Email is one of the most effective digital marketing channels for businesses to nurture customer relationships and generate more leads and sales.
However, marketing in the B2B industry is unique since the sales cycle involves multiple stakeholders who all have a say in the final purchase decision.
Therefore, how you set up email marketing campaigns for a B2B audience is entirely different from how you’d do it for a B2C user. We’ve created this guide to help you better understand B2B email marketing and how to use it to generate more leads.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Table Of Contents
Let’s first look at what email marketing for a B2B audience involves and how it differs from B2C efforts.
What is B2B email marketing?
In business-to-business (B2B) email marketing, your email campaigns target businesses rather than individual consumers. The target may be one or several key stakeholders or departments in a company.
For instance, GetResponse MAX is a service that targets B2B customers. Our product is meant for other businesses, not individual people. As a result, we can classify all our marketing efforts as B2B.
B2B campaigns aim to help you stand out from the competition and nurture relationships with targeted businesses to convert them into customers.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C email marketing?
Both B2B and B2C marketers aim to promote products, communicate with customers, and effectively guide leads through the sales cycle. However, the target customers are the key differentiators between these types of marketing.
B2B buyers are more solution-driven and financially focused than B2C consumers. A B2B sales cycle is longer because more people are involved in the decision-making process compared to a B2C purchase.
B2B email campaigns often address industry pain points and position your company as the go-to business for solutions. In contrast, B2C campaigns are often based on emotions and typically communicate the offer’s value to persuade the customer to buy.
B2B campaigns have a more objective and professional brand voice than B2C campaigns. B2B campaigns also focus more on facts and results than their B2C counterparts.
What is a targeted email marketing campaign?
In a targeted campaign, you send emails to recipients based on specific characteristics, such as behavior, demographics, or profile data.
Not every message you send to your email list will suit everyone. Your prospects may be looking for different solutions or are at various stages in the customer journey.
Segmenting your audience will help you send more targeted emails, connect with your subscribers better, and make your content feel more personal.
The more effort and detail you put in while segmenting your B2B customers, the more effective and relevant your emails will be.
What are the B2B email marketing best practices in 2023?
Next, let’s look at some best practices to boost your conversion rates and gain loyal B2B customers.
1. Segment your target audience and use email personalization
B2B buyers are savvy customers. They do their homework well and know exactly what they want.
In fact, a Bain and Google survey found 80% to 90% of B2B customers typically have a list of vendors in mind before researching any solution. And 90% will ultimately select a vendor from their initial list.
So how can you break into this list faster than your competitors?
As mentioned earlier, most B2B companies have different decision-makers involved in the buying process. So, your biggest task is to identify these people and create personalized content tailored to their priorities.
For example, you can ask for appropriate information on your landing page to help you tag potential customers in a relevant buyer persona segment.
So suppose you create 2 segments — one for product managers and the other for CEOs. In that case, you can send product feature case studies to the product managers and return-on-investment (ROI)-focused case studies to the CEOs.
Targeting these segments with personalized content tailored to their priorities will help you earn their trust and increase your conversion chances.
2. Reconsider how you personalize your email subject lines
In 2022, generic subject lines outperformed personalized subjects in all aspects (opens, clicks, and even unsubscribes) for the first time in the history of our Email Marketing Benchmarks report.
So think of how personalization can add value to your customers instead of how it can boost your marketing metrics.
Focus on creating content that’s relevant and personalized to your audience’s priorities. Then, creating subject lines with a high open rate will be much easier.
3. Don’t hard-sell your services or products
B2B marketing aims to cultivate long-term relationships with prospects with the end goal of converting them into customers. It’s not meant to speed up the process of making sales.
Avoid using your emails to hard-sell your services or products. Focus on offering value to your customers instead, and they’ll be more comfortable buying from you.
In fact, 72% of B2B buyers in the Bain and Google study said they ultimately bought from vendors who offered better trials and demos of their products than anyone else.
Offering value shows prospects you’re an industry expert and want them to succeed. As a result, you’ll build trust and credibility, ultimately leading to more sales in the future.
4. Use a creative and compelling call to action (CTA)
On top of engaging customers and building relationships with them, one of your top priorities after prospects open your email is for them to take action.
That said, B2B CTAs often lack inspiration, and many businesses don’t take the necessary steps to make them engaging. So they resort to endless “book a demo” and “learn more” CTAs.
Furthermore, CTAs that work well in B2C marketing, like urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO), can come across as desperate or clickbait. That means you must prove value before the decision-makers approve the investment.
Tailor your CTAs to resonate with the specific audience and emphasize your product’s unique value. Here’s a brilliant example from Pax8, a cloud marketplace platform.
Pax8 puts a new spin on the normal “learn more” CTA. Its CTA — “Go big with Pax8” — immediately picks the reader’s interest and links to the “Why Pax8” page. The page briefly describes the company’s services and offers social proof with ROI numbers for its B2B audience.
How to generate more leads through B2B email marketing
- Leverage marketing automation.
- Create content that adds value to your audience.
- Use A/B testing to refine your strategy.
- Track your metrics.
- Use social proof to build trust and credibility with your audience.
Here are 5 effective strategies to help you engage your customers better and boost conversions.
1. Leverage marketing automation
Automated campaigns are the best solution for delivering timely, personalized emails to your recipients and driving high open and click-through rates (CTRs).
For example, our 2022 Email Marketing Benchmarks report found that automated emails triggered by a customer’s behavior have a 35.64% open rate and a 5.31% CTR — much higher than the average email open rate of 19.66% and CTR of 2.02%.
In addition, automated emails like autoresponders and RSS outperform regular email newsletters in terms of opens and clicks.
What is more, marketing automation works equally well for small B2B-oriented start-ups as well as established enterprises.
So, invest in an email automation platform to help you create workflows and engage your customers with personalized content using email and other channels like social media.
2. Create content that adds value to your audience
A Content Marketing Institute report found that 71% of B2B marketers said creating content for their audiences became more critical for their companies in 2022. However, 61% said creating content that appeals to the different stages of the buyer’s journey is challenging.
How do you overcome this challenge and create targeted email content that offers value to recipients?
One option is to get internal experts to collaborate on content initiatives, such as webinars, whitepapers, and case studies. This can be especially effective when the experts have knowledge that’s challenging to find elsewhere.
This strategy will help establish your business as a thought leader in your niche and build trust and credibility. As a result, you’ll have a higher chance of converting prospects into paying customers.
3. Use A/B testing to refine your strategy
A/B testing is one of the best ways to optimize and improve your B2B email marketing efforts.
By testing and analyzing various aspects — such as CTAs, subject lines, and email design — you’ll gain valuable insights into what works best for your recipients. You can then refine your approach to get the best results.
For example, lead generation agency Submission Technology used A/B testing to check what resonated with specific groups of email subscribers.
Then, using GetResponse MAX’s click reports, the team determined which content performed best and adapted future content to include those findings. As a result, they got a 31.14% unique open rate and a 7.31% unique CTR with systematic A/B testing.
4. Track your metrics
The only way to know if your campaigns yield any fruit is by monitoring specific metrics. The most important metrics to track include the open, click-through, and conversion rates.
Email marketing platforms, like GetResponse MAX, can offer detailed insights into how subscribers engage with your content.
Once you get these insights, adjust your strategy accordingly. For example, you can change your CTA or email design if your CTR is low. Similarly, you can experiment with different send times or subject lines if your open rate is low.
5. Use social proof to build trust and credibility with your audience
Trust and credibility are key ingredients for a business to succeed in today’s digital world. And using social proof in your email marketing campaigns is an effective way to accomplish this.
We know that word of mouth is by far the best source of credibility for B2C brands, but what about B2B? We discuss the role referral and loyalty programs play in building trust with your customers in our marketing podcast – Operation: Automation | Marketing Done Better (make sure to subscribe if you haven’t already!):
According to a 2023 BrightLocal report, 44% of customers are highly likely to give a positive review if they feel your company went above and beyond to provide an exceptional experience. So give your B2B customers what they want.
For example, you can use surveys and interviews to learn about specific challenges customers face when using your products. Then, use your emails and other channels to educate them on the best solutions.
That way, you can get positive customer reviews and testimonials to attract prospects and establish your brand as trustworthy and reputable.
Successful B2B email marketing campaign examples
Now, let’s look at some examples to give you an idea of how to create the type of emails that offer value to readers and maximize your campaign’s success.
1. Follow-up email by GetResponse
We typically send follow-up emails to recipients we’ve contacted before to jog their memory and offer some context on how much value our product can add to their business.
For example, GetResponse MAX (for midsize and large companies) offers powerful email automation features like lead scoring, advanced segmentation, and tagging. We also provide a dedicated Customer Experience Manager who helps you with day-to-day account management tasks, such as A/B testing and automation workflows.
Here’s a follow-up email example from the GetResponse team to a customer who’s on a free trial:
Note the vibrant use of brand colors and the friendly and conversational language. In addition, the email has clickable sections that take the customer to various resources where they can learn more about the software’s features and benefits.
The email focuses on offering value to free trial users, which may eventually stimulate them to upgrade to a paid plan.
2. Welcome email by Asana
We’ve already established B2B customers are a unique lot. So, your welcome emails need to make the right first impression and show the value your product will offer clients. Fail to do so, and the customer may decide that one of your competitors is a better fit.
Asana does an excellent job setting the tone for the kind of relationship it wants to build with new customers.
The email below is an ideal example of how to show your product’s value:
Asana’s welcome email highlights different features to show how easy it is to use Asana to coordinate your team and manage various projects. It also has a good amount of white space and graphics with minimal content and an eye-catching CTA to capture the reader’s attention.
The next time you run out of ideas, subscribe to Asana and let its emails inspire you.
3. B2B drip campaign email by Zapier
Drip campaigns are emails you send automatically on a set schedule. Since a specific action triggers the emails, they can be a valuable tool for moving new leads along the customer journey and strengthening relationships with existing clients.
Here’s an example of a drip email Zapier sends to customers who sign up for a free trial:
After the trial period ends, Zapier sends weekly emails with discounts and offers to remind clients their free trial has ended and they need to buy the software to continue using it.
The B2B company encourages users to act fast to continue using the software by offering time-limited offers and discounts, making it an effective drip campaign email.
4. Re-engagement email by Flywheel
Let’s face it — we’ve all subscribed to an email list and then never opened the messages. But as a B2B marketer, you must awaken the sleeping contacts in your subscriber list and try to re-activate them with re-engagement emails.
Flywheel’s re-engagement email does a great job at that:
The email is brief but packed with helpful content for inactive subscribers. The B2B company includes valuable product updates the user might have missed.
For example, the email highlights how Flywheel’s new ecommerce hosting platform can increase website speed by 40% and sales by 18%. It has also launched a Growth Suite and a new way to streamline offline editing.
The CTA button is strategically placed so users can continue their journey to the pricing page once they open and read the value-packed email.
5. White paper announcement email by Zeus Jones
When B2B customers move further down the sales funnel, the value of white papers and case studies increases. For instance, when B2B marketers were asked which content assets produced the best results in the last 12 months, 47% said white papers and ebooks, while 39% said case studies.
Case studies help you show how your services or products can improve a business in terms of productivity, sales, or customer communication. On the other hand, white papers will help you reinforce your authority in your industry.
Here’s a brilliant example of a white paper announcement email from Zeus Jones:
The email is simple and straight to the point. It gives brief details on what the report is about using bullet points, so readers can quickly skim. The company also states why it’s in the best position to offer the insights in the report, which is what B2B buyers always want.
The email’s header — as culture moves faster, companies have to plan smarter — also captures the reader’s attention, enticing them to continue reading the email and click on the CTA button.
Final thoughts: Your guide to targeted B2B email marketing campaigns
B2B audiences are savvy and often know what they want, so marketing to them can be undeniably challenging. However, taking the time to do it right will ultimately pay off.
Learn as much as you can about your B2B audience and segment your customers so you can target them with highly personalized emails.
If you need a customized solution that will help you cater to your B2B audience and personalized assistance with planning your email campaigns, try GetResponse MAX.