Email is still among the most effective B2B marketing channels, but that doesn’t mean game-changing marketers are using the same email tactics that worked in 2014.
There's little question that email drives results or revenue. According to a Chief Marketer study, email is the largest source of new leads for 53% of marketers. Additionally, 58% of respondents said email is the highest-ROI channel for leads.
Key decision-makers' inboxes are cluttered with emails, making their tolerance for poorly-executed messages low. According to research cited in Fast Company, an estimated 80% of messages that hit an executive's inbox are a "total waste." In 2019, B2B marketing organizations should adopt new email marketing playbooks and methodologies to drive qualified leads and increase ROI.
While demand marketing trends may come and go, one thing that's going to remain valuable to B2B decision-makers is relevant content – content tailored to priorities, pain points and psychographic characteristics. The best B2B email subject lines are adapted to lead personality types.
Writing B2B Email Subject Lines by Personality Type
"If you want to consistently win deals, you can’t sell how you’d like to be sold to. You have to adapt your strategy to the buyer’s personality type."
Frost outlines four main personality types; assertive, amiable, expressive and analytic. We'll describe those four personality types and offer suggestions to adapt B2B email subject lines to effectively target them.
The 4 B2B Personality Types
Type #1: Assertive
Assertives are goal-oriented, competitive, Type-A personalities who are impatient and characterized by self-assurance. Sell to this personality with well-prepared answers, succinct content and data-driven comparisons.
Presenting succinct, data-driven information is likely to resonate with assertive personality types as they don't respond well to emotion, opinions or testimonials.
Type #2: Amiable
Amiable personality types value interpersonal relationships and want to win the respect of others. They’re great listeners, but slow to make decisions. Amiables respond best to vision statements, efforts to build rapport and personal promises.
Type #3: Expressive
Expressives, much like amiables, are people-persons who are deeply concerned with the well-being of others. They're creative, spontaneous and driven to make decisions based on intuition and emotion.
Type #4: Analytic
Analytics are the most logical, calculated and least expressive of the four personality types. These individuals are invariably prepared and often conduct individual research during their path to purchase. Avoid making grandiose claims, but also, present carefully-curated data and comparisons to this group. While you can’t rush analytical personality types, you can successfully employ marketing psychology concepts to emphasize critical pieces of information, like clustering information together or anchoring your key point first.
Adapting B2B Email Subject Lines to Personality Type
According to Convince & Convert, 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. Email marketing success depends, in part, on the ability of the B2B marketer to make a powerful first impression and form an immediate connection by strategically crafting email subject lines. Personality types have a drastic impact on how business leaders perceive emails and, ultimately, how they perceive down-funnel messaging.
- Marketers may love using punchy exclamation points, but this strategy may fall flat when delivered to the analytically driven.
- The data-driven, factual subject lines that resonate with assertive and analytical types, may feel cold and impersonal to amiable and expressive types.
To help you increase the open and click-through metrics of your email marketing campaign, approach writing and segmenting email subject lines by personality type.
Learn more about the importance of psychographic and individual characteristics in B2B marketing here: A Useful Template to Develop B2B Buyer Personas.
Using progressive profiling techniques and behavioral analytics software to group your prospects and leads into one of the four personality-type profiles will allow B2B marketing teams to get the right message to the right person at the right time.
44 Winning B2B Email Subject Line Formulas
Email marketing is a channel that plays a vital role throughout the entire B2B sales funnel – from newly-won leads to existing customer loyalty marketing efforts.
To inspire you toward crafting personality-driven email subject lines, we've created 11 B2B email subject line formulas for hypothetical B2B marketing scenarios, and four personality-type variants for each.
Formula #1: Webinar Invitation
The Hypothetical Webinar: Your organization is hosting a webinar about cloud compliance technologies tailored to leads at the top of the sales funnel. The webinar will focus on the basics of your product and why it can solve customer pain points.
- Assertive Subject Line: Can You Beat the Top 3 Cloud Risks?
- Amiable Subject Line: You're Not the Only One Struggling with Cloud Compliance
- Expressive Subject Line: Simplifying the Cloud Builds Happier Teams
- Analytic Subject Line: Compliance is a Top Pain Point for 37% of ITDMs
Formula #2: New eBook Promotion
The Hypothetical eBook Email: Your professional services firm specializes in technology consulting. You’ve created a new mid-funnel eBook in conjunction with a research firm that describes a 10-year outlook for the retail industry and steps retailers should take immediately to prepare for industry tech disruption.
- Assertive Subject Line: Experts Predict 10 Disruptive Retail Tech Trends
- Amiable Subject Line: How Real Retailers are Preparing for Tech Disruption
- Expressive Subject Line: Can You Survive the Coming Retail Tech Disruption?
- Analytic Subject Line: By 2020, 75% of Retailers will Use AI
Formula #3: Product Update
The Hypothetical Product Update Email: Your organization specializes in embedded engineering and internet-of-things (IoT) products. You've recently made a significant strategic switch to offer consulting services as a value-add to your customers, and you're emailing an announcement.
- Assertive Subject Line: IoT is Complex. We'll Help You Win.
- Amiable Subject Line: Announcing Expert IoT Pros to Guide You
- Expressive Subject Line: Announcing IoT Pros Committed to Your Success
- Analytic Subject Line: Announcement: Acme Hires 10 IoT Experts
Formula #4: Social Media Connection
The Hypothetical Social Media Connection Email: Your social media software-as-a-service (SaaS) company periodically sends out emails to newly-generated leads to invite these organizations to engage with your brand on social. The email emphasizes the value of your social presence with links to your company content on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- Assertive Subject Line: What You Missed on Acme’s Social Last Week
- Amiable Subject Line: Acme Social: Real Client Wins and Expert Advice
- Expressive Subject Line: [First Name], Let's Connect on Social to Help You
- Analytic Subject Line: Acme Social: Use Cases, Expert Insight and Research
Formula #5: Confirmation Email
The Hypothetical Confirmation Email: Your research firm is sending an auto-reply email to people who register for your upcoming live event, a one-day conference for accountants.
- Assertive Subject Line: Get the Most Out of Accounting World '19
- Amiable Subject Line: How to Prepare for Accounting World '19
- Expressive Subject Line: Accounting World '19: Thanks for Joining Us!
- Analytic Subject Line: Registration Confirmed: Accounting World '19
Formula #6: Thank You
The Hypothetical Thank You Email: Your email deliverability technology company recently released your annual study; a significant endeavor offering best-in-class insights into the state of email. You're sending a thank you email targeted to mid-funnel leads who download the eBook, with a link to the resource and an invitation to keep engaging.
- Assertive Subject Line: Ready to Turn Your eBook into Advantage?
- Amiable Subject Line: Your eBook: We're Here to Help You
- Expressive Subject Line: I'd Love to Help You Hack Your eBook!
- Analytic Subject Line: Your eBook: Deliverability Drops 5% Year-Over-Year
Formula #7: Welcome
The Hypothetical Welcome Email: Your corporate financial services firm sends a thank you email to new leads who opt-in to receive email updates about your organization, new products and original content.
- Assertive Subject Line: [First Name], You're In! Make the Most of Acme
- Amiable Subject Line: [First Name], Acme Has Helped 30,000 Brands
- Expressive Subject Line: Welcome, [First Name]! Why Customers Trust Acme
- Analytic Subject Line: [First Name], What to Expect from Acme Financial
Formula #8: Re-engagement
The Hypothetical Re-engagement Email: Your logistics company periodically sends a re-engagement campaign to marketing qualified leads who disengaged over the last couple of months.
- Assertive Subject Line: [First Name], Can Acme Logistics Help You Win?
- Amiable Subject Line: [First Name], Logistics is Overwhelming. Can We Help?
- Expressive Subject Line: [First Name], Acme Logistics Misses You!
- Analytic Subject Line: Acme Logistics Consistently Ranked #1 by XYZ Research
Formula #9: Tutorials and Tips
The Hypothetical Tutorials and Tips Email: Your medical equipment organization has curated an extensive library of expertly authored tutorials and tips for leads at the top of the funnel. When new leads engage with premium content resources and meet qualifying parameters, you send an email inviting them to view a password-protected library of premium content.
- Assertive Subject Line: [First Name]'s Exclusive Invite to View 1,500 Expert Tips
- Amiable Subject Line: [First Name], I Promise You'll Love Our Exclusive Tips
- Expressive Subject Line: [First Name], Can I Show You Our Insider Exclusives?
- Analytic Subject Line: 1,500 Tutorials on Patient Safety from Real MDs
Formula #10: Case Studies
The Hypothetical Case Study Email: Your organization specializes in enterprise technology, including sophisticated cloud solutions. As marketing-qualified leads approach sales readiness, you send an email featuring three industry-relevant customer success stories and testimonials.
- Assertive Subject Line: How 3 of Your [Industry] Peers Win with Acme
- Amiable Subject Line: [First Name], You'll Love 3 Real Acme Customer Wins
- Expressive Subject Line: 3 Customers Discuss Partnering with Acme
- Analytic Subject Line: The Acme Difference: 3 [Industry] Case Studies
Formula #11: Survey Requests
The Hypothetical Survey Request Email: Your technology company makes a broad range of solutions for the enterprise application, including software and professional services for data warehousing. Once per quarter, you send an invitation to complete a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to all current customers.
- Assertive Subject Line: Answer 1 Painless Question and Enter to Win $500!
- Amiable Subject Line: How Did We Do? Let Us Know and Win $500
- Expressive Subject Line: Did We Earn Your Loyalty? Quick Survey + $500 Giveaway
- Analytic Subject Line: Are You Satisfied? Answer 1 Quick Question ($500 Giveaway)
Unlocking the Best B2B Email Subject Lines
B2B marketers have more access than ever before to understand their prospects and customers as individuals. Between behavioral analytics applications and rich trails of data left online by user behavior, it’s possible to paint a clearer picture of customer priorities, pain points and individual motivations.
Email still works at every stage of the funnel. To stand out in a crowded inbox, marketers must employ new techniques to craft relevant subject lines. By tailoring your content to resonate with the four distinct personality types, you will achieve better open and click-through rates.
How much are poor-quality leads costing your B2B marketing organization? Integrate research has found that B2B teams are filling their marketing and sales databases with bad leads. For research and expert advice, download the free "Cost of Bad Leads Report" and start building a cleaner database today.