Hands down, email marketing is your most effective B2B marketing option. You can generate leads, share product news and build long-term relationships. But there’s one big challenge.
When something works so well, everyone uses it. In fact, 85% of B2B marketers are using email for lead generation. As the most popular digital marketing strategy, you’ll need to elbow past all the other B2B marketing emails in your contact's inbox to stand out.
In this article, we’ll show you the best practices on how to break through the B2B email marketing clutter—and how to do it in style.
Start with a B2B email marketing strategy
Email marketing is only effective when it’s done right. To make sure your audience likes what they see and clicks your call-to-action, you need an email marketing strategy that:
- Defines clear goals - What do you want your audience to do?
- Identifies your audience - Who are you talking to? What are they interested in?
- Establishes a clear plan - How often will you communicate with your clients? How will you measure your efforts?
Without these elements, you will have no way of knowing whether your B2B marketing campaign is having the desired effect. We’ve made you this handy email marketing cheat sheet, to make sure your strategy ticks all the right boxes.
Use email marketing segmentation
Oftentimes, there are several decision-makers and influencers on your email list. Instead of sending them all a mass email, you have a much better chance of winning their trust, loyalty, and business by speaking to each person’s specific needs.
You can accomplish this through subscriber segmentation. By dividing subscribers into smaller, more targeted groups, email marketers report an average increase in revenue of 760% from their segmented email campaigns.
? Tip: There are different ways to use email segmentation. Check out this video below, which shows you how to do it with MailerLite.
If you work in a B2B company that uses a CRM or other software tools, you should be able to access data on your product life cycles, customer behaviors, and other insights into your target audience. Use this information to help segment your email list.
B2B segments can include:
- People in different business sectors
- Job roles within a company
- Different business relationships (e.g. people that know you well)
Regardless of the type of segment, the main thing is to ensure that the right message goes to the right person.
For example, an IT manager and a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) may both have input into a purchase decision for new technology, but they will probably care about different elements. Your task is to make sure you know who you’re talking to—and tailor your email content to suit.
Get inspired by these B2B email examples
Many of the following ideas can function as a B2B email template for your content marketing initiatives. Take a look at the email design, structure, and messaging.
Some questions to keep in mind as you review these emails:
- Is it a personalized email?
- Do the campaigners know their audience?
- Does it have a clear CTA?
- Is the language actionable?
- Does it list features, rather than benefits?
Smart B2B email design goes a looooong way in generating leads, so take the time to note what resonates, and what doesn’t.
Send a welcome email
A welcome email is the first impression that an organization makes with its new subscribers. Welcome emails generate 4x higher open rates—and they drive 320% more revenue on a per-email basis than other promotional emails. So when a subscriber signs up, set up an automated email to say hi and set expectations.
In this example below, MarketingSherpa welcomes its new subscribers into the community in their email subject line and then provides a list of all the newsletters that the reader can access. By offering several options, MarketingSherpa is segmenting its new subscribers.
It’s simple, it’s personalized, and it’s a neat way of reminding your new leads why they signed up in the first place!
Send an event newsletter examples
Events generate the most leads in B2B marketing. If you’re attending conferences and business-to-business events, let your audience know about it! Share what’s happening, and help your clients to get even better at their jobs. Here’s how to do it:
Before an event:
Why not create a useful guide for the event? Big conferences can be overwhelming, with so many different speakers, topics, and stands. Help your clients by sharing a guide on what’s happening. Share your opinion on what is worth seeing. You could even use the event to invite your potential customers to join the conversation, just like Influence & Co did here:
Could that be any more helpful?! Pre-event email newsletters like this will not only reinforce your image as a connected, informed member of the business community, but they also tell your email subscribers where you’ll be, so that you can have more valuable face-to-face interactions.
After an event:
So you just attended an awesome event. What now? The chances are that your audience may not have had the time or resources to attend. This gives you the opportunity to be their eyes and ears, delivering valuable insights and building your reputation as a thought leader who understands the market.
A post-meeting email newsletter can increase your credibility, by sharing your overview. It only has to be a few key thoughts, but it shows your audience that you’re up to speed and that you care about the industry.
Below, the Charity Ball newsletter summarizes everything that happened with a 2-minute video and a link to a photo gallery of the event.
Make use of your customers’ insights
"We need your opinion!"
As a business that serves other businesses, you have access to the best source of information in the industry: your clients!
Most of your existing or potential customers would probably love to be recognized as thought leaders. So why not ask them to share their knowledge by sending them an email? Check out the example below:
The Uberflip content marketing manager makes the recipient of the email feel credible – and at the same time, attracts material for exclusive content. Anyone who shares their insights will gain exposure, which can lead to greater brand recognition.
Share a big announcement
Have you introduced a new feature? Created a limited edition product? Set up pre-orders? Share it with your audience! An announcement email builds hype and gets your subscribers involved. You can even add CTAs so that their subscribers can go directly to what interests them, as Atlassian did below.
Provide access to exclusive content
"Just for you!"
Success in business is about knowledge, and one way your B2B audience tries to stay ahead of their competitors is by gaining access to the latest information.
So if you have access to information or insights that your customers can’t get elsewhere, make the most of it! Generate a report or other content, and use an email marketing campaign as one of the distribution channels.
In the B2B email example below, Hubspot offers exclusive access to a ‘Marketing Agency Growth Report’ - for free! By offering valuable content, they help their B2B audience stay on top of their game.
Similarly, DigitalMarketer shares a guide and a tracking sheet to help their subscribers optimize their email marketing strategy. Again, it is offered as a free gift to their subscribers.
Invite your audience to a webinar
Webinars are a great way to get your customers’ attention, and at the same time deliver insights that they’ll find valuable and relevant. Use your B2B email campaign to make a date with your audience so they can catch your live stream.
In the B2B email below, NewsCred entices their subscribers by implying that unless they attend the webinar, they will miss out on a marketing performance metric. When sharing a webinar invitation, a bit of ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out) never hurts!
Don't forget to use your webinar emails as an opportunity to stay connected with any subscribers who missed the live webinar by sending them a follow-up link to the recorded version so they can catch up. If you have ever registered for a MailerLite webinar, you’ve probably seen this email.
Set up a re-engagement email campaign
"Hello? Still there?"
Months after you launch your B2B email campaign, you might notice that some subscribers are becoming inactive. What happened? First of all, don’t worry! It happens to the best of us.
Many times, your inactive subscribers are either A) too busy at the moment, or B) no longer interested. In either case, there is hope.
You can set up a B2B re-engagement campaign targeting inactive subscribers. This is broken down into a series of 4 different emails:
- Send a reminder: Check in with your audience, and let them know that you’re still here.
- Add an incentive: Free delivery, exclusive content, promo codes… you name it! Anything that persuades your subscribers to stay and continue to enjoy your product.
- Create urgency: Insert a countdown timer into the body of your email. Let your audience know that they might lose a valuable benefit if they do not engage within the time frame.
- Say farewell: Hopefully, this last email will not be needed. But if it is, stay positive! Keep it friendly, and include a CTA so that the audience can always resubscribe in the future.
Grammarly includes a ‘wrinkle in time’ badge, a clever way of noting the time that has passed. They also add in a bright red call to action, so that their customers can quickly re-engage with their product.
Maximize exposure for your other content
"Checked this out, yet?"
Of course, B2B email marketing campaigns aren’t an end in themselves. You can use them to drive traffic to other sources of content.
Build connections to your website, company blog or other online resources such as surveys that will create value, deliver insights and deepen your relationship with your clients. It’s all part of that core strategy of making yourself relevant and helping them to be better at their job.
Below, Inside Design links to multiple relevant articles, so that their subscribers can select which content they are most interested in.
Here, Upwork takes a straightforward approach, sharing a general list of ideas and inspiration for other businesses, driving traffic to their other content sources.
Attach a white paper
"New strategies to adopt now!"
In B2B marketing, white papers are longer pieces of content, often researched, that exhibit your expertise and insights. Basically, white papers help your audience to get smarter, and you come across as an expert. It’s a win-win.
B2B white papers will reinforce your authority in your field. If you have insights into your industry trends, policy changes, or solutions, then don’t keep it to yourself. Share it! Write a long-form piece of content that delves into these topics, and show your audience that you’re up to speed with everything that’s happening.
In the newsletter example below, Merkle shares a white paper on how consumer behavior has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and how businesses can develop their re-emergence strategy.
Prepare a case study email
"Here's one we made earlier."
A B2B case study is a chance for you to tell your story while also exhibiting your expertise with a real example of success. You might:
- Explain how your product or service changed a customer’s life
- Show how you are impacting your field
- Present your contribution to a project
Case studies are valuable to B2B marketers because they show your subscribers your solution in action! Let your product speak for itself, and your audience will see the benefits of becoming your customers.
In the case study below, Animalz starts with a strong opening sentence, explaining exactly why their subscribers should continue reading. Then, instead of a CTA button, they start telling the story straight away, to get their readers hooked! Everyone loves stories. Tell yours, and show your subscribers exactly how you deliver value to your customers.
Help customers use your product
"Did you know?"
B2B email marketing doesn’t end with the sale! In fact, B2B email campaigns should continue to nurture the customer relationship post-sale. That means that you should be informing customers of updates, sharing new products, and offering advice on how to get the most out of your service.
Emails such as the Asana example below will increase customer satisfaction with your product. They also ensure that your organization is at the top of the list when their company enters its next procurement cycle.
Achieving B2B email marketing success
Most B2B email marketing fails to excite its audience because it focuses too much on the rational, business points without adding the human, emotional aspects that are necessary to build a genuine relationship. Email marketing is powerful because it builds long-term relationships.
When most people step into the office, something strange happens. They stop being their usual self and turn into their business self. Your business self is rational and goal-oriented. You are focused on getting tasks done and interacting with others in a highly professional manner. You use words like, ‘touch base’, ‘add value’ and ‘best in class’. Transforming into your business self is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary.
That said, the trick to breaking through the clutter of B2B email marketing to connect with your clients is to turn off your business self. Find a balance between sharing your business’s value while keeping in mind that you are speaking to a human.
Check out this Zillow email example that blends business benefits with a human touch:
Zillow connects with the reader by acknowledging their human desire to succeed and follows it with a soft sales pitch.
Email marketing is powerful because it builds long-term relationships.
Yes, B2B relationships should be rooted in logic benefits (what can your business do for my business?), but it’s the human aspect that will set you apart.
Deliver business value with a human touch
Every business is different. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach in B2B email marketing. However, every single business has one thing in common—they are all run by humans! So when you are planning your B2B email campaign, balance the business benefits with a human, empathetic voice. At the end of the day, you are just a person, talking to another person.
Use all of the metrics at your disposal, and find out which email content, send times, and strategies are the most effective. Keep an eye on your progress by sending out regular newsletter surveys.
And whatever you do, don’t fire out random emails and hope that something sticks! Email is one of the most powerful tools in your B2B marketing toolbox. Use it wisely and strategically, and you’ll enjoy the benefits!