B2B Email Marketing: Best Practices & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Business-to-business (B2B) email marketing must present your message in a way that resonates with potential customers by saving them time, money and resources. In this lesson, you'll learn more about B2B best practices for email.

Building Relationships with B2B Email

Tom owns a small business that provides office supplies and equipment to medium- and large-sized businesses in his area. He has sales representatives who call on area businesses, he also has multiple social media accounts and a retail store where business representatives can visit during regular business hours.

Business-to-business email marketing can be a powerful tool for distributing your message.
Business to business email marketing can be a powerful tool for distributing your message.

But, Tom is not satisfied. He's looking for another way to reach current and potential customers. He's thinking about something inexpensive and simple that will grab attention in a direct and personal way.

A good solution for Tom might be email marketing, with a business-to-business (B2B) focus. It can provide another channel of communication directly to his audience for relatively little cost and high reward.

What is B2B Email?

We're all familiar with emailing. Most of us do it daily with family and friends, or we're signed up to receive email messages from our favorite companies and brands. But, did you know there's another method of email marketing that goes from one business to another? It's called business-to-business or, abbreviated, B2B, and according to Tech Target is the 'exchange of products, services or information between businesses, rather than between businesses and consumers.' Because you are targeting a different audience, there may be different best practices to keep in mind when crafting and sending your messages. Let's take a look at a few ways to make your B2B email marketing pop.

Best Practices for B2B

Focus on relationships. While a regular email marketing message might focus directly on making a sale, a B2B email should focus on filling a business customer's wants or needs or educating them about solutions to their problems. For example, you might craft an email that offers your recipients some how-to tips followed by a call-to-action button that encourages them to click for more information. This might be a different tactic than emailing consumers with a direct sales plea for them to 'buy now!' You could also consider sending compiled content about your industry or white papers that will advance their knowledge.

Worry less about design. That sounds strange, right? Because design is typically crucial in the creation of emails to consumers including eye-catching colors and graphics. B2B emails should be more focused on useful, relevant content with a lesser focus on design. Go for a clean, simple, professional-looking design that has clear, concise information. All of the bells and whistles of emails directed toward consumers are not necessary. For example, you may choose an elegant and simple black and white design with one simple image and the important text of your message rather than an email heavy with graphics or photos, bright colors and bold fonts.

Strong subject lines are still important. Without a compelling subject line, even the best email message may go unread. A good B2B subject line should be concise, creative, personalized (if possible) and explain a clear benefit to the recipient. For example, you might create a subject line that reads: 'Tammy, Tips Inside to Solve Your Printing Problems!' This is personalized, concise and shows a benefit (helping solve a printer problem) to the recipient.

Provide content that makes sense. If you've just earned a new subscriber and have little information about them, you could provide a newsletter that provides a few short articles on a couple business topics. As you get to know your recipients, target the content with purpose and hone in on specific topics that can be useful to your business clients at whatever stage of the buying process they're in.

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