7 B2B Email Marketing Elements Every Marketer Should Test

Laura B B Marketing Post
Laura Cain
January 20, 2016

Email marketing isn’t quite an art, but it’s pretty darn close. In order to have a successful B2B marketing campaign, you have to be creative and patient–like any of the great artists! Vincent Van Gogh was known for his patience, right? Even though a B2B email might not contain flashy graphics and dozens of sparkling coupons, that doesn’t mean that you should stay away from creativity altogether.

As for patience, it’s important to realize the nuance in B2B email marketing. B2B relationships have a significantly longer sales cycle than that of B2C interactions; therefore, it’s exceedingly important that every aspect of an email crafted for a B2B campaign is both considered and tested.


What every member of your team should understand before crafting an email campaign:

  • What is your brand’s voice?  Are you a small company comprised of young, creative types that want to be known for their fun spirit?  Are you a larger company that focuses solely on numbers?  Either way, your email better reflect that.
  • Who is your audience? You need to consider what kind of email might have the highest chance of prompting them to engage. If you’re sending an email to marketing directors, you might want to give your email a more creative tone than you would if you were sending it to lawyers. 
  • What can you offer to your targeted audience and how is it of relevance to them? By sending this email, you want to help make their job easier, not harder. Be upfront with what you can offer them and how easy it’s going to be for them to work with you!
  • Is the email pool that you’re testing statistically significant? If you’re only sending a campaign to 50 people, then you might want to minimize the aspects of the email that you choose to test.

Once you’ve answered these four questions, it’s time to start considering the features of the email that need to be tested. I’ve included 7 of the most important elements that everyone should test in their B2B email marketing campaigns below.


1) Subject Line


email marketing subject lines

The subject line is the most important part of your email; think of it as your company’s first impression. If your reader doesn’t like your subject line, or if it’s too sales-driven, then it will immediately be sent to the trash. Try to entice your reader with your subject line!  Here are some different things worth testing in your subject lines:

  • Length: You don’t want your subject line to be too short, but you don’t want it too long, either. It’s a Goldilocks dilemma. Somewhere around 50 characters is a good starting point, but test it out. 
  • Tone: Try funny, serious, enticing, or an immediate call-to-action – you never know what might work best.
  • Type of sentence: Try different sentence structures. It’s always good to experiment with questions in your subject line, but maybe you’ll find a direct statement that works even better.
  • Google a spam list: Try Googling “words blocked by email spam blocker,” which will help give you an idea of words to avoid in your subject line. 


2) Copy

Once you’ve gotten your reader to open the email, you’re past the first hurdle.  From here on out, every little aspect of your email can make or break its success. There are so many different ways to approach your email copy, but here are a few basic guidelines to follow that will give you a solid starting test:

  • Writing Style: A good start to your email copy is to decide what kinds of writing styles you want to test. It’s important to keep each writing style aligned with your company’s overarching tone, but there’s always room for testing.  Try a formal email versus a casual, friendly one.
  • Greeting: Like your subject line, the first line of your email gives a strong first impression. A preview of your email copy can be seen alongside the subject line, so often it’s read right after the subject.  Make sure it says what is promised in the subject line, but test different openings.
  • Call-to-action: There are many different ways to test a call-to-action. You might want to test placement within the email copy, what the actual call-to-action is, or how you word it.
  • Length: Sometimes a short and to-the-point email can be successful, and sometimes a fleshed-out email with lots of content can be helpful. Again, consider your audience!
  • Layout: Test different ways of laying out your information. You might want to try a bulleted list to break up the information, 2-3 paragraphs of text, or even throw in a graphic for visual interest.


3) Time Sent

The time you send your email is critical, as it vastly affects both open and response rates.  Test both the time of day and the day of week you send your email and vary the tests based on the targeted audience. Again, testing is key!

While there’s no one end-all, be-all law for what works best, here’s a general rule of thumb to follow. Don’t send emails on Mondays or Fridays, and try not to send emails too late in the day.


4) Templates

Play around with different templates. If you’re using an email marketing platform, there are typically different kinds of templates already included that you can tailor to your company’s color scheme, aesthetic, and brand.

You don’t have to change the entire template to test different appearances. It never hurts to test different aspects within the template. Try bold colors, using your logo, or even just sending a classic black-and-white email. Remember: you can be creative! Just imagine what Picasso could do if he designed a B2B email marketing email. 


5) Links

Links are a great way to strengthen audience engagement, especially if you track them through Google Analytics. A reader may not respond to your email but he could instead choose to click on one of the links within your email and convert.  Don’t shy away from using links. You should also test how you utilize those links within an email in the following ways:

  • The kind of links you include: Do you want to link to your homepage?  Maybe try linking to your blog, a conversion form or your company’s LinkedIn page.  It even helps to build out a page specifically for the audience you’re targeting.
  • Where you place the links: You can hyperlink to a landing page anywhere within the email, so there are lots of options to test.  You might also try putting links to your company’s homepage in your signature.


6) The “From” Line

It’s important to remember to test how your audience will read who the email is from. If you’ve already reached out to them before, perhaps test a more personal “from” line.  If it’s a more corporate email, try only using your company’s name. You could even try a combination of the two.


7) Follow-up Email

Don’t forget to test different ways of following-up with people. Not only do you want to ensure that you’re always replying to people who responded to your email, but there are other important kinds of follow-up emails as well.  If you’re using an email marketing platform, you can see who opened your email and how many times.  One good metric to test is to send a follow-up email to someone who has opened your email a certain amount of times (3 is a good metric) or who clicked on any of your links.


What else do you test with your B2B email marketing campaigns? How creative do your emails get? And which artist do you think would craft the best email marketing campaign? Tweet us at @Perfect_Search. 

Don’t forget to check out our tips on writing an effective email. Feel free to follow me on twitter @lauracmarketing!


Laura Cain
Senior Director, Business Operations

Laura Cain is a University of Chicago alum who hails from Mandeville, Louisiana. If she could have her own store, she would sell sandwiches on really fancy bread, and the one thing she can’t live without is ice cream (seriously).

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