Based on our research, we’ve found that more than 50% of the buyer’s journey happens online and that buyers consume 16 sales assets on average before making a purchase decision. Email series are a great way to serve your content, but poorly crafted emails can lead to a rapid loss of trust and engagement.
What kind of information should you include in a B2B email series? When asked, technical customers felt in-depth technical information was the most helpful content.
"Think of your favorite work-related enewsletter. What elements of that
enewsletter make it a winner?"
An email series is a great way to nurture and build trust with your prospects. But how many emails do you delete a day without even opening them? 5? 10? 20? Cutting through inbox clutter is difficult. To nurture and engage your prospects until they’re ready to buy, you’ll need emails that stand out and offer compelling information. This post outlines six steps to creating a successful email marketing series — from setting a goal to defining what, how , and when to write.
1) Define a goal
As with any marketing, let’s start with a goal. The following are all reasonable goals for email campaigns:
- Generate higher-quality leads
- Establish thought leadership so you’re top of mind when your prospects are ready to purchase
- Convert or upsell prospects
- Nurture existing customers to build loyalty
2) Segment your database for this specific email series
If you’re sending a broad quarterly or monthly enewsletter, you can send it to your whole database, but a technical email series should be targeted to the goal you’re looking to achieve.
- If your goal is better quality leads with an email campaign: target general leads to convert them to MQLs
- If your goal is thought leadership with an email campaign: target MQLs in your database who fall into the industry where you’re building thought leadership.
- If your goal is to convert or upsell orders with an email campaign: target SQLs interested in a specific product line
- If your goal is to nurture customers with an email campaign: target existing customers (this will be most effective if you focus on customers of a specific product/service)
With tools like HubSpot, you can build targeted lists with and/or logic rules.
3) Structure your emails
Now it’s time to actually plan your emails. We recommend 3-5 emails per series. One option is to announce or launch new content and send it on specific dates, spread 3-5 business days apart (ideally avoiding Fridays when everyone is heading out for the weekend), like the first example below. You can also create a drip campaign, where you engage with an audience after they complete a certain action, like the second example.
Let’s look at a goal of building thought leadership by targeting MQLs in your database who fall into the industry where you’re building thought leadership.
For this audience, you want to resonate with challenges, discuss upcoming trends, and share success stories from this industry. With these emails, you’re sharing with your target audience that your company has deep expertise in this industry.
Trigger event: prospect is a member of the Aerospace list
- Topic: Proving your expertise with specific industry
- Content/CTA: Industry pillar page
- Topic: Address customer pain: Confusion around what technologies to invest in
- Content/CTA: White paper addressing key industry trends
- Topic: Show outcomes and benefits; 3 reasons to trust us
- Content/CTA: 3 related blog posts on the industry
- Topic: How others are solving problems in [industry]
- CTA: common challenges, highlight customer quote, include CTA to case study
- Topic: Our solutions: 2 ways we can help
- Content/CTA: Product/service page and brochure
Now, let’s take the third case from sections 1 and 2 above and create a drip campaign where you target SQLs interested in a specific product line in order to convert prospects or upsell. In this email series, the trigger is when a prospect downloads a spec sheet. At this point, they’re likely researching solutions and comparing specifications, so they’re well on their way through the buyer’s journey.
Trigger event: prospect downloads product specifications
- Topic: Thanks for your interest in [product], try it out
- Content/CTA: Video on how to access the demo, like to demo page
- Topic A (if completed the demo): How was your demo?
- Content/CTA: Contact our customer support team with any questions. Download a guide on how to integrate [product]
- Topic B (if did not complete demo): Additional information on [product]
- Content/CTA: Related white paper about using [product]
- Topic: Getting more from [product] with integrations/additional products, etc
- Content/CTA: additional product pages
- Topic: Feature/benefit proof points and use cases
- Content/CTA: Case study
- Topic: How can we help you further?
- Content/CTA: Set up a meeting
Note that this email series has two options for email 2, depending on the prospect’s actions. Using an automated email platform with smart rules, like Hubspot, gives you this type of flexibility.
4) Relate to your prospect
You now have a goal, know who you’re targeting, and have a plan for topics and CTAs for each email. It’s time to write.
Since this is a personal, targeted email, use a name token so the email begins with a personal greeting (don’t overthink this, “Hi Robert,” works just fine).
Relate to customer pains by using key terms your prospects use in the sales process. Remember that you’re nurturing this prospect. You have multiple emails to communicate your message, so don’t try and cover everything at once.
Example Intro: “Today’s MES platforms can to solve advanced plant floor automation challenges, increasing efficiency and reducing costs for a wide range of applications like [key applications of these prospects].
If you have datapoints, those are a great way to start an email and draw in a technical audience.
Example Intro: “We’ve found that buyers consume 16 sales assets on average before making a purchase decision – do you have enough content for your business to be successful?”
In addition, make your email from a person so that your prospect feels like you’re accessible and available to help.
5) Write clearly
Remember that you’re writing for technical audiences. Be brief and straightforward. Even though you’re talking about technical issues, you don’t need to belabor your text with long sentences. Use short sentences where you can, separate short paragraphs with line breaks and use bullets where you can.
Be direct about why your prospect is hearing from you and lead with the most important information.
Be compelling – instill a sense of urgency without resorting to fear, uncertainty, doubt, or hyperbole
And, offer a solution. Explain how you can solve their problem – don’t make them guess! Be generous with this solutions and CTA. Most of your CTAs should move them further along in their buyer’s journey rather than just require a prospect to jump all the way to requesting a meeting or contacting you.
6) Lead with a strong subject linE
A good subject line is the beginning of engagement with your prospects. If your subject line isn’t compelling, your email will go straight to the trash.
Successful subject lines are focused. The subject may be all that gets read, so make sure they know why they are hearing from you. And, you’ll want to keep it as physically short as possible, while still remaining focused. Ideally, stick to 45-60 characters. This will make your subject more readable and it will also appear better on mobile.
Strong subject lines also carry the tone of the company. If your company makes aerospace test components have life-or-death applications, don’t be snarky in your subject line – it won’t match your corporate brand and makes your marketing feel disjointed. You don’t need to be robotic, but don’t steer too far from your given tone. (Check out step 10 here to define your tone.)
Your subject line should also be credible. Fight the urge to use your subject line to over promise or simplify a problem - this will not be taken seriously.
Connect with your technical prospects using an email series
Prospects are looking for technical content to stay informed and make their purchase decisions. An email series is a great way to engage with prospects and remain top of mind by offering useful information that will help them in their job.
The proposed email series in this post reference including multiple pieces of content as CTAs and sending emails via an automated platform. Find more information about content development and marketing automation.
Looking for advice on creating great content to link to in your emails? Click the button below to explore our Content Marketing ebook.