How to generate B2B leads from email marketing

Vladislav Podolyako
AuthorVladislav Podolyako
Updated:2023-02-11
Reading time:13m
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You know what you want from your email marketing strategy — cementing your credibility as a brand, generating more high-intent leads, and driving sales off the charts. While your goals are clear as day, your strategy isn’t.

Your email lead generation campaigns are falling apart. Several factors explain this poor performance — badly targeted emails, vague and confusing CTAs, lack of personalization, no A/B testing for optimization, and the list only goes on.

When done right, email marketing can prove exceptionally effective for B2B lead generation. But businesses often fail to crack the code on a strong strategy and implementation framework. As a B2B lead gen agency, we created this exhaustive guide to give you a fail-proof approach to email marketing and watch your conversions soar. Let's get started.

5 reasons to include email marketing in your lead-gen strategy

You’re probably tired of hearing that every $1 spent on email marketing can produce profits worth $42. But the good news is, it’s true. B2B email marketing can be a versatile channel to boost brand recognition, generate interest, nurture leads, and ultimately drive conversions.

Here’s why every B2B business should invest in an email-driven lead generation strategy:

Get solid ROI to drive demand

It’s no surprise that email marketing is all the rage for B2B lead generation when 64% of B2B marketers claimed that this channel helped them meet their business goals.

One of the many reasons why email marketing is more than a nice-to-have for B2B companies is the ROI it can deliver.

Studies indicate that B2B brands enjoy an open rate of 21.56%, which is significantly higher than other verticals. A high open rate is a sign of a highly engaged audience. This audience will be more receptive to promotional offers and lead-nurturing email sequences, effectively increasing your conversions and ROI from email marketing.

Work efficiently with multiple automation opportunities

Another crucial reason B2B marketers tap into email marketing for lead generation is the ease of automating different workflows. You can run end-to-end email campaigns without blowing your budget, even if you have a lean team. How? By automating triggered emails, lead-nurturing campaigns, and segmentation.

Automation also increases the scope of personalizing your communication using customer insights. 60% of marketers believe personalized campaigns can boost engagement and drive conversions.

Maximize your reach among prospects

Unlike constantly changing algorithms, there’s no risk of fluctuating reach among your leads. Put simply, emails promise high visibility. This explains why email was the second most popular organic channel for content distribution among 87% of B2B marketers.

Organic Content Distribution Channels B2B Marketer Use

Besides, creating emails for every stage of the customer journey lets you stay front-of-mind for your leads at all times. That's one reason behind 81% of B2B marketers making emails their most used form of content marketing.

Nurture leads at every stage of the funnel

One of the best benefits of executing an email marketing strategy for lead generation is the ability to nurture and convert leads across your sales funnel. B2B marketers consider email newsletters as the best-performing channel for nurturing leads.

A segmented list, automation, and A/B tests are all you need to hit the right chord with your prospects and nudge them toward a buying decision. That’s not all — you can also run email campaigns to re-engage cold leads, build healthy relationships with active customers, and distribute your content to a wider audience.

Note: Want to boost conversions from MQL to SQL to opportunities? Try our lead nurturing service, focused on nourishing relationships with your prospects that result in closed deals over time.

Deliver hyper-personalized and targeted messaging     

Email marketing platforms offer advanced targeting and segmentation capabilities to deliver hyper-personalized messaging to your subscribers. Speak to customers in their own language by creating multiple variations of a single email for different buyer personas. This will allow you to tackle persona-specific pain points and create a bigger impact among your customers.

Note: Check out our B2B drip campaign examples to get inspiration for your nurturing campaigns.

Content as a core of B2B email marketing

Picture yourself in a new restaurant. The ambience is spectacular, the menu is impressive, and the service is quick — everything looks perfect. But as soon as you try the food, you regret coming here. It’s terrible and you feel cheated.

That's exactly what your prospects would feel if you sent them emails with an amazing design and an intriguing subject line but poorly written, generic content.

Even with so many moving parts in an email marketing campaign for B2B lead generation, content is the most important link in the chain. It helps in:

  • Positioning you as a trusted brand
  • Assuring buyers that you can help them
  • Differentiating your brand with a personable touch

Tom Hunt, Founder at fame.so, explains the key to making your B2B email marketing click:

Tom Hunt on the Content for B2 B Emails

Source

Ideally, you should create email content for prospects in different stages of the B2B sales funnel. This way, you can target their pain points, share the most relevant information, and convince them to buy from you.

Here’s how you can create and use a customer profile matrix to customize content for different stages of the buyer journey:

Initiators

They are the team leaders who identify the need for your product/service. They’re aware of the key pain points and want to know how you can address them. They also want to see how your product/service works before taking the conversation forward.

What to send: Emails with product demos, use cases, and explainer videos (learn how to send videos via email). Explain your product/service’s unique value propositions and how these features can benefit the prospects. You can also share case studies to build credibility for yourself.

Decision-influencers

They test your product/service and research it to influence the final buying decision. Their opinion impacts the company’s decision.

What to send: Newsletters, white papers, and industry-specific content to keep them engaged. Stay top-of-mind with a consistent cadence.

Decision-makers

They are the C-suite executives who ultimately decide whether to buy from you. They probe into the need for every purchase and want clarity on the ROI you can produce for them.

What to send: Case studies, testimonials, and pricing comparison charts to make a case for yourself. Cost-benefit analysis to objectively predict their expected returns.

Users

Once the deal is done, they are the end-users of your product/service. They want to know the best ways to navigate your product/service and get the best ROI.

What to send: Emails spotlighting various JTBD-specific (jobs to be done) features, use cases, and how-to guides. Send tutorials to guide them about different features they can try.

Relevant reading: How To Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy for B2B

8 key elements of a B2B email marketing strategy

Let’s break down eight essential pillars of a B2B email marketing strategy for lead generation. We’ve packed this list with actionable tips and insights to help you start strong.

Segment your leads

Segmentation is one of the cornerstones of email lead-gen success. It divides your entire lead database into different categories based on particular parameters.

Here are a few criteria for segmenting your lists:

  • Demographics: Categorize your prospects according to region, spending power, age, and other demographic factors
  • Behavior: Segment leads according to their actions — like visiting your website, clicking on your last email, or checking out a specific page
  • Funnel stage: Place leads in different stages of the funnel and send relevant content (like we discussed above)
  • Buyer persona: Highlight suitable use cases and capabilities for every prospect by dividing leads into the right buyer personas
  • Engagement: Segment leads into active, inactive, and lost based on how they react to your emails 

A well-segmented list can unlock limitless possibilities to stand out in crowded inboxes and catch your prospects’ attention. Besides personalizing your communication, segmentation allows you to deliver hyper-relevant and targeted messaging to make a strong case for yourself.

Aaron Berm, an email marketer, emphasizes the importance of a segmented list for improving email deliverability:

Aaron Berm on the Importance of Email  List Segmentation

Source

The best part? Implementing a segmented list isn’t difficult. Integrate your email automation platform with your CRM tool and dynamically segment your leads to send customized emails.

Use email automation 

Automation can be a game changer for your B2B email lead generation strategy. It allows you to eliminate manual effort on redundant, time-consuming steps in your workflow and focus your energies on more high-value tasks instead.

More importantly, automation helps companies embrace personalization at scale. You can set up automation flows for multiple tasks, such as:

  • Triggered emails: This is one of the most common uses of automation in email marketing. Send leads an email as soon as they complete a pre-defined action or fulfill a behavioral condition. 
  • Drip campaigns: Create a sequence of emails to nurture leads or onboard new customers using automated emails. Set the rules for your campaign and sit back while these emails land in your leads' inboxes regularly.
  • Segmentation: Automatically segment leads in real-time as per different pre-defined parameters. Design automation flows to analyze your CRM data and update your segmented lists.
  • Reporting: Use automation to assess your email performance and write reports citing multiple metrics. Get deeper visibility into your campaign's effectiveness with automated reports. 
  • List hygiene: Keep your email lists clean and improve deliverability with an automated clean-up workflow. Remove broken or invalid emails to achieve high open rates.

It’s no surprise that 59% of marketers will expand the level of automation in their email programs. Why? Automating different processes and tasks within your email marketing setup can help you reduce time spent on backend activities, consistently improve your performance, and drive conversions.

Optimize for deliverability

Deliverability defines the chances of your email landing in a recipient’s primary inbox. It’s one of the core performance metrics to assess the impact you’re creating with your emails.

Your sender reputation is a critical factor directly influencing your deliverability rate. If your emails constantly land in the spam folder or get bounced, your deliverability takes a hit and signals email platforms to junk your emails.

On top of that, list hygiene, email volume, and message frequency are some other factors that can make or break your B2B lead-generation email campaigns.

We’ve rounded up a few best practices to improve email deliverability:

  • Use custom authentication to send emails
  • Add the option to unsubscribe 
  • Don’t use URL shorteners and spam words
  • Add alt text to all your media for accessibility
  • Create high-value content to engage your leads
  • Avoid adding too many images or media in one email

You can scale your deliverability rates with an intuitive tool like Folderly without extra effort. It’s an AI-powered deliverability platform that consistently improves your domain reputation, integrates with any email service provider, and monitors your performance round-the-clock. Put simply, Folderly creates a robust infrastructure to boost email integrations.

When one of Belkins’ clients, SUJO, requested our help to improve their deliverability and open rates, we closely investigated their email marketing setup to find the root cause.

We conducted a thorough domain analysis, dug deep into spam research, and performed an end-to-end mailbox migration and reputation recovery process. Once we could stabilize their reputation and engagement, we developed an EPS to identify emails marked as spam and prevent any further hits to their sender's reputation.

Lean on ready-made templates

Crafting emails from scratch can be tiring. After all, these aren't just any emails — they are precious real estate! You either enhance your prospects' interests with every email or lose them.

So, what's the best way to create impactful emails without overwhelming effort? Email templates. Pre-made messages can make your job easier and speed up your B2B lead generation efforts.

Here are a few proven email templates to try:

  • Before/After: Visualize scenarios before prospects use your product/service and after they try it. Use this template to highlight as many features and use cases as possible for every buyer persona. 
  • Competitive edge: Capture prospects' attention by mentioning a competitor brand they currently use and hint at how you're better. Briefly highlight your key differentiators without giving away too much, and sign off with a compelling CTA. 
  • Sales trigger events: Identify recent sales triggers, like a promotion or company funding, and create emails around these events. Show prospects you’ve done your homework and make an immediate impact. 
  • Problem-agitate-solve: Start by stressing a critical pain point and create a narrative to emphasize your prospects' struggle. Then position your offering as the ideal solution. Customize this template for different JTBDs and use it in different funnel stages. By the way, here's the example of webinar invitation crafted using this approach. We at Belkins used it for one of our clients.

Hi {{FirstName}},

As the {{Title}}, you probably have data security top of mind. However, emerging technology and new attack methods will pose new risks to the data you’re trying to secure.

Join us on {{Webinar date and time}} for our webinar {{Webinar Name}}.

{{Names, titles, and List of participant companies}}. The speakers will share their approach to dynamic threats and the changing attack landscape. You’ll walk away with a better awareness of the attack surface and ways of mitigating risks.

Save these ready-made templates with relevant placeholders on your email marketing platform and simplify the ideation process for your team.

Go for a personalized approach

Personalization is a major buzzword in the sales and marketing world — and rightly so. Personalized email campaigns can increase revenue by up to 760%. This figure is enough to conclude that personalization isn't just a nice-to-have anymore; it's a prerequisite for B2B email lead generation success.

Follow these best practices to strategically personalize your lead-gen emails:

  • Segment your leads list based on in-depth research 
  • Set up automated triggers for behavior-based personalized emails
  • Constantly maintain and update the lead database to avoid discrepancies
  • Add contextually personalized questions, CTAs, and demographic events
  • Incorporate personalization in copy and design, like subject lines and themes

Here’s a summary of the top personalization factors that most B2B marketers used in 2021 and 2022, according to Litmus's research.

Top 8 personalization factors used in email marketing

Case in point: Our team at Belkins took a unique approach to personalized email marketing that we named “conference campaigns”.

We kept tabs on relevant industry events for our client GTI and chose leads attending this event. Then we created a personalized campaign reminding them of their visit to this event and delivered a pitch accordingly. We reached out to 3928 leads and achieved an open rate of 31.71%. 

Perform A/B testing for optimization

A higher open rate, more clicks, and increased conversions — isn't that every B2B marketer's dream? You can make it a reality with rigorous A/B testing and optimization for your lead generation emails.

In layman's terms, A/B testing compares the responses for two (or more) variations of an email sent to a different set of users. You can test multiple elements of your email, like:

  • Subject lines and preview texts
  • Email length and structure
  • Personalization
  • Word order

Establish the goal you want to test your emails for, like click-through rate, and give yourself at least 4–5 days to collect considerable data. Then go for whichever version performs best. Here are a few examples of objectives to consider:

Email Metrics Matrix

  Email-centric Business-centric
Customer-level

Subscriber optimization:

  • subscriber LTV (lifetime value)
  • subscriber RFM (recency, frequency, monetary)
  • length of email inactivity

Business success:

  • customer LTV (lifetime value)
  • customer RFM (recency, frequency, monetary)
  • length of customer inactivity
Channel-level

Email channel health:

  • hard & soft bounce rate
  • spam complaint rate
  • delivered rate
  • inbox placement rate
  • open & click reach
  • engagement reach
  • acquisition source metric
  • list size & list growth rate
  • list churn & list churn rate

Email channel success:

  • email marketing revenue
  • revenue per email
  • email marketing profit
  • email marketing ROI
  • incremental lift across all channels
  • email list productivity (email revenue per subscriber)
Campaign-level

Email campaign optimization:

  • unique total opens
  • open rate
  • unique & total clicks
  • click rate
  • click-to-open rate
  • mobile/desktop opens & clicks
  • mobile/desktop click rate
  • spam complaint rate
  • unsubscribe rate

Email campaign success:

  • Email campaign revenue
  • email conversion & conversion rate
  • post-click metrics (carting, browsing, etc.)

Source

HubSpot’s experiments present a great case study for optimizing your emails with A/B tests. They achieved a 0.53% higher open rate and a 0.23% higher click-through rate for emails with a person’s name as the sender. This small change (thanks to A/B tests) won them 131 leads!

Factor in data processing and analytics

Data can be a powerful asset for your email marketing strategy. Use it to your advantage to identify the gaps in your strategy and iterate it effectively.

Here are five key metrics to evaluate your lead generation efforts:

  • Click-through rate: Check how many leads are clicking on your CTAs to measure the level of engagement your emails create. A poor click-through rate with a decent open rate means you’re missing the mark with your copy.
  • Open rate: This metric calculates the percentage of people who have viewed your email. Most platforms consider an email as viewed when all the graphics load fully. If you hit a low open rate, it could either mean your deliverability is poor or your subject line isn’t persuasive enough. 
  • Bounce rate: This metric estimates the number of emails that didn’t land in the recipients’ inboxes. A high bounce rate is mostly because of poor list hygiene since you have too many broken/dead emails.
  • Conversion rate: Count the percentage of conversions from an overall email campaign. It estimates how many leads are converted throughout a campaign.
  • Unsubscribe rate: This is a simple measure of the number of people removing themselves from your email list. It indicates the leads you’ve lost from your pipeline. 

You can use this data to improve different aspects of your B2B lead generation email strategy. Look at what's working and double down on it while fixing glaring issues affecting your ROI.

Deliver optimized copywriting and messaging

Despite doing everything right, your entire email campaign can fall apart if you drop the ball with your copy. Nothing beats crisp, compelling, and clear email copy to drive conversions.

The single rule to nailing your lead-gen emails is talking to your prospects in their own words. Instead of overcomplicating things, listen intently to their problems and expectations and translate this research into impactful content.

Here are three must-try frameworks for optimized copywriting in your emails:

  • Invoking curiosity: This approach aims to tease your prospects with a question, a controversial statement, or a shocking hook. It intrigues the recipients enough to open the email and click on the CTA. Invest your efforts into perfecting the hook/shocker to entice people into your email, then deliver your pitch.
  • Problem-focused: This is the classic problem-based email customized for every buyer persona. Use every pain point as a guiding principle to strike a chord with your prospects before presenting your solution. The quality of storytelling matters the most for this approach because you have to reel people in with your narrative and position your brand as the ideal solution.
  • Building relationships: This approach requires meticulous research to show every prospect you know them through and through. The idea is to find a common link between your pitch and their role/company and draft a customized email. While this approach isn't scalable, it can work well for your highest-value leads. 

Whichever approach you take, remember to skip the technical jargon and marketing-speak. Keep things friendly and speak to your leads as humans to resonate more with them.

Here’s Chase Dimond’s best advice for email copywriting:

Chase Diamond on the Content Importance in B2 B Emails

Source

Win over your leads with a fail-proof B2B email marketing strategy

When done right, email marketing can become one of your biggest revenue drivers. But you need an airtight strategy with rigorous monitoring to make it work. This exhaustive guide on B2B lead generation email marketing will help you extract the best from email and drive consistent conversions.

Looking for experts to ramp up your lead generation numbers? Belkins can make a difference and maximize your email marketing ROI. Book a call with our team of professionals to learn our process.

Vladislav Podolyako
Author
Vladislav Podolyako
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Co-founder and CEO of Belkins and Folderly
Vlad’s an expert in the areas of culture transformation and leadership development, B2B sales, and marketing. He spent more than 10 years building technology products, has a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.
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