Digital Marketers World    Blog    What is B2B Email Marketing (Best Practices & Use Cases)

What is B2B Email Marketing (Best Practices & Use Cases)

Promoting your business-to-business (B2B) product to prospects usually requires different tactics and strategies. In most cases, diversity is the key to ensuring that your campaigns are deliberate, highly targeted, and scalable for you to convert leads into loyal clients.

But if you’d asked us, which digital marketing strategy ticks off all these points for B2B companies, we would name email marketing without hesitation. 

That’s why we dedicated today’s post to all things B2B email marketing—its benefits, use cases, and best practices. We’ll also compare it against LinkedIn to see which one’s better for outreach.

What is B2B Email Marketing?

B2B email marketing refers to sending marketing emails to businesses instead of individual customers. 

The goal is to convince sales prospects to become your clients. You can do this by educating them about your product and answering questions they have regarding it.

Before you can send B2B email marketing campaigns, you must build an email list first. It is where you collect the personal information of prospective buyers so you can reach out to them via email.

Of course, you don’t just want any people signing up on your list. You want your target audience to subscribe, as they are more likely to purchase your product than anyone else.

An excellent way to get people that fit your buyer persona to join your list is by setting up a lead generation offer. Such offers usually come in the form of an e-book, checklist, cheat sheet, webinar, or any other lead magnet.

However, always bet on exclusivity when it comes to your lead magnets. 

The reason is simple – just because you’re handing out free content doesn’t mean people will readily give their personal information to you. For your lead generation campaign to be effective, your resource must deliver immense value to your audience for them to sign up.

A way to do this is by addressing the biggest pain points your ideal B2B companies encounter in your exclusive content. For instance, you can research the obstacles they face and create a resource guide that helps them overcome these roadblocks.

Even better, discuss how your product can aid in solving their problems. This approach also allows you to introduce your product into their consciousness and help them decide whether it can help them with their B2B business.

Once B2B businesses have become your email subscribers, you can start sending them emails promoting your product and brand. Below is an example of a B2B email Asana sent to its subscribers as an invitation to demonstrate the product:

Asana B2B email marketing email example

The email shares characteristics of a typical B2B email because it first explains what the product is about, i.e., project management. Then Asana asks customers to schedule a meeting with them to further discuss how its product can help them achieve their goals. This enables the brand to customize how users can experience the product based on their respective situations.

Now, there’s a chance people might ignore this email and move on with their lives. In fact, almost 85% of recipients won’t open the email at all, so your chances of converting them into becoming your customers are low from just a single email.

Thus, developing an effective B2B email marketing strategy where you send more emails and convince your prospects to schedule a call with you is key. We will discuss the best practices for it later, but now let’s talk more about the importance of the strategy in focus.

Why is B2B Email Marketing Important for Marketers and Salespeople?

If your B2B organization isn’t utilizing email marketing to its fullest extent, you’re not maximizing your sales and revenue. Below are the reasons why.

First, you nurture your leads and bring them down your sales funnel through engaging content. This aspect is important because not all subscribers on your list are ready to make a purchase.

For example, prospects in the top-of-funnel (ToFu) may not be fully aware of your product but are interested to learn more about it. In this case, you must send emails explaining the benefits of using your product for their B2B business.

Once they slide down to the bottom-of-funnel (BoFu) stage, you can send emails asking them to schedule a demo or video call with you (the same thing that Asana did in the previous section). Once you’ve secured a call with them, you’re closer to turning them into clients.

Knowing which stage your segments are in your funnel enables you to create content appropriate to their needs. As a result, you get higher clicks and engagement with your email content.

Second, B2B email marketing lets you get up close and personal with prospective B2B buyers.

There’s no denying that the B2B industry is very lucrative, with a market revenue worth $6.7 trillion. However, B2B prospects won’t go out of their way to spend on your product just yet.

In fact, B2B clients are much more guarded with their decision-making and usually engage with brands they trust and are transparent. At least, that’s what 52% of respondents say in a survey conducted by Segment.

This fact makes B2B email marketing even more valuable—it’s a marketing channel that enables you to ramp up personalization in your campaigns.

The fact that people have signed up for your mailing list is a step in the right direction. You have their email addresses, which means they’ve invested a certain level of trust in your brand that you can send emails to them, paving the way to more personalized experiences.

From here, you should build upon that trust even more by sending subscribers content that resonates with them. For instance, instead of approaching them as business owners or managers, talk to each one as people with wants and needs, just like you would to a friend.

Finally, you can measure your B2B email marketing campaign results to help determine how to improve its performance next time.

Most email marketing software nowadays lets you keep track of metrics that dictate the success of your campaign. With this information, you can tweak factors in your emails affecting these variables to have much better results in your upcoming campaign.

For instance, low open rates mean you didn’t optimize the subject line of your emails to get higher clicks. Or, if your campaign has high open rates but low click-through rates in your email body, you must improve your email’s content and call to action.

We’ll discuss how you can leverage email analytics and improve your B2B email marketing efforts later. For now, let’s compare B2B email marketing with business-to-customer (B2C) email marketing.

B2B vs. B2C Email Marketing: How they Compare Against Each Other

Just because B2C and business-to-customer (B2C) brands use email marketing doesn’t mean they work the same way. There are nuances to their approach, which we’ll be discussing below.

First, they foster different purchasing behaviors.

B2B customers are more deliberate and logical with their purchases.

The reason is it’s much harder to change B2B software if the one you chose doesn’t work out. You must transfer data from the old platform to the new one, onboard your team on how to use the new software, etc.

So, because choosing a B2B product and software is a big undertaking for decision-makers, its email marketing strategy revolves around sending emails explaining how the product works. They provide your prospects with the necessary information to help them decide whether to get your product or not.

On the other hand, emotional impulses trigger B2C purchases. This explains why most email messages B2C customers receive from brands are transactional, such as limited-time discount codes and coupons. It encourages customers to make quick and emotion-driven decisions.

The next difference is the frequency of emails sent.

B2B sales cycles are longer than B2C. The length depends on the size of the deal, but expect the B2B buying cycle to range from three to nine months.

While B2B clients immerse themselves in your product, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send them any emails during this period. You still must send emails with the goal of nurturing clients and building even more trust from them.

With B2C, making purchases is much easier due to the convenience of delivery and the affordable pricing. As a result, the buying cycle is faster and more frantic.

To combat this, B2C email marketing heavily relies on discount codes and coupons to keep customers on board with your brand. 

The final difference is something we’ve already touched upon – email’s content.

B2B marketers rely on informational emails to convince potential customers to schedule a call or purchase their product. B2C brands use promotional emails to increase sales and brand loyalty.

As powerful as email marketing is, it’s not the only channel that can effectively close B2B prospects. Next, we’ll talk about a social media platform that’s given email marketing a run for its money.

Email Marketing vs. LinkedIn: Which is Better for B2B Outreach?

As a social networking platform for professionals, LinkedIn has added features over the years to make B2B prospecting much easier. In particular, LinkedIn InMail is a premium feature on the platform that lets you reach out to users even if you’re not connected.

On the other hand, email marketing follows a cold email outreach approach comparable to LinkedIn InMail. This is where you send emails to prospects without prior contact.

When deciding which of the two is better, you must compare them based on the factors relevant to your purchase decision.

First, there’s the limit factor.

LinkedIn InMail lets you send between five to 50 emails every month. The higher your LinkedIn subscription plan is, the more messages you can send.

For some, these limits may hamper their outreach efforts. But given that the B2B market has a slow sales cycle, you don’t need to send many emails. It’s best to choose a handful of highly-targeted prospects on LinkedIn monthly and reach out to them using InMail.

You won’t have this issue with cold email marketing, though. Outreach email tools like Mailshake allow you to send unlimited emails to prospects, meaning you can reach out to as many B2B leads as you want anytime.

The second is the convenience factor.

LinkedIn lets you become more deliberate in your B2B outreach. You begin by searching for prospective clients on the platform and vetting each based on their provided information. From here, you can craft a personalized outreach message to each one.

On the other hand, prospecting for email marketing is a bit harder. Not only must you research which businesses may be interested in your product, but you also have to search for their email addresses (if you don’t have them in your CRM). Both processes require you to use different tools besides your outreach marketing platform.

However, the software’s automation feature allows you to send follow-up emails to your prospects, freeing up your time to help you find more leads to reach out to.

Finally, consider the engagement factor.

Because your B2B prospects are on LinkedIn, they’re willing to entertain offers and engage with other users. There’s a good chance that your prospects will listen to what you have to say, which could lead to a sale down the line.

The difference here with email marketing is permission-based. Recipients of cold email campaigns didn’t give you the authority to send them emails. So, the engagement rates can be significantly lower.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at how you can fully leverage B2B email marketing into your strategy.

Main Use Cases of B2B Email Marketing

Email marketing for B2B can serve many purposes and help you achieve results in both tactical and strategic directions. Below are the most common use cases showing how you can apply this strategy to increase brand awareness, refine your sales funnel process, and retain and gain customers.  

Use Case #1: Lead generation

To help you understand the place of email marketing in generating buyers for B2B, let’s explore the main lead types.

The first is marketing qualified leads (MQLs). You can find these people at the ToFu stage of your sales funnel, and they will likely become your customers very soon.

Why?

MQLs usually show high engagement with your marketing efforts. For example, they visit your website repeatedly, fill out a form from one of your pages, download your free content, etc.

However, they still need an extra push to finally buy your product.

The second is sales-qualified leads (SQLs). These people are far down your sales funnel and are ready to engage with your sales team to make the purchase.

So, what’s the role of B2B email marketing in all this?

From your email campaign, bring MQLs down your sales funnel by sending emails containing your latest blog posts and industry news. In each MQL email, include a call to action, allowing them to schedule a call with you regarding your product. 

Once they schedule a meeting with you, that essentially turns them into SQLs. The reason is they’ve expressed interest in your product.

From here, develop a drip campaign that cultivates your relationship with them further. For instance, send them case studies of how your product helped a business similar to your SQLs. You can also send video walkthroughs of your product to showcase the value it can provide to their business.

If done correctly, your SQLs will be convinced to finally purchase your product.

Use Case #2: Link building

Building links from authoritative websites can boost your site’s rankings on Google. So, when your prospects search for you on Google, they will see your page at the top of search results, thus increasing your chances of getting more traffic.

One of the ways to improve your site’s backlink profile is through a guest blogging campaign. It refers to reaching out to high-traffic websites and pitching topics to write about on their site.

The first rule for using B2B email marketing to secure backlinks from authoritative sites is to offer value to them and their audience. This reason is why guest blogging is one of the most effective link building tactics—you provide site owners with content their visitors want to read. In return, you can include a dofollow link to your website in the content.

From the pitch you will write, make sure to get straight to the point by including the possible blog post topics you will submit for them. Make sure that the topics you’ll propose haven’t been published on their website yet and are relevant to their industry and audience. This way, you increase the chances of getting your pitch approved by your prospect.

Use Case #3: Digital PR

Digital PR is a content marketing initiative that aims to increase your online visibility, improve brand sentiment, and promote your website.

While it might not seem evident at first, there is an overlap between B2B email marketing and digital PR. Their methods are different, but there are two ways both overlap:

The first is they both require communication with your target audience. B2B email marketing and digital PR serve as a medium where they can dispatch their content to people interested in receiving and learning more about it.

The second is they deliver relevant information to your audience at strategic times. 

If you publish your PR on a press release distribution site, they will take care of disseminating the information across different relevant channels. 

The same goes for B2B email marketing—you can prepare your campaign and schedule them to be sent at specific times to ensure maximum engagement and conversions.

Use Case #4: Newsletters

Email newsletters are messages designed to educate and entertain your subscribers. Usually, this format doesn’t deal with product promotion since people who will be receiving your newsletters are in your funnel’s ToFu stage.

Examples of emails you can incorporate into your campaign are your latest blog posts, curated content, case studies of customers who used your product successfully, and others.

If you want to move subscribers from ToFu down to your funnel’s BoFu stage, below are some of the tips you must follow:

  • Profile your ToFu subscribers and segment them accordingly. 
  • Organize your campaigns that suit the identities of each of your segments. For example, influencers (those who can sway the opinion of the public) could benefit from receiving handpicked content and roundups relevant to their interests. This enables you to position your brand as an authority in the niche, so influencers can share this perception with their audience.
  • Personalize each of the email newsletters you send to increase conversions.

To help you beef up your email newsletters and successfully convince them to become SQLs, read this post.

Use Case #5: Client onboarding

Upon acquiring a new customer, you want to ensure their experience using your product will be as smooth as possible. For this to happen, you want to launch a client onboarding plan guiding customers to get the most out of your product and achieve their B2B goals.

Email marketing is the perfect fit for client onboarding. Once customers purchase your product, you can send them a welcome email with the most important links to introductory videos and articles.

In the next few days, you can send emails on how to use the product’s different features with their accompanying videos.

Finally, to wrap up the onboarding campaign, you can send an automated email asking customers to reach out to you regarding problems with the product. Use the feedback you’ll collect here to improve your onboarding process.

That wraps up the five use cases of B2B content marketing for email. Now, let’s move on to the five best practices of this marketing tactic to help you meet your objectives.

5 B2B Email Marketing Best Practices for Great Results

Regardless of the use case you’ve chosen for your B2B email marketing strategy, employing the following practices will help make your efforts more organized and productive.

Practice #1: Find your target persona

Much like with any other digital marketing activity, a B2B email marketing campaign can’t succeed without a well-defined target persona. So, finding the right customer type is the first thing you should focus on.

If you already have a customer base, you can survey them to build the ICP profile. In your survey, focus on the questions that would help you single out the most common characteristics shared by your customers. You can also turn to tools like Google Analytics to help you break down your traffic using various demographics like location, gender, and others.

On the other hand, those who are just starting with their B2B brand will have to do a little bit of digging. For instance, you can start by researching social platforms for hashtags and mentions of products similar to yours.

It would also help to study the conversations revolving around the product and identify the people saying good things about it. There’s a good chance they can become your customers down the line.

Practice #2: Create an email list

We’ve already talked about the importance of building an email list. Aside from setting up a form for people to fill out and segmenting your audience (which is one of the common email mistakes businesses overlook), you want to create helpful content they’ll receive after signing up to become a subscriber.

Another factor to consider when building your email list is where to set up your opt-in form. Aside from creating a dedicated landing page for the sign-up form, you also can launch interstitials for it to appear on different parts of your website.

For example, if you want to gather MQLs as subscribers, you want to create a pop-up form that appears on your informational articles showcasing your expertise. On the other hand, showing a form that appears on your product pages allows you to collect SQLs.

Finally, determine how you want the forms to appear on these pages. One of the best ways to make opt-in forms appears is via exit intent. Whenever visitors are about to leave your page, the form will suddenly appear on the screen, catching their attention.

Other ways include scroll-triggered and floating bars on the top or bottom of the screen.

Practice #3: Use the right templates

Using email templates can take a huge load off your shoulders. Instead of creating your email campaigns from scratch, which eats up lots of your time, you can refer to high-converting templates available everywhere. 

But remember – editing and customizing the template to personalize and make it your own is a must. It should also be relevant to the needs of each individual recipient.

Here’s a post on our site that not only shares with you email templates you can swipe and use in your campaigns but also breaks down the anatomy of an email that people will want to open and read.

Practice #4: Take advantage of email marketing tools

You won’t be able to conduct an effective B2B email marketing campaign without tools. This not only includes email software but business intelligence platforms as well. For instance, you can consider tools like Looker vs. Power BI – they have some features that can help with email marketing.

Most email software allows you to build email lists and launch campaigns. But below are other things they can do:

  • Email deliverability – Helps you increase the likelihood of your emails landing in your prospect’s primary inbox and not in the spam folder. It details elements in your email that may trigger the spam filter so you can make the necessary changes.
  • Landing page and form creation – Create pages and forms that help you collect email subscribers to your list.
  • User segmentation – Group subscribers together based on their behavior, demographics, and other factors so you can send them highly targeted emails.
  • A/B testing – Lets you create variants of your email subject line and run them together to see which version gets the most clicks. The winning variant will be the one used through the campaign to help you increase its open rate.
  • Marketing automation – Create automated email drip campaigns to segments to achieve your desired goal. You can also send specific emails to subscribers based on how they respond in your campaign to increase conversions.

Among the email tools available, Mailchimp remains one of the best. It possesses most of the features mentioned above and has pre-built customer journey templates you can use to refine your email sales funnel process.

But if you’re looking for Mailchimp alternatives, Sendgrid is for you if you prefer more advanced integrations and better deliverability rates. On the other hand, Mailerlite is a viable choice if you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution for your B2B email marketing needs.

Practice #5: Measure and optimize

Your work doesn’t end once your emails are out. The next recurrent step will be tracking the performance of your email campaign. 

Below are email marketing metrics you can monitor:

  • Open rates – The percentage of people who open the emails you sent. 
  • Click-through rates – The percentage of people who clicked on the link in your email.
  • Conversion rate – The percentage of subscribers who completed your desired action, i.e., purchased a product or signed up for a form.
  • Bounce rate – The percentage of emails that didn’t reach recipients for a number of reasons.
  • Email sharing rate – The percentage of recipients who shared your email using the social buttons in your newsletter.
  • Unsubscribe rate – The percentage of people who unsubscribed from your list over time.
  • Mailing list growth rate – The percentage of people who signed up for your email list over a period.

Using these metrics enables you to gauge the performance of your B2B email marketing campaign. From here, you can gain insights on how you can improve the results of your future campaigns.

Now Over to You

Email marketing is a powerful marketing tactic that can help boost awareness and sales of your B2B product. Its multiple use cases allow you to promote your business to your ideal customer effectively and lead them down your sales funnel until they eventually purchase your product.

And by following the best practices listed above, you can ensure that your email campaign will only generate better results over time.

At this point, you might be wondering what would be the right time to send your B2B emails?

To find the answer, check out our most recent piece covering research from popular email marketing platforms. 

Christopher Jan Benitez is an accomplished content writer and a contributor at Digital Marketer’s World. He specializes in content marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and web marketing.

Got something to tell the world?