Get Your B2B Email Marketing out of a Rut: 3 Email Tests to Try

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Write an email. Send an email. Write an email. Send an email.

If that process is boring you, just think how your prospects must feel! Why would they open or click through your email if you aren’t putting any real effort behind it?

Luckily, it doesn’t take much to step up your B2B email marketing game, as the simplest of split tests can tell you a lot about your prospects and what they’ll respond to in emails. A/B test two different subjects lines, experiment with the color of a button within the email, just test something to transform your emails from dull and ordinary to compelling and extraordinary.

b2b email mktg rut copy

Many of these A/B tests can be run through your email marketing or marketing automation software systems, so it won’t disrupt your current email plan. You could run your first test today!    

For inspiration, check out these three examples of email campaigns run by B2B companies who used simple tests to spice up their strategy and see extraordinary results.     

1. Take a risk with your subject line

Look at your inbox. Which emails did you open? Which ones did you delete right away? Chances are you made that choice based on the subject line.

Marketers have to fight the urge to put as much information as they can into a subject line to make sure people know exactly why they should open their email. In practice, short subject lines are the way to go, with the sweet spot being between 40 and 50 characters. How short can you go?

Toggl, an online time tracking tool, proves that shorter really is better when it comes to increasing open rates. They ran an A/B subject line test on an email campaign to their active users with these two subject lines:

  • Subject line A: Help us out, take this quick survey
  • Subject line B: Toggl survey

Subject line B won with a 38.8% open rate and a 9.8% click through rate (compared to subject line A’s 34.8% OR and 8.4% CTR). The email also performed extremely well compared to the industry averages of 20% OR and 2.2% CTR.

Below are their results after sending the winning version to the rest of their list, along with performance metrics for their other campaigns and industry averages:

toggl data

Toggl’s Lead Generation Manager, Annika Helendi, says they learned that not only a shorter, simpler subject line works best, but that using “the name of the product in the subject line helped people recognize it and decide to check out the email.”

Another company also saw improved results when they changed up their subject line strategy. Peoplemetrics, a customer experience solution, surveyed their blog subscribers to learn more about their business goals and decided to test two subject lines:

  • How are we doing with content, [Contact Name]?
  • Hey [Contact Name], I would love your opinion…

The first subject line saw a 17.5% open rate, while the second one saw 30.95%. “People love to talk about themselves,” says Xand Griffin, Brand Evangelist. “Position your subject line to not only allow them to talk about themselves, but to be able to impact something based off of their expertise. Remember that marketing your business isn’t about you, it’s about your customers.”

Griffin makes a great point that basically explains why personalization works so well in a world where mass emails are the norm. Even though she used personalization in both subject lines, the winner spoke with the customer, instead of at them, making the email about them, not your brand. Customers want to be treated like a member of your business community, not just another number on your revenue report. And the only way to accomplish this familiarity is with personalization, which leads me to my next point…    

2. Personalize your email message

What would you rather see: “Dear FirstName” or “Dear Caroline”?

Obviously the second one (even if your name’s not Caroline!) is the preferable option. Nothing says, “I’m a lazy, robotic marketer” more than being addressed with a generic title or placeholder text. Personalized emails see a 14% increase in click-through rates and a 10% increase in conversions. If those stats aren’t enough to convince you, how about an example of real-world personalization success?

In addition to their subject line test, Toggl also learned some interesting things about their users based on how they interacted with the email itself. Helendi explains:

  1. The very personal email was the key to our success, and we’ve already seen in our previous tests that using our names instead of just signing the company name works better with customers.
  2. The fact that you could connect the name to a face immediately helped our CTR as people felt more familiar with the company as a whole.
  3. The copy of the email was short and to the point with a clear CTA. People want to clearly understand what is expected from them in order to proceed.

toggl email

Toggl used both the recipient’s name and the sender’s name to create a more personalized email experience. And with a 9.4% click-through rate, Toggl’s users responded positively to their effort and did what the email asked: open the survey.

3. Change up when you send emails

Monday through Friday, 9-5: when you’re trying to reach business people, that’s the obvious timeframe to email them. But that’s going to be the most crowded time for your prospect’s inbox. And most prospects (unfortunately) are just hitting delete if they don’t think it’s worth their time.

But in this day and age, companies are starting to offer more freedom and flexibility to their employees, which can lead to unconventional hours. Adapt your email marketing strategies to this new norm, and test sending emails at different times of the day or week.

Lee Price of Reputation Capital Media Services ran an email test for one of her clients who was seeing poor performance from an email newsletter. Instead of sending on weekday mornings, they experimented with a Saturday morning.

Open rates improved by 10%. The reasoning: most people don’t get many work emails on Saturday mornings, but we’re all checking our work email on the weekend anyway. When your email is the ONLY one in your audience’s inbox, you’re more likely to get their attention than when they’re cleaning out tons of marketing emails on weekday mornings.”

While you can’t guarantee great results like these, the point is that Price was able to improve her client’s email performance by testing a small change to their strategy and doing something a bit different than what’s expected.     


Have you ever tried something new with email that produced great results? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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About the Author


Caroline Malamut

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Caroline is the Vendor Marketing Manager at Capterra. Her love of marketing began while growing up in Philadelphia and has only grown since attending the University of Pittsburgh. In her free time she enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on her Philly and Pitt sports teams.



Excellent article, Caroline. A little bit of personalization certainly keeps things interesting. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at

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