What should a B2B marketing email look like?

Email marketing can be a source of contention for many businesses. On the one hand it’s perceived as an important tool; lots of discussion goes into what the emails should say and look like. On the other hand there’s an overriding desire that potential customers will see an email and just buy from you – resulting in a feeling of frustration when they don’t!

So how can businesses achieve email marketing success? Whether you’ve done lots of email campaigns before, or are about to undertake your first, there tends to be set ideas of what a marketing email should look like:

  • Include some pictures that show what you do
  • Have the company logo at the top of the email
  • Start the email by introducing your company
  • Talk about projects undertaken and the years of experience you have
  • Include all the details of company developments and news

That’s just the way it’s done, isn’t it?


The above could actually be doing your company more harm than good, especially in a B2B marketing scenario. Email marketing is a disruptive medium – you’re interrupting people and asking for their time. So you need to make sure that what you’re offering provides some value to them. Including lots of images and focusing on your business is likely to alienate your potential customers from the outset, dramatically decreasing your chance of winning the business.

B2B or B2C – crucially different

Of course pictures in emails, tempting offers and flashy graphics have a place, namely in emails to consumers that signed up to receive communications. Think of emails you might receive from retailers for instance. M&S send out emails with pictures of beautifully shot, tempting looking food – they have just seconds to grab your attention and persuade you to purchase. In a B2C scenario decisions are largely based on wants (rather than needs) and are driven by price, so it’s imperative for the retailer that the outcome of that decision leads to a purchase.

In B2B it’s a different ball game. Businesses tend not to buy products or services for reasons of pleasure, leisure, or mere want, but out of necessity. So filling your emails with a picture of your accountancy office isn’t likely to convince anyone that you can save them a lot of money on their next corporation tax bill. It’s about building trust and letting your knowledge and expertise do the talking for you.

How do I do that?

That’s where good messaging comes in. A carefully pitched, well worded email that touches on the recipients’ ‘pain’ is much more likely to engage a potential customer than telling them how many years you’ve been in business. The messaging must also relate to the business vertical you are targeting. As with any marketing, segmentation is key. Speak to people in a language they understand and are familiar with and you’re more likely to win their trust.

It’s also about being humble and allowing your reputation to do the work. Stating that your business is fantastic only reveals your opinions. If your customers are allowed to find out how good you are for themselves, through customer testament, interesting material on your website such as blogs, informative videos, fact sheets etc, they are more likely to believe that your business is great.

We’ve put together the below points on what should – and shouldn’t – be in an effective B2B email marketing campaign:

  • Don’t include pictures – pictures in emails let the recipient know they are about to receive a sales pitch in email form. They instantly switch off because, just like with a pushy salesman, nobody likes the feeling of being sold to.
  • Focus on your recipient – focus on their pain and how you may be able to alleviate that. How long you’ve been in business or how much you turned over last year is about you – if it doesn’t make a material difference to your potential customers’ lives, kick it out. Our blog ‘It’s not about you, it’s about your customers’ has more on this.
  • Give information – by sharing useful knowledge or information, you’re providing something of value. This can make the recipient’s life easier, and build the all important trust factor. Expertise sells itself.
  • Keep it brief – emails should be short and to the point. Your potential customers don’t have the time or attention span to wade through material. Sounds harsh, but it’s true – your email is interrupting their day. So respect that and don’t ask for lots of their time.
  • Grab their attention – Yes, you’ll be fighting for your prospect’s time and attention, so make the subject line and first line of the copy short and snappy. It’s your one chance to make an impression.

Above all make sure that your messages are appropriate to the audience you are sending them to. If in doubt, apply the ‘so what?’ test to your email. If it’s not interesting, helpful or pertinent it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

It’s no secret that good copy is difficult to write – if you’re not totally confident, or sure of what you should be portraying to your potential customers it’s often better to take a step back. Essentiamail are experts at creating marketing emails that start conversations – giving you the chance to convert the business. Why not call us for a chat about how this could work for you, we’d welcome the opportunity of a conversation.