Inbound Marketing, Sales & Marketing Alignment

10 ABM Email Subject Line Formulas with 50+ Percent Open Rates

Account-based marketing has recently earned its place as one of the most heavily spotlighted marketing tactics circulating throughout the B2B and enterprise industries. Considering the statistics that back it up, this comes as no surprise.

While there are an overwhelming number of big-picture articles discussing what account-based marketing is and how-to implement an account-based marketing campaign, there are few that provide tried and tested advice on the smaller-detail tactics, like how to write an ABM email subject line with sky high open rates.

We’ve tested multiple subject line formulas and the ones that performed the best have seen open rates as high as 93 percent, with the average falling around 50 percent.

These email subject line formulas have included:

  • The market research report
  • The request
  • Built-in personalization
  • Problem-solution
  • The kind gesture
  • The free trial

We’ll discuss each formula below, with advice and tips on how you can achieve similar open rates in your next account-based marketing campaign.

The Market Research Report

With most industries being flooded with recycled content, professionals naturally crave fresh, unexpected ideas and research. The market research report answers this demand.

Compiling market research reports allows you to uncover fresh data that you can use to earn the attention of key decision makers.

We employed this tactic recently for a client in the events services industry with delightfully high engagement -- some emails saw upwards of a 90 percent open rate!

SUBJECT LINE: View the [YEAR] National [ INDUSTRY TOPIC ] Report

Example: View the 2017 National Digital Marketing Report

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 53% (based on 349 delivered)
  • Average open rate, warm prospects**: 93% (based on 15 delivered)

SUBJECT LINE: 2017 National [ INDUSTRY TOPIC ] Market Research Report

Example: 2017 National Social Selling Market Research Report

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 53% (based on 181 delivered)
  • Average open rate, warm prospects**: 64% (based on 14 delivered)

**Our warm prospects participated in the survey that we used to extrapolate data for the market research report.

To apply this email subject line strategy to your account-based marketing email campaign, begin by creating an ideal customer profile for the prospects you will be targeting. This first step will allow you to come up with a market research report topic that will directly appeal to your prospect’s underlying interests, challenges, needs, and more.

To come up with a general topic to focus your survey questions around, ask yourself:

  • What problems is my prospect trying to solve?
  • What information is the prospect seeking to solve their challenges?
  • Based on existing industry content, what gaps can I fill?

The Request

While sharing a market research report with your prospects can provide high open rates when the right subject matter is shared, including your prospects in the survey itself can peak their interest even more.

We’ve used this tactic to request expert insights from our target prospects, and many are receptive to sharing their experiences. When they do participate, their engagement rates skyrocket by the time the survey is published and sent to their inbox. (As you may have noticed with the examples above, prospects who were surveyed and then received the published research report displayed open rates between 64 to 93 percent -- one of the highest open rates of all of our email campaigns to-date).

SUBJECT LINE: Your feedback is needed

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 67% (based on 3 delivered*)

* We’ll be including this subject line in future A/B tests to see how this statistic holds up when a larger audience is in play.

SUBJECT LINE: Request for [ INDUSTRY ] expertise

Example: Request for AV industry expertise

  • Average open rate: 53% (based on 454 delivered)

SUBJECT LINE: Market research study for [ INDUSTRY ]

Example: Market research study for AV industry

  • Average open rate: 41% (based on 455 delivered)

In keeping with the advice above, hone in on a specific and relevant industry topic that will relate to your target prospects’ interests in order to see the best results.

Built-in Personalization

As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to receiving mass emails. It’s not often we’re confronted with an email that’s been specifically personalized to us, but when we are we’re much more likely to engage.

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, according to Experien.

In addition to adding personalization elements within the body of our emails, we like to add them into our subject lines as well. By pairing subject line personalization, like inserting the prospect’s company name, with industry specific pain points, we were able to achieve open rates upwards of 50 percent.

SUBJECT LINE: [ INDUSTRY SPECIFIC PAIN POINT ] Tool/Solution for {company_name}

Example: Social media scheduling solution for Statusphere

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 45% (based on 286 delivered)
  • Average open rate, warm prospects: 53% (based on 161 delivered)

SUBJECT LINE: How {company_name} can [reduce costs, measure & improve profitability] with {your_solution}

Example: How Statusphere can earn more accounts with ABM

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 45% (based on 179 delivered)
  • Average open rate, warm prospects: 50% (based on 12 delivered)

By using personalization elements correctly, your prospects will feel like the solutions you’re suggesting are specifically catered to them -- getting them to open and engage with your emails.


Similar to the personalization examples above, the Problem-Solution email subject line format works well when you have a detailed profile of who you’re talking to.

If you’ve created a thoughtful and accurate ideal customer profile, the problems and solutions you pitch in your subject line should hit home with the prospects you’re connecting with. Even without personalization elements included, your email will feel personalized to the recipient.


Example: How to reduce the use of event labor brokers

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 36% (based on 326 delivered)
  • Average open rate, warm prospects: 62% (based on 29 delivered)


Example: How event companies can reduce insurance risk

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 44% (based on 313 delivered)
  • Average open rate, warm prospects: 45% (based on 13 delivered)

The Kind Gesture

Generally, when an email hits our inbox, it’s because somebody wants something from us. For a refreshing break from that standard, try offering your prospects a kind gesture with no hidden agenda or strings attached.

A few months ago, we surveyed Orlando tech startup founders on what made them interested in launching their startup in Central Florida. To round up responses, we used the subject line below.

SUBJECT LINE: We’d like to feature {company_name}

Example: We'd like to feature Fattmerchant

  • Open rate: 100% (based on 10 delivered)
  • Click rate: 30%
  • Response rate: 60%

The founders we reached out to were more than happy to hear from us and be featured in the article with a link back to their website. By the end of the 5 email sequence campaign, we received responses from 8 out of 10 founders.

You can apply a similar approach by identifying the key accounts you want to target, asking for their insights, and including them in a featured blog post. This is an easy way to build rapport and establish a relationship with key decision makers, without going straight in with your sales pitch.

The Free Trial

Toward the end of an email campaign, being straight to the point in your subject line with a free trial offer can grab your prospect’s interest.

It may seem counterintuitive to use what we perceive as a “salesy” subject line, but if you’ve thoroughly warmed up your prospects via previous offers and emails, offering a free trial can move them further down the funnel.


Example: Marketing Automation Tool, 30-Day Free Trial

  • Average open rate, cold prospects: 45% (based on 288 delivered)
  • Average open rate, warm prospects: 53% (based on 17 delivered)

Some tips for using this tactic: 1) make sure your tool fit with the prospect segment you’re targeting; 2) use this step toward the end of your campaign.

More Important than Subject Lines is Segmentation

No matter how creatively you spin your subject line, you’re unlikely to see results if you haven’t done the proper research and segmenting that will guarantee your emails are uniquely catered to your target segments.

“Marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.” - Campaign Monitor

While the subject line itself plays a role in your open rate, what we’ve learned from each of these ABM campaigns is that the most important factor is your target audience.

If you’ve done the work building your ideal customer profile, identifying their pain points, and crafting offers built specifically for them, all of your metrics will shine. Contact us to learn more here.

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