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The beginner’s guide to B2B email marketing

B2B email marketing is a strategy designed to:

  • Drive interest in a product/service;
  • Generate leads;
  • And convert opportunities throughout the marketing funnel. 

Successful B2B email marketing strategies often use a combination of inbound and outbound emails to achieve this, targeting both new and existing customers.

In this blog, Cognism Campaign Executive, James Sutton, explains how you can fire up your B2B email marketing engine. 🚀

Scroll, or use the menu below to flick through 👇

Why is B2B email marketing effective? | What's the difference between B2B and B2C marketing? | Is good B2B email marketing easy? | How can I start my B2B email marketing journey? | A quick guide to B2B email marketing tools

Why is B2B email marketing effective?

Email is a universal channel. Everyone has an inbox and everyone expects to receive marketing messages in them. This means communicating with known and unknown contacts over email is easy and non-invasive. As a result, email is an ideal place to start building relationships with prospects and customers. 

What's the difference between B2B and B2C email marketing?

In both B2B and B2C email marketing you’re selling something to someone. So at their core, the objectives are the same. But the methods used to achieve these objectives are completely different. These usually reflect the fact that B2B sales cycles are long and B2C sales cycles are short

So in order to be persuaded to make more significant purchases in B2B, recipients need to be taken on a journey. As a result, marketers have to take a steady slope approach. In this, they drive awareness about the products/services they’re trying to sell, relating them to the company or industry the recipient is in. 

Whereas in B2C, marketers can appeal to impulse with more direct messaging. This is because purchases are generally less significant and more affordable.  

There are also differences in how GDPR applies to B2B and B2C email marketing.

B2B vs B2C email marketing examples

A B2B email marketing sequence often starts with value-led content. For example, something like:

  • “Hey, we know you’re interested in email marketing, so here’s some of our resources.”

To scale it up, you might say: 

  • “Hey, here are some of our case studies.”

Next, you may decide to sell to them:

  • “Hey, we can help you with your email marketing! Here’s an extended free trial of our tool.”

By contrast, a B2C email would go straight in for the kill, with something like: 

  • “Hey, Szechuan sauce is back!”

Is good B2B email marketing easy?

Firing off random emails to your contact database is unlikely to bear fruit. That’s because 306.4 billion emails are sent every day. As a result, it’s tough to craft emails that:

  • Get opened. Punchy subject lines make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Get read. Clear, concise and personalised messaging engages the reader.
  • Get actioned. Effective calls to action (CTAs) provide value to the reader.

So while a simple channel to the naked eye, the tactics B2B email marketers use to hit these key criteria are sophisticated. 

For example, email signature marketing plugins like Mailtastic help amplify the channel. With the tool, you can use email signature banners to drive traffic to content, offers & more.

Meanwhile AI-powered MarTech helps streamline interactions. Automizy, for example, offers a subject line tester “based on data from over one million [email marketing] campaigns”. 

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the add-ons and integrations available to aspiring B2B email marketers. But for beginners, the best way to start your journey is to keep things simple. That means keeping amplification tactics in mind, without forgetting the basics. 

The B2B email marketing hack your competitors don't know about

How can I start my B2B marketing journey?

Setting goals

Defined goals are a key part of successful B2B email marketing strategies. This means outlining the time you want to put into your campaign and defining what success looks like. 

By setting benchmarks, you can: 

  • See what went right and carry on doing it
  • See what went wrong and stop doing it

This helps you to build a predictable B2B email marketing machine. And to decide how to do that, you need to be tracking a number of key analytics. These include: 

  • Open rates. Open rates test the quality of your email subject line.
  • Click-through rates (CTR). Click-through rates test the quality of your copy.

These are especially useful in top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) awareness campaigns. That’s because your key objective is to get opens and clicks. 

But if you’re working on bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) campaigns with clear desired customer actions, you should be tracking:

  • Conversions. Conversions include anything from a newsletter sign-up to a product purchase. 

Of course, determining your success is dependent on your sales goals. And these metrics will help you do that decisively.

Defining your audience

Speaking your readers’ language is a big deal in B2B email marketing. Because if you don’t, you can’t deliver the personalised experiences they expect. So first of all, you need to work out: 

  • Who you want to talk to. What’s your ideal customer profile (ICP)? 
  • Why you want to talk to them. What can you offer your ICP?
  • Why they want to buy from you. What’s unique about your offering?

When you’ve done that, you need to live by three principles.

  • Targeting
  • Automation
  • Adding value

Targeting isn’t about chucking the same messaging at all your CRM contacts. Sure, addressing people by name is great and all, but it isn’t enough to build trust. Instead, you have to work out what different customer segments need from your product/service. 

For example, let’s say you have different ICPs for decision makers with different levels of seniority. What a middle manager needs to get buy-in for your product/service will be completely different to a CEO. Therefore the emails you send to them will need to target different wants, needs & pain points. 

Automation makes marketers’ lives easier. And automated email sequences allow you to personalise your emails at scale. This means even in a team of one, you can pump out resonant messaging to all of your personas. 


There are a number of email automation tools depending on your price point. But the most important thing to note is that there’s an affordable option for every marketer. That means there’s no excuse not to do it. 

Adding value is the key to successful B2B email marketing. Because at the end of the day, people are busy. And they don’t have time for stuff that isn’t going to help them out. 

At Cognism, we don’t get good results from our email marketing strategy because people know who we are and what our platform does. We get results because we closely monitor our ICPs pain points and send them resources to help solve them. 

At the top of the funnel, we do this for free to make an impression on the reader. So the next time we land in their inbox, they’re more likely to remember and engage with us, even if they’re not ready to purchase. Over time, we can provide more resources to these contacts and help guide them through the funnel. 


B2B email marketing is a subtle game. And a long game. A lot of marketers fall short because they don’t recognise this. Instead, they focus on the benefits of their product/service rather than on their customers’ needs. Ultimately, showing you know your stuff about your industry is only going to help you in the long run. So make the investment in great content and resources.

Final top tips

In case you’re still wondering how to start your B2B email marketing journey, here are a few more top tips to help you on your way! 👇🏼


  • Understand your audience’s ambitions. 

A lot of people forget email marketing isn’t just problem solving. Sure it’s a key part of it. But you also need a positive angle. Help your recipient improve, not just troubleshoot. 

  • Build a customer journey tailored to your audiences.

Think about what your recipients need at each stage of their journey to help guide them through to conversion. To do this, you need to have a subject line that resonates, email content that leaves the reader wanting more and a CTA that entices them to click. 


  • Buy leads and spam them with random emails. Quick fixes don’t cut the mustard.

And a quick note on email marketing tools…

You want to start your B2B email marketing journey with the least fuss possible. That means keeping your existing CRM suite and using the data already in it. Luckily for you, most major ones have in-built email toolkits. But we’ve listed a few below in case you’re starting completely from scratch.👇🏽

  • HubSpot x Sendgrid: free CRM-powered email marketing combined with outbound email & domain health optimiser.
  • Salesforce x Pardot: robust & plug-in friendly CRM software combined with inbound email & automation technology.
  • Mailchimp: integrated email marketing platform for SMEs.
  • BEE Pro: swanky custom HTML emails for brand fanatics.

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