Join us as we discuss four outstanding B2B email examples. We’ll be breaking down the techniques used in each case study, so you’ll be able to replicate them in your own B2B email marketing campaigns.
Social Report – announcing a B2B product
Here’s an announcement email for Social Report’s new product, Smart Inbox.
Marketing emails are a great way to place new products or features front-and-centre in customer’s view. Let’s break down the components of Social Report’s email, and how they all add up to efficiently promote the Smart Inbox product.
Introducing the email
Social Report’s email gets straight to the point with this efficient intro sentence:
“We are super excited to introduce a powerful Smart Inbox solution, reimagined to make it easier for you to effortlessly manage your social messages — no matter the size of your team.”
We can pick out three essential elements in this sentence that communicate the email’s core message and capture the reader’s interest:
- “We are super excited to introduce[…]” – establishes the purpose of the email
- “Reimagined to make it easier for you[…] – indicates the value the reader stands to gain
- “No matter the size of your team.” – adds colour to the sentence; gives a taste of further detail behind the product
These three elements – establishing an email’s purpose, indicating the subject’s value to the recipient, and adding a splash of colour/interest – combine together as an excellent formula for writing introductory paragraphs to B2B emails.
Did you notice that the email doesn’t have a header? In some cases, this approach works best. Speaking from personal experience as email recipients, we’ve encountered far too many emails whose first paragraph is little more than a rewritten version of the header.
Perhaps it’s better to do away with headers altogether, write focused intros, and get your point across efficiently. Why let a header graphic get in the way?
Defining the product/offer
Web users have limited patience – if you take too long to give a clear explanation of what you are offering, you run the risk of your readers navigating away.
Social Report’s email deals with this point fast, under its first sub-header: “What is Smart Inbox?”
At this point the copy starts listing features, to quickly explain the product. This is in contrast with the introduction, which talks about ideas. This is an intelligent structure, as it manages to build in the concept behind the product, plus the product’s core features before the reader reaches the point where they have to scroll to read more. Another good point to this approach is that the ideas behind the product and its tangible features are discussed in separate paragraphs, which makes them both easier to understand.
Next, we see an image showing a feature of Social Report’s product.
This serves two purposes: first, it illustrates what we’ve already read about; second, it raises questions that will encourage the recipient to read on, based on the fact it shows lots of features that have not yet been explained.
Explaining features and selling points
If your lead has read this far into your email, you can tentatively assume they have a genuine interest in the product you have introduced.
Your next job is to clearly communicate the product’s features (and thereby its selling points) using copy and rich media.
In the image above, you can see how Social Report has presented one of the features of their product. There’s no fancy content strategy going on here – just clear information on the product. The use of an image is essential here, as it illustrates the points made in the copy.
Close with a conversion
Every good B2B email closes with a conversion. If you’ve got your recipients to read the whole thing, you may as well add a converting element onto the end, even if there are other links or forms earlier in the email.
This email does precisely that – it ends with a “Learn more” video tutorial. Switching from an email made up of copy and images to a video is a great way to tempt readers into engaging further with your content.
Social Report has been pretty smart here. Instead of including a real video player, they’ve used an image that looks like the YouTube interface, and which links through to the video itself on their own website. This is inherently more clickable than a text link to a video, as the reader can see the YouTube-branded design elements they trust.
CoverageBook – a back-to-basics, plain-text approach to mid-funnel marketing emails
In a market that’s saturated with graphically intensive marketing emails, a plain-text email might provide an unexpected way to stand out from the crowd.
Take this email from digital PR marketing experts CoverageBook for example. By using only text, links and a single inline image, it cuts to the chase and gives the reader the content they want, straightaway.
This tactic is a great fit for the email’s B2B audience, who would typically be more time-pressured and goal-oriented than the average B2C lead. They want quality content – and they want it quick.
This approach can slash your workload and required less spend from your email marketing budget. Putting together a plain text HTML email is quick and easy, so by going down this route, you can free up more time to put into strategic processes, like planning email content and exploring your email campaign analytics. In our experience, these activities will often (but not always) generate better ROI than time spent optimising graphic email elements.
When to use a plain-text B2B email
The email shown above is delivered to leads who have opted-in to receive CoverageBook content.
To our minds, this is an ideal use for plain-text emails: as an efficient means of delivering valuable content to leads who are already in your sales/marketing funnel. For customers who haven’t encountered your brand before, a more visually engaging approach may still be your best bet.
Here are a few examples of how B2B brands could use plain-text html emails in their email marketing:
- “Freemium” content sequence (like CoverageBook’s)
- Industry reports
- Personalised sales messages
Have a play around with some ideas for plain text emails or email sequences. As a rule, if your customer is already on the hook and you want to get your point across efficiently, plain-text emails could provide the perfect solution.
Google AdWords – getting value out of new customers
As you know, a B2B marketer’s job doesn’t stop when the lead converts into a customer – you’ve got to generate a good lifetime value from the relationship too.
Google are experts at this, as we can see in this email for newly signed-up AdWords users:
This email works an impressive number of marketing and communications tactics into a few short paragraphs. Let’s go through a few of them:
- “I’m Rachel, the AdWords Welcome Team manager.” – addressing the customer from one individual to another humanises the interaction and will increase the likelihood of some customers responding.
- “My team is here to help your business succeed online.” – frames the team as a route to achieving the customer’s goal.
- “We’d like to invite you to our Welcome Program.” – this is phrased as an invitation, to confer a sense of value and exclusivity unto the program.
- “Spaces are filling up fast.” – Highlights scarcity. This is one of the tactics discussed in our article on psychological marketing techniques.
- “We recommend calling[…]” This call-to-action cleverly positions the brand as an adviser, rather than a marketer who is trying to get the customer to convert. Of course, Google’s representative would “recommend” the customer calls them and signs up – that’s what they want the customer to do!
- “By 06/04/17” – creates urgency
- “[…]claim your free account review with an AdWords expert.” – sweetens the deal with added value.
- “[…]get the most from the budget you’ve set.” – promises the customer an improved ROI, if they engage further.
So there we have it: in just five sentences, this email humanises the brand, positions it as an advisor figure and reinforces its role in accomplishing the customer’s goal. It creates a sense of potential value and exclusive benefits around the AdWords Welcome Program – albeit under conditions of scarcity and urgency; and it carries the promise of improvement to the customer’s ROI.
We often find that when you start analysing one of Google’s B2B emails, you’ll soon realise just how carefully constructed they are. This one’s no exception, and it can serve as a reminder to us all that we can benefit from thinking more deeply about the language we use in our marketing emails.
Subject lines can convert in their own right
Here’s the subject line from Google’s email:
Call 0800-169-0409* now to guarantee your place in the AdWords Welcome Program.
We thought it worthwhile to briefly mention this here, for the simple reason that it’s interesting to find an email subject line that can yield conversions without the customer even having to open the email. For those ready to take the plunge- Why let your email get in the way? The recipient sees the message in their inbox, they call the number, and there you have it – a conversion.
GoDaddy – account updates provide an opportunity to up-sell
For many businesses, selling add-ons and extra products to existing customers is a key revenue source – but send too many sales messages, and you will risk annoying your clients.
A great way to get around this potential pitfall is to include upsells in the account- or transaction-related emails. Take this account monthly account summary from GoDaddy for example:
The actual account summary mentioned in the title isn’t even included in the message itself – all there is to that effect is the orange “View your account” Call To Action (CTA) link.
From that point onwards the email is entirely comprised of sales messages, including the ones shown in the image above. The customer is given a choice between a variety of links through to more in-depth content and promotions – and because they’re all below that “View your account” CTA, the chance of annoying the customer is low.
These four examples will hopefully have given you an idea of the various ways in which successful B2B brands are using email to reach their sales and conversion goals. Whether you’re contacting a new lead, a wavering conversion or your most valuable customer, there’s an opportunity for you to use email marketing to drive engagement and earn revenue. Email marketing is one of the most influential tools in your marketing toolkit so why not review the emails you are sending out in light of these great examples and make sure you are making the best use of this amazingly powerful and efficient channel.