Too Many Emails, Too Little Time

B2B Email Marketing Best Practices

When Adobe, a leading design and digital marketing software vendor, released its "Email Usage Study,"1, the results offered B2B email marketers some good news ... and some bad.

The average B2B email open rate according to the Direct Marketing Association's most recent benchmarking report is 15.1% with click-through at 3.2%. And, according to 56% of Adobe's study participants, email is still the preferred way to receive offers. However, people are spending less time going through their email. Work email is checked 209 minutes each workday, compared to 256 minutes in 2016. Half of workers now wait until they get to work to check their work email. And there's also been a decline in the number of people who check work email on vacation. Interestingly, most people, 71%, feel that the amount of time they spend checking email is "just right."

Meanwhile, although people are only paying about two thirds as much attention to their email inboxes as they did three years ago, the number of emails continues to increase. In 2017, 269 billion emails were sent and received each day. That number is expected to increase to 333 billion by 2020.2

So, with less time spent reviewing more emails, how can you make sure your messages stand out? Here are a half dozen best practices that can make a difference for your B2B email marketing.

  1. Start new customer relationships with an email "Welcome."
  2. Welcome emails have a particularly high open rate — over 80%.3 Take advantage of the "honeymoon phase" by serving up valuable information or additional offers. Your customers will be more likely to open future emails from you when you start the relationship off on the right foot.

  3. Send your emails when more people will read them.

  4. Most research suggests that the best time for sending B2B emails is in the morning on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. Test your own emails and determine which time and day deliver the best open and click-through rates.

  5. Remember that B2B email subject lines are (still) critically important.

  6. For marketers who grew up in the days of more traditional media, the subject line is akin to direct mail's outer envelope. Aim for continual improvement by testing trends you see in your own inbox. For example, test length, personalization, including deadline dates, even using emojis.

  7. Design for mobile first.

  8. Estimates vary from 50% to 66%, but you should assume that your audience is going to receive your email on their mobile phone or tablet. Be sensitive about your use of large images, too much copy, sidebars, columns, or other elements that won't look — or load — right on a small screen.

  9. Take opt-in to heart.

  10. The CAN-SPAM act will soon celebrate its 16th anniversary. But, there's more to the concept behind it than simply complying with the law. Not sure how often to email or what subjects matter most to your audience? Don't guess; ask them. The more you can make your email marketing a two-way conversation, the better.

  11. Link your email to your other marketing channels.

  12. When people are online, they are predisposed to take action. Give them links to your social media channels, videos on YouTube, instant downloads, and other content. A multichannel relationship with your customer or prospect will be inherently stronger.

Learn more about how to engage and nurture prospects with Dun & Bradstreet.


1 Adobe, "Email Usage – Working Age Knowledge Workers (US Trended Results,” 2019.
2 Statistica, 2018.
3 GetResponse, 2017.