Does your email marketing strategy consist solely of telling your subscribers how great your company is? If so, you might be missing out. Content marketing has been generating quite a bit of buzz over the past few years for its ability to drive deeper relationships with customers. In fact, we included it on our list of the Top 10 Email Marketing Trends of 2012, and even in 2014, we think it’s the key to engaging your audience and driving better email marketing results. Here’s what you need to know about how content can fit into your email marketing strategy:
The “Elevation Principle,” or Moving Beyond the Hard Sell
Michael Stelzner, CEO of SocialMediaExaminer.com, has been a long-time proponent of mixing smart content into every aspect of marketing. His philosophy boils down to what he calls the Elevation Principle, or the strategy of elevating your customer relationship by providing advice and insight rather than merely pitching products like a used car salesman.
This is accomplished by developing outstanding content, whether it’s in the form of a free tool, an eBook or a webinar, that addresses your industry’s toughest challenges. And while Stelzner advocates giving this content away free of charge, he does so with a purpose: “If your marketing strategy centers on helping people with their smaller problems,” he clarifies, “many will seek your help to solve their bigger issues.”
In other words, content lets you “sell” yourself without seeming like you’re trying to. “Successful email marketing goes beyond selling products at a great price,” explains Christopher Marriott. And it seems that marketers across industries are embracing this concept. “Today’s leaders have learned to create messages that don’t always hard sell,” Marriott says. “Instead, they create the content that keeps customers engaged between transactions.”
This can make a huge difference in the results you see. Not only does engagement drive deliverability and increase response rates but, as Jeffrey K. Rohrs of ExactTarget describes, an engaged, energized audience “can have the powerful vitality of a screaming crowd.”
A broad, responsive email audience lets you reach more customers, more easily and less expensively, and it drives more sales than just about any other form of marketing. So what’s the best content strategy to follow? We share a few suggestions below.
How to Get the Best Results with Content
1. Use Your Blog as the Hub of Your Content: As you build your blog into a valuable library of information, you can begin to pull this content dynamically into your emails. Share it through social media for even further reach.
2. Use Internal Resources to Create Your Content: Chris Baggott of Compendium< suggests you take a look at what your customers are doing and the problems your company is solving, and then empower your employees to blog about it. This helps keep the focus of your blog away from “my product is better than your product” and instead focuses on adding value and insight. Baggott also recommends mining both incoming and outgoing email for additional insights into customer concerns and success stories.
3. Always be Prepared to React to “I’m Ready to Buy” Signals: Content is a bridge to transactions, not a replacement for emails that drive transactions. So it’s important to monitor your subscribers’ behaviors for signals that they might be ready to buy. This way, you can react accordingly and move subscribers to the next stage of your funnel. Marriott suggests such signals might include an increase in site browsing, increased engagement with content marketing emails or more engagement with your social media networks.
Indeed, it would seem that content marketing isn’t just a smart idea, it’s a necessary component of a successful email marketing strategy. As Marriott says, smart content “has the ability to evolve your relationship with subscribers from being purely transaction-driven to one that gives them reasons to anticipate receiving emails from you…That’s a pretty good result, don’t you think?”
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