How to Write an Effective B2B Email

Author: Corina Leslie

October 24, 2019

Sending a B2B email can take a couple of minutes and one click. Writing a great B2B email takes time, knowledge and thorough research. If you’re looking for ways to improve your strategy, check out this step-by-step guide. It covers style and structure, and gives you practical ideas you can use to get results right away.

But first, why go through so much trouble to write a B2B email?

Guest post by Dmitry Chervonyi, CMO at Belkins

B2B email writing: avoid being generic and irrelevant

Some emails get noticed and opened. Others end up directly in the Trash folder. To make sure yours always land in the first category, treat writing B2B emails as an integral part of your job. 

Your battle for prospects starts in the inbox. Just like with any element of sales, you can’t offer something generic, or irrelevant, and expect people to react.

So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of writing a compelling B2B email, let’s see why these emails are different.

typing message

Know the difference between B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer)

We still notice many marketing and sales pros who haven’t taken the time to test and refine their B2B email strategy. It takes a while to find your style and tone of voice, but there are a few elements you can use as general guidelines.

Be relatable, but professional

Take a look in your own inbox and find the most recent B2C emails you got. Most likely, you’ll notice the beautiful images and the simple, casual language enticing you to make a purchase.

Although they may use such elements to boost sales, B2B emails tend to have a more professional tone. Moreover, their copy focuses on the benefits that may convince a decision-maker to say “yes” to a product or service.

So, make sure you emphasize the value of your offering. Remember that you have just the right solution for your recipient’s problem. Anyone capable of communicating that in the very opening lines gets attention. 

That’s not to say you can’t be entertaining in your B2B email. In fact, that may help you stand out in a sea of bland messages flooding business inboxes every day. However, use your common sense to avoid crossing any embarrassing line.

B2B emails don’t use slang, they speak the industry’s language

B2C emails often act chummy, using modern slang and expressions. Sometimes it looks good, other times it’s awfully cringy. Whatever the end result may be, they can afford it since their approach relies on empathy and their audience seeks new experiences.

In B2B email, nobody is going to be impressed with the sender’s knowledge of the latest internet cool words.

When you craft a B2B email, squeeze value out of each word and save flashy introductions and fancy speak for another occasion. Also, you can still have a friendly tone while using some industry terminology – in just the necessary doses.

B2B emailing

B2B emails appeal to experience, not to emotions

People often assume that professional tone is emotionless, dry and overly formal. But nowadays, we send and receive tons of emails in a blink, so there is no need for lengthy introductions and cookie-cutter phrases.

Writing a professional email means starting a conversation between two experienced pros.

  • You show your knowledge of the prospects’ industry — and let them know you’re aware of their challenges.
  • At the same time, you avoid talking down to your prospects.
  • Also, you don’t dramatize or make assumptions.
  • Lastly, you ask the right questions in a polite and amicable way. 

The structure of a B2B email

Unlike B2C messages, an effective B2B email has a certain structure. While you may choose to try a different approach, using these tips may yield better results.

Subject line

This is the first thing that pops up at your prospect’s inbox, so it has to make a good impression.

Think of any annoying subject lines you’ve encountered. Capitalized words, poor grammar, punchlines, words like SALE/NOW/DO IT or plain tricky subject lines that pretend to be from someone at your office (“Forgot my coat, have you seen it, {Name}?).

The latter is punishable by CAN-SPAM act, by the way, so if you find such a subject line in your inbox, the right thing to do is to report it.

That said, make sure that your subject lines are clear and reflect the content of your email.

businessman using phone
Make it brief

Ideally, your subject line shouldn’t be longer than seven words. Go beyond that word limit and it will look like you’re trying to cram an essay into the subject field.

Also, remember that we live in the age of mobile gadgets and smartphones and 35% of your prospects check their emails on mobile. What is the point of your message if it’s not accessible, regardless of any device people use?

Make it personal

Generic subject lines aren’t doing anyone a favor. If people receive more than 100 emails per day, they start skipping all the repetitive and monotonous subject lines and going straight to those that look interesting.

How do you capture people’s interest in a B2B email subject?

By showing you know what’s on their mind. It can be an industry pain point, a product they’re looking for, or something tied to the location you’re targeting.

For example:

A: {Name}, thoughts on Q2?

B: Cold outreach for {Company}

C: Lead nurturing for Illinois

However, in our practice, the best subject line proved to be a short “Belkins and {Company} — Potential Synergies”. It summarizes everything we want to say in our message in a brief, comprehensive way. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Make it compelling

Modern B2B communication is not about inviting yourself into people’s personal space and presenting your product. Instead, it’s about listening and asking people to speak up.

It’s not wrong to ask questions in your subject lines as long as these questions are relevant. So, do your homework. We never start writing B2B emails until we research the recipient, their industry and the specifics of their business. 

Knowing how to start brings you one step closer to your end goal of learning how to write a great B2B email. 

writing B2B email subject line

Pitch

This is where you bring home your offer. You have less than a minute to convince your prospects to keep reading and around 125-150 words to get your point through. So, every detail should be relevant to your value proposition and your end goal. 

If you want to introduce your services…

you start with the services that matter to your prospect, not the ones you’d like to sell.

A company looking for B2B customers in Massachusetts won’t care about your ability to generate appointments in every part of the globe.

Show that you have experience with businesses in Boston, Quincy, Plymouth, and then you’ll get their attention.

If you want to schedule a call…

outline the reasons why talking to your sales executive by phone is superior to email correspondence.

We avoid making cold calls in general because modern B2B buyers respond negatively to telemarketing. But even a coordinated call doesn’t happen before all parties are sure that it’s necessary and beneficial.  

For instance:

A: What would you say about a 10-minute call? I believe it would be the quickest way to touch base and find out if there is a fit. 

B: Would you be available for a 10-minute call with our Sales Executive Sam? He’ll fill you in on everything we do and help you figure out the best product and price fit. 

C: If you’d like to learn more via phone, here are a few meeting options for next week. 

sending cold email
If you’re not sure you’ve reached the right person…

… explain what you want, but don’t infodump. Your recipient may not be your target, so approach them carefully. Provide them with enough material to make it super easy for them to assist you. 

To illustrate:

A: I was referred to {ProspectName} at {Company} but I was unable to reach them. Please let me know if I’ve reached the right person. 

B: Since our services cover appointment-setting and B2B communications, I’d appreciate it if you could refer me to the person in charge of Sales at {Company}. 

C: I wanted to introduce Belkins to the person in charge of the Sales Development at {Company}. Would that be you or {ProspectName}?

Our general advice is to avoid cookie-cutter templates at all costs.

The reason why account-based marketing is thriving nowadays is that your prospects are different, and when your strategy acknowledges this, it delivers results.

Each potential buyer has individual concerns, so you need to offer them benefits that appeal exclusively to them.

Make sure to review each of your well-performing sales templates and see how you can adjust them by using the information from your Ideal Customer Profile. 

call to action

Call-to-action (CTA) 

If you want to write a great B2B email, you have to know how to start it and how to end it. 

The CTA is usually the closing line of your email. A single sentence that summarizes your message and shows your prospects what you want them to do. It’s a good way to ensure people understand the purpose of your message, so they can interact with you.

If you include more than one CTA…

you’re going to confuse your prospects.

For example, you ask them to check out your case study and offer to schedule a call – both in one email. That’s a big NO in B2B. Your prospects can multitask, sure. But that doesn’t mean they like it. 

If your CTA is not clear enough…

people won’t know why you contacted them in the first place.

Let’s say you describe your service, thank the person for taking the time to read your email, and then wish them a good day. You don’t ask them if they want to chat, explore your services, or maybe start a free trial. As if you don’t really care about moving forward. Logically, if you don’t care, why would your prospects?  

If your CTA asks for too much…

you may scare people away.

It’s the first email your prospects receive, and you treat them like they’re a contract away from being your buyers. You don’t talk about exploring opportunities. Instead, you already ask them to choose the price package.

Obviously, this is not how your CTA should look like.

If you introduce your services, ask people for feedback and if they see the merit in discussing a possible collaboration. Also, if you’re scheduling a call, provide options and allow people to choose from several time slots.

Furthermore, if you outline a possible partnership, don’t assume how it’s going to evolve. Your goal is to get the conversation going, not to seal the deal at any cost.

working in B2B

Signature 

It’s amazing how little attention people pay to such a sales-boosting feature.

Your email signature includes your name and contact information. These details are important to CAN-SPAM act compliance, but there’s so much more you can add to your signature.

Link to a relevant article

If your company has gained publicity recently, why not share it? It’s a good way to generate credibility and more brand awareness.

Add a link to your service packages

If you can compile information about your services on a single page, it will make things easier for everyone. Nowadays, potential B2B buyers prefer to explore their future vendors thoroughly, so the more information you provide, the more chances of getting chosen you have. 

Show credentials

If you were a speaker at a major event, there’s no need to hide it. People are more likely to work with someone who has so much experience that they’re invited to share their insights. 

email list scrubbing

Take good care of your email list

While this has little to do with writing emails, it directly affects where your emails land.

Polishing your B2B email allows you to remove spam triggers and ensure that spam filters can differentiate your messages from spam. However, how and where you send to also matters.

So, review and validate your lists of emails — services like ZeroBounce make it super easy to verify emails in real time and scrub your lists clean from invalid or abusive addresses.

To amplify your deliverability, you should also be aware of how spam filters affect your Sender Score and ensure that your inbox is optimized and fine-tuned properly. 

email marketing

Review, research, rethink

This would be our ultimate advice to anyone who wants to write effective B2B emails.

Nothing stays the same. Your audience generates new standards of B2B content and communication. So, the best thing you can do to remain ahead of the game is to be critical about your templates.

Research the latest trends, monitor your email performance. Also, remember than even your most winning lines are not immune to becoming outdated and losing their power. 

We hope our insight answered some of your questions and gave you a new perspective on how you write B2B email templates.

The more you explore, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the faster you find ways to boost your B2B sales.