8 Components of a High-Converting B2B Marketing Email

By Michael Bibla

People get bombarded with emails to their work accounts daily, and many of those correspondences are business-to-business (B2B) marketing emails attempting to advertise a product or service.

The key to getting those messages read instead of passed over is to understand and apply the components of a high-converting B2B marketing email.

Here are 8 of them:

1. A brief subject line

Subject lines with exactly 5 words generate a 15.9% increase in open rates over longer ones. Here are a few examples:

  • “Fly South for the Summer.”
  • “Swipe right on these deals.”
  • “Love your career? Stay certified.”

Readers don’t want to waste time, and a concise subject line lets them assess whether or not to open the message.

ThirdLove does an amazing job with short subject lines and compelling preheader text:


    • Keeping the subject line short shows an understanding of the recipient’s valuable time.
    • A brief subject line facilitates browsing through one’s inbox and clicking on the messages that seem most relevant because brevity allows scanning.
  • Add personalization if possible. A study published in 2017 showed personalized subject lines had 50 percent higher open rates than those without customized parts.

2. Short paragraphs and bullet points

Many people read B2B emails on their phones, and in that format, gigantic blocks of text are particularly overwhelming. Writing well for readers who come across content online means sticking to short paragraphs and inserting bullet points if appropriate.

A multiyear study from Litmus found an upward trend in the time people spend reading emails. However, in 2016, the average time spent was still just over 11 seconds. So, if a reader opens a B2B email and immediately sees it’ll take several minutes to read, that’s a quick turnoff.

Bullet points are also useful, especially for calling attention to specific things.

  • Short paragraphs hold a person’s attention without annoying them.
  • Bullet points help ensure individuals don’t overlook content that announces percentages off, dates, times or other need-to-know material.
  • Keeping paragraphs short promotes readability, especially when people don’t have time to consume all the content immediately but want to skim for the most pertinent details.

3. Trust-building language and actions

If B2B customers don’t trust the company that sends them a marketing email, they won’t be likely to put effort toward initiating or continuing a business relationship. A study of content marketers showed that 96 percent of B2B customers thought of the company providing the marketing material as a trusted resource.

Trust is something marketers have to earn. They can do that by using language in marketing messages that purposefully builds trust. Some actions increase trustworthiness, too.

  • Sending emails that are consistent in tone and length builds trust by setting expectations.
  • Trust gets built when marketers don’t ask recipients for things without proving why it’s worthwhile to do so. For example, a marketer should not ask for a person’s time via a webinar invitation without giving a breakdown of what the presentation will include.
  • Distributing welcome emails can also build trust, especially for clarifying benefits to the reader.

The image below, from MarketingSherpa, includes bullet points:

4. Messaging that aligns with the recipient’s position in the purchase funnel

People won’t respond to emails that don’t match their intentions and purchasing stages. For example, if a recipient only signed up on a mailing list yesterday, it’s not appropriate to send them promotions about the most expensive products or services a company offers. The person is still learning about the company and deciding whether to deepen the relationship or look elsewhere.

  • A tone that shows an understanding of a new subscriber’s pain points and uncertainty could work well for building an email recipient’s confidence in the company.
  • Messaging alignment is crucial because readers don’t want to feel like companies immediately urge them to buy things as soon as they provide their email addresses.
  • Crafting messages that relate to the position in the purchase funnel also show that a marketer is segmenting emails and not flooding all recipients with the same content.

5. A carefully chosen template

B2B marketers commonly use templates that feature all or most of the components of a high-converting B2B marketing email and allow senders to personalize particular aspects of the messaging. In a HubSpot case study, a cold email template resulted in 16 new B2B customers and a 57 percent open rate, yet it only contained three sentences.

  • Using a template ensures uniformity in the messaging.
  • Templates reduce the likelihood of errors that could erode a business’s’ credibility.
  • Including time-based specifics, such as the length of a sales call in the example above, is another way a company can set expectations for its B2B customers.

6. Links to targeted landing pages

Some people wonder how effective B2B email marketing is, especially when people in the modern marketplace have so many channels through which to get information. A study of B2B marketers found that 41 percent of them described their return on investment for email marketing as either “excellent” or “good.”

Of course, that’s an especially likely outcome when people know and use many of the components of a high-converting B2B marketing email. When inserting links into emails, it’s ideal if they go to specialized landing pages instead of a company’s homepage.

  • Making a targeted landing page prevents an email recipient from getting lost within online content and potentially never taking actions that lead to conversions.
  • Targeted landing pages can have elements of personalization, such as if they only address newsletter readers, for example. Saying something like “Thanks for reading our [name] newsletter” helps a person feel appreciated and singled out positively.
  • Customized landing pages can — and should — have branded elements, such as fonts and color schemes, that help solidify the company in the user’s mind.

7. Social proof or testimonials

People who receive B2B emails can’t necessarily escape the thought that the sender is trying to sell them something or otherwise get them to respond desirably, so they think about bias. However, including a customer testimonial or a social media shoutout is an effective way to show recipients a B2B brand has a satisfied audience.

Grammarly inserts social proof into its emails by including a tweet from a customer:

The tweet is humorous and lighthearted, but it shows how a customer decided to sign up for Grammarly’s premium service and loved it despite not having a long-term relationship with the company.

  • Social proof helps readers feel they are not alone in the issues they face and emphasizes that help is available.
  • Testimonials work exceptionally well when they aren’t too sales-driven in tone. Readers want to relate to the person giving the feedback and not feel the individual is a mere extension of the professional marketer.
  • If B2B companies earn social proof from a person who is well-known in a respective sector, that nod of approval could encourage people who are still unsure whether to give a B2B company a try.

8. A well-placed and visible call to action

Besides the components of a high-converting B2B marketing email already mentioned, it’s essential to write material that the audience wants to read because they perceive the inherent value. For example, if addressing people who are looking for B2B email marketing software, it works well to discuss how those additions to the workflow could help them succeed.

Those emails should all have at least one call to action (CTA). More may be appropriate, depending on the overall length of the message. If seeing the whole message requires scrolling, place one CTA above the fold.

Unbounce does an excellent job with their CTAs:

unbounce cta example

  • Calls to action urge people to make positive moves based on what they learn in an email.
  • When CTAs are button-style and contrast with the background color, they’re easy to see, and the chances go down that people could overlook them.
  • Statistics stay people see more than 5,000 ads per day, which means many try to ignore them without thinking about it. Tweaking the CTA so it directly relates to what’s in an email is a smart move that should discourage people from tuning out. For example, if the email is for an upcoming conference, the CTA might be “Purchase your ticket today” or “Reserve your spot to learn from thought leaders.”

Improved emails lead to more conversions

Although these aren’t the only components of a high-converting B2B email, this list will help marketers make progress as they edit their emails and set their sights on higher success rates.

As the items here prove, certain characteristics can make substantial differences when present in the content.

There is more where this came from…

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