B2B Email Marketing: 5 Hacks to Improve ROI, Best Practices and Examples [2023]

By Leah Clark19 minute read Marketing Guides

Email marketing isn’t just for B2C businesses. B2B brands need to get in on the action too! 

Email marketing is the best way for increased B2B loyalty, sales, awareness, and engagement metrics.

For B2B businesses, compared to Facebook and Twitter, email converts leads 40% better. Plus, email is the most powerful channel for customer loyalty and retention. And 40% of B2B marketers regard email marketing as the most important component of their marketing strategy.

But guess what? 59% of B2B companies still don’t use email marketing!

Plus, many B2B brands like yours don’t understand how to use email marketing techniques differently for B2B buyers compared to B2C email marketing techniques. 

This doesn’t mean email marketing doesn’t work. No, it means you should take advantage of how effective email marketing is before your competitors catch up.

And we’re here to show you how to leverage email marketing to boost your B2B brand, with the best B2B email marketing hacks and trends!

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    B2B Email Marketing vs. B2C Email Marketing

    Sales Funnel Length for B2B vs B2C

    A significant difference in email marketing campaigns between B2B and B2C businesses is how long it takes to convert buyers and push them through your sales funnel.

    For B2B brands, this process takes a lot longer because before B2B customers make a purchase, they need to consider factors like:

    • Does this solution fit within my budget?
    • Can we easily migrate our current work processes to this solution?
    • Will the staff require intensive training to use this product/solution?
    • Is this option scalable?
    • Are our security and privacy policies compatible?

    There are also more decision-makers in B2B brands, whereas B2C businesses only have to convince one buyer. So, a typical B2C email marketing sales funnel looks like this:

    • Subscribers receive your email.
    • Subscribers click on your CTA.
    • Subscribers arrive on your landing page and make a purchase.

    But the B2B email marketing sales funnel is longer and more complex. B2C consumers can purchase within minutes, but this isn’t possible for B2B buyers. B2B buyers can take several weeks before purchasing your offering. 

    Best Time to Send Emails for B2B Email Marketing

    B2C and B2B consumers go through emails at different times. For example, it may not be strategic to send B2C buyers emails during office hours as they won’t check their emails regularly. But it may be ideal for B2B emails as your offer influences their work processes.

    The best time to send B2C buyers emails are:

    • 8 am as some buyers may check their emails before starting the day.
    • 1 pm because this time falls during or after lunch breaks.
    • 4 pm as buyers get a little restless before completing their workday. 
    • 6 pm because this falls during or after commuting home.

    On the other hand, a report by SendInBlue, the states that best days to send B2B emails are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Wednesdays have the highest open rates. Ideal times for these emails are between 12 am and 8 am, with 10 pm also resulting in high open rates.

    Here’s a visual on the best time of day to send B2B emails:

    B2B best time to send emails
    Source: profitworks.ca

    How Often to Send B2B Emails

    For maintaining consistency in B2B and B2C email marketing campaigns, you have to make more effort for B2B buyers. Because B2C consumers make more impulsive purchasing decisions, they don’t require as much lead nurturing as B2B buyers.

    Before B2B brands work with you, you need to develop trust. And this means delivering on your promises. So, if you promised fresh weekly tips or monthly industry updates, ensure you fulfill those promises.

    You need to maintain more discipline in your B2B email consistency. You have to stick to your schedule, and as I mentioned, keep to your word.

    However, while the frequency of B2B emails need to be more consistent than B2C emails, the volume of B2C emails brands send have to be more because:

    • B2C consumers need more attention to stay engaged as they aren’t as committed to you as B2B brands. 
    • B2B buyers don’t like spam. They simply want to receive valuable information to keep them updated and informed.
    • B2C email marketing campaigns are more aggressive as you’ll send discounts, flash sales, etc. But for B2B buyers, you only need to send what you promised.

    When it comes to how often you should send B2C emails, the industry standard is 2 – 5 times per month, whereas the standard for B2B brands is 1 – 3 emails per month.

    GDPR Consent 

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protects customers who hand out their content information. Because of this, the GDPR demands that businesses receive explicit consent from consumers before emailing them or using their data.

    But how the GDPR affects B2C and B2B email marketing campaigns differ.

    The GDPR rules and regulations for B2C email marketing are:

    • Sole traders and proprietors are considered B2C businesses in this case.
    • Brands must ask for explicit consent before processing personal data.
    • You can’t obtain information from buyers who don’t provide active consent or want to keep receiving your emails.

    For B2B brands, the GDPR requirements are:

    • You don’t have to receive explicit consent before processing personal data to send B2B emails, as long as you identify yourself (sender) and provide your contact details within the email. This is considered sufficient for compliance purposes for B2B communication. 
    • If you have a genuine reason, you can continue emailing business email addresses without active consent, provided there is a legitimate interest and you can justify the need to be contacting that address. 

    The GDPR has stricter rules for B2C communication to protect sole buyers. However, they can’t provide the same extent of protection to B2B brands because B2B brands have greater purposes for communication besides sales and marketing. 

    Summary: B2B Email Marketing vs. B2C Email Marketing

    The key differences between B2B and B2C email marketing are:

    • Sales funnel length
    • Time to send emails
    • How frequently to send emails
    • GDPR consent requirements

    Source: Lead Forensics

    B2B Email Marketing Stats

    To give you an accurate interpretation of the B2B marketing landscape, I’ll give you essential statistics on the trends, ROI, and standard industry metrics for B2B email marketing.

    1. 89% of B2B marketers rely on email as their primary communication channel.
    2. B2B emails experience a 23% higher CTR rate than B2C emails. Backlinko 
    3. 40% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the most vital component in their content marketing strategies. Campaign Monitor
    4. The average ROI for B2B emails is $43 per $1 spent. Mailistic
    5. 31% of B2B marketers say email has the biggest impact on revenue. Mailistic
    6. Email is the third-best platform for B2B content marketing. Content Marketing Institute
    7. 31% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the best for lead nurturing. HubSpot
    8. 16% of B2B emails don’t reach the receipts’ inbox. HubSpot
    9. 90% of B2B marketers measure engagements as their one metric for email marketing. HubSpot 
    10. 47% of B2B subscribers will open an email based solely on the subject line. OptinMonster

    Now that you know what the B2B email marketing environment looks like, let’s explore the best practices for B2B email marketing:

    B2B Email Marketing Best Practices in 2023

    To launch a B2B email marketing campaign that generates traction, conversion, engagement, and brand awareness, use the following best practices:

    1. Define detailed buyer personas: Before developing a B2B email marketing strategy, create various buyer personas. You probably have an idea of your target buyers already. So, better define these personas and determine which content would work for each persona. 
    2. Be careful when cold emailing: Be strategic in your cold email approach for B2B email marketing. Avoid spamming your contacts, and instead, ensure your emails are valuable. Also, research who you’re planning to email to personalize your communication. Using the copy and paste approach comes off less personal.
    3. Use customer segmentation features: Use subscriber segmentation features B2B email marketing providers offer. Because you have various buyer personas, you need to segment these buyers. As you progress your email marketing campaign, you’ll find new ways to segment your subscribers. 
    4. Evaluate and choose the best B2B email marketing platforms: There are many email marketing platforms, so be sure about your choice. Some work better for smaller companies, while others are best for enterprises. Evaluate the key features and pricing of B2B email marketing providers and decide based on what features and functions you need. 
    5. Create valuable lead magnets: Lead magnets are resources you offer leads in exchange for them to subscribe to your email list. You can use e-books, quizzes, guides, and whitepapers as lead magnets. 
    6. Develop an onboarding sequence: Optimize your onboarding process to ensure your clients have a positive brand experience. If you’re offering a tool, you may send a welcome email explaining how to use this tool after they’ve signed up. 
    7. Optimize your email marketing campaign for mobile: Remember your mobile users when developing your email marketing campaign. Ensure your newsletters are mobile-optimized so users can always enjoy your emails. 
    8. Pay attention to email design: B2B email design differs from B2C emails. Use A/B testing to determine how various templates and email structures perform. You can use this data to choose the best audience-centric email templates. 
    9. Leverage drip campaigns: Drip campaigns are automation solutions. When your target buyers interact with elements of your emails, this will trigger automatic responses. For example, if a buyer subscribes to your email list, having a drip campaign will ensure they automatically receive a welcome email. 
    10. Track the vital data: Track and evaluate essential email marketing data to determine your campaign’s success. Consider data like email open rates, bounce rates, subscribe and unsubscribe rates, and click-through rates (CTR). 

    Summary: B2B Email Marketing Best Practices in 2023

    1. Define buyer personas
    2. Be careful when cold emailing
    3. Use subscriber segmentation
    4. Choose the best B2B email marketing platforms
    5. Create valuable lead magnets
    6. Develop an onboarding sequence
    7. Optimize your email marketing campaign for mobile
    8. Consider email design
    9. Leverage drip campaigns
    10. Track vital data

    5 Hacks for Maximum B2B Email Marketing Results + Real Examples 

    Hack 1: Personalize Your Subject Lines to Your Target Audience

    Yes, this hack goes unsaid for B2C email subject lines too. However, B2C emails have an open rate of nearly 20%, with an open rate of only 15% for B2B emails. So, it’s fair to say that B2B companies need to take a more strategic approach when curating personalized email subject lines.

    And without the statistics, you can see how this makes sense in your daily life too. Let’s say your favorite delivery app sends you a discount alert, but the subject line sucks. Are you going to open that email? Yes, you probably are.

    But if you’re the decision-maker for a business, cold emails with poor subject lines won’t do the trick. You need an innovative approach every time you email subscribers.

    These tips can help you develop engaging, targeted email subject lines for B2B email marketing:

    • Flaunt your value proposition: Yep, that’s right! Put your offering on a pedestal and make it obvious. Whether you’re offering free consultations or high-level tools, ensure it’s in your subject line. 
    • Use a strong call-to-action (CTA): Use powerful CTA’s like “watch this now”, “you have to read this”, and “sign up or miss out” in your subject line. Remember, your email’s subject line determines how likely recipients are to read them. So, be assertive and clear with what you’d like them to do. 
    • Talk like a human: Don’t be too wordy or formal. Use conversational language relating to your target buyers’ pain points or desires. You want your ideal buyer to know that you understand them and that you’ve tailored your solution to their pain points. 
    • Don’t forget audience segmentation: You can’t use the same email subject lines to engage all your target buyers. Because your ideal buyers differ. Segment your target audience into groups based on what buyers share in common and the personalized solutions you can offer. Use tailored subject lines when emailing different audience segments.
    • Keep it short and sweet: B2B email marketing research proves subject lines 7 words or less are the best. These subject lines perform 65% better than those consisting of 8 words or more.

    Example of Personalizing Your Subject Lines for B2B Email Marketing 

    Here’s an example of how Boot Camp Digital, an online digital marketing boot camp, used a powerful email subject line to engage B2B clients. Take a look at this email below:

    Email subject lines for B2B email marketing

    Here’s what’s clear right off the bat from this email subject line:

    1. We know who the target audience is: The target buyer here are marketers and brand owners who make digital marketing decisions for brands. These ideal buyers are also responsible for the brand’s digital marketing ROI. 
    2. We know what the value proposition is: The offer is a free digital marketing workshop. Using a trigger word like “Free” will catch your attention as it did mine. 
    3. There aren’t wasted words: This subject line gets straight to the point. It pretty much says, “I’m offering you something free and valuable so you can earn more money”, but in much fewer words. 

    Hack 2: Use Easily Scannable Content 

    When email receivers open your email, ensure you strategically structure the content. Keep B2B emails brief because whoever’s reading your email won’t have the time to read lengthy text to try and understand your offer.

    When B2B buyers get emails, they’re most likely to scan the content to evaluate whether the email’s worth acting on or not. If your content is easy to scan and includes triggering nuggets, you can convince them to click through or, at the least, read your email. 

    But brief emails aren’t necessarily ones that don’t cover all your key points. You can wrap up all your essential points with a clean, basic template that’s easy on the eyes.

    Remember, all the juicy stuff lies beyond your email. Your email is simply to get receivers to click through and get to your landing page, or website so you can convert them. 

    To create easily scannable content for your B2B email marketing strategy, use these tips:

    • Use short paragraphs and sentences: B2B buyers don’t have time to read lengthy email text. Keep your text short and concise with to-the-point sentences and paragraphs. Also, create enough white space between your paragraphs. 
    • Remember the four-syllable rule: Email marketers developed a four-syllable rule – avoid words that consist of more than four syllables. Doing this helps you steer clear from sounding wordy. 
    • Bullet points are your friend: Bullet points make information more digestible. Readers will quickly get information without having to think too hard. 
    • Sub-headers are your friends too: Like bullet points, sub-headers make your content more digestible. Using sub-headers will efficiently direct readers to your key points. Most readers won’t read all your information, so sub-headers allow them to locate the points that matter to them. 
    • Images are a must: Including visual elements makes emails more aesthetically pleasing and interactive. Plus, you can also use images that highlight the best features of your brand or offer. 
    • Include external links for authority: If you’re mentioning any key statistics or data, use external links for credibility and authority. 

    Example of Using Easily Scannable Content for Email Marketing 

    For this example, we’ll look at an email marketing campaign from Freshbooks. Take a look at how they’ve formatted this email:

    Freshbooks email for B2B email marketing

    Source: Freshbooks

    Here’s what you should take away from this email structure:

    1. It’s clear and easy to read.
    2. The value proposition is obvious at first glance.
    3. They use sub-headers to showcase their main features.
    4. The sentences and paragraphs are short and concise.
    5. There’s a fair use of images enhancing the content. 

    Hack 3: Send Milestone and Announcement Emails 

    For B2B loyalty, send emails beyond sales-driven newsletters. And in case you didn’t know, working toward B2B customer loyalty is crucial for successful brands. 

    New customers are only 20% likely to purchase, whereas existing customers bump up the chances to 60 to 70%

    So, now that you know how vital customer loyalty is for B2B brands, let me explain how milestone and announcement emails help. The types of emails I’m referring to include:

    • Welcome emails
    • Anniversary announcements
    • Sales target announcements
    • New product launches
    • New partnerships that affect your buyers
    • Birthday announcements

    When B2B brands send these emails to buyers, they keep buyers connected to and engaged in their brand. You want to develop healthy B2B relationships with your buyers, so your emails can’t always be sales-oriented. 

    B2B buyers don’t like switching providers and migrating their work processes. Should you have used HubSpot as a CRM platform for your organization, would you want to change it every so often? Probably not, right. 

    Because of this, you have more reason to reel your buyers in and get them to commit to your brand. Plus, it doesn’t mean you can’t use sales tactics through these emails. You can send a brand birthday or anniversary announcement and offer a limited discount.

    Example of Sending Milestone and Announcement Emails for B2B Email Marketing 

    Take a look at how Atlassian used an announcement email for their B2B email marketing campaign:

    B2B announcement emails for B2B email marketing
    Source: Atlassian

    The most notable techniques of this announcement email include:

    • They placed the announcement right on top so readers know why they’re receiving this email.
    • Atlassian added an image to break the text.
    • There are sub-headers to showcase the best features of their new product.
    • They included external links for the new features as CTA’s.

    Hack 4: Keep Your Email Lists Clean

    After some time, your email list will start developing baggage. And by baggage, I mean subscribers who don’t open your emails anymore. 

    You can use strategies to re-engage uninterested email subscribers. If you’re unsuccessful, remove these email addresses from your lists. And here’s why:

    • Lower spam complaints: If your emails are continuously going into your recipients’ spam folder, you’re going to hear it from Gmail. A lot of spam rates will negatively impact your algorithm. 
    • Lower bounce and unsubscribe rates: Remove dormant accounts to lower your bounce rates. And you’ll remove inactive subscribers before they unsubscribe, which is a win for your data. 
    • Higher open and click-through (CTR) rates: Without unengaged subscribers, you’ll have a larger pool of subscribers who are. You’ll notice better open and CTR rates. 
    • Improved email marketing analytics: Because of all the above, brands can reduce analytics that can negatively impact your email marketing analytics.

    But how do you know when you should remove subscribers from your email lists? Here’s what to look for:

    1. Declining open and CTR rates.
    2. Increasing unsubscribe rates.
    3. Bounce rates are through the roof.
    4. Lots and lots of spam complaints.
    5. Your deliverability is poor.

    When you notice any of the above, it’s time to give your email lists a spring clean. 

    Example of Keeping Your Email Lists Clean for B2B Email Marketing 

    Andrea Bosoni, the founder of Zero to Marketing, achieved an astounding open rate of 60% for their newsletter. 

    This is what they did to make this possible:

    1. Spring cleaned his email lists.
    2. Avoided the spam folder.
    3. Created a reading habit.
    4. Tried custom text previews.

    The first two strategies (which are 50% of his efforts) are related to maintaining clean email lists. While avoiding your emails going to spam also depends on more than just keeping your email lists clean, healthy email lists certainly add to it.

    Another Example of Email List Cleaning from Sendlane

    That was a small example, and if it didn’t convince you, consider a list cleaning case study by Sendlane.

    Sendlane helped a marketer with 23,847 inactive subscribers and a poor open rate of 3%. And this is what they did:

    1. They sent a re-engagement email to retain as many subscribers as possible.
    2. They segmented subscribers based on how old and inactive each list was.
    3. After evaluating the results from this re-engagement email the open rate was 6%, and the CTR rate was 19%. Not bad right! But wait for it….
    4. They directly asked subscribers if they wanted to stay subscribed. Only 177 said yes.
    5. So, in fact, only 177 from 23,847 subscribers wanted to stay subscribed!

    Rather than Sendlane’s client paying $219 per month for a 25,000-user plan, he could move to a 1000-user plan and pay $25 per month. In other words, he saved $194 monthly and just over $2300 annually!

    Hack 5: Use Relevant, Timely Approaches 

    Take advantage of timely events and use that for your B2B email marketing strategy. Whether you do this in an informative or humorous way (be careful not to make jokes about controversial topics), you should still do this.

    The perks of using relevant content for email marketing include:

    • You’ll gain authority and credibility.
    • Trending topics will catch your audience’s attention.
    • You can become a source of valuable information.
    • You’ll prove your brand has consideration and knowledge of the world around them beyond your offerings.

    To use relevant content for email marketing, you need to stay informed. Do this by joining industry-related publications, podcasts, and other social platforms. The quicker you can act on information affecting your sector, the better you can engage your audience. 

    When you’re deciding how and what relevant content to use, consider factors like:

    • How does this information add value to my audience?
    • How does this information relate to my business or industry?
    • What is the best way to relay this information?
    • Do I need to back up my claims, and how can I do so?
    • What other valuable resources can I add to help my subscribers?

    There aren’t always opportunities to use relevant content. But by staying ahead of industry trends, you can leverage the chance when it pops up. 

    Example of Using Relevant Content for B2B Email Marketing 

    Flevy is a B2B blog providing insights into the best practices and techniques for B2B brands. To better personalize its email marketing strategy, Flevy uses its founder, David Tang, name as the sender’s email. 

    Flevy generates its leads through lead magnets like guides, whitepapers, and eBooks, and most of its email content is newsletters.

    But when Covid-19 first hit, Flevvy took advantage of this trending, relevant topic. They shaped all their newsletters and email marketing efforts around providing essential insights about Covid-19’s impact on their sector. Plus, they took an extra step and added a Covid-19 dashboard on their website providing real-time updates on Covid-19 cases. 

    Approaching and answering crucial questions their readers were asking about Covid-19’s impact on them, helped Flevy gain traction quickly. By moving from only sales to educational content too, Flevy boosted their email open rates from 15% to 40%!

    This is what you should learn from Flevy:

    • They wanted no time acting on the announcement of Covid-19.
    • They made connections between Covid-19 and their industry and provided well-researched answers to common concerns among industry professionals.
    • Rather than sticking to only sales content, Flevy provided researched-backed, informative content which engaged their subscribers. 

    Conclusion

    There are many differences between B2B and B2C email marketing. For starters, B2C emails have stricter GDPR requirements, while the sales funnels for B2B buyers are longer than for B2C consumers. Because of these key differences, B2B brands must develop a unique approach for B2B email marketing.

    The best way to go about B2B email marketing is to personalize your email subject lines and ensure your formats are easily scannable. B2B brands must also keep their email lists clean, use milestone and announcement emails for engagement, and use timely, relevant content. With these B2B email marketing hacks, you can drive high lead generation and conversion performance in no time!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the difference between B2B and B2C email marketing?

    The differences between B2C and B2B email marketing include the GDPR regulations, which time of day is best to send emails. the length of email marketing sales funnels and how frequent you should email your subscribers. Read this article for detailed differences of B2B vs B2C email marketing, the top tips for B2B email marketing and hacks and real-life examples for maximum results.

    What are the best practices for B2B email marketing?

    The best practices for B2B email marketing include defining your buyer personas, avoiding spamming for cold email campaigns, leveraging audience segmentation features, picking the best B2B email marketing platform and offering valuable lead magnets. Read this full article to find out more of the best B2B email marketing practices for high conversion, the top email marketing hacks with examples for B2B brands and how B2C and B2B email marketing differ.

    What are the top hacks for successful B2B email marketing?

    The best hacks to get the most from B2B email marketing is to personalize your email subject lines, keep your email list clean, use relevant, timely content for marketing, ensure your email content format is easily scannable and use announcement and milestone emails. For more on the best B2B email marketing hacks explained, top practices for B2B email marketing and key statistics, read this article.

    References

    Content Marketing Institute: B2B Content Marketing and B2B Content Marketing 2020 

    Mailtastic: Earth-shattering email marketing stats (for B2B)

    SendinBlue: Best Time to Send an Email: User Data Study by Industry

    CoSchedule: The Best Email Marketing Sending Frequency Backed By 20 Studies

    Campaign Monitor: Ultimate Email Marketing Benchmarks for 2022: By Industry and Day

    Backlinko: 67 Key Email Marketing Stats For 2021

    Snov.io: 105 Email Marketing Statistics You Should Know In 2022

    HubSpot: The Ultimate List of Email Marketing Stats for 2022

    OptinMonster: 164 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates (2022)

    DMA: Email benchmarking report 2018

    Marketo Engage: What Email Subject Line Length Works Best?

    Trustmary: B2B Customer Loyalty – How is it Different?