What Is B2B Email Marketing?

Melanie Balke
October 31, 2022

Marketing strategies are rarely one-size-fits-all deals.

A toy store won’t use the same email marketing tactics as a home improvement supply store, and the best email marketers know how to tailor content to fit any target audience.

To fit these varied needs, experts defined two broad groups regarding content marketing: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C). While most consumers are more familiar with B2C marketing efforts, B2B marketing is no less important!

That’s why today’s blog post is dedicated to the unique world of B2B email marketing.

An infographic. A photo of small vines features text. The header reads, “Statistics: The Importance of Email Marketing.” The body reads, “Recent surveys indicate that email marketing remains an important tool for businesses. 90% of marketers still cite email strategies as an important success factor.” Information sourced from MarTech.

In addition to the basics, I’ll also cover some of the key differences between B2B and B2C marketing strategies. You’ll also find plenty of tips and tricks to achieve content marketing success, so keep scrolling to learn more!

What Is Business-to-Business (B2B)?

A photo of an office features overlaid text: “The Basics: What Does ‘B2B’ Mean?”

I’ll start with a quick overview of the topic. Marketing aside, what is B2B?

A business-to-business transaction is any sale conducted between two businesses. The direct opposite is a business-to-customer sale, in which a product exchanges hands from a seller to a consumer.

Most B2B transactions involve raw materials, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy sales.

Even raw materials and supplies need marketing!

What’s the Difference Between B2C and B2B Email Marketing?

“B2B vs. B2C: The Different Marketing Styles.” The text overlays a photo of an office.

With the basics out of the way, it’s time to peel back the layers and dig into the meaty stuff!

For starters, what divides B2B marketing strategies from their B2C counterparts? All email marketing strategies are more or less the same, right?


The truth is that email marketing campaigns vary in audience, focus, scope, and tone. The most superficial differences occur in subject lines and content, but the division between B2B and B2C email marketing is much deeper.

A solid B2B strategy will bear little resemblance to an equivalent B2C campaign! In some cases, B2B companies will go so far as to utilize custom-built email marketing software to automate their campaigns.

B2B Email Marketing Campaigns Have a Different Target Audience

A header image. “The Audience: B2B marketing appeals to a smaller and more informed audience,” overlays a photo of an empty office.

Here’s the first major subject line of today’s blog post: B2B email marketing caters to an entirely different demographic. That’s not to say that B2B emails won’t land in the laps of consumers because they will. Rather, I’m saying that a B2B marketing campaign is aimed at a microscopic and knowledgeable audience.

Yes, you’re still targeting decision-makers, but you’ll be doing so with professional business emails. Moreover, you’ll get to know these sales leads on a more personal level than generalized B2C marketing emailers.

Professionals Use Different Platforms

A header image features a photo of leaves with overlaid text, “The Platform: B2B marketing strategies rely on different platforms.”

A different audience also means a different space.

While you can find professionals on general platforms (i.e., Facebook and Twitter), most B2B marketing will happen on professional websites. The most lucrative source of leads will be LinkedIn.

Outside of social media marketing, B2B marketing teams often focus on discovery-based channels. Search engines and educational content are two of B2B marketing’s most effective spaces.

That doesn’t mean that brands should completely ignore social media accounts, though! Social media marketing still has a place in B2B strategies, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus.

An Individual Marketing Strategy Works Better

A header image. A photo of an office features header text, “Individualization: Personal emails are a go-to strategy in B2B marketing.”

Remember what I said about focusing on individual email subscribers?

Individualization is one of B2B marketing’s trickiest tools. As businesses begin forming a marketing strategy, they’ll find plenty of pain points and basic contact information. What they won’t find is raw demographic data.

Business professionals are more wary of tracking than the average consumer. While it may be helpful for marketers to have accurate data about website visitors, most brands dislike divulging internal information about their employees.

This ultimately means that B2B marketing efforts require more work in general. It’s harder to craft relevant content for a guarded audience, but personalized email marketing campaigns remain the go-to practice.

B2B Marketing Efforts Have a Longer Sales Cycle

A header image. A photo of an office features overlaid text: “The Sales Cycle: It takes longer to secure a sale in B2B marketing than B2C marketing.”

Finally, B2B marketers must remember that they’re convincing multiple decision-makers. Where B2C marketing teams rejoice in new subscribers, B2B teams must wait for new customers to celebrate success.

In addition to standard marketing tools, a B2B team will often utilize prolonged nurturing campaigns to encourage conversions. B2B marketing strategies require a mixture of engaging content and valuable information, which (hopefully) lead the desired audience through a coherent customer journey.

In the B2B sphere, effective marketing often demands longer sales funnels and more lead generation. It’s never enough to grab a reader immediately; a B2B email marketing expert must also hold potential customers’ attention afterward.

What Makes B2B Email Marketing Special?

A header image. “The Benefits: Why to Use Email Marketing for B2B,” overlays a photo of a work computer.

So, now that I’ve laid out the differences between B2B and B2C marketing, it’s time to see why B2B email marketing makes sense!

Obviously, B2B email marketing reaps the general benefits of the channel. That’s not a surprising subject line. Whether it’s B2C or B2B email marketing, the campaigns will still be cost-effective ways to help your business grow. B2B marketers still enjoy the benefits of personalized email campaigns and a multitude of content resources.

Email Marketing Campaigns Nurture Your Leads

A photo of fern leaves. The overlaid text reads, “Engage Customers. B2B email marketing has the power to nurture your leads.”

Remember what I said about longer customer journeys?

If you think about it for a moment, it makes sense. You’re not just guiding one decision; you’re leading an entire team’s buyer’s journey. As such, you need a way to engage customers continuously.

Fortunately, email messages remain a reliable way to deliver relevant content to prospective customers.

Email Content Is Easily Accessible

Much of the success of B2B email marketing comes from its accessibility.

A photo of a man speaking to a woman. The overlaid header reads, “Statistics: Younger Buyers Prefer Less Interference.” Below this is smaller body text: “In a 2022 survey of 1,000 professional B2B buyers, 43% voted against having a sales representative involved in the buying process. Millennials were the most vocal proponents of change, with 54% voting for rep-less buying experiences.” Information sourced from a report by the Harvard Business Review.

It doesn’t matter where or how you work; a traveling automotive industry employee has the same access to emails as a work-from-home factory manager. The pandemic has since turned this perk into a necessity, and many B2B buyers now prefer to communicate via email.

Email Automation Improves Content Relevance

A skilled content marketer will know which customers yield the highest returns, and these high-value targets require special attention. At the end of the day, all the email marketing statistics in the world won’t matter if you fail to convert your target audience.

Now, it will take more than some free trials to land a sale.

You’ll need a way to deliver reliable, valuable information to your target customers.

Personalized email marketing campaigns can deliver that individualized experience and well-automated marketing efforts require little maintenance.

Most email marketing programs monitor every aspect of your campaign, including factors like email deliverability, subject lines, and compatibility with mobile devices. This information is essential to the success of your marketing strategy, so don’t ignore it!

B2B Email Marketing Is Easy to Track

Finally, email marketing is a great example of a marketing strategy with defined parameters for success. Assuming a brand creates its own content, the only thing a content marketer must worry about is their audience.

Email content can be tailored for the recipient, and email campaigns can be analyzed to determine their efficacy. Moreover, the data yielded by each campaign can be reused in future marketing efforts.

When paired with solid lead generation software, B2B email marketing is a powerful tool. It’s capable of emphasizing the right pain points with just a few clicks, and well-written B2B email marketing has the power to change the trajectory of a business.

What Does B2B Email Marketing Look Like?

An infographic. A photo of fern leaves features overlaid header text: “Examples: What to Include in a B2B Email.”

There are plenty of real-life examples of B2B email marketing, but showing off samples isn’t the point of today’s blog post!

Today, I’m focusing on the idea of B2B email marketing, so let’s narrow our scope.

When you peel back the layers of email marketing, — the subject line optimization, landing page creation, and buyer personas — you’ll find that most B2B email marketing is little more than educational content.

Some B2B email marketing focuses on pure content. In other words, you’ll see a plain call-to-action with valuable industry knowledge. Other campaigns hone in on the value of connection. Many cold email campaigns fall into this category as they balance education with connecting to the email recipient.

However, there are two specific examples of B2B content marketing that I’d like to highlight: newsletters and whitepapers.

B2B Email Marketing Newsletters

A header image. A photo of ferns feature text: “B2B Newsletters: A Popular low-cost solution for B2B email marketing.”

One of the most ubiquitous forms of a B2B marketing strategy is a regular newsletter. These electronic publications come in many different forms. The actual content can be included in the email body, or marketers can encourage users to download the brand’s content through a special landing page.

While newsletters may not be aimed at attracting customers, they greatly enhance the customer journey. Prospective and paying customers enjoy well-researched newsletters, and the most robust examples help brands establish themselves as trustworthy in their industry. Because of their general nature, B2B email newsletters can be sent to multiple contacts, reducing the amount of time needed to produce unique content marketing.

Boosting Your B2B Email Marketing With Whitepapers

A header image. “Whitepapers: A professional addition to your B2B email marketing,” is overlaid on a photo of ferns.

Now, before I dig too deeply into this topic, I’ll preface this by saying that whitepapers take a lot of time to execute properly. A well-written whitepaper will likely take a week or more to produce, and its primary use will be as an incentive on your brand’s sign-up form.

However, you still have existing customers. If you want to maintain your audience’s attention, you must have meaningful content for them to enjoy.

Whitepapers are one of the many solutions to this need.

A whitepaper is a professional publication about a topic within your business’ industry. Most whitepapers address a common problem, subtly suggesting that your brand is the solution. A good whitepaper will include plenty of original research and industry insights, making it the perfect addition to any marketing email.

B2B Email Marketing and You

A header image. A photo of ferns growing through a crack between rocks features overlaid header text: “Conclusion: B2B Email Marketing and You.”

That’s a lot of information to remember, and it can easily become overwhelming to juggle your duties as a business owner with your marketing strategy.

That’s why I founded The Email Marketers! I’ve assembled a team of email marketing experts to handle any businesses’ needs, and we’re always ready to tackle a new challenge. Regardless of what you sell, we’ll take the weight of email marketing from you.

If you need help with your email marketing campaigns, get in touch with me! We can discuss what your business needs to succeed, and we’ll create a plan for marketing success. You’ll also find plenty of information about email marketing on my blog. Check in regularly because I’m always updating my page with more tips and tricks!