How to Get Your B2B Marketing Emails Opened in 2017: Four Tactics That Work

We are firmly in the fourth quarter of 2016 and many of you are about to (or have begun already) the process of lining out some of the big marketing goals for the new year.

The good news is also the bad news.

While there are bound to be some unforeseen big changes in 2017, (right now) it seems like everything will continue in the same direction.

For instance, things like live interaction, mobile usage, and email marketing will still be around and will increase in importance.

More people will be doing the same things you are to succeed and getting better at them. With fewer changes and bandwagons to jump on, marketers will be forced to improve their game and you should too.

Since email will continue to be a driver of closing B2B clients, we’ve put together a resource that will help you see a boost in your email open rate. In a year where subscribers will no doubt become more finicky and ready to hit “unsubscribe”, this post will cover all elements that retain subs and increase open rates.

Note: While there won’t be any new Earth-shattering data, we hope that you take our tips and research and use them to clean your email funnel up to experience a healthy and profitable 2017.

Now let’s get started.

1. Split-Test Your Subject Lines

When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
-David Ogilvy, advertising legend

It’s fairly obvious that the first step to getting your emails opened is a good subject line. However, it’s more important at some stages of your pipeline than others.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s always a good idea to have a well-thought out intro to every email.

But one of the highest-ROI activities in your job as a marketer is split-testing and refining your subject lines.

In Drip, we make this simple.

You can easily test “From” names, delivery timing, and — you guessed it — subject lines.

Here’s how to split-test your email campaigns in Drip (with statistical significance) in 60 seconds:


 Click Here to Start A/B Testing Your Subject Lines in Drip

Now that you know how to test the most important element of your emails, here are a few of our subject line experiments to run in 2017:

  • Short, Short, Short: Mobile use will continue to increase. Many B2B decision makers look at email via their phone and come back later for a detailed check. Unfortunately, mobile devices only show around five words for your email title (give or take). Say what you are going to say in as few words as possible.
  • Motivate Them Into Action: Subject lines are a call to action. You want them to click into your email to see the content inside (and click through it). Thinking in the same terms as you would writing copy anywhere else on your website will help you get more eyeballs on the writing within.
  • Avoid Old Problems: There are new lists of don’t dos all the time. All caps is a definite no-no, and there is a growing list of turn-off words that, if included, will actually hurt your open rate and possibly get you thrown into the spam folder. (Here’s a great post on the subject).

Fun Fact: A third of all email recipients open email based on the subject line alone. (Convince&Convert)

2. Personalize Your Emails (Beyond the First Name)

Making your emails more personal is a growing trend and, we predict, will hit critical mass in the next year.

As with subject lines, there are nuances to ‘when to use’ and the ‘levels of using’ personalization in your email efforts.

For instance, if you are cold-emailing 500 new leads for a SaaS product it may be a good idea just to use their name/company in a pretty broad template. However, if you are looking at a dozen very warm leads over in your funnel, you may want to send each of them a personal note to move them downstream.

In Drip, you can also add dynamic content to your emails with Liquid.

Let’s look at an example…

Check out the “Liquid Call To Action” below. Notice how the content of your email changes dynamically based on your prospect’s purchase history:

{% if subscriber.tags contains “Prospect” %}

P.S. Start your 14-day free trial today.

{% if subscriber.tags contains “Basic Plan” %}

P.S. Upgrade to our Pro Plan, free for 30 days. Click here to learn more.

{% if subscriber.tags contains “Pro Plan” %}

P.S. Have you checked out our Enterprise plan? Click here to learn more.

{% elsif %}

Each prospect on your email list will only see one P.S. — one that advances them to the next step in your conversion funnel.


According to Jupiter Research, relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails.

So, if you’re sending email blasts with no personalization, you’re going to face an uphill battle in the inbox.

The upside is, if you can make every email speak directly to your prospect’s needs, you can drive 18X more revenue. That’s how you stand out from the 205 billion emails sent each day and make prospects want to open every message you send.


Let’s check out some more essential personalization tips:

  • Use Buyer Personas: One of the best ways to “know” the person you’re emailing is to know about the commonalities between your buyers. Most of your customers will probably fall between 5 and 7 personas that would include job roles, age, desires, and dozens of other criteria. Creating content for a persona is a highly personal way to connect with actual prospects.
  • Think Outside the {name} Box: How many of us have gotten that email at 1a.m. from our Australian marketing brother or sister? Yeah, it’s not fun and your customers hate it when you email them at an inopportune time. If you can email them when they want it (date and time wise) you’ll see a bump up in that open rate.
  • Mix Personalization w/Automation: Sales reps can use a mix of personal emails with leads that are scheduled to send when triggered by said lead. Instead of a.) trying to craft an email too early or b.) sending a personalized email before the lead is ready, you can have the best of both worlds. Write a personalized email to the qualified, about-to-buy lead and set it to send at the right moment.

As with all of these tips, it’s important to note that your open rate is affected by the experience you deliver.

You might get a high open rate on your first few emails with click bait subject lines, but over time, prospects will avoid your emails if you don’t deliver value. When you personalize your emails with relevant content, you show subscribers that every message is worth opening. At that point, we’ve learned that your “From” name precedes any clever subject line you could come up with.

Pro Tip: If you regularly send the same emails to both prospects and customers (e.g. weekly newsletters or new articles as you publish them), consider using a “Liquid PS” as your standard Call To Action. Here’s a guide to conditional content in Drip that shows you how.

3. Fine Tune Your Email Frequency

The truth is, no two email lists are the same. You need to test the frequency of your emails to see how your readers respond. In the B2B SaaS space, you might settle somewhere around weekly or twice-weekly emails.

The “ideal” number isn’t the same for everyone and will take a detailed look at how often you want to speak to your audience. Again, where your leads are in the sales cycle could determine a different rate of frequency.

Example: A sales rep that is cold emailing/calling a prospect is going to do so more often than a current client. However, continuing to “feed” your customer base has a positive effect on lifetime value by keeping your brand in their minds.

Our Frequency Tips:

Keep It Relevant: It doesn’t matter if you are sending emails just to hit a magic number. Make sure everything you send is dynamite and your open rate will improve; even if it’s a quarterly publication. If you can send the kind of value that won’t get past up twice a week, do it!

Use the Numbers: The metrics will tell you if you’re getting on your list’s nerves. If they slow down on the open rate, it’s a sign you’re smothering them. Opt-outs and click throughs are another sign of trouble/success.

Be Consistent: B2B/SaaS clients want consistency in your service and that shows through everything you do from the products to your email newsletter. The name of the game is frequency in whatever interval you decide, not to be confused with infrequency.

Fun Fact: 38% of people sign up to a company’s newsletter in order to receive relevant information regarding the company.

4. Don’t Forget Mobile

Busy execs and decision makers are pulling out their iPhones to check email as they come in. If it’s important, they’ll come back later for the full substance. Even in the business world half of emails are checked via mobile, making it crucial to your open rate in 2017.

This mobile increase is good news for cold emailing as your subject line (if short enough) will more than likely get an open. Most content in a first or second email isn’t lengthy which means the read through is going to be high and, if the lead wants to have a conversation, they’ll take a deeper look later.

However, if you send a newsletter that is better viewed on a desktop your open rate is going to plummet. Even if you get a few opens early in your drip campaign, your prospects will quickly learn that your emails aren’t worth their click. Let’s avoid that.

Here are our mobile tips:

Aim High: You should aim to have the entire point of your email ready for mobile consumption. A mobile friendly subject line, content, and a CTA that is easy to navigate via phone will mean that your emails are worth opening no matter what device you are on.

Get Technical: Make sure you’re using a single column style that isn’t too wide, and your font needs to be big enough for mobile users to see without adjustment. Test your email around the office through a few types of devices to ensure quality. Getting these details down is really half the mobile battle. The other half?

Mobile Content: Really, your message needs to be put in a way that is quick and easy. While mosts professionals go back and read around a quarter of the emails they get, let’s be honest, yours probably won’t be high on the list all the time. Make it fully readable the first time they open it and they’ll keep opening your stuff.

Fun Fact: Three quarters of the 1 billion Gmail users access their accounts via mobile devices. (TechCrunch)

Now It’s Time to Get to Work

The New Year is closing in fast and you probably have some work to do on your email marketing. Getting that open rate up happens when the whole pie is working together to deliver your message (along with incredible value) to your leads. So start building some great email habits.

Question for the comments: What’s your #1 tactic for getting B2B emails opened and clicked?

Click here to upgrade your email automation with Drip