The 2017 B2B Outbound Email Marketing Cheat Sheet

For all the love I give to long form content posts, sometimes it's useful to have a simple a set of rules and principles that you can always refer to before running your next business-to-business (B2B) outbound email marketing campaign.

After looking through troves of our own data, and pages and pages of rehashed material online, here are the 10ish easiest to remember things to do and not do next time you want to send an email to your list of B2B email leads.

I'll include a shortened down version of this list as an infographic so that you can print it out and use it as a checklist whenever you need to.

1. Send emails between 8-9am, 3-4pm and 6-7pm Respectively


For optimal open rates, it's best to send contact your lead at the start of the day on weekdays (8-9am), after lunch (3-4pm) and on Sunday in the evening (6-7pm).

Saturdays are notoriously bad days to send emails because people are less likely to open them, far less likely to reply.

During the week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursday outperform the other days.

Note: Top engagement times of 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. can increase their average open rates and CTR by 6%.

2. Keep Your Mobile Subject Line Below 35 Characters

Girl-Smartphone Needless to say, since most internet users are checking their email on their smartphone during the day (with some exceptions), if your subject line is too long, their email client or web browser will cut it off.

35 Characters or less is ideal for mobile users (realistically, you want to aim for closer to 20) and 55 characters or less is ideal for desktop users.

3. Meetings Have The Highest Revenue Per Response Out Of All Email Objectives

Meeting When deliberating about what your call to action should be within your email. We found that time and time again, asking your prospect for a meeting instead of a just a link to sign up, or something else yields the most revenue per email response on average.

The reason for this a lot more rapport, and trust can be generated over a phone call. Your prospect will feel like whatever questions they have can be answered by your sales then and there instead of having to go back and forth in emails.

Note: During our GuessBox outbound email campaigns it was not uncommon for us to see a prospect agree to a phone or video call and once they felt like their questions were sufficiently addressed, the cold lead, turned prospect would turn into a paying client on the same day. You just can't get that type of rapid fire sales succession by pushing to click on a link and then removing yourself from the sales cycle.

4. Follow Ups Are a Must For Maximum Campaign Responses & Results

In the current day and age where the typical consumer is significantly more tech savvy than their counterparts 30 years ago, most people won't reply to a first touch email, especially if they think for a lack of a better word that it sounds too generic and 'spammy'.

That's why following up with your cold email lead is a must if they haven't opened or responded to your first touch email for a few days.

Your email goes from being deemed as, 'sigh, another one of those' to a legitimate email from a legitimate person who is genuinely interested as to why you haven't responded yet.

In our tests, we found that a correct follow-up campaign will add an extra 10% in your campaign's response rate.

5. Guilt Trips Work Especially Well When Trying To Get a Response

marketing girl If it's been a few days or weeks since your reader last replied to your email, I find adding a subtle guilt trip almost guarantees that they do between 70%-100% absolutely speaking.

Let me demonstrate:

Next time you are following up with a client add this line to the end of your email:

I understand that you're probably busy but if you are no longer interested in carrying through with this project, please let me know by replying to this email and I'll make sure to not reach again.

You'll typically receive a variation of, "Sorry, I'm still interested" Or "Sorry, I just missed your last email" and so forth.

Note: The line I included above should be used as a last ditch effort to salvage your communications. However, there are many other 'subtle' guilt trips you can include to illicit responses.

6. Keep Your First Touch Email to 5 Sentences Or Less

Nobody likes to read through a two-page email from somebody they don't know. So make sure the first email you send to email prospects is no more than 5 sentences.

I know there are exceptions to this rule but wherever possible try to shorten your email to include only the facts, call to action and perhaps a bit of flattery.

This brings me to my next point...

7. Flattery Helps

Humans by their nature are somewhat egotistical creatures. We enjoy being complimented and told that we are good at what we do. Research shows that we like it so much that we are still willing to believe it even if we know it is fake, or unsympathetic.

Hint: Google Confirmation bias. We believe what we want to believe.

So if you are wanting the person you're emailing to be more receptive to the content of your email then a little bit flattery at the beginning of your message can only help (just make sure your English is good).

Example: Hi Nick, I came across your website after reading the recent article in The Post about your company. I think it's amazing how much you have managed to achieve in such a short period of time.

8. Creating a Sense of Urgency in Your Subject Lines

Urgency Over at GuessBox we get engulfed with a plethora of emails every day. Be it requests for meetings, customer support tickets or something else entirely.

This scenario is one that is far too common for a lot of businesses. So if people feel like opening your email is going to send them down a rabbit hole of poorly written paragraphs that repeat useless information they won't be willing to divulge with their precious time and open your email, let alone reply.

As I mentioned above when discussing pushing for a meeting creating a sense of urgency in your email will increase the chance of them getting opened.

Example: Here are a few of the best subject lines that we use to get open rates of above 80% on cold emails using leads generated using GuessBox.

Hey Nick Quick Question

Hey Rebecca Quick Question About StudyMarket

Eric, GuessBox <> Marketwatch

Intro: Nick <> Sami

Nick Your Company Has Been Featured On...

Note: The last one references 'flattery' more so than urgency. However, it works remarkably well especially if your company has a blog where you can feature the target business.

9. Setting Up Email Authentication

I can't stress how important it is that your business has a correctly calibrated mail server, along with DomainKeys (DKIM), SPF, and/or DMARC enabled in your DNS.

Since this is a cheat sheet I won't go into too much depth about how this works, or why it is important. But simply put, it authenticates all your email coming from your server as your own and thus makes your email more reputable.

Therefore when a lead receives an email from you not only do you have a higher chance that it will land in their inbox rather than being filtered out by junk, but it also tells your prospect that the person sending out those emails is legitimate.

For more information about email authentication please read, How To Boost Email Deliverability By Signing Your Emails.

10. Using a Professional Email Signature

In The Persuasive Power of Professional Email Signatures we talked about how just having a professional email signature resulted in a surprisingly high number of clicks and sign ups even when emails never received a response.

Apart from conveying a strong brand image, professional email signatures do a lot more than that. If used correctly (i.e not overpopulating your signature with a bunch of calls to click, and sneaky links, and instead just putting a thumbnail of who you are, your company promo video, and your latest blog post) your signature can funnel readers of your email into your email funnel, and more importantly encourage them to share your email within their organization, thereby adding legitimacy to your message and increasing the chances of a meeting or sale.

11. Try To Avoid All References To The Following Words In Your Subject Lines & Body

There is a list of words and phrases that inherently throw up red flags in the eyes of your reader and their email client. I'm sure you will be familiar with some of these and even more familiar with how they made you feel last time you came across them in an email.

Note: This is by no means a comprehensive list, but you'll get the gist.

'Easy', 'How To', 'Credit', 'Cure', 'Magic', 'Best', 'Always', 'Free', '$$$', 'Discount', '!!!', 'Money'

Subject lines containing the above words all had significantly lower engagement and open rates. Not to mention, in 15% of the cases the emails went straight into the junk folder.

Note: The following words had the highest engagement rates only when delivered to an existing double opt in list (rather than a cold email).

'Template', 'Quick Tip', 'Infographic'


And that's it. I hope this cheat sheet comes in handy before you send out your next set of B2B emails. Stay tuned for a condensed infographic version, and printable PDF.

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