Five Effective B2B Email Marketing Techniques & Examples
We’ve seen plenty of great email marketing ideas from business-to-consumer (B2C) companies to inspire your next campaign. But what about business-to-business (B2B) email marketing ideas? B2B emails don’t have to be boring!
If you’re looking to create some stand-out email marketing content as a B2B email marketer, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll cover examples from five B2B companies that use different techniques to capture the attention of their target audience. Then we’ll go over how these ideas can help improve your next B2B email marketing campaign.
What is B2B Email Marketing?
B2B email marketing is a specific type of marketing strategy in which your business markets directly to other businesses. However, just because you’re not marketing to individual customers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a human touch on all your email marketing campaigns. B2B audiences are also human, after all!
What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?
B2B email marketing differs from B2C email marketing in that you’re marketing directly to other businesses rather than to individual consumers. If you need some concrete examples, here are a few B2B companies you might be familiar with:
- Google: We’re all familiar with Google’s B2C products, like the Google search engine or Gmail, but Google also provides business solutions such as Google Workspace and AdWords.
- Slack Technologies: Many workplaces now power their internal communications with Slack, a B2B company you may be familiar with. Slack provides a business with instant messaging and video-conferencing capabilities. In addition, Slack has productivity bots that help automate redundant workplace tasks.
- Salesforce: A B2B company, Salesforce provides businesses with customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities.
Of course, we’re all familiar with B2B brands, but some examples include:
- Spotify and Netflix: Streaming services for music, TV shows, and movies.
- Target and Walmart: Big box retail stores where consumers shop.
- Mcdonald’s and Taco Bell: Fast food chains where consumers eat relatively unhealthy food.
There are also B2B/B2Ccompanies that market to both consumers and businesses:
- Facebook: Social media giant Facebook focuses its efforts on individual consumers. But it mainly makes money as an advertising platform for businesses. In other words, Facebook is a B2B/B2C company.
- Amazon: Amazon is a great example of a B2B/B2C company that markets directly to individual consumers. But it also sells to businesses and has services like AWS (Amazon Web Services) that many of the biggest companies in the world use.
What are some best practices for B2B email marketing strategies?
In many ways, B2B marketing can be trickier than B2C marketing. That’s because the customer journey is entirely different. There’s a longer nurturing process with B2B buyers, and you’re often dealing with multiple stakeholders, decision-makers, and others who may influence a purchase decision.
With B2B, you need to use different approaches to gain the buyer’s trust before they can commit to buying your product or service. As a result, the B2B email marketing process can be lengthier and often requires a nuanced approach.
Here are some B2B email marketing best practices:
- Craft a good subject line.
- Add an x.
- Remember your audience. Understand the B2B decision-making process, optimize send times, and segment your emails accordingly.
- Preview and test your emails.
- Personalization and building trust.
Let’s dive into each of these below.
Why is it important to craft a good email subject line for a B2B marketing campaign?
A good subject line can help your email stand out in a crowded inbox. More importantly, a well-crafted subject line can improve your marketing metrics. In other words, a great email subject line can mean the difference between improving your open rate versus your marketing email ending up in a potential lead’s trash folder. With a great subject line, you can secure more conversions and click-throughs to your landing page.
Why is it important to add a CTA?
In a B2B marketing campaign, your business is selling directly to other businesses. As such, you want to make it easy for your customer to quickly assess and act upon your message. Add a call-to-action (CTA) to clearly guide your busy customer to the information they need to make a purchase.
Why is it important to remember your audience?
While your B2B audiences are human, keep in mind that people buy differently when purchasing for business rather than for pleasure. Strategies that might work on individual consumers buying for pleasure may not work on decision-makers purchasing for their business. For instance, a sense of urgency might motivate the individual customer, but companies are more likely to make rational, informed decisions.
Understand the B2B buying/decision-making process. B2B often entails “lead nurturing” with drip campaigns, which is much less likely in B2C marketing. Then, use segmentation around different job titles, industries, and the size of business. Most importantly, tailor your send times based on the workday. Remember to tailor your email content to your audience.
Why is it important to preview and test my B2B emails?
At Email on Acid, we like to say, “Don’t guess, test!” Why leave the success of your B2B email up to chance? Before you decide to hit “send” on your freshly revamped email newsletter, be sure to also test and preview your email. Email testing needs to be a part of your B2B email marketing process – even awesome emails can break from time to time.
On a related note, A/B testing is also important to make sure the type of content you’re producing fits your digital marketing goals.
Why is it important to build trust and personalize B2B emails?
As we noted above, B2B is all about building trust and making a personal connection helps. B2B can be even more emotional than B2C purchasing because it’s often high-stakes. Build and maintain trust with your clients and use effective personalization to clinch that sale.
What are some effective B2B email marketing examples and strategies?
Now that we have an idea of what to include in a B2B marketing email, let’s look at five proven techniques and examples.
- Build trust through content (InVision)
- Keep it short and simple (Harvest)
- Tell a story (Salesforce)
- Collaborate and educate (Later)
- Be creative (Trello)
Let’s explore each of these in more detail below.
1. Build trust through content (InVision)
Stellar content marketing is essential to B2B success. That’s why some of the best B2B newsletters educate their email lists with their latest and most popular blog posts. Providing valuable insight can help build trust with your audience.
Once you establish trust, your subscriber is more likely to buy your product or service in the future. InVision, a leading product design platform, knows the power of building trust through educational blog content.
InVision creates their entire newsletter around blog content. They divide their most popular thought leadership content into different color blocks at the top.
Moving away from the illustrative design blocks at the top, the rest of the newsletter focuses on using stock photography to highlight some of InVision’s other blog content. This contrast in imagery is also a great way to test what kind of visuals work better for your audience, stock photos or illustrations.
With the sole purpose of educating their audience, InVision’s newsletter is more likely to move their non-customer readers into using their platform in the future.
2. Keep it short and to the point (Harvest)
With B2B email marketing, once a potential customer signs up to receive your newsletter, you need to send an effective onboarding email that helps them become familiar with the main features of your product.
This onboarding email from Harvest encourages the prospect to invite others to join in on the free trial. However, notice how it keeps the copy short and the messaging simple? This brand is aware that potential users may be tight on time (because we all are)and respects that with an email that’s free of fluff.
B2B products and services can sometimes be overwhelming for customers because of the vast array of features and integrations they often offer. That said, try to simplify the process as much as possible, especially if the potential customer is signing up for your emails for the first time. It’s important not to overload new subscribers during the early stages.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to welcome first-time email subscribers, check out these tips on crafting a killer welcome email.
3. Tell a story (Salesforce)
Some of the best B2B email marketing campaigns captivate subscribers by crafting a compelling story.
Salesforce is a pro at keeping their subscribers at the heart of their stories. They also attempt to create an adventure narrative within their newsletters. The above example gives the idea of embarking on a trail or voyage toward success. This draws readers in and makes them feel as if they were on a journey, too, with several exciting stops along the way.
Salesforce uses the idea of “trailblazing” throughout their copy, highlighting all their unique events that will benefit their target audience. The visual imagery is fun and adventurous, with a lively image of a campfire moment at the very end, giving you a visual interpretation of your customer success journey.
4. Collaborate and educate (Later)
Some of the best B2B email marketing highlights partnerships with other businesses. This not only solidifies relationships with other brands but also tells your audience that you’re a collaborative organization that thrives on creating value for customers through effective partnerships.
In the above newsletter, Instagram scheduler Later does a great job of announcing their partnership with HubSpot and other small businesses. By highlighting their teaming up with a reputable brand like HubSpot, Later tells its audience that it’s a serious brand you can trust.
Later also incorporates videos into their email newsletter, which immediately piques the reader’s interest. Research suggests including videos in your emails can boost open rates by 19%. And they stick to a singular goal in their email newsletter: educating the reader on using Instagram stories. The design is simple and Later divides each piece of video content into separate blocks, making it easier to digest.
5. Be creative (Trello)
If you’re a B2B company, don’t be afraid to tap into your holiday spirit and create fun email newsletters for the holiday season. Seasonal newsletters have always been one of our favorites because they allow for a little more creativity.
In the above newsletter, project management tool Trello shows how their brand is unique and fun. The simple design doesn’t overwhelm the user, and the Christmas-themed elements help illustrate 12 unique Trello selling points. The message captivates the reader in a fun and creative way.
By adding their take on the infamous Christmas carol, “Twelve Days of Christmas,” Trello draws in their audience through a common Christmas experience.
If you truly want to stand out with your B2B email marketing, don’t be afraid to do something different around special holidays or occasions. Finding a creative way to leverage holidays can help you connect with your customers!
Are you inspired to try some of these email newsletter techniques for your B2B email marketing campaigns? Check out our article on B2B email automation.
Let us help you get sending today. Try Email on Acid for free for seven days.
This article was updated on August 2, 2022. The original article was published in December of 2018 as a contribution from ContactMonkey.