Our Best B2B Email Subject Lines & Why They Work

JTN Article

Our Best B2B Email Subject Lines & Why They Work

41 to 50 characters is the ideal email subject line length, according to research conducted by Return Path. To give you an idea, the title of this blog is 49 characters long (with spaces), so it shouldn’t be TOO difficult to write…right?


If you’ve ever tried to craft a B2B email subject line, you know just how difficult it can be. And what’s worse, is that there’s so much pressure to concoct these pesky little one-liners. Think about it – you can spend hours writing a flawless email with compelling calls to action and juicy insight, but if the email subject line doesn’t entice clicks, all of that hard work goes unseen.

The team at JTN HQ understands your struggle, which is why we’ve decided to conduct a little in-house research.

Investigating Our Email Subject Line Success

In order to help determine a formula for writing successful email subject lines, we pulled some reports from our email marketing tool. We were curious…what have been OUR best email subject lines, and are there any conclusions that can be drawn from the results?

In order to compare enough information, we decided to review our statistics from the past 2 years. Focusing strictly on email open rates (the best indication of subject line success), we determined that our top performing email subject lines in the last 2 years have been:

  1. [Name], quick question for you…
  2. Did you enjoy the marketing tips [Name]?
  3. [Name] and JTN – a good match?
  4. Hungry For Leads? Break The Famine!
  5. A billion-dollar business philosophy

Are you surprised?

While we were certainly intrigued by the results, we weren’t entirely shocked. Since we keep close tabs on campaign performance, we have a good grasp on what works and what doesn’t. These results simply reinforced our theories, proving that the approaches we use for email subject line writing are effective strategies!

So what have we noticed makes up a fantastic email subject line? We’ve broken it down for you below:


Are you more likely to open an email that addresses you personally? Or a generic email, which appears to be mass produced? According to Aberdeen, personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. This is reinforced by the fact that our best performing email subject line (above) included the recipient’s name and had an open rate of over 50%!

Where you can, personalize email subjects with a name or another piece of relevant and specific information, such as the recipient’s company name (this can be done with the help of a CMS). Also, consider leveraging the second person point of view – ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘yours’ for example. This makes the email feel more applicable to the reader, which increases its likelihood of being opened.


The average office worker is estimated to received 130 emails each day (source: Radicati Group) – that’s a lot of emails! The truth is, most of us can’t afford the time to open all of them, so we often rely on the email subject lines to help us weed out spam.

If your goal is to increase open rates and give your email copy a fighting chance at being seen, we’ve found that stripping back the subject line and keeping it natural is the best way forward. Take the examples below for instance. Which subject line would you click on if you were trying to avoid opening junk mail?

  1. [Your Name], some thoughts for [Your Company Name]…
    (e.g. Peter, some thoughts for Pete’s Pizzeria…)
  2. **Try These FREE Small Business Tips NOW**

Example 1 appears natural and is less likely to get marked as spam by the recipient or their email service provider. Both emails may include the same insight and information, but if the reader doesn’t get past the subject line because they’re deterred by its style, they’ll never get to read your wisdom.


Have you ever heard of clickbait? In short, clickbait is a sensationalized subject line or title designed to entice people to open/click, but has no direct correlation to the email’s content. Basically, it causes the reader to expect one thing because of the way it’s written, but delivers something completely different. Ultimately, it’s dishonest.

Here’s the rule-of-thumb for using clickbait: Don’t.

Keep your subject lines honest and indicative of what’s inside the email. If you sell a fallacy, one of two things will happen:

  1. The recipient will get annoyed by the mismatched content and mark the email as spam, delete it or unsubscribe from your database.
  2. The recipient will be deterred by the mismatched content and not bother clicking-through to your website.

In both scenarios there’s no way the recipient will convert into a client, which is – let’s face it – the end goal of almost every email marketing campaign.

Don’t sell yourself short with dishonest subject lines. Instead keep them clear and sincere and you’ll nurture a happy list, and have happy subscribers on your hands.


This might be the single most important piece of the email subject line puzzle…

Make sure your topic is actually interesting and relevant to your readers.

How do you do that? Well, it boils down to one thing – knowing your target audience. This isn’t an extensive list, but make sure you understand:

  • Who you’re speaking to
  • What their challenges are
  • How they do business, and,
  • What makes them tick

Once you’re familiar with their wants and needs, ensure your email content matches accordingly. If your topic is irrelevant to them and their business, they’ll almost certainly avoid it.

Another way to ensure your content is relatable to your email subscribers is to refer to something they have previously engaged with, or encountered, from your brand.

For instance, our second most popular email subject line was, “Did you enjoy the marketing tips [Name]?”, which referred to a previous email full of digital marketing advice. This immediately created a sense of familiarity with our brand and with the email message itself, which made recipients feel comfortable enough to click. (side note: this email had an open rate of over 30%!)

Writing effective B2B email subject lines is no easy task. If you find yourself getting stumped when the time comes to crafting a winning one-liner, revert back to the tips above. With a bit of consideration, your open rates will be soaring!

If you’re interested in more tips and tricks for crafting open-worthy emails, we specialise in writing and publishing world-class marketing materials. Just send us an email or call us at +1 877 465 7740 to have a chat!

Our Best B2B Email Subject Lines & Why They Work
Ashley Jenkins

Ashley is a senior digital marketing specialist at JTN Group in London where she plans and executes high-ROI digital media and PR campaigns for B2B clients in high-growth industries including Fintech, Commercial Property, and Manufacturing. Read more about JTN Group.


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