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B2B Email Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

B2B, or Business-to-business email marketing, is a proven method to nurture new leads, reach out to customers, and increase brand engagement.

With impeccably curated, value-driven, engaging content, you can guide potential and new customers through the sales funnel from acquisition to purchase. Then, you can boost customer retention rates by keeping them in the loop and maintaining profitable relationships on both sides!

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What is B2B Email Marketing?

B2B email marketing is just what it sounds like: sending email marketing campaigns to professionals and businesses instead of individual customers

Brands that sell to or service other brands often rely on B2B marketing for raising awareness and lead generation.

But B2B email marketing requires a slightly different approach than regular business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.

Why is B2B Email Marketing Important?

Email is one of the most effective channels for B2B marketing. In fact, studies have shown that email has an ROI of 3600%!

That’s because email allows you to target your messages specifically to the people who would be most interested in what you have to say. 

You can segment your email lists by factors like job title, industry, or specific interests.

And since email is a two-way street, it’s also an excellent way to nurture relationships with your customers and build a rapport with potential leads.

Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, email marketing is arguably more powerful than any other marketing channel.

Not only can you reach your whole target audience at once, but you can do so quickly and cheaply. Plus, B2B email marketing offers tons of marketing strategies and perks like:

Generating Leads

Email marketing makes finding and nurturing potential sales easy. With a well-crafted sign-up form that exchanges value for email addresses, you can quickly build a subscriber list.

From there, you can segment your leads by their interests and position in the sales funnel to create targeted email campaigns that close deals.

Curating Relationships

Email marketing lets you reach out to sales leads and existing customers anytime, anywhere. Once a contact subscribes, you can send a welcome email to start the relationship on the right foot.

You can continue building rapport by sharing helpful resources, educational content, and updates on your product or service.

With B2B email marketing, you can keep your company top-of-mind with every subscriber. By sharing timely updates, exclusive offers, and stories about your brand, you can remind leads and customers why they subscribed!

Retaining Customers

Once you convert leads to buyers, you have to retain them. Once again, a solid B2B email marketing strategy makes it easy. You can craft a curated email campaign to:

  • Encourage sales;
  • Thank buyers for purchases;
  • Improve onboarding;
  • Educate customers on using your product or service;
  • Answer questions;
  • Send renewal and product offerings;

Done well, you can even use B2B email marketing to re-engage cold leads and win back lost customers.

Relating to Your Target Audience

B2B email marketing offers unique opportunities to format, design, and distribute your email content.

The format offers immense flexibility and opportunities for personalization that TV ads or flyers just can’t match.

Plus, audience expectations remain laxer for emails – some days, you can present research; others, you can ham it up.

Building Brand Authority

The value should reign in your brand, whether you’re raising product awareness, educating new buyers, or reporting your latest research.

Every email is an opportunity to deliver industry-leading, relevant content. Do this enough times, and your email subscribers will come to see you as an authority in your industry.

The brand authority will give you more credibility when making a sales pitch down the road.

It may also lead to organic link-building opportunities and social media shares.

Encouraging Customer Advocacy

B2B email marketing makes it easy to turn customers into brand ambassadors. Use emails to deliver information, offer helpful links, and promote referral programs.

The more sharable and accessible your information, the easier your customers become your marketers.

Also, don’t forget to engage with your audience. If someone replies to your email – reply to them as well!

Closing Sales

Last but not least email marketing removes some of the pressure off your sales team. With well-designed B2B email marketing campaigns, you can nurture sales through the funnel and allow your marketing teams to focus on meeting goals and closing the final purchase.

The trick is to combine an effective email marketing strategy with top-notch automation. With a little help from the sales experts on your team, you can take your B2B email marketing results to the next level.

Why B2B Email Marketing Requires Unique Email Strategies

B2B and B2C email marketing share some overlaps – but ultimately, you need to rethink your entire strategy.

Think of it like identical doors with different locks: while you want to accomplish the same goal, you need different keys to get in.

Let’s look at a few ways B2B email marketing differs from its B2C counterpart.

Targeting Tactics

B2C brands have it easy – they market to one consumer at a time. But B2B email marketers have to target whole companies and specific individuals within each company.

Effectively, that means your email campaigns need to provide value to the business while speaking to a particular person within a company.

So in comparison to B2C you need to make the sales twice once to a company and once to a decision maker. (Yes, we know that the decision maker is essentially deciding on behalf of the company, but you get what we mean!)

The Sales Cycle

Buying something for yourself generally takes just a few minutes if you know what you want. But companies require multiple layers of coordination, budget analysis, and approval.

In B2B email marketing, that means creating more emails to nurture customers down the pipeline.

And since email marketing campaigns are designed to lead customers through sales cycles step-by-step, you can expect B2B email marketing campaigns to take longer.

Email Content

When you write B2C email campaigns, you can generally be flashier and more promotional about your brand. But when you’re connecting with businesses, the math changes.

B2B email marketing tends to succeed when brands focus on providing information, resources, and logical arguments. Forget repurposing B2C content – you’ll have to develop a whole new strategy.

You need to write professional copy for professional consumers. “Best Ways TO Be Productive” probably won’t cut it. The content in the emails will need to be insightful, sharing valuable tips or leading to a valuable information source.

B2B Email Marketing by the Numbers

B2B email marketing is incredibly effective.

  • 81% of B2B email marketers rely on emails as their primary content delivery system.
  • 91% of business-to-business organizations believe their email marketing strategy is one of their most important content marketing methods.

While that hints at the success of the strategy, that level of competition also means you need to bring your A-game every time.

Any company can send out email newsletters – but to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to design email campaigns that actually convert.

But when it does work, it really works. As we mentioned – the ROI on B2B email marketing can be as high as 3,600%. In other words, for every $1 you spend on marketing, you’ll generate up to $36 in returns. Phew!

Best Practices for B2B Email Marketing Campaigns

Just like B2C email marketing strategies, B2B email campaigns that follow best practices tend to drive better results. Consider the following:

Focus on Email Design

Your email design should reflect the values and expectations of your industry. If you’re in cosmetics, fun, bright, and bubbly probably fits in better than if you’re in defense.

Doing some industry research and designing your own templates to spec can go a long way here. But do not overdo it. Minimalistic and simple emails can work great as well!

Use Templates

Using or building a library of on-brand email templates can help you work smarter and quicker.

Though it requires some time upfront, you’ll thank yourself later when you’re cranking out everything from welcome emails to post-purchase emails in minutes. Remember: if your desired audience can tell you’re using templates, you’re doing it wrong.

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Write Great (Personalized) Subject Lines

While email subject lines are always important, when you’re in B2B email marketing, annoying or suspicious subject lines get discarded that much faster.

The busier your audience, the less likely they’ll put up with bad writing or tons of spammy symbols.

Research shows that 2/3 of people open emails based on subject lines alone. While under 60 characters is standard, studies suggest about 40 characters (~7 words) should do the trick.

The key is to write short email subject lines that pack a big punch in a little package.

Personalize When Possible

Personalization in B2B email marketing can boost important email analytics like open rates, click-throughs, and drive conversions.

Addressing recipients by name and title, referencing employers, and sprinkling in other tidbits make your emails feel more conversational. And with email automation, you can personalize everything from subject lines to sign-offs.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Your ideal email copy length should range from 50-125 words to balance information value with short attention spans.

But brevity doesn’t mean lacking substance – you can pack in tons of value with smart formatting, strategic design, and images.

The first sentence of your email especially matters. It is one of the few things that the recipient sees immediately, before opening the message.

Be Conversational

When writing B2B email marketing campaigns, it’s easy to get stuck in “professional mode” and read as stiff or impersonal.

But even targeting brands, you’re still talking to people and fostering crucial relationships. While you may stray slightly more formal than B2C marketers, don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm, joke around, and stay light and engaging.

Just don’t overdo it!

Include a Relevant Call-to-Action (CTA)

Adding a relevant call-to-action allows you to take your connection with your audience to the next level.

Every call-to-action should:

  • Inform readers of the action you want them to take;
  • Answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”;
  • Be placed, so it’s visible and accessible;
  • Naturally fit into the body of the email;

You can use this chance to guide their next steps, such as visiting a landing page or blog post. Just make sure it’s relevant and fits into the context of your copy.

Use Images and Video

In B2B, as in B2C, visuals matter. Around 32% of marketers consider visuals important for their messaging.

Adding 1-3 images can promote higher click-through rates, while videos can increase clicks by 65% and reduce unsubscribe rates by 26%.

You can also use these alternate mediums to introduce new context, value, and personalization into your strategy.

Save Time with Automation

Email marketing automation lets you speed up mundane tasks, such as tagging and segmenting email lists, setting up drip campaigns, and sending relevant updates.

Not only does this save you time, but it also allows you to focus on other areas of your business.

Types Of B2B Email Marketing Campaigns

There are many different types of email marketing campaigns that you can send, each with its own goal. We could group them into three main categories:

  • Relationship – an email with a high informational value that helps to establish trust with the recipient.
  • Transaction – in this category, you would have emails that promote specific products or services with the goal of making a sale.
  • Loyalty – email campaigns sent to customers who have already made a purchase, aimed at maintaining customer loyalty and keeping them coming back for more.

Now that we have this out of the way let’s have a look at some of the types of B2B Email Marketing Campaigns that you will be sending. Think of it as an inspiration:

Drip Campaigns

This is usually the first step in the email marketing funnel. Prospect had left you their email through a lead magnet. Now you have to convert them. A drip campaign is a set of emails, sent in 3-5 days sequence, trying to convert the warm lead.

Welcome Emails

After the lead is converted, you now have to nurture them. They don’t know much about you, so you have to introduce yourself and your company. In a welcome email, you will be introducing the company, its mission, and maybe some key people. This is the first step in building a relationship.

Product Updates

These campaigns are focused on the great new things that your product is now able to offer.  It’s important to show not only that your product is constantly improving but also that you are keeping up with the trends in your industry.

Customer Reactivation

At some point, your customers will stop using your product. Reach out to those passive customers and show them how your product has changed and why it’s worth their time to return.

Educational Emails

With this campaign, your goal would be to educate your new customers on how to use your product. The important thing is to ensure that your customers know that you are there to help them and want them to succeed.

Case Studies

Nothing beats a great case study. This is a great opportunity to show what your product can do and how impactful it can be. People like to related, and there is nothing more that we want to relate to than a good success story.

Promotional Emails

To make a sale, you have to ask for the sale!  This campaign would be designed to promote a specific product or service. For existing customers, cross-sell campaigns are a great pick for expanding your collaboration. For prospects – a time-limited discount or a trial could do the trick!

Feedback Requests

You know that saying about “unknown unknowns,” right? Sometimes, you just don’t even know what problem the clients are having. Something like a hidden bottleneck. Getting truthfully and extensive feedback is the only way how to “uncork” it.

How to Create Converting B2B Email Marketing Campaigns

Now that we’ve covered best practices and types of campaigns let’s look at some strategies to create converting B2B email marketing campaigns.

Profile Your Buyer Persona(s)

As a B2B marketer, your goal isn’t to reach one person but a company’s decision-making unit (DMU). A DMU usually consists of multiple people who will scrutinize your emails, products, and value add.

To engage the decision-makers, you’ll need to profile company and individual buyer personas and segment campaigns accordingly.

In B2B email marketing, your buyer personas represent both companies (industry, size, budget) and individuals (age, location, and pain points by job title).

Using specific personas helps you engage individuals throughout the organization and market product(s) to your ideal audience at all levels.

Think Like a Buyer

Once you have buyer personas, you’ll want to tailor emails by role and pain points. For instance, you’d send different content to the person who uses your product versus the person who approves their department budget.

While you want to provide value at all levels, the type of value you promote should vary accordingly.

Grow Your List Organically – and Keep It Clean

Buying B2B email marketing lists sounds like a great way to get ahead. Realistically, though, you may alienate potential customers and end up in hot water legally.

Instead, focus on growing your email list organically. It may take longer, but you’ll see better results if everyone on your subscriber list wants to be there.

In a similar vein, take care to trim your list regularly. Unwanted or fake contacts can negatively affect your send reputation, increase bounce rates, and result in poor stats in your campaign analytics.

After all, if you’re not sending emails to valid addresses that want content, what’s the point?

Segment for Relevance

Email segmentation tools make it easy to group email subscribers according to characteristics like company, job role, industry, and budget.

Not all of your leads need or want the same things, so strategizing by a group can help you achieve better results.

Plan Your Campaign in Stages

Email marketing cycles should mirror the customer journey. By providing valuable content on customers’ timeliness, you can provide relevance and drive more conversions. Generally, you should tailor content to the five steps of the customer cycle:

  1. Awareness of your brand – eBooks, how-to guides, and thought leadership can familiarize leads with your product.
  2. Consideration of your products – Customer testimonials, product demos, and case studies can provide more information.
  3. Deciding if your product fits their budget and can provide ROI – Free trials, discounts, and cost estimates can provide incentives to convert.
  4. Retention involves renewing subscriptions, buying products, or continuing relationships – Tutorials and high-level educational content can keep clients engaged.
  5. Advocating for your brand as a customer – Surveys and referral programs can turn loyal customers into brand advocates.

Drip Your Campaigns

Drip campaigns are useful marketing tools for guiding customers down the sales pipeline. Setting up automated email sequences that trigger when leads act saves you time and can speed up the sales cycle. Just be sure to create content before you activate a campaign. So no improvisations on the go!

Consider Frequency

B2B email marketing works best when you send just 1-5 emails per month. (Though effective frequency varies by audience.) The goal is to keep your brand relevant without spamming leads or clients.

Send Cold Emails Carefully

Generally, we advise against cold emails for B2C marketers, but the rules are murkier in the B2B world. A cold email can pay off if you’re reaching out to leads you genuinely believe could benefit from your product. Just remember to research contacts before you reach out and make sure they fit your buyer persona!

Timing is Everything

B2B email marketing campaigns work best when you time them properly. The best times to send emails differ between audiences and businesses, as well as what stage your leads are in. Your analytic data can provide specific insights for your email marketing team.

Make Sure Your Emails Offer Value

Every email you send should offer value to your customers. While B2C customers often respond to emotions and entertainment, B2B email marketing customers want logic, a positive ROI, and to grow with you. To ensure you provide this value, every email should answer three questions:

  • What’s the offer?
  • What’s the value for the reader?
  • What should they do next?

Providing this level of value extends to your call-to-action. When you align value with relevance and customer interests, you’re more likely to succeed.

Stay on Message

When customers subscribe to email lists, it’s because they want to know more about your product and brand – and they trust you to provide it.

Don’t abuse that trust by spamming contacts with useless or off-topic content. Staying on message and only emailing when you can provide real value will keep your emails out of the trash.

Track Results

Once you’ve finalized and sent out your campaign, it’s time to analyze the results.

That doesn’t mean you should gather data points willy-nilly. It’s important to set goals for each campaign, along with attainable metrics. (For instance, if you want to drive demos, you’d measure how many demo sign-ups you saw after the relevant campaign.)

As you gather this information, analyze which factors lead to content marketing success. Then, you can use this information to optimize future campaigns.

But as a B2B email marketer, your work never ends. What works now might fail in three months – so monitoring data in every email campaign is crucial.

Key Takeaways

  • B2B email marketing remains one of the top ways for B2B brands to nurture leads, convert sales, and maintain lasting client relationships.
  • While it takes time and effort to learn, your marketing efforts will have you snatching up new subscribers and driving conversions in no time!
  • Testing every part of the email marketing campaigns should never stop.
  • You should always keep monitoring the data (and track everything), so you can make changes to improve your marketing strategy.
  • B2B is about persuading the company and the person who reads your emails.

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