalized email, it’s a good idea to proofread your contact list. Make sure their first name is spelled correctly and only the first letter is capitalized. No one wants to see an email with this subject line: “Hi AMY, thanks for downloading the eBook.”


In B2B tech marketing, tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating new and traditional marketing tactics, your marketing program become more effective and cost efficient. To learn more about how you can increase your lead generation and overall marketing, download our free eBook: Modern Integrated Digital Marketing—A Better Path for B2B Technology Marketers.

Courtney Gursky is a Digital Content Specialist at Schubert b2b. She graduated from Lafayette College with a B.A. in English. When she's not working, you can find her re-reading Harry Potter or taking way too many photos of her 4 cats and 3 dogs.