Email Engagement Tips for B2B

As a B2B email marketer, are you feeling a little left out in the cold when it comes to tips and tricks for effective email? Many email optimization posts don’t address the nuances of marketing to a B2B audience. While some practices directly carry over, there are real differences in how to engage your audience.

In this post, I’ll cover several recommendations and suggestions specific to the B2B crowd.

Acquiring Your Audience
Let’s be honest for a second. How many times have you read a blog post and quickly skimmed past the section where it strongly suggests that you avoid list rental or purchase? While it is ideal to build your own list, for some B2B marketers, this isn’t a realistic option. For a whole slew of ways to build your own list, check out our recent eBook, 50+ Ways to Grow Your Email List. If that isn’t quite doing the trick for you, here are some more things to consider:

  • Keep it Clean and Mean—If you rent or purchase a list, make sure your selection criteria is narrow and you target a relevant audience.  Ask your vendor if they have case studies and testimonials from other clients in your vertical or B2B space. Also, be sure the company you use has diligent list hygiene practices so your list is free of unknown users and bounces. You may also want to ask whether they factor in subscriber activity or if this is something they can do for your brand.
  • Protect Your Direct Subscribers and Current Customers—Rented and purchased lists are intrinsically risky, regardless of how careful you are with your selection and list hygiene practices. If you use dedicated IP addresses, consider shifting rented/purchased list segments to their own sending IP address. While we rarely recommend this tactic for B2C clients, you may want to use a shared IP address for your lead gen efforts to those rented or purchased lists. Once subscribers favorably engage with messages, you can shift them to dedicated or higher performing shared IP addresses.
  • Keep an Eye on Placement Metrics—It’s important to keep track of your inbox placement rates and the factors that impact placement once you release your rented or purchased lists in the wild. Items to keep tabs on include the percentage of messages that land in the inbox versus the spam folder, complaint rates, negative SRD feedback, spam traps and unknown users. This can help you identify problematic segments and even problematic list rental/purchase vendors.

Establishing Your Brand
Lay the groundwork early on with subscribers new to your list, whether they opted in or come in via purchased or rented lists. This can help drive engagement and reduce negative behavior like complaints.

  • Who, What, and Why—If you rent or purchase a list, your email comes out of the blue. It’s imperative to quickly and effectively communicate who you are and what you do. Make sure you also speak to the benefits of working with your brand in a succinct and easily digestible way. This information should come across with a quick skim. Test your content by giving someone outside of your team five to seven seconds to skim your message and ask what they picked up. If they didn’t notice or digest the key information, rework your messaging.
  • The Value of Your Brand—Many B2B marketers rely heavily on the personal email approach. This can make outreach efforts seem more customized but the letter format often limits the use of the brand name and logo. Even if you use a letter format, I recommend including a brand logo. Creating brand recognition is incredibly valuable and can help impact immediate or future engagement and sales. This can give your message extra pull for recipients who already recognize your brand or can spark future interest if they spot your logo at a tradeshow or event.

Effectively Communicating and Motivating Recipients

  • Check Your Tone—B2B marketers are in an interesting spot when it comes to tone. On one hand, you may be challenging incumbents or calling into question their current practices. On the other, you have to be careful about insulting your audience or the careful decisions they have made. I recommend a tone that acknowledges their workload, choices, and provides information and data that supports the need for change. This can help ensure your messaging doesn’t annoy them before they have time to process the benefits of working with you.
  • Let Others Sing Your Praises—Testimonials can be very beneficial to B2B marketers. Oftentimes, the sale, implementation, and roll-out process can be cumbersome. Sometimes, customers stick with the status quo because the pain of staying is perceived to be less than the pain of switching. By featuring testimonials and case studies, you can show your recipients the transition is worth investigating and pursuing.
  • Let the Numbers Talk—As mentioned above, recipients can be more receptive to change if they can see how it would benefit them rather than being told. Within some of your lead gen emails, let the data speak for itself and allow your subscribers to build the case on their own.
  • Keep it Interesting—Help your emails stand out in the inbox by making them interesting. Use what you know about your audience to craft content that resonates with them. I love SunGard’s campaign below. It makes a case for their offering while playing around with a popular genre.

zombie_campaign (1)

Close the Loop
The start of the relationship is key, but so is the end. Dissatisfied recipients can be your worst enemy when it comes to deliverability and inbox placement. Do your brand a favor and think through the end of the subscriber lifecycle.

  • Provide an Easy Exit—I know this may be difficult to hear, but it’s really important to make it very, very easy for subscribers to get off your list. Your unsubscribe link should be easy to find and even easier to act upon. If subscribers want off your list, they’ll find a way to do it, which can result in a high number of complaints if they have a hard time finding the unsubscribe link.

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