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How to create a B2B email marketing strategy

As an email marketer, do you ever feel like that guy on Tinder who poses with a fish in one of his pics, hoping to hook someone and reel them in? 

But in reality, you never really stood a chance? 

That’s because you didn't have a plan. And hitting and hoping like Tinder fish dude will get you nowhere. 

So in this blog, we’re going to tell you how to build a proper B2B email marketing strategy that’ll get your prospects swiping right on your product or service. With a little help from the experts at Cognism...

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Creating a B2B email marketing strategy

How to plan your strategy | What a successful strategy isn't about | Getting tone right| Top tips for creating a strategy

3 steps to planning your strategy

We may be biased as hell. But as the B2B email marketing stats show, it's one of the most effective marketing tactics at your disposal.

And like those inspirational quotes on Pinterest say: 

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” 


To start your plan, you need to... 👇

1) Establish who you’re emailing and what the end result should be

Quality contacts are more likely to lead to closing deals rather than spamming an audience that you don’t really want to be talking to. 

Keeping your end-goal in mind throughout your planning process is essential to achieving it. 

Is it booking a demo or closing a deal? 

Whatever it is, you must set out with this goal in mind from the get-go.

Create a list of contacts to verify whether your audience is significant enough - James Sutton, Campaign Marketer at Cognism

2) Build a timeline 

Leading with a hard sale isn't always the best route to take.

So, what are some alternatives?

  • Take it slow and establish a relationship. 
  • Reach out by offering advice or support. 
  • Provide value by sharing white papers with tips and tricks relevant to the prospect’s industry. 
  • Create interesting content that directs prospects to your blog. 

But whatever you do, you need to ensure that you’re building these steps into your strategy while planning when to ‘sell’.

You need to think about how often you’re emailing and at what point you bring in your product/service - James

3) Set targets for yourself 

Be as objective as possible when reviewing your performance, see where you can improve, what to do more of, and what to do less of. 

Evaluate where you are in terms of reaching your targets and adjust your strategy to get yourself closer to reaching these. 

In a B2B email marketing strategy, if something’s not working, you can change it. Adapt as you go and learn along the way. 

Review your performance and iterate in the future - James

What a successful B2B email marketing strategy isn't about

You love your company and you love your product.

If you’re lucky. 

But, how do you get your prospects as excited about it as you are? Well…

You focus on them. Not you.

People don’t buy your product because it’s awesome – they buy it because they believe it can help solve their problems or achieve better results. When creating your emails, talk less about yourself and more about how you can make your prospect’s life easier. - Verche Karafiloska, Product Marketing Executive at Cognism

A few other things that can help you out are:

  • Being clear - ensure simplicity is an integral part of your strategy.  As you’re explaining something to someone you don’t know, clarity rules.
  • Using positive messaging - this is an incredibly effective way to get buy-in from clients 
  • Using ambition-led messaging - a common mistake is to focus on the negatives. 

Try to focus on your market’s ambitions. Maybe it’s converting X more clients, or getting X ROI on their campaigns. Inspire them, show the prospect what THEY can do and how your product can help them achieve that - James 

Getting your tone right

Knowing when to stick to business formal and knowing when to be quirky and fun is a fine line to tread, as we show in our B2B email marketing examples blog. 

For starters, you’ve got to read a room where you can’t actually see anyone, you don’t have a personal relationship with the prospect and you’ve got to stay true to your company’s voice. 

👆 That’s a lot to remember, so let’s simplify it! 

It’s important to make your statement in someone’s inbox, or you won’t stand out, however, there’s a time and a place for quirky emails - James 

When creating your B2B email marketing strategy, you’ve got to remember that the first time you reach out, you won’t have trust or familiarity with the prospect just yet. 

  • Find a reason to actually get in touch with someone. 

Maybe they’ve downloaded a piece of content, or  they attended a webinar - that familiarity is the foundation from which you can start to make emails more fun. - James 

  • Mention the touchpoint - it’s a great place to start as you both already know what you’re talking about. This is where your relationship will start to blossom.

Personally I think that you always need to send conversational emails that sound human. As far as humour goes, I think you can definitely have fun with your emails if it’s part of your brand identity. B2B doesn’t mean NOT FUN. - Verche 

But be careful, it’s still the awkward talking phase. Ease into where you make your jokes, evaluate how the prospect responds, and take it from there. 

Cognism recently introduced a nurture campaign aimed at lost opportunities. It was framed around the concept of a breakup - ‘We could've been so good together’ - and that's generated some great responses! - James 


Some prospects aren’t ready to receive more informal emails, while some might be fed up with your boring corporate lingo - read the room and incorporate that into your B2B email marketing strategy accordingly. 

Top tips for creating a B2B email marketing strategy

Now for the juicy bit.

Let’s get on with the B2B email marketing best practices that should be front of mind when creating your strategy! 

Segment your audience

When starting out with your email marketing strategy, first try to break down your target audience into segments. 

Think about how your emails and nurture sequences will best target each segment.

This could be by industry, job function, lifestyle stage, or another customer data point - James 

Target the decision-maker 

You don’t have time or a budget to waste. Make sure you get to the decision-maker as soon as possible.

You also need to go beyond that and ensure you’re targeting the departments that will benefit from your product/service the most.

Approaching employees who don’t have the authority to make the final buying decision is more often than not a waste of time. That said, job titles and organisation hierarchy are becoming increasingly complex, so sometimes it’s more effective to define your target by excluding junior staff. - Verche 

Use automation 

It’s easier than ever to set up automated emails, so do it! 

First, consider your funnel - where is the 'leaky bucket’ losing leads? - James  

Then, use automated emails to deliver tailored content at each stage of the customer lifecycle. 

Make sure you continuously review these sequences and optimise performance. 

Prioritise value 

Instead of rushing to sell, think about what value you immediately offer to your prospect - what will the recipient get out of your email? After all the best emails are useful emails.

Remember, if there’s nothing in it for the recipient, they’re likely to not respond.

They’re also likely to shut down when faced with a hard sale - it’s not about you, it’s about them - always keep this in mind. 


Use thought leadership and content to establish your brand’s expertise, and from there you can scale to talk business - James 

Go beyond just one email 

70% of email sequences stop after just one unanswered email. 

Can you imagine how much money companies leave on the table because they don’t follow up? Most companies are afraid that their emails will be seen as spam if they follow up multiple times, but in such a noisy world, it takes more than one touchpoint to get a reaction. - Verche 

In B2B, the sales cycle typically lasts longer than that of a B2C journey because you’re asking for more of an investment. 

You’re asking for a higher investment, so it’s important to follow up and to do it often - Verche 

Key takeaways for your B2B email marketing strategy? 

  • Start out with your end goal in mind
  • Figure out who you’re talking to and how often you plan to communicate
  • Personalise your messaging - read the room and change what’s not working
  • Get your audience excited! 

B2B email marketing

While you're here, why not check out our beginner's guide to B2B email marketing? ☝🏼

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