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Email marketing can be surprisingly effective,  yet the modern inbox has become a competitive place. The digital landscape has created a high noise to signals ratio, but email is the one place where you have the reader's undivided attention. Is cold emailing still effective? When done correctly, absolutely. For B2B marketers, email marketing is particularly effective because you have a direct line to your leads and prospects without the worries of algorithmic suppression or changes in search rankings. The goal then is to pierce through the clutter and noise of the inbox and stand out with a touch of originality. Here's how to engage in B2B email best practices that drive conversions.


Email Best Practices for B2B Marketing

Employ Problem-Focused Messaging

ProblemUltimately, your brand needs to be positioned as a problem-solver in your field. While your content, social media presence, and website should easily communicate this notion, B2B emails are the absolute best place to fully demonstrate this and can be a goldmine if properly utilized.

The messaging is about them, not your brand. What's a problem common for that industry, organization size, stage of growth, location, or other attributes specific to that segment of your customer base? For example, startups experiencing high growth tend to be in a difficult position with respect to their accounting departments. They need scalable technology that can handle larger transaction volumes but are not sure when it's the ideal time to hire more staff and get a CFO capable of managing these tools. An accounting firm that specializes in this type of customer would need to focus on the exact pain points that the startup is going through, and emphasize that they have the talent and tech meant to solve this problem. They would need messaging that specifically addresses these common pain points at the most likely stage of startups' lifecycles that they occur.

Highlight the particular friction points of the user or customer journey or incredibly specific problem, that would resonate with the subscriber. Think about the subscriber's likely role given the segment you're reaching, such as their typical responsibilities, how many employees they supervise, the software they use, and other factors. How is your company positioned to solve the problem? Why would they find your solution helpful?

Always highlight the lead's problems, rather than the benefits and features of your products and services. Although it’s tempting to push more for content that features your best products or services, keep the language user-focused so it doesn't come off as being too “sales-y”.

Create Strong, Catchy Subject Lines

Catchy subject lineThere's an adage about how one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But unfortunately, the publishing industry can tell you that this adage does not line up with reality. Email subject lines function similarly to book covers and the same is true of them: don't write a subject line that flops, no matter how incredible the content below the fold is.

What makes a subject line strong, and more likely to make the subscriber open the email?

Put yourself in your subscribers' shoes. What kind of content would they want to see? What case are you making that opening the email is worth their time?

If you're promoting your latest whitepaper, the subject line should communicate what the whitepaper is about and why the subscriber would want to read it. A bad subject line would be "Check out our latest whitepaper!" because the content is constantly being produced, they don't know what it's about. "Our new blog for the week" is also a bad subject line because everyone is busy, new content being published isn't newsworthy, and this is just more noise rather than a signal.

What does create a signal is saying something that grabs attention, such as "How our client scaled from $10K a month in revenue to $100K". These numbers spark interest in the processes and products about to be described.

A subject line that doesn't generate interest isn't going to translate to strong open rates, which then increase the likelihood of click rates. People do judge books by their covers, and if the cover just doesn't look appealing enough to make them want to open, your emails won't drive clicks and conversions.

Include Personalization

PersonalizationMost email marketing solutions have personalization options that address subscribers by name, company, role, and other attributes that personalize their emails. However, personalization needs to be taken a step further when it comes to cold emails and emails sent outside of the automated workflow when warming up leads.

Always use their names. Look them up on social media and any biographical information posted on their company websites, so you can find out about their hobbies and interests to come off as less robotic and pure sales talk. It demonstrates that you've taken the time to get to know them.

This level of personalization veers towards the account-based marketing approach, which can be very helpful in developing healthy long-term business relationships.

Keep Paragraphs Short

Skimmable content It's always a challenge figuring out how long your content and other marketing communications should be. But whether you're putting together B2B email templates or personally sending cold emails and follow-up emails, a good rule of thumb is that you should keep an email short and sweet. Go long for blogs and whitepapers, but make your point briefly and effectively when you've got that undivided attention in one's inbox.

No one wants a wall of text in an email, even if it's from your own parent or spouse. Subscribers are apt to be reading on mobile devices as well, which makes splitting content into small paragraphs even more critical. Keep paragraphs condensed to no more than 2-3 sentences, even just 1-2 where appropriate.

Use a Simple Single-Line CTA

Call to actionJust like how paragraphs need to be kept brief, so does your call to action (CTA). Keep your CTA to just one paragraph of no more than two sentences, preferably just one. Narrow down your intent to whether you want the reader to check out that new blog post, set up a call with a sales representative, or schedule a consultation and put that in your CTA.

You should have a very clear ask, rather than multiple options that typically create greater confusion - but also make it harder for you to understand the success of your email. 

Create a Follow-Up Process

Follow upOne of the most overlooked email best practices has much in common with job interviews: they fail when one neglects the follow-up process.

The follow-up process can be set up with an automated workflow, to get more nurtured leads straight to your inbox. A workflow is simply a series of emails that have a common theme for a particular segment or piece of content that the subscriber engaged with. 

The workflow can be just one or two brief emails that explain how your solution will solve their problem and create additional value, or link to additional resources depending on what stage of the user journey that subscriber is on. For example, if you have a whitepaper on your website that is walled off unless the viewer subscribes to your email list, it could lead to a series of 3-4 emails instead of just one email containing the whitepaper.

For emails outside these automated workflows, following up can also be as simple as just reaching out with a quick email of just 1-2 sentences asking if they have any questions or how their particular problem or growth stage is going. Because these automated workflows have a specific intent, it makes them more effective than simple lead magnets for the email list by themselves. With the promise of more helpful content in each installment, it also increases open and click-through rates and reduces subscriber churn rates.

You can learn more about how to create effective email workflow strategies here.

Provide Targeted, Valuable Content

Targeted contentWhat ultimately gets subscribers to open emails and stay subscribed to your email list is that you are providing content that they actually care about.

You have to keep readers engaged with content that they actually care about. This can be your insights on current events and industry trends and news, sharing new techniques and knowledge, and other helpful, interesting, timely, or entertaining information.

It's a great opportunity for honing your brand voice and finding out exactly what your readers want-- you can ask them in the emails what kind of content they want to see or find out through other channels like social media and live events. Your newsletters can become known as a source for certain niches, like practical tips on preparing for the big industry event of the year that includes your recommendations for hotels and restaurants in the area.

Keeping subscribers interested with content that they become professionally and emotionally invested in produces warmer leads and higher open rates. You can learn more about creating email content that readers care about here.

Include Psychology Techniques

PsychologyIt's no secret that psychology and marketing are linked. Marketing efforts can produce emotional responses, such as a bank that offers you a free vacation package when you refinance your mortgage. You now associate that bank with the wonderful experience you had.

Various psychology concepts come into play in email best practices, such as confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when people gravitate to information that supports their beliefs and experience. Going back to the example of the startups that experience growing pains with their accounting departments, it would be confirmation bias for a founder or VP that they've outgrown their current systems but aren't sure about the next step. Reading content that they relate to and confirms their experience would gravitate them to the content creator who clearly understands their situation, out of confirmation bias.

This is why focusing on problems to solve and specific points along the customer journey make email marketing far more effective.

Confirmation bias is just one psychological technique of many that can be applied to email marketing and other marketing activities. To learn more about psychologically-driven email marketing, you can read about merging psychology with marketing here.


Partner With the B2B Growth Experts

LAIRE focuses on delivering exceptional results for B2B marketing efforts, while also helping to bridge the gap between your internal sales and marketing departments. For more, check out our webinar on methods that better align your sales and marketing teams.

Marketing & Sales Alignment Webinar


Todd Laire

Todd Laire

B2B Sales and Marketing Leader | CEO at LAIRE, a Digital Growth Agency - Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Marketer, Sales Team Builder, and Change Advocate.