Contributors from members of the Copper team
Email marketing may seem overdone these days, but it’s still one of the most effective channels for engaging leads — with an average ROI of 122% (Digital Strike). With returns that high, we’d say it’s worth the effort.
For many businesses, a B2B email marketing strategy is one of the main methods for turning prospects into leads, and leads into customers, and customers into advocates.
But coming up with a solid plan for your email marketing efforts isn’t always straightforward. And keeping up with the latest fast-moving trends in the digital marketing world can be exhausting.
Don’t sweat; we have some tried-and-true B2B email marketing tips to help you knock it out of the park with your next email campaign. Plus, we’ll jump into specific ways to make sure your B2B email marketing strategy is optimized for lead generation and conversion.
The best B2B email marketing strategy begins with a warm approach
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Cold emails aren’t a viable approach anymore. The response rates are dropping every year. The average cold email response rate hovers at around 1%. Despite these atrocious numbers, 47% of marketers still send cold emails.
Unsolicited emails aren’t a great way to build lasting customer relationships. And if we’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s that enduring customer relationships are the differentiator between businesses that can adapt and those that can’t.
The most important thing you can do to improve your B2B email marketing benchmarks is to prioritize inbound marketing and warm leads over cold data lists.
There are several ways to start collecting emails, including:
- Adding relevant popups on your website to collect emails
- Promoting your newsletter during eCommerce checkout
- Offering a freebie in exchange for an email (i.e., eBook, whitepaper, etc.)
- Running contests on social media
- Hosting free webinars to build your audience
- Creating educational content like videos and podcasts to generate leads
- Maintaining an engaging social media presence to capture new leads
- And more
The key is to engage warm prospects with B2B marketing emails instead of cold ones for a much better chance of creating a new lead and, ultimately, a new client.
8 B2B email marketing best practices
Here are eight of our favorite B2B email marketing best practices to supercharge your emails for better lead generation.
1. Create an email marketing funnel strategy
Many businesses get a prospect’s email and then go in for the pitch straightaway. We hate to break it to you, but this is the worst way to make use of a new email address and the quickest way to get sent to the spam folder. Instead, focus on creating an email marketing sales funnel strategy to guide your efforts.
An email marketing sales funnel is a five-stage process prospects go through to help turn them into loyal clients and brand advocates:
Your goal is that you and other B2B marketers use email to support these natural stages, so leads can organically progress from one stage to the next.
For example, during the awareness phase, best practice is to send mostly informational emails. During the consideration phase, utilize personalization more heavily and lean into the benefits of your offerings. The conversion phase is when it’s appropriate to apply pressure with urgency, promotions and hard pitches. Creating your newsletters and drip campaigns around this funnel strategy will help drive the best results.
2. Create an automated email campaign
Take time to create drip campaigns that walk your leads through the email marketing sales funnel. We recommend developing a time- or action-based email sequence that triggers automatically when your leads take specific actions. For example, when someone signs up for your newsletter, they should receive a welcome email automatically.
You might also send emails when people haven’t opened your last email, when people haven’t engaged in a while, when it’s time for an upsell for existing customers, or at any other notable milestones along the way.
3. Craft thoughtful newsletters to nurture your list
Your newsletters will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting – especially in the early stages. While drip campaigns should be moving your prospects through to the purchasing phase, your newsletter should be doing the lion’s share of the education.
B2B email marketing is all about giving your prospects educational information that allows them to make better purchasing decisions. In other words, you want your newsletters to provide real value and information, not just promote your business.
If you publish blog articles regularly, consider sending a monthly digest to your subscribers showcasing your top content. If you have recent press coverage, share it with your list. You get the idea.
4. Focus on personalization (but make sure it’s built on genuine connection)
Remember how cold emails aren’t the way to go? Well, a bunch of marketers realized that a few years ago, and personalization became the fix. Scrape some basic data and insert a few merge tags, and all of a sudden, instead of saying “To Whom It May Concern,” you could say “Hey Jessica from ABC Marketing.”
The problem for B2B marketers? When it stands alone, this personalization feels gimmicky. Personalization is really important to successful email marketing B2B lead generation, but it has to be accurate and built on a real connection. Include personalized information your lead has provided in the sign-up form or correspondence. If you know their industry or role, personalize the email content to meet their interests. Don’t make assumptions, either. Personalization only works if it’s accurate and deserved.
5. Segment your lists
Segmenting your lists, including email marketing campaign lists, enables you to provide more targeted content to different audience types. Separate your lists by interest level, communication preferences, product type, client type and more. For example, you’ll want all your hot prospects in one list and your cold ones in another because their drip campaigns will be vastly different.
Similarly, if you offer different products or services, separate your prospects by the service or product they’ve expressed interest in. If a lead signed up to learn more about your B2B marketing consulting but they’re getting emails about your time-tracking app, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
6. Spruce up email copy
When working on email marketing B2B lead generation, your email copy has to be great if you want it to convert. Subpar emails won’t cut it in B2B email marketing. This starts with the subject line. Spend time creating compelling subject lines and split-test the results. Then, figure out what types of subject lines actually get your audience to open up and read your emails: emotional copy, results-focused copy, etc.
Then, put that same information in the body of the email, and keep it conversational. Too often, people think B2B means stuffy and overly professional. Instead, try a more straightforward and conversational approach for better results, and always include a Call to Action (CTA) that clearly guides readers to act on your email.
7. Follow character and word limit best practices
In addition to coming up with compelling copy, make sure it fits within optimal character and word limits. Subject lines should be between six and ten words long, or between 28 to 50 characters, research shows.
And when it comes to the email body, keep it short. If you’re looking for a response, aim for 50 to 125 words. But, if you want to optimize your click-through rate (CTR), the magic number falls somewhere between 100 and 200. Make sure to consider where your recipient is in the email funnel before setting the target length for a specific email.
8. Use the right tools, test, and adjust to maximize results
Use the right tools, like a CRM to manage all your contact information and an email system, like Mailchimp, to manage your campaigns and efforts. Then, take time to set some B2B email marketing benchmarks, test your email strategy, and improve it as you go.
Test your emails to discover the best subject lines, image ratio, times to send and more. Then, keep adjusting until you find the magic formula for maximum conversion.
Take charge of your B2B email marketing strategy
B2B email isn’t too different from B2C email. Whether you're focusing on a drip campaign or an email marketing campaign, it’s about forming relationships and providing real value. Keep these best practices in mind as you design your B2B email marketing strategy for the best results.
If you need a CRM to empower your email marketing B2B lead generation, we can help. Give Copper a try for 14 days and see how we can help you supercharge your email efforts with our relationship-centric CRM.