B2B Email Marketing: The Complete Guide for 2021

Alex Stoykov

CEO & Head of Client Success

Alex Stoykov

CEO & Head of Client Success

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Introduction

B2B email marketing is listed as one of the top organic distribution channels by 87% of B2B marketers (Content Marketing Institute).

But B2B email marketing can do more than distribute content. It can nurture leads, move prospects through your sales funnel, and improve your customer experience.

In this article, we’ll help you establish a B2B email strategy that does it all.

What Is B2B Email Marketing?

Business-to-business email marketing is compromised of the lead nurturing, product educating, sales funnel-focused emails sent from one business to another.

Email marketing is most often sent in one-to-few or one-to-many campaigns or flows versus the traditional route of one person emailing one other person while still having the feel of a personal touch.

B2B email marketing can help speed up the time you spend warming your prospects up and help you separate qualified leads from browsers.

 

Why Your Company Needs A B2B Email Marketing Strategy

If you don’t set a B2B email strategy, you risk two things happening. The first, sending emails that serve no purpose; the second, not sending emails at all.

You want to reach your prospects when they need your solution, which is while they are at work. Think about how often you check your email at work. Do you want to miss the opportunity to connect with your prospects where their attention is?

Studies on B2B Email Marketing

According to a study by Emfluence, only 17.8% of email campaigns were sent by B2B companies compared to 82.2% sent by B2C companies.

Most B2B companies are only sending one email every 25 days.

However, for every $1 spent on your email marketing, you could get up to $43 in return.

This tells us that there is a massive opportunity for companies that can create better B2B email marketing strategies.

 

How To Create a B2B Email Marketing Strategy

You know that email marketing, when done correctly, can drive B2B sales. But with so many channels to worry about showing up on, email somehow doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

You can compact ending up with thrown-together email campaigns – or worse, having every salesperson sending their own version – by establishing a strategy and schedule and sticking to it.

You’ll start by setting up a streamlined software for sending and tracking emails.

1. Choose your email service provider (ESP).

When choosing your email service provider, you need to decide if you’re looking for software strictly for email marketing or if a client relationship management (CRM) software would better suit your needs.

If you are using B2B email marketing to target medium to large-sized businesses, CRM software may be the better choice. Whereas if your targeting individuals or small businesses, a standard ESP should work fine and be more cost-effective.

You want to compare the capabilities of multiple providers before choosing because it can be difficult to migrate a large email base to a new provider later if you aren’t satisfied.

2. Put a person in charge of the execution.

You need to decide if you want your emails to come from your founder, your marketing team, or your customer service team, among other options.

Once you know that, you need to put one individual in charge of making sure the emails go out on the agreed-upon schedule. They will need to oversee the copy and design elements and get the emails tested and sent successfully.

If you don’t have anyone in your organization with email expertise, you may find outsourcing this task makes more sense. You’ll still want to choose a point person from your organization that’s in charge of communicating with the email agency.

3. Set your goals.

It’s not likely you’ll craft a winning email campaign if you don’t know its purpose.

Is your email meant to be educational or to nurture leads to move further down the funnel? Maybe you’ll use email to walk your customers through the first steps of working with you or trialing your product.

You want every email to have it’s own micro goal, but you also need to have a larger email marketing macro goal. By setting larger goals, each email can build on the momentum of the emails before it.

12 B2B Email Marketing Tops

In addition to choosing your email provider, putting someone in charge, and setting goals, there are a few other tips you need to know if you want your B2B email marketing to deliver results.


1. GROW YOUR LIST WITH SMART INCENTIVES.

The best way to ensure you’re emailing people interested in what you’re offering is by building an email list.

You’ll need to make people want to sign up for your email list by offering them some value in exchange for joining. The value you provide should be the first step toward choosing your solution.

Some ideas you could offer are:

• A demo video of your product
• A training series
• An ebook
• A case study
• A free trial period
• A discount or special offer

When deciding what you will offer as an incentive, you need to know how it will lead your prospects to the next step of the decision process. If you can’t do that, you need to change your incentive.


2. CLEAN YOUR LIST REGULARLY.

You may think that having the biggest list possible is the best thing you can do, but that’s not the case. You should aim to have the most engaged list possible.
Chances are, you’re paying for every subscriber. Don’t waste your money paying for people who aren’t opening and responding to your emails.

At least once every quarter, clean your list of the subscribers who have lost interest in your product and no longer interact with your email marketing. If they decide they need your product in the future, they can always subscribe again at that point.


3. FILTERR YOUR LEADS.

You need to learn as much about your prospects as possible to market to them effectively.

Try to gather information about their role when they sign up to your list. It could be as simple as asking them for their title in addition to their first name and email on your form.

You can then gain further information on your first email by creating options for them to sign up to only hear from you based on what applies to them.

Once you have this information, you need to filter your subscribers accordingly. You don’t want to spend your resources trying to convert someone who isn’t your target audience.


4. SEGMENT YOUR EMAILS.

We talked about filtering your leads based on the information they provide you, but you also need to build segments of your email lists based on their actions.

You want a VIP segment for subscribers in your target audience that are opening your emails and at least occasionally engaging with your call-to-action.

You’ll want to create additional segments for leads you’re warming up, leads that have gone cold that you’re trying to re-engage, and subscribers that aren’t in your target audience but may be at some point, so you want to keep in contact with them.


5. NURTURE BEFORE SELLING.

Now that you’ve filtered and segmented your leads, it’s time to start nurturing them.

Some of your leads may be ready to purchase immediately, but most are not. Do not start hard-selling your subscribers the minute they hit your list, or you risk losing them. You need to set up an email flow that begins to move your subscriber through the steps to buy.

The first step is providing the value you promised for signing up. Then, for example, you might want to send an educational series on how to use your product or a few case studies from other companies who have seen success using your solution.

After you’ve built up confidence in your product, then you can move into the sales process.


6. CREATE BETTER SUBJECT LINES.

Your subject line is the primary copy your subscriber uses to decide if your email will be worth trading their time for.

The subject line needs to give your customer an idea of what is inside, but in a way that piques their curiosity or clearly lays out how it will benefit them. Subject lines that include personalization stand out in a busy inbox and may be more likely to be opened.

It’s thought that shorter subject lines should be used in case your subscriber is checking their email on mobile, but with B2B email marketing, many subscribers are using their desktops.

Testing out longer subject lines that will contrast most of their other emails is worth a shot.


7. SET THE RIGHT SCHEDULE.

Put thought into the timing of your email marketing campaigns.

You don’t want your email to land in the inbox of your leads when they are already overwhelmed by tens of other emails first thing Monday morning, nor do you want to send your emails right before the close of business on a Friday.

The exact best time will vary depending on the type of business you are targeting and their time zones. You will want to send your campaigns at a time that will catch the majority of your subscribers while they are in the office or right before they will be in the office.


8. USE RSS-TO-EMAIL.

Does your company publish content in addition to email marketing? If so, you should set up RSS-to-email, so they never miss an update.

You don’t have to have every new piece of content sent to your subscribers if you think it would be too much. You could choose to send content that only includes a tutorial, for instance.

The key is to allow your subscribers to opt-out of this content if they aren’t interested or if it is being sent too frequently.


9. KEEP YOUR EMAILS RELEVANT TO THE READER.

Don’t send your prospects emails that don’t matter to them. B2B email should be about business.

Yes, it’s worthwhile to build a relationship with your prospects based on shared company values if you have them, but that doesn’t mean you send your leads an email every week about your company’s expanded vacation policy.

The content of your emails should always be around how your product or company is helping them be more successful.

Email marketing is more personal than other types of marketing like advertising, but it’s still all about making it beneficial to the person reading it.


10. USE ONE CTA.

As a general rule, your emails should have one action you want your subscribers to take. The further down the sales funnel the email is, the more important this becomes.

When you ask your reader to take action, they’ll likely take the action that requires the least amount of effort from them.

For instance, if you are trying to get them to sign up for a demo but then include a link to your Facebook page, it’s easier to follow you on social than schedule time for a demo. Don’t give them any other option that could distract them from your one goal.


11. AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE.

You should automate as much of your email marketing as possible. Sending your prospect’s initial email after signing up, educating them on your product, and setting up a call with a sales rep can all be automated through your email service provider.

You can even automate the process of segmenting your lists so they can receive the emails most relevant to them.

By automating most of the top-of-funnel email marketing, you free up your sales team to focus more on the primed leads that are most ready to purchase.


12. TEST INCLUDING VIDEO CONTENT.

Do you want to really stand out? Use video in your emails.

Some leads won’t take the time to read 1,000 words, but they will watch a 3-minute explainer video.

You need your email marketing to appeal to the way every type of lead prefers to learn. By including a video, you take away one more potential obstacle your prospect may have.

Don’t just include a link to a video in your email, though. You need to either embed the video in your email or use a still image of the video that links to it. This way, the leads scanning your email will see it.

 

20 B2B Email Marketing Templates You Need


1. WELCOME EMAIL

When a prospect signs up for your list, you need to welcome them almost immediately.

You need to confirm that they did sign up successfully, provide them any sign-up incentive you promised, and show them that you value them choosing to hear from you. Doing these things help to establish trust in your product and company.

2. FREE TRIAL EMAIL

Do you offer your subscribers a free trial period? Let your subscribers know with an automated email template.

3. CURATED CONTENT EMAIL

If you have developed content that supports or educates your audience, you want to let them know about it.

The best way to do this is through a curated content email.

It’s a round-up of sorts that provides the content you think will be most valuable for your subscriber.

4. NEW ARTICLE EMAIL

You want to share your content with your audience as you release it.

Make it easy by having a template to pop the information into once your article is published.

5. CMPANY ANNOUNCEMENT EMAIL

Announcing a new feature or service? You’ll want to have a template ready to share the good news.

6. VIDEO EMAIL

As previously noted, you want your video content to be immediately recognizable.

If your email service provider allows you to, test embedding your video in your email. Otherwise, use an image of the video in its place.

You could also use the word video in brackets to let your subscribers know it’s included.

7. INNACTIVE USER EMAIL

Remember how we talked about removing subscribers who aren’t engaged? You’ll need to create an email template to re-engage them and let them know that you will remove them if they don’t take action now.

8. PRODUCT PROMOTION EMAIL

From time to time, you may be running a promotion on a product or service.

You can get your promotion out faster by having a template on hand that has been tested and has high opens, click-throughs, and conversions.

9. UPSELL EMAIL

Depending on your product or service, you may have an upsell to offer.

You’ll likely want to offer that upsell to every customer at least once.

Creating a template for each upsell you have will save you time and allow you to send your offer through action triggers or in an email blast as often as you choose.

10. GATED CONTENT EMAIL

You may offer a membership or content library that is gated and requires access credentials.

You’ll need a template that is automatically sent out to subscribers that lets them know where and how to access that content once they qualify.

11. WEBINAR EMAIL

Webinars, and the emails that accompany them, can be complex, but optimizing them is the key to generating sales.

Your webinar software may handle sending out the reminders with the link, but you can do yourself a favor by sending your own emails to hype your audience about the webinar.

You’ll also want to develop a follow-up sequence that captures prospects that weren’t quite ready to purchase by the end of the webinar.

12. REQUEST DEMO EMAIL

If part of your sales process is a live product demo with a rep, you’ll want to streamline an automated email template to walk prospects through requesting the demo.

13. LIVE EVENT EMAIL

Live events are used as often as other marketing methods, but depending on your product might be exactly what your audience needs.

You could host a live class, Q&A session, or even a meet and greet. But whatever live event you choose, you need an email that gets your subscribers excited to attend.

To see the most success from your event, you should set up a series of emails leading up to the event with at least one follow up after the event.

14. CASE STUDY EMAIL

Case studies help build confidence in your product or service for prospective customers. They show how you moved a business like theirs from point A to point B.

As prospects move further along in the sales process, you should send them an email with relevant case studies.

15. GETTING STARTED EMAIL

After your customer signs up for your product or service, you’ll want to let them know their next steps.

There’s nothing worse than signing up for something only to be left figuring everything out on your own. An email that helps your customer know what they should be doing to get the most out of your product will go a long way.

16. THANK YOU EMAIL

Let your customers know that you are thankful to have them as part of your business.

These thank you emails can be easily automated and should be sent for every new purchase, excluding monthly subscription services.

17. SURVERY EMAIL

When you make decisions in your own bubble, you’re likely making the wrong decisions. You need to talk to your customers.

Create a survey template you send out to different customer segments periodically to get an idea of how they feel about your product or service.

18. REFERAL EMAIL

Asking your best customers to refer other customers like them can exponentially grow your company.

You can make that easier by developing a referral template you can send periodically.

Consider adding an incentive for both the referring customer and new lead to make it even more effective.

19. UNSUBSCRIBE EMAIL

Most companies don’t send an unsubscribe email to confirm the unsubscription, but if you choose to, keep it simple.

Let the subscriber know that they won’t hear from your company again after this email, and include a link to subscribe again if they change their mind.

20. CANCEL ACCOUNT EMAIL

Unfortunately, there will be customers that cancel their accounts.

You’ll want an email template confirming their cancellations, letting them know how to re-open their account in the future, and any final billing details (if applicable) to be sent automatically.

 

Your Custom B2B Email Marketing Plan

B2B email marketers often treat it as if it’s the same as B2C email marketing, but that’s a mistake.

The process followed for a business decision is vastly different. Business choices are distinct in that most decisions require multiple levels of approval.

Your emails aren’t only for the person opening them, but for their boss, and maybe even their boss’s boss. The information provided will be shared with a team of people who have to buy in.

If you’re looking to partner with an agency that understands B2B email marketing, we can create a custom email strategy that handles everything from initial lead segmentation to testing and optimization.

You don’t want to lose any more leads because you haven’t built out your email marketing strategy.

 

Final Thoughts

B2B email marketing has the potential to turn more of your leads into customers with less time.

Email marketing and client relationship management software continues to become more advanced, allowing you to follow up with more leads and segment them automatically.

With the right email strategy, your revenue could grow without overextending your sales team.

Alex Stoykov

Alex Stoykov

Over his career, Alex has developed and marketed millions of dollars of successful products. He lays awake at nights figuring out new marketing tactics and is constantly upping clients' marketing game.
Alex Stoykov

Alex Stoykov

Over his career, Alex has developed and marketed millions of dollars of successful products. He lays awake at nights figuring out new marketing tactics and is constantly upping clients' marketing game.
Alex Stoykov

Alex Stoykov

Over his career, Alex has developed and marketed millions of dollars of successful products. He lays awake at nights figuring out new marketing tactics and is constantly upping clients' marketing game.

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