How to Break Into B2B Email Copywriting

Woman writing on laptop with email icons floating above it

Business-to-Business companies, everyone from pump manufacturers to executive coaching firms, send out a lot of promotional emails. In fact, by some estimates, B2B companies in the U.S. produce more than a million distinct marketing emails every week.

That's a lot of emails that need to be written!

Of course, not all are outsourced to freelance copywriters. My guess is about 60% are written by in-house staff and another 20% by agencies and other creative firms. That may seem disheartening at first, until you do the math and realize that leaves 20% these emails written by freelancers.

That equals more than 10,000,000 emails a year.

Bottom line: Writing email copy for B2B companies is an enormous opportunity for freelancers. Get good at this skill set and you can do very well.

What's more, B2B marketing emails tend to be about the same length as blog posts, yet pay two to three times more. In my opinion, they're more fun to write as well.

So, how do you break in and get this work?

If I were starting all over again from scratch, here's how I would do it …

First, I would pick a niche industry to focus on. In the B2B world, there are hundreds of niche industries, and even sub-industries within those industries, that you could focus on.

My advice is to pick a niche where you have some sort of head start. For instance, Steve Maurer, who’s spent many years in the industrial equipment industry, choose that niche to launch his B2B copywriting business. Today, he's very successful.

But you don't necessarily need industry experience. You can pick a niche based on contacts you may have in that industry, or even an interest in the products. Years ago, I met a copywriter who was passionate about alternative energy and turned that into a lucrative niche for her copywriting services.

Once you pick a niche, your next step is to create a sample email you can show prospective clients. Many prospects will, for obvious reasons, ask to see a sample of your work before deciding to hire you. So, you'll need something to send them.

But what if you've never written a marketing email for a client before?

Don't let that stop you! Write a marketing email for a fictional B2B company. Write two or three. You can then send those samples to a prospective client. You can say simply, "These are examples of how I would write your promotional email, featuring a fictional company. This will give you a good idea of my style and approach."

Once you have a niche and some samples, what's next?

Build a "hit list" of prospects to approach. You want to find companies that are likely doing a lot of email marketing. These typically include:

  • Companies that do a lot of lead generation. (For example, offering a free white paper, e-book, invitation to a webinar, etc.)
  • Companies offering free trials and subscriptions. (Most SaaS companies are major email marketers.)
  • Companies that sell B2B products and services directly online.

How do you know if a company does a lot of email marketing? Here's a trick: Visit their Facebook page. If you see a lot of posts that are promotional — offers, new products, etc. — then, chances are, they do a lot of emailing.

When building your “hit list,” you'll also need to find out who to contact. Usually that's the most senior marketing director or, in the case of smaller companies, the owner.

Once you have your “hit list,” your final step is to write a personal email to the contact introducing yourself and your copywriting services, and offering to send an example of your work.

Make sure this is a personal email, not a mass marketing message! No blasting to multiple prospects. No cutting and pasting using a template. Make your introductory email a friendly, one-to-one message from you. The goal is to make a connection and get the conversation started.

So, that's how I would do it.

Do you want to break into writing email copy for B2B companies? Follow those steps. If you lean in, you'll make it happen!

What questions do you have about writing email copy for B2B companies? Let us know in the comments.

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Published: November 4, 2020

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