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Supercharge Your Pipeline

Top Learnings from INBOUND 2021 on All Things Marketing: Email

October 15, 2021

By Ale Melara

In case you missed INBOUND this year or couldn’t take notes of your own, don’t worry, we got you! Our INBOUND 2021 recap blog series has all the juicy information that you might’ve missed.

Another topic that was hot and steaming at INBOUND this year was: email marketing. We compiled our favorite sessions around email marketing and are sharing the hottest trends and insights with you on this recap blog.

Don’t forget to try these tricks out on your subject lines and let us know if they are truly working for you!

NOTE: Powerhouse Pass Attendees will have access to the INBOUND 2021 virtual event platform for 1 year from today to rewatch any session on-demand. 

SESSION 1. Email Myths Busted! What’s Really Working Now!

Click here to watch the on-demand recording of the session; note that you must have an INBOUND 2021 Powerhouse Pass to view.

Jay Schwedelson, Worlddata, Founder, CEO
Session highlight by SmartBugs Ali Wert & Kristina Pittman

    • Use of a person’s name as the sender even from big brands (B2B and B2C) is absolutely surging. Up 450% in b2b, 275% in b2c.
      • Does it work? Yes, with caveats -- 
        • Higher open rate (b2b increase 38%; b2c 27%)
        • Higher remove request (b2b 68%; b2c 52%)
  • Use with caution 
  • Use of the fake “FW” or “RE”
    • This is terrible and sneaky and never do it!
    • Increases unsubscribe requests by 135%


    • Open rates increase when these are used in subject line:
      • Parentheses (27% increase)
      • Brackets (18% increase)
      • Asterisks (25% increase -- this is new from the last report!)
  • It May seem little but we are in a battle to get our emails opened
    • Will characters or emojis send me to the junk folder?
  • No! This is old information.
      • You only get filtered out by having a bad sender reputation
      • These characters increase open rates, and increased engagement means improved sender score.
    • Top email that gets opened more than anything else:
      • Mistake emails! “Oops… “ -- we delight in other people’s mistakes!
      • The fake mistake email is doing great: 29% open rate increase in b2b and 37% increase in b2c
      • E.g. “Oops, you almost scrolled past this” - “yikes” “uh oh”
    • Comparisons are working well
      • This vs. that subject lines
      • B2B 21% increase and B2C 22% increase open rates
    • iOS 15
      • Will not be able to track open rates on possibly 40% of your database
      • How to still track open rates
        • Create lists of non-Apple mail users w/in your database
        • Look at their open rates to make an estimate
      • iOS 15 tool -- will calculate your open rate with iOS 15 accounted for
    • Ellipses for the win
      • “The keynote speaker is…  “
      • B2B 31% higher and B2C 28% higher avg open rates
  • These tests cost you nothing to try!
    • Bookend emojis are working
      • Increase open rates by 31%
  • This works for B2B too! No one is going to not do business with you because you used emojis.
      • Emoji use up 1700% in b2b and 3200% in b2c in last 18 mos
  • That doesn’t mean everyone is doing it! Still worth testing to cut through the noise.
  • Be clear in SLs
    • Put in the offer
    • Not a creative/clever/vague SL that isn’t relevant to the offer
  • Your From address matters 
    • Establish relevancy 
    • It’s essentially a second SL
  • Link your logo to the offer

Guest. What’s. Back. 

Plus a fun revelation 😂

SESSION 2. Email Subject Line vs Email Content Debate (and why)

Click here to watch the on-demand recording of the session; note that you must have an INBOUND 2021 Powerhouse Pass to view.

Jay Schwedelson, Founder, CEO - / Worldata @worldata (SUBJECT LINE)
Nancy Harhut, HBT Marketing, Chief Creative Officer @nharhut (CONTENT OF EMAIL)

Session highlight by SmartBug Hannah Shain

Nancy’s Stance - Subject Lines are not as important

  • Campaign Monitor found that 68% of people open the email based on from line (SendGrid found the same) … more people are apt to open based on the from line vs the subject line. 
  • It’s the first thing you see, in a very bold format
    • When you get a call and don’t recognize name/phone - you let it go to voicemail. 
    • When you recognize it - you answer right away. 
    • People treat their email the same way
  • Quoting Jay from yesterday on the “friendly from” 
  • Reputation is very important, avoid the spam folder
  • Subject Line is the appetizer; and the actual content is the meal
  • Countdown clock increases the clickthrough rate
  • You can’t tell a story without 
  • You’re gonna lose readers and NO 

Jay’s Stance - Subject lines are most important

    • Subject Lines dictates how many people will see the rest of your email
    • Without subject lines, our society would collapse
      • We live on this data
      • Things you can do to generate interest - more than capitalization and emojis
        • Sense of urgency
        • Create exclusivity in your SL, you can increase opens by up to 25%  

Keep on the lookout for more INBOUND 2021 Recaps on the SmartBug Blog; and visit our dedicated page for SmartBug at INBOUND 2021 resources and support.

Check out a few email strategies we executed during the first three months of COVID-19 in our

COVID-19 Email Marketing Impact Report

Check It Out
Topics: Email Marketing, INBOUND