Email is undoubtedly one of the most successful marketing channels.
Despite what social media pros tell you, 58% of professionals check their emails before checking their social media accounts. It allows you to reach your target audience quickly and in a format that is entirely customizable to your needs.
Unsurprisingly, 79% of B2B marketers find email to be their most successful content promotion channel.
Now, just because it’s convenient and popular doesn’t mean it’s easily applicable. Sixty-six percent of B2B marketers struggle with email marketing to drive lead generation efforts.
This article dives into what B2B email marketing involves, its challenges, and how to create a winning strategy.
Let’s get started!
What does B2B email marketing involve?
B2B (business-to-business) email marketing involves sending personalized and educational emails to sales prospects which represent a company in your target market niche.
Since it’s a part of permission-based marketing communications, you need your prospect’s consent which can be obtained through an email opt-in form or cold email.
After getting a response from the prospects, marketers engage them with educational content to convert them to qualified leads. The sales team then takes over, e.g., with a demo or limited offer.
The B2B email marketing process looks like this.
- Get your email list
- Categorize the prospects
- Personalize your emails
- Educate the prospects about your solution (nurturing your leads)
- Have compelling CTAs
- Analyze your campaigns
- Optimize the process
Is email marketing good for B2B?
B2B email marketing has low expenses. It’s easy to start with simple texts or images, short videos, logos, and an automation tool. Most email marketing tools allow you to track campaign progress (open rate, click-through rate, etc.), so you can A/B test and improve your email campaigns. And the good thing about starting small is that you have the opportunity to personalize your messages and create a loyal userbase from the very beginning.
However, B2B email marketing has its fair share of challenges. First, you compete for your prospects’ attention which can be hard because they are probably already being bombarded by other email marketing campaigns. Plus, recipients are active once they subscribe but tend to lose interest with time. Therefore, you need more time to personalize their emails for engagement and determine the right frequency for each prospect – you don’t want to be a nag with daily emails!
But don’t worry! This is why I’m here – making things look easy and sharing my foolproof strategy for creating B2B email marketing campaigns.
How to create a B2B email marketing strategy
To create the best B2B email marketing strategy, answer the following questions:
- To whom am I sending the emails?
- Am I capable of solving their problems?
- How should I structure the email content to appeal to their need?
- How often should I send the emails before and after a response?
Around these questions, you can then structure a battle plan for creating an effective B2B email marketing strategy. In this next part, I will share my own strategy – one that I have personally developed and improved over the years. I’ll focus on opt-in subscribers because I’ve already covered cold outreach email campaigns previously.
1. Set your B2B email marketing goals
Determine what you want to achieve through B2B email marketing. For instance, if you sell marketing tools, set a monthly target of how many new subscribers you need. Keep in mind that those initial attempts need to be personalized and filled with relevant content.
So, if you need 50 new monthly responses, allocate enough time to write and send out around 500 emails.
Below is an example of B2B email marketing goals:
|Company Goals||Email Marketing Goals||Timeframe|
|50 new customers||Get 500 new email subscribers||monthly|
2. Choose your email marketing tool
Choose the best Email Service Provider (ESP) for your email campaign. A good B2B email marketing tool should track your campaign progress and automate repetitive processes – e.g., sending out follow-up emails.
For example, Onmisend is a good email marketing tool with pre-built templates and you can start with a free subscription. The tool generates reports about the overall campaign performance.
Of course, the best way to go about it is to try out different tools and see which is the right email service provider for you personally. What works for one online business, might not do for others.
Luckily, a lot of those tools give you free trials and are quite accommodating to companies, so you’ll have the opportunity to test the waters before you commit fully to this email marketing investment.
3. Identify your target audience
Use the Google Analytics tool to get extensive and accurate data about your website visitors. For example, you can track the bounce rate, average session duration, and pages per session for different keywords.
The reports show you which channels (source/medium) visitors come from and the type of content they engage with. Then you can decide which will be the focus keywords for your website. Another very useful metric is the demographic information of your website’s visitors – country, age, gender, etc.
You can also learn about your audience from your social media followers – what they discuss most, the type of content they share and interact with, etc. Or your email subscriber base – who are your most profitable clients, what do they engage with, and what do they have in common?
The goal in this stage is to learn about your audience so that you can create content that speaks to their challenges and eventually converts them into buyers.
So, create buyer personas for each audience – their industry, title, income, age, goals, problems, your solution, and their stage in the customer journey.
4. Create an email subscription form
The next step is to design and put a sign-up form on your website landing page. You can ask for emails only or more information depending on how much you need to narrow down and segment your audience (e.g., company name/website, number of employees, role, etc).
Next, choose the best location on the landing page to place your subscription form. For instance, you can set it at the top of your website with a big call-to-action or have it pop up after users scroll down a blog post. Usually, it’s always a good idea to have it somewhere above the fold (what your users see without scrolling down) and at the bottom, as well.
Overall, it doesn’t hurt to have it in multiple places but make sure it looks natural, and you’re not annoying the visitors or standing in the way of engaging content. The design, call to action, and content should look natural and make sense in the context of your website.
Finally, add a lead magnet to encourage website visitors to share their information. This can be a downloadable checklist, e-book, useful guides, or any other type of content that will engage the reader immediately and answer their business needs. This will help you gain more relevant subscribers and aid your current B2B content marketing strategy.
5. Determine the email types to send and create a schedule
After researching your audience, you can create personalized emails describing how your products or services solve their problems. You also need to determine the frequency of sending out these emails, as well as the content – welcome emails, educative marketing emails, sales emails, etc. Then schedule them on your automation tool.
Below’s a great example of a welcome email I received from Loom.
Why do I like this welcome email?
- They write it from the CEO’s perspective and have a video of the CEO introducing the tool
- They include an inviting social proof – join 12 million professionals
- They share the next steps to use the tool
- They also include a link to customer stories, getting started guides and help center
6. Track performance and optimize
Track your email campaign’s performance by noting the click-through rate, conversion rate, open rate, etc. As I previously mentioned, your automation tool should show these metrics in a simple dashboard.
In digital marketing, we know it’s about experimentation.
So, A/B test different email copies, subject lines, CTAs, etc., to find and improve on the best performers.
Best practices for B2B emails
Below are the best practices for B2B emails:
1. Personalize the emails
Email personalization boils down to segmentation and buyer personas. Personalize the emails to address each persona’s pain points and needs. You can ask for the info during sign-up, which means more segments in the signup form. Another form of personalization is sending out behavior-triggered emails, e.g., after a prospect shares your post or comments on it.
2. Keep subject lines between 36 to 50 characters.
SEO guru Brian Dean and other researchers found that 36 to 50-character subject lines work best for outreach emails.
Of course, if you have a great idea for a subject line that will catch the attention of your desired audience, don’t obsess over the numbers and trust your gut while making sure that it still fits in the preview of the email. Effective marketing is the result of experimentation and risk!
3. Keep the email copy between 75 to 100 words
Researchers found that 75 to 100 words long email copies get higher than 50% response rates. So, get to the point quickly.
Here’s a simple formula for writing a short cold email:
- Start the email with a Question about the prospect’s business. (e.g., do you have a scalable lead generation process?)
- Then share your Value proposition in the next sentence – what will your business offer? (e.g., Our lead generation tool allows you to xyz)
- End with a Closing CTA that begs for an answer. (e.g., Interested in a demo?)
4. Add images
An analysis of over 2.1 million emails found that adding 1 to 3 relevant images to your marketing email increases the click-through rate. So, add some images!
5. Send one to five emails per month
Follow-ups are important in marketing. But you never need to exceed five emails per month unless your experiments show that more emails have higher conversions.
6. Track analytics and perform A/B testing
As I already stated, A/B test different copies, subject lines, CTAs, images, etc. Then, track the click-through, open, and unsubscribe rates to tailor your content to the best performers.
7. Have a clear CTA
After crafting excellent content, have a clear call to action to initiate the response. Below’s an example of a Loom newsletter CTA. .
As I wrap up, let’s see a few B2B email marketing examples.
B2B marketing email examples that brought results
Several companies succeeded and increased their ROI through effective B2B email marketing strategies. Below are two examples of winning email marketing strategies.
1. AGISKO ICT company scheduled 70+ calls and got a 54% open rate.
AGISKO (an IT-managed service provider) aimed to understand its target audience’s pain points, increase leads, and schedule video calls. They created a lead magnet relevant to their audience – “The State of Security and Remote Work 2020”, a research paper on how businesses were dealing with Covid-19.
Their strategy included:
- Creating an outreach strategy (They sent the audience a LinkedIn connection followed by a personalized message before reaching them via email);
- Writing nurture emails;
- Automating the process.
Once the audience responded, they:
- Accessed the research paper and benchmarked themselves with other companies;
- Had a chance to win a team activity valued at €500;
- Got free advice on improving their cyber security.
They had an email sequence consisting of four emails:
- Introduction and offer;
- Improved version of the first email;
The email marketing worked best because they:
- Kept the emails short and on point;
- Left a lot of whitespaces and used bullet points to explain;
- Wrote four emails to increase the chances of people opening their emails.
Below are their results (54% open rate, 17% reply rate, and 70+ scheduled calls with potential customers):
2. Mailigen increased its email open rates from 20.5% to 29.1% by editing the subject line and resending their emails.
Mailigen sent email newsletters to its target audience and got a response rate of 20.5%. Below is their first newsletter.
They changed the email subject line and resent it to the audience who hadn’t opened the emails.
Below is their second newsletter email that got an 8.6% response rate, totaling 29.1%.
Ready to shape your B2B Email Marketing Campaign?
B2B email marketing is not as straightforward, but be brave and experiment a lot. If you feel like you have too much to lose, you can always trust a business consultant like me to show you the right path.
Did I leave out pivotal tips for email content marketing success? Do let me know!