The A-Z of B2B Email Marketing Strategy for Modern Businesses

b2b email marketing strategy

As an entrepreneur or a marketing professional, you might find the prospect of developing an effective B2B email marketing strategy daunting. 

There’s so much you have to do: 

  • Build a large enough email list,
  • Craft emails that resonate with other businesses and 
  • Engage your audience. 

And you probably don’t know where to start or how. Luckily, we’re here to help!

This guide is your roadmap to driving tangible results for your business. 

Understanding the B2B Buying Process

When developing a B2B email marketing strategy, it’s common to unconsciously default to B2C tactics, mainly because they feel more familiar. 

But this approach can be misleading since the B2B buying process is fundamentally different from B2C. Here’s what you need to know. 

What Makes B2B Unique?

B2B refers to business-to-business transactions. Your customers are other businesses. 

B2C is about the transactions made between a business and an individual end customer. You sell a product or service directly to the customer for personal use. 

Imagine a software company selling CRM software to another company. That’s B2B. 

What about a software company that develops action games for smartphones? That’s B2C. 

But B2B deals with businesses that use your products or services to serve their own customers or improve internal processes. 

B2B solutions help their customers:

  • Improve efficiency.
  • Automate workflow.
  • Comply with regulations.
  • Improve the bottom line. 
  • Manage finances. 

Here’s a breakdown of the most important differences between B2B and B2C: 

AudienceEnd customerBusinesses
Purchase goalSatisfy a personal needSolve a company problem
PurposeDrive salesBuild trust
Buyer’s JourneyShort and uncomplicatedLong and complex
Comparing B2B and B2C business models 

B2B Email Marketing Goals 

B2B email marketing campaigns should convince your target audience that your solution will generate ROI for them. 

Doing this will take longer and needs more detailed content. You need to build trust and alleviate their pain points through content. 

Demonstrating expertise is your first goal here. Including articles or insights about the industry makes your emails more than just updates. You gradually establish yourself as an authority and build a positive reputation. 

Case studies and testimonials add a layer of persuasion. They’re concrete examples of how others have benefited from your product or service. So, potential clients visualize the benefits for their own businesses.

Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey defines the entire process that the customer goes through, from the first encounter with your business to purchasing your product or service. 

B2B buying journeys are complex. They often involve multiple stakeholders from different departments, such as IT, legal, and finance. Each participant has unique interests and requirements, and they collectively decide whether your solution offers a substantial return on investment (ROI). 

A typical B2B customer goes through three stages before making a commitment: 

  1. Awareness. The potential customer recognizes the need for a product like yours. They learn about your product and begin to search for how it can help them. 
  2. Consideration. The prospect actively evaluates how your product or service can address their specific challenges or goals. 
  3. Decision. The customer decides to purchase your offering. 

Your B2B email marketing efforts should align with the stage the customer is in. 

During the awareness stage, you can present an overview of your product’s features. 

The consideration stage involves providing more detailed information and examples of how your product solves specific problems and adds value.

Finally, the decision stage requires a more personalized approach, highlighting how specifically you can help the target customer.

Applying the Buyer’s Journey to Email Marketing

Now, let’s consider how a fictional CRM company can organize its B2B email campaigns around the idea of the buyer’s journey. 

When targeting the CEO of a potential client: 

  1. Awareness: Unlock Business Growth with Advanced CRM Solutions
  2. Consideration: CRM Comparison: Why DeenoCRM Stands Out
  3. Decision: Tailored CRM Solution: Driving Revenue Growth

When targeting the marketing manager: 

  1. Awareness: How to Inform Your Marketing Strategy Using CRM Data 
  2. Consideration: See How Our CRM Transformed Marketing for [Similar Business]
  3. Decision: Your Customized CRM Demo: Streamline Your Marketing Processes

Elements of a B2B Email Marketing Strategy

Before going into the details, let’s define the fundamental concepts that’ll make up your strategy: 

  • Deliverability refers to your emails landing in the recipient’s inbox instead of the spam folder or the promotions tab.  
  • Email list management, aka contact management, involves keeping track of all your email contacts and using tools to segment your contacts, improve deliverability, and send targeted emails. 
  • Your email marketing platform is the software that lets you create email campaigns, send emails, and analyze the results. 
  • Content is the information you send to your recipients and can involve words, sentences, images, or graphs. 
  • Engagement refers to how recipients interact with your emails. Opens, clicks, and replies are some of the signals that recipients consider your email important. 
  • Metrics are quantitative measures that show how your email marketing strategy is performing. 
  • Return on investment shows how successful your investment has been in terms of generating revenue. 

Lay the Foundation with Deliverability

Email deliverability can make or break your B2B email marketing campaign. Imagine putting a lot of effort into crafting perfect messages, only to find that they never reach your intended audience’s inboxes.

So, if you want to maximize the impact of your B2B email campaigns, you’ll have to start by understanding deliverability and the factors that affect it. 

Here’s an overview of what goes into achieving high deliverability rates: 

Deliverability ElementDescriptionBest Practices
Sender reputationYour credibility and reliability based on past email activity.Maintain a consistent volume and avoid spammy content.
AuthenticationVerifying domain ownership and email legitimacy.Set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records.
Domain warm-upGradually increasing email volume to build reputation.Start with low volume and gradually increase while monitoring engagement.
List hygieneMaintaining a clean list of engaged subscribers.Regularly clean the list to remove inactive subscribers and hard bounces.
Choosing an ESP with high deliverabilitySelecting an email service provider known for excellent deliverability.Look for ESPs with robust infrastructure, high reputation IPs, and features supporting deliverability.
Elements of high deliverability

Learn About Sender Reputation 

Sender reputation is like a score that determines the credibility and reliability of an email sender. 

If your sender reputation is too low, your emails will go straight to the spam folder, or servers might block them entirely before they reach the recipients.  

ISPs use IP and domain reputation to calculate your sender’s reputation. 

  • Domain reputation: The trustworthiness of your email domain, based on the history of the emails sent from it and how recipients interact with them.
  • IP reputation: The credibility of the server that sends your emails, evaluated on factors like email volume, frequency, and recipient responses.

According to our founder and email guru, Travis Ketchum, “Domain reputation is 80% of the influence. We see high-reputation domains deliver on weak IPs. We never see bad domains deliver on high-reputation IPs.” 

ISPs use different factors to assess a sender’s reputation. Those include:

  • Open rates
  • Click rates. 
  • Bounce rates. 
  • Unsubscribe rates. 
  • Sender’s history. 
  • How quickly recipients open your emails. 
  • How many times recipients open your emails. 
  • Recipients flagging your emails as spam. 
  • Recipients flagging your emails as important. 

Authenticate Your Domain  

Domain authentication is another credibility signal telling your ISP and ESP that you aren’t a spam sender. It involves verifying your domain ownership using DNS settings to prove that your emails are legitimate. 

Domain authentication prevents scammers from sending fake emails with your domain name as the sender. This way, both you (the sender) and the recipient are protected. 

There are three primary domain authentication standards:

  1. SPF. The Sender Policy Framework specifies the IP addresses that can send emails from your domain. 
  2. DKIM. DomainKeys Identified Mail creates a digital signature for the sender that can’t be forged. 
  3. DMARC. The Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance standard adds another security layer and allows you to customize your authentication protocol.  

Warm Up Your Domain 

If your domain is new or you haven’t used it for sending marketing emails before, you need to warm it up.

Mailbox providers are usually cautious about unfamiliar domains. So, you should build your reputation gradually. 

To warm up your email domain, start small and send a few emails a day manually. In fact, everything should be natural and manual at this stage. Send the emails to selected business emails that you know won’t bounce, and make sure those emails get opened. 

Avoid automated texts and try to write the content yourself. It’s best to send the emails to recipients that you know. 

This way, you can ask them to engage with your emails by opening them, replying to them, and removing them from the spam folder. 

Gradually increase the number of emails that you send daily and check your domain reputation until you reach your goal.  

Find a Deliverability Partner 

A part of your deliverability isn’t in your hands; it depends on the email marketing platform you choose. 

So, what makes an email marketing platform good for deliverability? 

Based on our experience, the number one sign is that they won’t push you toward buying a dedicated email IP address unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

In 99 percent of the cases, you don’t need a dedicated IP. We almost always recommend sharing IPs with a pool of strong senders. A good ESP won’t push you to get a dedicated IP unless it’s necessary for your email volume and type.

A Reputable High-deliverability ESP … 

  • Maintains IP reputation for everyone: A good ESP keeps a close eye on the IP addresses they manage, and they kick out senders who spam. Think of it like a team sport – when strong players work together, the whole team’s reputation gets a boost.
  • Uses separate IPs for transactional and marketing emails: If your ESP offers transactional email capabilities, they should use a separate infrastructure. A good ESP uses different IP addresses for your marketing emails and the ones you send to confirm orders or send receipts.
  • Helps you segment and clean your list: A top-notch ESP provides tools to segment your audience to let you send the right messages to the right people. They should also help you clean your list by removing inactive or unresponsive email addresses. 
  • Has features to maximize your engagement: Look for an ESP that gives you more than just the basics. They should offer features like personalization to increase the chances of your emails being opened and read. The more your emails engage people, the better your sender reputation will be.

Looking for a platform that checks all the boxes — and more? 

At Campaign Refinery, email deliverability is our top priority. We want to partner with reputable senders and help them achieve better results. That’s why all of our clients undergo a vetting process before we onboard them. 

Once you join our platform, you’ll have access to frameworks and tools that’ll boost your deliverability and open rates: 

  • Minimalist editor. 
  • Automatic list cleaning. 
  • Gamified rewards to boost engagement. 
  • Advanced brand and rule editor for drip campaigns
  • And more. 

Apply today and book your free consultation.  

Building a Quality B2B Email List

Buying an email list is probably the fastest and easiest way to create your email list. But it’s also the most surefire way to kill any chance of email marketing success. 

An organic email list is crucial to the success of your B2B email marketing strategy. It can ensure only interested prospects receive your messages, and your spam complaint rate stays below Google’s recommendations — 0.3 percent

Strategies for List Building

We already have a comprehensive guide on how to build a B2B email list. So, we won’t go into much detail here. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the strategies we recommend for building your email lists: 

  • Build lead magnets. Offer a compelling lead magnet in exchange for your prospects’ contact information. For B2B purposes, you can offer free tools or guides that both attract them and give them a peek into your expertise. 
  • Collaborate with influencers. Find influencers or complementing businesses in your niche and collaborate with them to produce content. Or you can sponsor their efforts if your budget allows it. 
  • Content marketing and SEO. Use SEO best practices to establish your brand as a reputable source of expertise and build trust with your audience. It’s a great way to drive traffic to your website and attract new subscribers using your lead magnets.     

Tips for Maintaining List Quality

Achieving a squeaky-clean email list is a challenging task for any marketing team. Even with thorough vetting, it’s common to see a few outliers.

But there are effective strategies to enhance the quality of your email list:

  1. Segment your list: Divide your list into smaller groups with shared interests or concerns. Then, create emails to match each segment’s preferences. 
  1. Remove bounces: Make sure the addresses on your list are valid and active. Regularly monitor your email campaigns to identify the causes of hard and soft bounces
  1. Use double opt-in: A Double opt-in list means subscribers receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription after they sign up. This way, you’ll make sure subscribers are genuinely interested in your content. There’s also a lower chance of spam complaints and fake email addresses creeping into your list.

Choosing the Right Email Marketing Software

Email marketing is a highly specialized area. So, you can just use any tool that also does CRM, sales, and other stuff — you can, but we don’t recommend it. 

You need a platform that’s focused on email marketing. And since B2B is such a large field, you want software that gives you the tools to create all types of campaigns.

Here’s the bare minimum you should look out for:

  • Segmentation.
  • Personalization.
  • List cleaning.
  • Automation.
  • Content design tools.
  • Integration with other platforms.
  • Analytics and reporting.
  • Robust customer service.

Use Your Budget Wisely 

To get the best bang for the buck: 

  1. Know what you want. Sit with your marketing team and decide on the essential features you’re looking for. Determine what you can ignore if you want a budget-friendly platform. 
  2. Do your homework. Research your options, their features, and pricing plans. Read reviews and sign up for a free trial if one is available. 
  3. Start with a basic plan. If you can’t decide which platform works for you, start with a basic plan. It may not have all the features you want, but you can get a general idea of how the platform feels. 
  4. Switch. If the platform you test doesn’t meet your needs, switch to an alternative platform. 
  5. Look out for hidden fees. Many vendors confuse users with multiple tiers, feature sets, and add-ons. You can never actually tell how much you’ll end up paying until you see the bill. Go through the terms of service to make sure there’s no financial commitment more than what you see on the pricing page. 

Another key consideration is that the vendor shouldn’t lock you in. You should have the option to stop using the service whenever you want, without any long-term commitments hidden in the fine print. Plus, the software should give you a hassle-free way to transfer data to the new platform. 

How We Do It at Campaign Refinery 

At Campaign Refinery, we’ve adopted a completely transparent pricing model. We don’t limit the number of contacts on your list or push you to pay more for extra features. 

Instead, we have a credit-based system that charges you for the emails you send. Every send costs one credit, and you get at least 50k credits with our Business plan. Need to send more emails? Just upgrade to a higher plan. There are no limits to how much you can grow with Campaign Refinery. 

Crafting Content That Resonates with B2B Audiences

The primary focus of B2B content is on showcasing your expertise and building long-term interest and trust. So, sales announcements, discounts, or promotions can be instant turn-offs for your B2B audience if you don’t use them at the right time. 

The first message in your email sequence after someone subscribes is naturally a welcome message. The next step depends on your segmentation and business needs.

The ideas are countless. But you don’t want to randomly throw everything at your audience. Instead, organize your content according to the buyer’s journey. 

Here’s a breakdown: 

Buyer’s Journey StageContent Types
AwarenessNewslettersIndustry reports
Thought leadership articles
Industry news roundups
Podcast episodes
ConsiderationWebinar invitations
How-tos and tutorials
FAQ sections
Product demos
Case studies
User testimonials
Tips and tricks
DecisionCustomer success stories
Behind-the-scenes content
Quizzes and surveys
Access to exclusive but free content.
Best content types for each step of the B2B buyer’s journey 

Tips for Striking the Right Chord with the Audience

If you’re having a hard time figuring out what type of content to include in your email flows, follow this tips: 

  1. Tailor your content to the buyer’s stage. In the Awareness stage, they’re likely seeking general information, while in the consideration and decision stages, they need more detailed and specific content.
  2. Align content with your goals: Choose content that aligns with your marketing goals for each stage. For example, use thought leadership articles in the Awareness stage to establish expertise and detailed case studies in the Decision stage to provide proof of effectiveness.
  3. Monitor engagement and feedback: Track how your audience interacts with different types of content. This feedback can guide you in refining your approach and choosing the most effective types for each stage.
  4. Be flexible and creative: Don’t hesitate to experiment with different types of content. Sometimes, a creative approach can make your content stand out, even in a crowded market.

Maximizing Engagement and Conversions

Sending the right email at the right time is one thing; getting the response you want is another. You want measurable outcomes, like open rates, clicks, and, ideally conversions. 

Integrate Engagement in All Aspects of Your Campaign

To make your B2B email marketing campaign successful, focus on driving engagement with every email you send:

  1. Captivating subject lines. Craft intriguing and relevant subject lines that grab attention and entice recipients to open your emails.
  2. Drip campaigns. Implement a series of automated emails that are triggered by specific actions or timelines, gently guiding prospects through the buyer’s journey.
  3. Personalize your messages. Tailor your emails to address the individual needs and interests of each recipient, making them feel valued and understood.
  4. Clear calls-to-action. Include straightforward and compelling CTAs that clearly indicate the next steps you want the recipient to take.
  5. Make your emails responsive. Many customers read emails on their mobile devices. Make sure your email content renders perfectly on a mobile device. 
  6. A/B tests. Regularly test and analyze different elements of your emails, like layout, content, and timing, to see what generates the best response. 

Foster Two-Way Communication 

Want to know a pro-level strategy? 

Encourage replies. 

Actively inviting your recipients to reply to your emails increases engagement and provides valuable insights into your audience’s needs and preferences. 

For example, you could end an email with a question like, “What’s your biggest challenge in [relevant field]?” or “We’d love to hear your thoughts on our latest [product/service].” 

This way, you can foster a two-way conversation and humanize your brand. Plus, this interaction can improve your email deliverability since replies signal to email service providers that your content is engaging and valuable.

Analyzing the Success of Your Email Strategy

Your B2B email marketing shouldn’t be set in stone. Instead, it needs constant monitoring and assessment to ensure everything is working and delivering the desired results. 

Key Metrics to Follow/Track/Monitor…

To quantify your B2B email campaign results, you need to identify and track the right KPIs. 

Here are the key metrics you should constantly monitor. 

  • Open rate: Measures the percentage of recipients who open your email. It indicates how well your subject lines and send times resonate with your audience.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of emails that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox. It helps identify issues with email addresses or deliverability problems.
  • Unsubscribe rate: The percentage of recipients who opt out of your email list after receiving an email. It can indicate whether your content is relevant or engaging to your audience.
  • List growth rate: New subscriptions minus unsubscribes and email removals. It’s a measure of how effectively you’re attracting and retaining subscribers.
  • Conversion rate: the percentage of email recipients who completed a desired action, like filling out a form or making a purchase, as a result of your email. It’s a direct indicator of your email campaign’s effectiveness in driving business goals.

Your email marketing software should let you track and interpret these metrics so that you can make data-driven decisions about your campaigns. 

What is My Return on Investment (ROI)?

A strategy is successful only if it has a positive ROI. And you need to think about how you’ll measure that ROI before setting the work in motion.

ROI isn’t just about the immediate revenue generated from your campaigns. It’s a broader measure that encompasses the overall impact of your emails on your business goals. 

This includes direct sales from email-driven campaigns and indirect benefits, such as increased brand awareness and customer retention. 

The true value of email marketing often extends far beyond the first sale, contributing to lasting customer loyalty and continuous revenue streams.

How to Devise a B2B Marketing Strategy

In B2B, you don’t deal with individual customers, so you need different marketing strategies that cater to the longer sales cycles. Let’s quickly go over the steps you need to follow. 

If you already have a B2B marketing strategy and want to build your email marketing on top of it, you can safely skip this section. 

Build Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Personas

The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) refers to the businesses that can be your ideal customer. It defines who you can serve with your products and services. 

An ICP saves you tons of time and money otherwise wasted on the wrong audience. It helps you filter your leads and focus on the highest-value ones that can turn into your long-term customers.

You can consider different criteria for your ICP based on your specific business, service, or product, but the most common ones include: 

  • Relevance. Does the company need your product or service? 
  • Industry. Which industry is your target audience working in?
  • Finance. Does the company have the funds to buy your products?
  • Geography. Do you plan to serve businesses in a specific location?
  • Legal considerations. Do you or the target customer have legal limitations that affect your transactions? 

An ICP isn’t enough to ensure B2B marketing success. You also need to develop personas for the individual stakeholders that will affect the final decision. 

A buyer persona is like a fictional character that represents your target audience. Here’s a summary of what it can include:

Demographic InformationAge, job title, level of education, etc.35-50, CTO, Master’s degree
Professional BackgroundIndustry, years of experience, department, etc.IT, 15 years, Software Dev.
PsychographicsGoals, challenges, priorities, etc.Streamlining tech processes
Buying MotivationsWhat drives their purchase decisionsEfficiency, ROI, innovation
Communication PreferencesPreferred channels and content typesEmail, in-depth whitepapers
Decision-Making ProcessHow they evaluate and decide on purchasesVendor comparisons, trials
Components of a Buyer Persona

Depending on your business, you may have more than one buyer persona to match different groups of customers. 

While the ICP helps you narrow down your leads, a buyer persona helps you devise your marketing strategies based on the actual people you’ll interact with. You can also use the buyer’s persona in developing future products and services or updating your current ones. 

Craft Your Value Proposition

A value proposition concisely states what value you promise to add to your prospective customers. This statement gives your leads a reason to become customers. It convinces them that you’re the best option for their business and choose you over your competitors. 

A good value proposition should:

  • Not sound salesy
  • Focus on the customer’s needs
  • Clearly state the added values
  • Be honest and genuine

Don’t make false claims or make everything about you and your solution. It can scare off your audience and come off as pure advertisement. 

You need to strike a balance between recognizing your customer’s needs and highlighting your solution’s benefits. 

A template like this would be a good starting point: 

For [Target Audience] who want to [Customer Need], our [Product] can [Key Benefit].  

For example: 

  • For marketing agencies who want to streamline their client management and reporting, our SaaS platform can automate and centralize these processes.
  • For small to mid-sized businesses who want to optimize their project management, our cloud-based software can provide intuitive tools for task tracking, team collaboration, and deadline management, all in one seamless interface.
  • For healthcare providers looking to improve patient data management, our secure, HIPAA-compliant software can offer efficient and reliable storage, retrieval, and analysis of patient records.

Check out Your Competition

Developing a marketing strategy isn’t all about your business. You need to understand what your competitors offer and compare them to yours. This way, you can guide customer decisions toward your offering. 

Analyzing the competitors’ marketing strategies can help you identify the areas you need to improve. 

The first step is to identify your major competitors. 

Imagine your company provides a unique AI-driven CRM tool. Your competition isn’t limited to other AI-based CRMs. It extends to traditional CRM platforms, in-house developed solutions, or even basic spreadsheet programs.

Without a clear understanding of your competition, you’ll miss out on opportunities to differentiate your messaging, address gaps in the market, and effectively communicate your unique value proposition to your audience. 

Do extensive research in the online and physical space to see how your customers solve their problems. 

Develop Your Positioning

Market positioning is the image that your brand engraves in your customers’ minds. It’s how they see your business and what they associate your products with. 

For example, consider two companies in the project management space. 

  1. Company A’s software is positioned as:
  • The straightforward, no-frills option
  • Ideal for teams looking for efficiency and ease of use. 

Their branding emphasizes simplicity and user-friendliness, appealing to businesses that want a hassle-free solution. 

  1. In contrast, Company B’s software is marketed as: 
  • The premium choice for seasoned project management professionals
  • Packed with advanced features and customization options. 

Their positioning targets businesses that require complex, detailed project planning and management capabilities.

Now, how is your positioning different from your value proposition? 

Your value proposition focuses on the customer and how it can benefit them, while market positioning defines your place in the market and how you stand out from your competition. 

In this sense, market positioning is a broader concept that can contain a value proposition. 

B2B Email Marketing Simplified with Campaign Refinery

At Campaign Refinery, we understand that B2B email marketing comes with its unique challenges. We’ve tailored our platform to simplify these complexities so you can focus on what really matters — building relationships with your customers. 

Our platform streamlines the entire process, from segmenting your audience to crafting personalized messages that resonate with each segment. 

With intuitive tools and a user-friendly interface, we make it easy for you to create, execute, and manage B2B email campaigns that speak directly to the needs and interests of your B2B audience.

But don’t just take our word for it – see what our B2B customers have to say!

“The dashboard and interface are absolutely beautiful and my open rates are soooo high. Campaign Refinery has changed email for us.” 

Nick Jordan, Workello

“Switching to Campaign Refinery immediately increased my stats 4x, and revenue followed suit. I really wish I had made the move sooner.” 

Dave Miz, The Email Experience

Join Our Select B2B Clientele and see your results skyrocket!

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