B2B Email Marketing & Lead Nurturing: Planning Tips

Email marketing continues to be a fantastic method for nurturing B2B marketing leads. However, it’s crucial to be thoughtful about the types of emails you send, who you are emailing, and how often you are sending content to their inbox.

In the first post of our four-part series on email marketing, we take a look at best practices for using B2B email marketing for lead nurturing.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers:

40% of B2B marketers say email marketing is a tactic that is critical to their success. (Source)

For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. (Source)

73% of successful content marketers nurture subscribers, audiences, or leads. (Source)

For B2B, Conversions Take Nurturing

As B2B marketers, it’s important to look at the entire sales funnel, from top of funnel to middle of funnel to bottom of funnel leads. For many prospects, the buying process can take weeks or even months from start to finish. Particularly for inbound lead generation, email marketing is a great way to continually build trust and rapport with a potential client – to truly guide them towards a decision.

The biggest error that we see in email marketing is going right for the sales pitch. Unless a prospect has explicitly asked for a consultation or demo, they are often not ready to speak to a salesperson. They need more information and education before they get there. This is where the nurturing comes in – sharing helpful information to guide them along their sales journey.

Nurturing is about being a resource to talk them through the process, not a greedy salesperson digging through their pockets for their wallet.

Read more: Top B2B email design trends of 2021.

Know Your Audience + Set Objectives

Not all B2B email marketing lists are the same. When planning out your email marketing strategy, you need to start by understanding your audience (or email list) and by setting objectives.

  • Is your list filled with existing customers you are looking to upsell or upgrade?
  • Is your list filled with contacts at companies that your company would love to work with?
  • Is your list only prospects who downloaded a piece of content from your website?
  • Is your list filled with prospects who went cold (stopped responding or never responded after reaching out)?
  • Is your list filled with potential prospects who either may be or are not familiar with your brand?
  • Or is your list a mix of prospects, clients, and cold leads? (Think segmentation if this is the case.)

The more detail or segmentation you can get in your list, the better you can outline your objectives. However, if you are just starting out with B2B email marketing and lead nurturing, you may need to start broader and then drill down once you get started.

It’s important to remember that paralysis by analysis is a thing. While you should be thoughtful about your list and your objectives, don’t spend so much time strategizing that you aren’t able to implement your strategy.

Read more: What to cover in a B2B email newsletter.

Tailor Messaging to Their Needs

This tip may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often B2B email marketers forget this element. Email marketing and nurturing isn’t about putting your message forward and what matters to your firm. As we mentioned earlier, it’s about creating a connection and building up trust. All successful email nurturing campaigns focus on what the recipient is interested in learning or what resonates with them.

As you create your email drip campaigns, focus on pain points for your audience. Is getting management buy-in a major hurdle for them? Then share blog posts with statistics or case studies that support their recommendation to buy your software or services. Is switching vendors a risky move that could put their job in jeopardy? Calm their fears with documented use cases, customer testimonials, and whitepapers that walk through the process from start to finish.

All messaging should speak directly to the recipient’s needs and position your brand as helpful. If done properly, they will forget that you are marketing to them and will view you as a resource on their buyer’s journey.

Read more: Tips to promote thought leadership on and off your B2B website.

Optimize for Send Times + Intervals

When using email marketing to nurture leads for your brand, it’s important to remember that a person’s email is considered valuable and they don’t hand it out willy-nilly. Whether you have earned the ability to email them or they opted in on your website, it’s important to respect that. Don’t start blasting them an email a day when they share their email address with you.

Plan the appropriate time to send an email based on your audience’s attributes and how often they would like to receive emails from you. For many B2B email nurturing campaigns, it’s ideal to send 3 nurturing emails. If your prospect hasn’t engaged at all after the third email, they may not be interested at all.

Be sure to send emails at the right time too. Saturday at 2pm may work for a consumer brand looking to sell a gaming membership to a Gen Z audience, but for many professional B2B brands selling products and services, the typical Monday through Friday workweek makes the most sense for reaching the audience. We find that Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 8am and 1pm have the best open rates. If your email marketing service allows you to send the email according to the recipient’s time zone – use that feature!

The intervals in between email sends can vary depending on the cost of your product or service, your audience, and the typical length of the sales cycle for your industry. For example, for HR software with a $150k price tag and 3-month implementation timeline, the sales cycle likely takes anywhere from 3 – 6 months due to the investment of time, resources, and money. For an example like this, the email sends may be once every 3 weeks to help prospects as they gather the information and resources to determine which software they want to demo.

Finding the right balance of send times and intervals can be tricky, but looking at email metrics can be helpful in fine-tuning. Which leads us to…

Review All Metrics

The variety and depth of metrics available can range depending on your email marketing service or platform. The important thing is to review the metrics available to you and incorporate your learnings into future email sends. Did you find that even though you sent an email at 8am, the bulk of your audience didn’t open or click on the email until 11am? Try adjusting your next send to be closer to 11am – when they may be more available or likely to check emails.

If you are using a more robust EMS that integrates with your CRM, you may be able to extract data on who actually opened your email, what they clicked on, how long they spent on your website, or whether they downloaded your content offer. These types of metrics are fantastic for creating highly targeted nurturing campaigns that enable you to customize the content further.

Don’t just hit send or schedule your next email send blindly, always consult the data for insight into your audience.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on B2B Email Marketing: Email Marketing Design Optimized for Conversions.

Ready to strategize about your B2B email marketing campaign? Contact us for a personalized evaluation of your existing email marketing strategy and how we can help you reach your KPIs.

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