Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with customers and reach out to prospects with information that will catch their interest. It allows you to build and increase awareness around your brand and product, conduct lead generation and begin or continue conversations with people who might be interested in your product. Additionally, email marketing is measurable. While the ultimate success metric for any type of marketing is a purchase, email marketing provides multiple lenses through which you can measure improvement and success as you nurture prospects along the way.

B2B Email Marketing 101

Common types of B2B email marketing include:

  1. Drip emails. These emails are sent out, typically as part of a larger marketing campaign, on a regular schedule (for example, monthly or quarterly). Drip emails often include content such as white papers, ebooks, and case studies. If part of an evolving message campaign, the emails are generally sent out at two- to three-week intervals over a quarter, working to expand your prospect’s understanding and possibly move them along the buyer’s journey.
  2. Emails for online and offline events. These include save-the-dates, invitations, registration reminders, and follow-ups for in-person events and things like webinars, webcasts, etc. (See our In-Person Events and Seminars Marketing Guide and Webinar Best Practices for more information.)
  3. Newsletters. These emails typically recur on a monthly or a bi-monthly basis. They usually contain news, product updates, or other features of interest to customers and prospects.

Regardless of which type of email you are developing, certain principles
and best practices apply across the board. In the next sections, we will
cover some of these best practices.

Know Your Audience — and Make Sure You Reach Them

As with all other marketing work, start with getting to know your audience. An understanding of your audience will provide you with a compass to reference as you build your email marketing plan. Use the following questions as a guide:

• What are your audience’s business roles? Do they belong to the c-suite? Are they in decision-making positions? Are their
titles executive, president, director, manager, practitioner? Some combination of these?
• What are your audience’s key pain points? How does your product
address these pain points?
• What type of content does your audience enjoy? Infographics, newsletters, case studies, ebooks, or maybe white papers? Do they prefer long-form or short-form? Do they like to read or would they rather watch a video?
• What type of wording gets your audience’s attention? Is there industry-specific vernacular that you should use?

After you develop an understanding of your audience, you may want to segment your email lists so you can implement a targeted content approach. It’s also important to keep your lists updated. Integrate email address acquisition into your prospecting strategy, so you and your team have goals for collecting addresses during networking events and trade shows, during inbound calls and cold calls, and on appropriate webpages.

Create Compelling Content

Knowing what type of content to include in your email starts with knowing your audience well. After you have a good handle on your audience and the types of content they are bound to engage with, there are a few generals best practices to keep in mind:

  • Keep your writing professional but conversational. Introducing too much promotional or salesy language into your content can be an instant turnoff for a reader. Instead, take a conversational tone. Aim to inform rather than to sell. While your content should always strive to position your product and company as a thought leader, it should also contain information useful to your readers, whether or not they decide to purchase.
  • Choose your words wisely.
    • Leave out buzzwords, superlative adjectives, or other language that might leave your writing feeling overly promotional or impersonal. If, however, you found industry-specific vernacular that speaks to your audience, feel free to use it.
    • Be concise
    • Avoid words, phrases, and styles that can cause your email to be treated as spam. Spam filters look for items like exclamation points, the use of all-capital letters, and words such as “free” and “act now” in the subject line.
    • Create subject lines that are short and catchy. Be clear about what recipients will get by opening the email.
    • Develop a clear CTA. (See the Call to Action section for more information.)
  • Keep the buyer’s journey top of mind. If you can track where your recipients are in the buyer’s journey, you can structure your efforts so you’re providing the right people with the right information at the right time. For instance, if someone is just hearing about your company for the first time, a webinar on a specific facet of your product may not lead to much engagement. Instead, a customer case study, infographic, or data sheet might be more appropriate. On the other hand, if recipients have already investigated your product and are further along in the sales funnel, you want to provide content that speaks to their industry and enables them to more easily build a case for your product to their organization’s decision-makers.
  • Plan to use colorful, engaging imagery to break up text when appropriate. If you include a video asset, insert an image and a CTA, such as “Watch Now.”