Businesses that primarily market to other businesses can have a tough time perfecting their email marketing strategies.

Education is often a huge part of getting new clients, but you can’t just cram all of your product information into one email … unless you think your readers enjoy scrolling through a ten-page email. Tip: they don’t. So how can a B2B make the most of their email marketing to generate new leads?

It actually starts when you combine email marketing with a blogging strategy. To find out how it all works I recently talked with Marie Wiese, the founder of Marketing CoPilot, a consulting firm located in Markham, Ontario.

Here’s an edited transcript of our discussion:

Tell me a little bit about the company.

Marketing CoPilot provides optimized content marketing for small businesses to help them drive lead generation and connect with existing customers. Our target customers generate from $2 million to $25 million in revenue and have about 10 to 15 employees.

Unlike agencies that do point solutions and say, “I’ll do email or I’ll do SEO,” we think everything needs to be integrated from the very top of the food chain. We’ve been a business partner with Constant Contact for five years and have over 30 clients that use email marketingas part of their integrated strategies.

So what would you say is the most important thing B2Bs should keep in mind when developing an email marketing strategy?

Move away from ‘email blasting.’ When we work with clients, it’s important to help them understand good, clean, opt-in lists.

Email blasting does not help you build relationships or engage customers. You need valuable things to say that help earn your audience’s trust, so you can build up a community.

The community aspect is key, because most B2Bs are selling complex, expensive solutions. We need to use email to have a conversation about topics that customers care about. If they’re part of a community they trust because valuable content is being shared, then they’ll listen.

What else can B2Bs use to create that audience?

A blog. We’re a WordPress development shop, so we add Constant Contact to that platform. From the very start, we find the value proposition of a client and anchor it into all of our marketing activities.

How can B2Bs create an effective blog?

What we do is focus on value proposition, because that helps us create an editorial calendar and optimize everything for search. When we outline a blogging strategy, we come up with topics that address a client’s customers’ obstacles.

For example, after we build the online WordPress platform, we’ll ask businesses owners, “What are the top 10 questions that you get asked during the sales process?” and then turn those into blog posts.

We had one client that sells electronic point of sale equipment, explain in their blog series why these solutions are better than just cash registers.

Previously, they wanted to do a lot of product promotions through their blog, but we weren’t getting good engagement, because no one cared about the feature of the product.

So, we tested a blog topic title, “How much should I spend on a point of sale system?” that explained, ‘Here’s what you get for five stores, etc.’”

We went from an average of 25 to 30 click-throughs to 257. What that shows is that a lot of B2Bs will have to go a lot higher in the buying process than they think, because people need to know how they can invest in the product or service. It was just about flipping the conversation.

Whether you’re writing an email subject line, a heading, or a blog title, you need to ask, “Why would a customer open this? Why would a customer read this?”

How do you promote a client’s blog?

We’ll push it out through Constant Contact by featuring an article in the email, but we’ll also look at trending topics in Google News and write about that material. That helps organic search immensely, and the blog becomes a resource and a traffic driver.

The singular goal is to get people to click through to the client’s website.

So B2Bs should send email newsletters that feature their blog articles?

We don’t actually do newsletters, because it’s too much content. If a newsletter doesn’t work, then you don’t know what to fix, because there are too many articles to pinpoint where the interest is – we believe less is more.

People want to put everything they can think of into their newsletters, but if you overwhelm people, they’ll delete it. So we send one blog post at a time, with no more than three links at the bottom of the email to other blog posts. We find it helps people focus on one topic and if the teaser in the email isn’t enough to get them to click through to the website, there are three other headlines that might interest them.

Should B2Bs include a special offer in their email, too?

In the B2B world, it’s easy to forget about the offer. It doesn’t have to be a free demo or trial, either, because that’s a big commitment.

In our world, an offer is three other blog posts to help businesses, maybe a link we put at the bottom of an email. We’ll summarize a blog topic and get tons of people clicking on those links.

Your offer could also be a white paper or just a call to action about a certain link, something that gets people to share it. A lot of people in B2B forget that you need to take a series of baby steps to get someone to move up the buying chain.

How can a B2B start off with those steps?

When we first work with a client, we have a best practice guide to help them build an email list.

To get those emails, look into your existing customer relationship management database for customers, trialers, and prospects. Email those names and ask if you can add them to your email list.

It’s slow to build a good list. We always tell clients to go for quality, not quantity. You don’t want to send to 20,000 people and just get marked as spam. You have to make sure all of your recipients are truly opt-in people.

And do you encourage segmenting those lists, after they’re built?

Absolutely. You need to know who your customers are and segment them appropriately.

For example, if someone has bought from you, build a specific list for them. If they’ve signed up for a trial, make another list for that, so you can nurture it over time.

Over time, you’ll be able to build buyer personas into your list segmentation, because you’ll know that the vice president of operations will want different stuff than the vice president of finance.

That syncs up to our blog and email strategy in general, too. We’ll write a series of post for one of those personas, then another series for a different persona.

How does your business use a blog to help with lead generation? Let us know below!