B2B Email Marketing Tricks of the Trade

  |  February 21, 2014   |  Comments

Four tips and tricks for how to avoid running a business-to-business email program that's cold, corporate, and boring, including boosting your creative and using personalization.

After sharing email best practices for small- and medium-sized businesses, I thought the underrepresented B2B email community deserved a spotlight on it.

B2B (business to business) email marketing doesn't get nearly the attention as big consumer email programs but it is often where the most innovation is taking place. In a two-part series, I will look at eight ways to make a real impact on the bottom line. After all, that's what exceptional B2B email programs are all about.

  1. Email subscribers spend more than your other customers. Well, they should. After you leverage email and marketing automation, you hopefully are touching your customers more frequently and in a more strategic fashion. We have helped most of our clients not just get more incremental revenue from email subscribers but measure that. Most CMOs and CFOs really like the measuring part.
  2. Ensure your creative doesn't suck - $1 million lift. Most B2B email programs typically have a lot to be desired when it comes to creative. In fact, even smart business-to-business email campaigns I see fail on the creative. They are often long direct mail lookalikes that place the call to action at the email's bottom - the part that no one will read. B2B email creative isn't like B2C. In B2B, the goal isn't to sell the widget via email but to keep the relationship moving forward, stay top of mind, and differentiate your product or service.

    One of my agency's clients will see over one million in additional sales by optimizing templates that we made. These weren't just front-end tweaks to make it look cute. Changes were driven by better coding as well as data-driven decision making and testing.

    I like how Cisco WebEx trial conversion series (with a sample below) highlights different features over the course of several emails or so rather than try to cram all of them in one email. This email is clean yet provides a nice tip, some actionable items, as well as pricing and buying info. The casual note at the end ("BTW, have you downloaded the 'Getting Started Guide?'") makes it seem less like an automated message and more like a personalized and (more importantly) helpful tip.


  3. Why the landing page is as important (maybe more). Ah, the landing page. Quite often it should be viewed as the no man's land of digital marketing. Many digital agencies let their rookie designer cut their teeth on their brand's dime. However, this approach can often make or break your email campaign and sometimes your B2B email program.

    Landing pages are wonderful vehicles when designed appropriately. They should be the continuation of the email's purpose and should offer value in exchange for a more specific relationship/sales opportunity. For example, tease the brand new and exclusive white paper in the email and give it away on a well-designed and user friendly landing page where more profile data might be acquired or even better a sales call might be arranged.
  4. Use segmentation and personalization. One head of marketing recently told me she considers her email program a precision marketing platform and that is what B2B email marketing is when properly executed. Dynamic campaigns that customize the content based on a user's profile dynamically sent from a local sales rep (with the headshot varying based on each subscriber's profile) help bridge the gap of what I often hear many B2B campaigns complain of - being cold, too corporate, and bland.

In part 2, I will discuss why remarketing works, the list matters, and how to use email for reducing costs among other tips.

This column was originally published on December 27, 2012. 

Email Message image on home page via Shutterstock.


Simms Jenkins

Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.

Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.

Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.

He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.

Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of and, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.

Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.

Follow and connect with Simms on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, The BrightWave Blog, and his book websites at and

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.



Featured White Papers

2015 Holiday Email Guide

2015 Holiday Email Guide
The holidays are just around the corner. Download this whitepaper to find out how to create successful holiday email campaigns that drive engagement and revenue.

Three Ways to Make Your Big Data More Valuable

Three Ways to Make Your Big Data More Valuable
Big data holds a lot of promise for marketers, but are marketers ready to make the most of it to drive better business decisions and improve ROI? This study looks at the hidden challenges modern marketers face when trying to put big data to use.