Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Email Marketing in B2B

B2B email marketing

Email campaigns are a crucial part of marketing strategies in all industries. Today we will delve into the specifics of B2B email marketing – what it is, how to do it effectively, what the best practices are, as well as offer some tips on planning and executing your campaigns seamlessly.

What is B2B email marketing?

B2B (business-to-business) email marketing involves carrying out email campaigns targeted at other businesses, rather than individuals. The aim of B2B email marketing is to familiarize other brands with your company and the services you offer, and hopefully turn them into your clients. This is one of the most effective marketing techniques, and one most brands use.  

81% of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters.

Email marketing for B2B vs B2C

Strategies used for email marketing campaigns designed for other businesses differ from those aimed at individual customers. B2B and B2C customers have different purchase motivation and purpose and the processes are different.

Email tone and content

For example, the content of a B2B marketing email generally tends to be more informational in nature, seeking to inform and provide resources. Whereas, a B2C marketing email may contain more direct sales pitches, as well as promotions and discounts. The tone of a B2C marketing email may be more informal, direct and emotional than that of a B2B marketing email.

Here’s an example of a difference in tones between a B2B email versus a B2C email:

Email from Booz Allen Hamilton
This is an example of a B2B email
Email from Urban Outfitters
And this is a B2C email

The B2B email on the left is polite and business-like, it informs the recipient of what services the business provides and encourages further engagement. 

The B2C email on the right is direct and intense, it highlights the time-sensitive nature of the discount and strongly urges the recipient to buy something, without addressing them directly. 

The tone of the B2B email is professional as well as gentle. The tone of the B2B email is so powerful it’s almost aggressive. It is written in all caps, and it repeats information about the sale and the discount several times.

Email targeting

Another essential difference between the two is email targeting. When launching a B2C campaign, you expect to target your customer directly, as this person will be the only one responsible for the purchase. In contrast, marketers responsible for developing B2B campaigns need to bear in mind that a company’s purchasing process almost always involves several people.

Cycle length

This brings us to the cycle length of the email marketing campaign which tends to be much longer in B2B marketing. It involves multiple people and stages. For example, a target company’s decision-making center may include professionals dealing with logistics, contracts, accounting, potential users of your product, administrators and others. A perfect B2B marketing campaign would have to take all of these people and their duties into account. 

In B2C marketing, the cycle is much shorter – purchasing something as an individual usually does not take very long, and does not involve a complex decision-making process involving several people.

All of the above means that you should not just repurpose B2C content for a B2B campaign, even though these concepts are not entirely in opposition to each other.

Developing an email marketing strategy for B2B: Tips and best practices

Now you know what B2B email marketing is about and how it differs from B2C marketing. So, how do you develop an effective email marketing campaign?

Determine your target customers

You start with determining your target customers. As mentioned above, when targeting another business, you are really trying to attract the attention of several different individuals. 

Aim to identify the decision-makers involved in the purchasing process, and your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). An ICP is an outline of your perfect customer — a customer that is a consistent consumer and advocate of your product. A good ICP should serve as a guideline helping you identify and focus on clients who are more likely to respond to your marketing campaign. Talk to your clients, identify their goals and challenges, familiarize yourself with their buying process. 

Another useful type of customer profiling is buyer personas — these are research-based profiles of target customers, their exact role in the company, the issues they face and so on. Since B2B marketing seeks to draw attention of several individuals, you may need to establish several buyer personas for each person involved in the purchasing process.  

Segment your audience

Email segmentation is a personalization tactic which means dividing your contact list into smaller segments based on a shared characteristic. 

These may be based on the following, but are not limited to: 

  • Buyer personas (for example, their job title, their location, what role they play in the purchasing process  and the challenges they face)
  • Behavior (for example, whether this client has engaged with your content before, bought anything from you or subscribed to emails on your website)
  • Location
  • Demographics

Segmentation helps keep your marketing emails relevant and more personal. Make sure to list every new marketing contact you have in the corresponding segment. 

For example, imagine you are in the business of selling CRM software to companies. In this instance, you may want to segment your contacts based on job titles of the recipients (such as purchasing managers) or the size of the company, offering different packages depending on the target company’s size of revenue. 

Plan your campaign in stages

Now that you have a better understanding of who your audience is, it is time to plan your campaign. To keep your emails personal and relevant, coordinate your campaign cycle with the potential client’s customer journey. Different types of content are appropriate for each stage of the cycle and customer journey:

  • Awareness – the potential client is aware of your brand, but does not intend to purchase anything yet. At this stage, marketing emails should be of informational nature to make your target audience familiar with your services and your brand in general.
  • Consideration – the potential client is interested in your brand, but needs an extra push to make a purchase. At this stage, send marketing emails containing other customers’ testimonials, case studies or demos.
  • Decision-making – the potential client is now interested in purchasing your product, and needs to take budgeting and other internal factors into account. Try using discounts, live demos and free trials at this stage of your email marketing strategy.
  • Retention – the potential client has turned into a buyer, and now your aim is to strengthen your relationship (in other words, get your customer to buy more of your product). Emails containing high-level informational materials will ensure your client gets the most out of your product, while exclusive content and extra discounts will encourage them to purchase more.
  • Advocacy – if your client is loyal to your product, they will serve as a great advocate for your brand, telling others about you and bringing in new customers. At this stage, emails containing loyalty rewards, testimonial requests, and referral programs could turn a client into an advocate.

Possible types of emails to send during different stages of your B2B marketing journey:

Awareness How-to guides
Content roundups
Online courses
Workbooks
Consideration Case studies
Customer testimonials
Product demos
Decision-making Discount offers
Live demos
Free trials
Retention Exclusive content
High-level informational materials
Extra discount offers
Company updates
Advocacy Loyalty rewards
Testimonial requests
Referral programs
Polling

Email marketing funnels are a similar concept — they represent the journey a customer takes from their first interaction with a company to making a purchase, and help you determine where potential customers drop off and why. 

You have familiarized yourself with your targets and planned your campaign in stages – it’s now time to develop captivating email content.

Develop great email content

Remember to keep the content of your email personal to your client and relevant to their customer journey. This is another instance where features of email marketing tools could save you some time with email management – try importing fields from your contact lists, making sure that your email addresses the recipient by name and mentions the name of their company. 

Another tip is keeping your marketing emails relatively short but informative through adding visual guides, formatting, previews and small blocks of text.

This email is informative but not overly verbose, using short blocks of texts, images and scannable formatting:

Email from Packhelp

Write catchy subject lines

Using a catchy subject line will ensure that the recipient reads your email, rather than leaves it unopened in their inbox, or worse, sends it to spam. Compelling subject lines should be short and fully visible in the inbox – try keeping your subject lines under 60 characters and limiting punctuation. 

Here are some examples of great subject lines:

Subject Line from Asana
Subject Line from Zoom
Subject Line from LogMeIn

Include a clear call to action

A call to action (CTA) is exactly what it sounds like – asking your customer to do a particular thing, such as buying something, attending an event or subscribing to your emails, clearly and specifically. 

We are sure you have seen plenty of popular but not so effective CTAs in your own email inbox – “Learn more”, “Click here”, and so on. However, a well-written CTA could propel your marketing campaign forward and help you start a conversation with a potential client. 

  • A successful CTA makes the next stage of the purchasing process clear, and does not leave the recipient wondering why you are contacting them in the first place. 
  • A CTA should be short and direct, incentivising your target to respond to it by reminding them of the benefits you could offer. 
  • Try to be original in wording your CTA and avoid overused phrases such as those mentioned above by using synonyms. 
  • Use only one CTA per marketing email.

Here are some examples of some creative CTAs. Some of them use fun, unconventional wording (like offering the recipient superpowers), but calls to action remain clear nevertheless:

Call to Action from Mixpanel
Call to Action from flodesk
Call to Action from B2B/C2C
Call to Action from Soapbox

Test and track the results

The campaign is not over once your email has been delivered – modern email marketing tools, such as Selzy, enable you to track the engagement on every email you send. Keeping track of metrics such as open rates, click-through rates and so on may be a game-changer for your future campaigns. 

For example, if your open rates are low, it may mean your subject lines are not resonating with your audience, and vice versa. High click-through rates may signify that the content you are sending is relevant to its recipients. Keeping track of these metrics will help you tweak your marketing campaigns to make them even better and more relevant to your target customers.

Additionally, there is A/B testing which entails sending two different marketing emails to two sets of targets and seeing which variation is more successful. 

Go beyond marketing emails

While emailing is an integral part of a B2B marketing campaign, this does not mean that you should neglect other ways to present yourself online. Make sure all the information on your social media pages and your website is up to date, relevant to your product, aligns with your business objectives, and include links to those in your marketing emails. Social media helps improve brand awareness, builds credibility and assists with nurturing subscribers, thereby driving sales.

Top examples to learn from

Uplers Email is an email marketing agency. The tone of this email is playful, yet it remains professional. This email introduces the company and its services to a potential client in an easy-to-digest format with short blocks of text and plenty of visual aids:

Email from Uplers

This is an example of an awareness-stage marketing email from Emfluence, an email marketing platform. It is personal, addresses the recipient by name and demonstrates awareness of the recipient’s job. It also seeks to educate the recipient about its products:

Email from Emfluence

InVision is the online whiteboard and productivity platform. The format of this email lets the reader scan through it quickly. In this email, InVision informs its customer of a new product the company is launching:

Email from InVision

This retention-stage email from Google is offering a new bonus service to an existing client. It features a clear subject line and a clear call to action:

Email from Google My Business

KlientBoost is a performance marketing agency. This email offers exclusive educational content to its recipient in order to deepen the customer relationship. It is short and gets straight to the point, only providing necessary information.

Email from KlientBoost

In conclusion

B2B email marketing is one of the most useful parts of your marketing campaign. Be sure to implement the following tips for a successful marketing campaign: 

  • Personalization is key – customize each and every part of your email at every stage of your campaign to keep them as personal and relevant to the recipient as possible.
  • Be direct in your CTA and subject line – keep them short and catchy, yet clear and concise.
  • Save time by using email marketing tools — it is impossible to do everything by hand!
  • Keep things brief – it’s likely that the recipient of your email is busy, and will not have the time to read a very long message. Try using visual content, formatting and previews to make your email scannable.
  • Email marketing may be a key part of your B2B campaign, but don’t neglect your website and your social media accounts. Make sure all the content is up to scratch, and include links in your emails.

What are your top tips for executing a great B2B email marketing campaign? Please leave your ideas in the comments below.

 

All images are credited to Really Good Emails.

What are your top tips for executing a great B2B email marketing campaign?

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