Writing Better B2B Manufacturer Emails: Six Actionable Email Marketing Tips

How to Create Great Prospecting and Follow up Emails

Adam Beck: Welcome to How to Create Great Prospecting and Follow-up Emails, six email marketing tips for manufacturers and B2B companies.

Our agenda is to have a quick introduction and talk about the problem of sending bad emails.

Then we’ll show some prospecting manufacturer emails, some bad ones, some good ones, the same thing with follow-up manufacturer emails. Then we’ll quick summary and open it up to Q and A. 

Introducing Adam Beck and Joe Sullivan

Speakers: Adam Beck and Joe Sullivan

Adam Beck: My name is Adam Beck. I’m the director of marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions. For those of you who don’t know us, we help manufacturers provide shareable content like engineering data, CAD, and BIM files, configurable PDF datasheets, and 3D previews.

Joe Sullivan: Awesome. And I’m Joe Sullivan. I’m a co-founder of the industrial marketing agency, Gorilla 76. 

We’re a 20 person company based in St. Louis been around for about 15 years. And what we do is work with mid-sized B2B manufacturers to help them build modern marketing programs that are focused on business outcomes, marketing source pipeline rather than the traffic and leads and rankings, and all the things that are important leading indicators. But we help companies build programs that are producing meaningful results. 

And then I also host a podcast called The Manufacturing Executive, which some of you on here, I know at least are familiar with, but yeah, I’m excited to do this, Adam.

Email Inboxes are Crowded

Adam Beck: Let’s talk about the problem a little bit. Inboxes are crowded. People say people aren’t opening manufacturer emails because we get too many emails and it’s a snowballing problem, but prospecting emails are being ignored. Follow-up emails are falling flat and sales emails are not guiding the audience. We see them every day in our inbox. 

There is a better way, but spoiler, it’s about the effort at the end of the day. The inspiration for this came from an internal training session on a similar topic: how to write better emails. And I serendipitously got Joe’s email. And I was like, ” yes, we’re on the same page. Let’s team up on this and go.” 

Let’s get to it, Joe, your first email.

Analyzing Prospecting Email 1

Prospecting manufacturer Email Overview

Joe Sullivan: Yeah. Here’s an email that you probably all got in your inbox today. It’s something that looks like this, right?

Bad manufacturer email example

Joe Sullivan: It’s your typical bad prospecting manufacturer email that we’re all used to seeing, I’m just going to read this. This is a screenshot out of a blog post I wrote, I think a year ago or so. That kind of prompted some of this stuff. 

It has a typical subject line: Sullivan Automation Inc, provides the absolute best in manufacturing facility automation! 

And then the body copy goes on to read: 

Bill, 

I’m Joe from Sullivan Automation, where we specialize in a wide range of custom manufacturing, automation services, including:

  • Controls and Automation Designs 
  • Robotic systems 
  • Automation Engineering 
  • Fabrication
  • System testing 

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” 

At Sullivan Automation Inc, We strive to achieve customer satisfaction by serving as an extension of our customer’s businesses and providing unprecedented customer service like none other in the industry. We hope we can serve you. 

Please call us to request a quote. 

Joe

This might be a little dramatic but or extreme, but frankly, this is the typical prospecting email you get. And so we’re going to talk about it in a second.

Adam Beck: It’s not that bad compared to some I’ve gotten.

Joe Sullivan: I have seen worse. At least in this one, the grammar is right, and there are not random apps and stuff highlighted in green and yellow and red. We’re going to see one of those shortly, I think too. 

But this is typical, right? And so let’s talk about what’s wrong with it. 

Prospecting email 1 subject

Joe Sullivan: So we’ve pointed out five things here. So up in the top you’ve got a loud subject line. It’s all about the sender instead of about the recipient, right? 

So then automation Inc provides the absolute best in manufacturing facility automation. Why does that matter to the recipient? Nobody cares about you. Okay. 

Number two over in the left here, there’s no connection to a likely pain goal or common question. As I just said, your prospects care about themselves, not you, at least right now.

So it’s just missing the boat there. And I like to say about email subject lines, if you can’t get somebody to open your email, they’re never going to see what’s on the inside anyway. So that first one I think is really key.

Adam Beck: That’s a long subject. So you got to make sure they’re in the widescreen mode to see the first half of that to get to the absolute best part. Otherwise, they’re not even going to see what may pertain to them.

Joe Sullivan: Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right.

Adam Beck: Yeah.

Joe Sullivan: I came up through advertising. I went to school for visual communications and my first job was in advertising and more of a traditional sense. And there were times where we write billboard ads that you see on the highway. The rule of thumb was always like seven or eight words. I think it’s similar for a manufacturer email subject line. Like you have a, just a split second to get their attention and they’re not going to see what’s on the inside. They’re not going to be compelled to open it if it’s just something all about you. So that’s the point there.

Stay away from a long list of features

Joe Sullivan: Long lists of capabilities that just say I’m another generalist isn’t a good use of email real estate. So one of the biggest problems I see when we’re consulting manufacturers is that everybody serves a variety of verticals and does a variety of things and has big customers and small customers and a range of products and services. Especially in a prospecting email setting, think about who your recipient is. And rather than listening to a long list of things you could be doing for them. And wh- who is that person? What did they care about and what are you really good at doing? What problems do you really help solving, solve for them? So I think the long lists of, this is all the stuff we do, hoping that something strikes a chord is not the right way to go there.

A bad marketing email with notes in orange

Joe Sullivan: The second to last paragraph is generic lip service that creates no value for the prospect. We strive to achieve customer satisfaction by serving as an extension of our customer’s businesses’ unprecedented customer service. 

This stuff may be true about you. It’s probably true for a lot of your companies, but it doesn’t mean anything to anybody until they’ve experienced it. And as a result, it’s just not a differentiator when you talk about it. This could be copied and pasted, frankly, from anybody. So you just got to think about that. What actually differentiates you, that you could hit on first when you’re trying to compel someone to have a conversation.

Most cold email recipients aren’t at bottom of the funnel

Joe Sullivan: And finally, the email assumes that the recipient has a need right now. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see in sales is everybody’s being treated like they are bottom of the funnel is that they’re ready to buy something. A lot of companies I serve are dealing with comp businesses that have long sales cycles, committees of buyers cap X equipment.

These are not decisions you make on the fly. You don’t just go to a sales call from it. What we’ll talk about later today, and then this email of ways to get to not be so sales heavy on it, but to try to establish a relationship, build some credibility, build some trust before you, you go straight to the, “Hey let’s talk about buying the thing we sell.” 

Adam Beck: Like you’re saying about number four there, that’s just not quantifiable. You can’t say that you’re honest, you have to prove that you’re honest or whatever that is at the end of the day. That sentence is saying absolutely nothing.

Analyzing prospecting manufacturer email 2

Joe Sullivan: I’m not the world’s foremost expert in prospecting emails. I run an industrial marketing agency, but this is the kind of stuff that we do with success. So I’m going to read it first and then we’ll talk about why I made the decision to write the things I wrote in here.

A better manufacturing email

Joe Sullivan: So manufacturer email, the subject line is: 5 ways to reduce downtime (and the Milwaukee Bucks)

Body:

Bill,

Noticed you’re a Milwaukee native. I grew up close by in Wauwatosa. Fingers crossed that Giannis and the bucks can bring this thing home now that the NBA is officially starting back up!

The number one question Plan Managers at automotive manufacturing facilities ask me is this:

“What things can I be proactively doing to prevent equipment failure on the plant floor?”

I wanted to pass along an article our crew at Sullivan Automation just published titles, “5 Ways To Reduce Downtime in Your Manufacturing Facility.”

Would it be valuable to have a quick chat about how I see other Plant Managers in the automotive space putting some of these things into practice?

-Joe

Improved manufacturer email subject line

Joe Sullivan: Again, this is just hypothetical. I’m writing this as if I were a part of a manufacturing organization.

A breakdown of a good manufacturer email with notes in orange

Joe Sullivan: So breaking this one down a little bit. Number one, top right. The concise subject line focuses on the things this person likely cares about. Here’s the thing, if you know your audience well, and you’re tightly focused on a specific buying process influencer from inside the type of company that you’re really good at serving already, what kind of things matter to them? 

Or if you don’t, then we’ve got to go back and do some customer research and interviews and voice of customer work and collect that stuff. But if you know the things that these people care about because you hear it directly from their mouth regularly because you’ve gathered these things through customer interviews, then you put that stuff at the forefront and that needs to be in your email subject line, in my opinion, because it’s going to get them to open it.

Humanizing emails from industrial manufacturers

Joe Sullivan: Number two, five minutes of research on LinkedIn, lets you humanize yourself through a common connection, interest, or geography. I grew up in Milwaukee. The screenshot was pulled from a blog post I wrote last year where I used this as an example, like NBA, just starting up again after the shut down for COVID. If you’re from Milwaukee, you were excited about the Bucks. We’re like actually good. It’s not something we’re used to as Milwaukee Bucks fans. I’m trying to just touch on how do you build a personal connection?

This person has something in common with me potentially. And so I, I don’t think you should force fit it. I think that sometimes you see that happening and it just feels authentic, but if you could make a connection there, doesn’t have to be geography or sports or whatever, but five minutes of research on some of these LinkedIn profiles or just Google searching them and seeing if they’ve got a profile of themselves on their company website or whatever, I think it can go a long way. 

Maybe there’s somebody in common that or you’ve worked with or something, but use that stuff to your advantage, to just humanize yourself and make it clear that you haven’t just can this thing. So that’s that point. 

Address the problem

Joe Sullivan: Number three highlights a common issue for somebody in this role. The one I used here was: “the number one question plant managers at automotive manufacturing facilities asked me is this, ‘what things can I proactively be doing to prevent equipment failure on the plant floor?’”

Again, you know what those things are. If you know this buyer persona then you know what these things are. And so let’s connect to the pain they’re feeling or the goal that they’re trying to accomplish and the thing they’re trying to do in their daily job. 

And this is going to be different if you’re talking to a plant manager versus some kind of engineer or a CFO or a CEO. So you got to think about who the recipient is here. And of course, this doesn’t necessarily work when you’re mass emailing a bunch of people, but I’m advocating for a more personalized approach here anyway.

Offer genuine help in your manufacturer emails

Joe Sullivan: Number four, value is created for the prospect by offering a genuinely helpful resource. So the one we did here is we said, “okay, I’ve got one to pass along an article our crew wrote titled five ways to reduce downtime in your manufacturing facility.” 

This is like my favorite thing to do in the sales process, whether it’s more of a cold manufacturer email or I do it more often in a follow-up conversation. We’re going to get to that one later, it’s actually… I wasn’t going to go really into that much yet. 

But look at if you’re talking about a pain that this type of person is typically feeling from all theri experiences, that’s the stuff you need to create content around. So if you don’t have that content there’s the cue for your content strategy. And if you’ve got something, whether it’s a article you’ve written like the example I used here, or a recording from a webinar like this.

And then number five short non-aggressive unassuming ask, offering a conversation that will also deliver value. It’s just it’s low risk, low barrier. You’re indicating that you’re going to continue to create value for this person here as opposed to going in with a hard sell. So that’s the summary.

Use familiarity to connect with prospects

Adam Beck: The only sales emails I have opened probably in the last year use your Milwaukee Bucks type approach. They referenced where I went to school or they read an article that I wrote or something else. And they commented on that. 

We’re starting from a common place. I know that they did a little bit of 1% of research on me and that’s all it takes, and it just shows there’s a little bit more there than the canned email. And then you’re not aggressive ask. I like it, even though it’s not pushy and I don’t want to engage with somebody, that’s going to be pushy. 

If you’re going to be asking for the sale on the first email. Oh my gosh. I can only imagine how the rest of the sales process is going to go. I think it’s great. 

Don’t send emails like this one

Adam Beck: So Joe showed a couple that, like I said, we’ve seen worse and I have a real one. I have a real email that I received. It’s been anonymized to protect the innocent, but I will read it to you and we’ll get into some of my thoughts. 

I’m sure Joe has some thoughts too. 

A terrible email with awful formatting with red text plus green and yellow highlights.

Subject: Generate B2B marketing leads

Body: 

Hello,

I hope you are well and safe!!

Our research team figured out that you are a B2B company. I was wondering if you might be interested in our Proprietary Email Marketing service to generate leads for your business.

Now you must be wondering what’s proprietary about it? We churn out data directly from search engines using our in-house custom data extraction technology and use generic email addresses like Gmail, Outlook, iCloud to send out emails and track 100,000+ inboxes to send/receive email leads without disclosing your identity.

You can SAVE UPTO 75%, compared to other marketing avenues. If you are B2B, we can guarantee:

  • 5x better results.
  • Much cheaper than AdWords, Social Media Ads.
  • Instant results as compared to SEO.
  • Better Lead Quality.
  • Immediate turnaround time.
  • 1 Week paid-trial to prove all our claims!

If this does not make sense, what does? GUARENTEED RESULTS OR 100% MONEY BACK. Atleast 50* Leads guaranteed per month.

Please let me know if above mentioned information interest you so that we can discuss further.

Look forward to hear from you soon

Thanks & regards,

What not to do when writing a manufacturer email

Adam Beck: Oh my gosh. All the things. They did them all in one email. So starting at the top that subject says nothing. I literally get 20 emails with this a day trying to sell me lists or other, whatever. I’m sure you get the same, Joe. 

It’s addressed to no one. They didn’t even go as far as to figure out my name. So they just sent it to hello. Now this opener was okay last year. When we’re in the throws of COVID and we’re trying to be empathetic or being empathetic, whatever that is, it’s a fine thing. I hope you are well and safe has run its course. Do you have thoughts on that, Joe?

Joe Sullivan: Yeah that one got old about March 7th of last year. I think so.

Adam Beck: Agreed. So then they go into the about us. So our, I, we, they cover all of the pronouns referring to themselves and I haven’t seen value. 

And now we get to the formatting nightmare. I did not reformat any of this. This is how it came. So it’s got normal font, bold font, bold with red, then a bulleted list, which two through six are highlighted in green and bold. Then we get back to the red, bold and the yellow highlighted black bold font. And what I would say about this is I don’t mind strategically using a little bit of this. You can throw any one of these I can agree with. If you use them all, it’s a Christmas tree and I don’t know where to look.

So Joe, any other thoughts on that one?

Joe Sullivan: As a guy who came up through visual communications and took a full year of typography I’m just trying to not throw up.

Adam Beck: They used type Roman, right. that’s your favorite font I’m sure.

Joe Sullivan: And the thing is this is clearly a canned email that got blasted out to a million people and there are times where a mass email is appropriate, but when you are trying to prospect key accounts there’s a lot of things wrong with this. You covered them all Adam, and this is clearly just a terrible email, but yeah, I think when you have a limited number of accounts or prospecting, you got to go personalize, if you have to… for one reason or another you and your responsibilities to hit a ton of accounts at once, obviously it kind of changes, but you can do a lot better than this.

Adam Beck: Quality, not quantity.

Joe Sullivan: Yeah, for sure.

Rewriting a bad manufacturing email

Adam Beck: So it’s easy to throw stones. So I took a shot at rewriting this for this guy with the one nugget of knowledge is that he was referencing that he heard me on a podcast.

A better version of a manufacturing email

Subject: Great podcast with John Doe

Body:

Hi Adam,

I just listened to the podcast that you were on with John Doe. Great stuff!

It sounds like you guys offer a cool solution for manufacturers to generate leads by leveraging their existing content.

How do you find new companies that need your solution?

We help you create new opportunities with targeted emails to 100,000 contact in your sweet-spot.

I can show you how. Let’s chat!

Thanks,

Name

Adam Beck: It’s not perfect, but, and there is no perfect. It references something that I did or they did that they saw their audience did, and they gave them a little compliment and that doesn’t hurt if it’s genuine. 

I think being disingenuous reads poorly here. But you can take the time to know what their business does. And when someone sends me a manufacturing email and they obviously don’t know what my company even does, like seriously you’re wasting your time and mine. 

Ask a question that you cannot give a yes or no answer to. That’s one of the keys for me. How do you find new companies that need your solution? 

But then there’s a quick synopsis, one line of what the service is, or a general elevator description and then a casual closing, just to keep the conversation going. You’re not asking for the sale. You’re not going in for the kill. Just, I can show you how. Let’s talk again.

Joe Sullivan: I like how short it is Adam. I think people don’t want to read a novel and I think I liked that even better about your example here than mine previously, that I think the shorter you can do it the better.

I get a lot of… since my being the host in this podcast, The Manufacturing Executive, I get a lot of people reaching out who want to be guests or people who will clearly be trying to sell me something. I’ll get a LinkedIn message or an email and say, “Hey, I listen to your podcast.” Or, “I’m a listener to your podcast and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And then try to sell me on something, whether it’s getting on my show or a sales call or something.

I think one thing you could do here too, is if from an authenticity standpoint if you actually are going to write I listened to your podcast with John Doe, what was one little takeaway you got from that? 

Like when you said this and then write the quote down, it really resonated with me. And here’s why and then go into the next thing. Like when I get… cause people do that to me, probably 1 out of 10 times, and those are the ones that replied to whether or not I’m going to book a call with them is to be determined. But those are the ones that make me immediately feel like, “Okay, this person is actually being authentic. They’re not just recognizing that I host a podcast and then sending me a link or whatever.” 

Adam Beck: Yeah. And I’m sure you get more of the “great podcast” than the average person does too, but this is good for did they write an article, or did they have a social post that you found enlightening? Or whatever that might be. It doesn’t have to be something as big as podcasts, but have something on that on a personal level.

Writing good follow-up industrial marketing emails

Adam Beck: Joe, let’s jump to some follow-up emails.

Joe Sullivan: As far as follow-up emails go I think this applies in situations where you’ve had a conversation with somebody you’ve had, you’ve booked that first call, and then you find yourself a week later or three days later, a month later, or whatever it is for you, depending on your sales process where you’re like, “Okay, I gotta check-in.” 

A task comes up in your CRM or whatever you use to kind stay on top of this stuff. And then it’s always Okay, what should I say? How do I follow up with them?”

And the typical email subject line that… the thing that most people say, and I find myself even doing, I’m an offender. Here’s an example of poor follow-up email subjects and body copy.

Poorly written manufacturing email

Subject: Checking in

Subject: Circling back

Subject: Bumping to top of your inbox

Body:

Hey, Mary! It’s been a few weeks since we last talked. Just checking in to see if you’ve made any decisions about how to move forward. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns! 

– Joe

Writing a solid manufacturing email follow-up

Joe Sullivan: Here’s an alternative:

Good manufacturing email follow-up

Subject: This article might be helpful

Body:

Mike, great talking this week. I was thinking about the comment you made about your _____ challenge. 

Here’s an article we wrote about that topic that I think might help.

https://www.gorilla76.com/how-to-write-an-effective-prospecting-email/

– Joe

Joe Sullivan: What’s going on here is you’ve, As opposed to just checking in, which is all about you, right? It’s you trying to move to the next stage in your sales process with them now you’re flipping it around and saying, “Okay, how can I use every touchpoint with this person to create value? 

And it may not be linking to an article unless you’ve got one. Like I, every time I get off a call, I always try to follow up. There’s always some next step. I always try to follow up. 

I sit down and I just think like for two minutes, what do I have? What were some of the things I jotted down that this person was struggling with? And try to figure out a reason we were talking in the first place, is there a resource that we have made? Whether it’s something we’ve written, a podcast episode, a video we filmed a recording of a webinar like this that I could send them that would probably address some of the questions in more that we only had a few minutes to touch on.

We’ve been making content for 10 plus years for manufacturers about marketing and sales. And so almost all the time, there’s something I could send other ways to do it. It doesn’t have to be your content. It could be a great article you read the other day on one of the industry sources, you follow that touched on it, right?

Adam Beck: that’s right. It doesn’t have to be something you wrote. And it actually has more credibility if somebody else wrote it. So exact same manufacturer email that Joe had, but it’s, And the subject could probably be better. 

I’d probably put Forbes article and then the title may be of whatever that article is, but that’s something that, “Hey we’re on a personal level here, or I’m trying to share something for your professional growth or help this problem. Here’s something that I found out there and you’re just sharing some insightful stuff.” 

It probably helps your entire explanation and whatever you’re talking about in the first place, but it doesn’t have to be something you created. You don’t have to go to that work always to write that article if you don’t have it. It probably exists or some version of it does.

Joe Sullivan: Totally agree.

Another marketing email example

Adam Beck: My next one is following up on a piece of content.

Another good example of a manufacturer email follow-up

Subject: ACME #123-ABC 

Body:

Steve, 

Thanks for downloading the #123-ABC part model.

How is this #123-ABC being used in your design?  

I’m available to help with a design review, or if you need custom sizes, pricing or engineering support. 

Email or call 555-121-3434, I’m here to help!

– Adam

Adam Beck: So the idea here is it’s probably a component manufacturer. They probably had a model downloaded. What do you do next? 

And this same thing applies to anybody that’s got white papers or eBooks or case studies. 

Let’s talk about that thing that they just did and see if you can add value. There’s a lot of manufacturers that do offer a design review and they want to make sure that the part they’re selling you is going to work for your application. And they’ll work through that with you. And that’s why this guy is talking about that exact part.

Same thing as if you have an eBook or a case study, you can talk about, “Hey, did you read page eight? I thought it might be of interest to you. There are some good nuggets there that rung true to things that we talked about at your company too.”

Six manufacturing email tips

Six manufacturer email tips

Adam Beck: All right. Six takeaways. So first is spend time on the subject. I don’t want to say it should take as long as the rest of the email to write, but it should not take that long. Spend the time on the subject, make it good. Have a clear ask. If you don’t know what you’re emailing about, neither does your audience. So make sure it’s obvious and clear. And formatting matters. Obviously, the email that I shared was a formatting nightmare but even take the time to just make a pass by it consider your audience and improve it.

Joe Sullivan: Yeah. One, one little add there. I’m on a Mac, I use the program TextEdit, it comes embedded and you can do like format, make plain texts. I always just… if I am copying and pasting something just stripped the formatting away before paste that in your email, right?

Adam Beck: Notepad on PC. Yeah. Same thing.

Joe Sullivan: The worst is sometimes it appears right on your screen, but after you’ve hit send, it’ll actually show up different on the recipient’s end, depending on their email client. And so I think that’s just a good practice to get into.

Adam Beck: Love it. This is yours, Joe.

Joe Sullivan: Yeah, connect to the pain or goal fast. Why should they care? We talked about this one earlier. Do it in your subject line because if you… if you want somebody to open your email it needs to be about them and what they care about. 

So again, as long as you’re focused, you understand who your audience is and what they care about, what you should and get to the pain. 

Don’t talk about yourself, talk about the issue they’re probably experiencing or potentially experiencing, or the thing you know they’re trying to achieve, and go there first. You look at every check-in or follow-up email as an opportunity to create value in some way, put the thing your prospect is trying to achieve at the forefront. Just think how can I create value and help them get closer to where they’re trying to go?

And then know the audience and personalized to them. So the Milwaukee Bucks example. Adam mentioned this person shares your Alma mater or you’ve got some common connection or a common interest that you’ve observed on looking at them on Facebook or LinkedIn or wherever. You use that information to your advantage. Don’t force-fit it. Be authentic, but look for opportunities to humanize yourself by making a personal connection.

Joe, thank you so much for doing this.

Joe Sullivan: Yeah. Thanks For having me, Adam.

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Innovation moves the world forward. My goal is to enable engineers to spend more time innovating by reducing non-value-added tasks through effective reuse strategies.