A Revenue Marketing Perspective on Personal Emails

A Revenue Marketing Perspective on Personal Emails

JK Sparks 6 min

The business email address has long been the holy grail for B2B revenue marketers.

It’s easy to understand why. Business emails are considered as workable leads – a direct line to the decision-maker and the assurance that you were targeting the right people.

This is further validated by the traditional SaaS sales funnel.

Marketing generates a lead, tosses it over the fence to an SDR who relentlessly emails to set a discovery call. If qualification criteria is met, the lead goes to an AE who runs a sales process. As the deal gets closer to signature, we introduce the CSM - an entire function dedicated to fulfilling the promises that marketing and sales have made along the way (tough job).

In most cases, the sales team isn’t even interested in a personal email address – those leads are qualified out before they ever reach an AE. It’s tough to identify who that person actually is, their title or role, and what company they work for. They are discounted as someone who isn’t serious about buying, spam, or a “tire kicker” of your product.

In a transactional GTM motion, the personal email address is almost worthless.

However, there is a critical shift taking place in B2B marketing. We’re starting to actually put practices in place that recognize companies – prospect, customer, or otherwise – are made up of humans. And humans innately desire connection with one another. We desire relationships, not transactions.

Moving from Transactional to Relational Marketing

This mindset shift is focused on creating long-term customer value by prioritizing relationships over transactional marketing. Consumers are not just seeking an exchange of dollars, but rather an exchange of value – my contact information in exchange for education, entertainment and inspiration. Customers are not just buying the features of your product, they are buying access to your thought leadership and community.

Because of the transactional sales tactics of the last decade, we’ve been conditioned to not give out our business email addresses in an effort to protect our inboxes.

But the practice of audience development is key in creating long-term value for your audience, facilitating engagement with your content and within your community as a leading indicator to becoming a high-value customer and advocate for your brand.

Our traditional understanding of personal emails may be uninspired, but the truth is that many well-meaning members of your audience will prefer to share their personal email with you – not as a means to avoid your SDR cadence, but because they want their relationship with your brand to outlast their current role.

What if marketers took that expectation seriously? That by getting access to the personal inbox of a member of your audience, an invitation has been extended for value creation by and through your thought leadership.

This means engagement needs to be relational, rather than commercial, or risk an untimely unsubscribe. Some ideas of relational engagement include:

Educational best practices. Create content that teaches your audience something new and transfers your knowledge and expertise to them. This in turn will position your brand as an authority.

Inspiration and entertainment. B2B audiences are often on the receiving end of the same mundane work. Inspiring content across a variety of editorial formats can help your brand break through the attention wars and create a highly engaged audience that’s ripe for future partnership.

Community-driven conversation. Don’t be the only expert preaching from the marketing pulpit, rather, build the platform by which your audience gathers to share their own learnings with the industry. You’ll leverage the brand equity of your contributors while also aligning your brand as a market leader.

A business email address is only as valuable as the person using it, and unfortunately most people usually move on from their job at some point. A personal email address on the other hand can signal a longer-term commitment, allowing you to build a lasting relationship.

Ok, But. We Still Need To Hit Our Pipeline Targets.

I hear you. At the end of the day, the expectations for marketing teams remain the same. You’re still held to a pipeline number and are expected to hit it – regardless of how the lead initially converts into your database.

But there’s no reason to suggest a personal email address cannot help you achieve your business goals. In fact, I believe they play a very important role, but you can’t just shove them into your normal demo request outreach cadence. Instead, consider the following:

Invest in identifying who they are. If you’re not collecting contact level details in your form, invest in enriching. You can try a third-party enrichment service like Clearbit. If that doesn’t find a match a quick Google search will typically unmask the unknown and give you basic information. This will help you understand your audience of personal email addresses so you can most effectively build relationships and encourage relevant next steps with your product or brand.

Create a new funnel. Your traditional lead capture to sales funnel isn’t going to work. Enroll personal email addresses into an editorial focused campaign that delivers on your original promise. Providing value, education, and inspiration while giving relevant and opportunistic nudges based on engagement to enter a sales conversation. This will create truly warm leads that could turn commercial when the time is right.

Have a little bit of patience. Don’t expect someone to give you their personal email address and be on a sales call the next day. They’re not giving you their contact information in order to buy right now. They’re subscribing to hear from, learn from, and be inspired by you. Spend the time to set up a separate flow and watch the opportunities present themselves.

So, the next time you see a personal email address pop into your database, don’t fret. Shift your thinking and strategy to long term relationship building, not short term transactions and you’ll unlock an entire new funnel for your business.

Don’t let anyone tell you that business isn’t personal. Embracing personal emails is a great way to double down on the personal side of business, understanding that relationships are built and not bought.


JK Sparks | About the Author

Head of Marketing, AudiencePlus

JK is allergic to the words “guru, ninja, and hack” when used to describe anything marketing related. Instead of chasing the latest “growth hack,” he’s focused on building sustainable and predictable levers that fuel long term success. By implementing this approach over the last decade, JK has helped organizations in both bootstrapped and well-funded environments scale from <$100K to more than $100M in revenue. You can follow him here.

JK Sparks 6 min

A Revenue Marketing Perspective on Personal Emails

A business email address is only as valuable as the person using it, and unfortunately most people usually move on from their job at some point. A personal email address on the other hand can signal a longer-term commitment, allowing you to build a lasting relationship.

You Might Also Like


This is a test comment.


This is a longer test comment to see how this looks if the person decides to ramble a bit. So they're rambling and rambling and then they even lorem ipsum.