Posted 18th November 2013 by APSIS

How email and social improve your results

How email and social improve your results

The rebirth of content marketing owes much to all those new online channels and media where content can be created, published and shared. So how does email fit into your content marketing efforts?

First, successful content marketing demands more than just valuable content. You also need to distribute that content to the right audience. Email is a great way to do this, promoting events, featuring blog posts, linking to videos, advertising white paper downloads etc..

But why use precious email space for content marketing? Isn’t email better reserved for direct-response promotional campaigns?

The core of a successful email marketing program is delivering value to subscribers. However, there is a natural limit to how much value you can consistently deliver with offers and promotions alone. After all, many people simply don't need or want to buy RIGHT NOW anyway.

Valuable content can:

  • Keep subscribers engaged with relevant messaging, helping your sender reputation and ensuring greater attention for ALL your emails.
  • Allow you to send email when you have no offer or new product to promote at the moment.
  • Position you as a source of expertise, help or advice...increasing trust and loyalty (the concept applied in traditional B2B newsletters).
  • Distinguish you from ever-increasing email competition.
  • Feed your subscribers with material they can share with their social networks. Sharing increases the reach of your emails and attracts new subscribers.

Email as an independent source of content

Email is more than just a distribution vehicle, though. It also helps overcome one of the biggest challenges of content marketing: how to produce valuable content in the first place. You can use email to motivate readers to provide material you can use as content, or to provide insights that help you better plan your own content production.

So a B2C DIY chain might use email to:

  • Invite subscribers to submit their best DIY tips for a special “Reader Advice” newsletter edition.
  • Solicit questions for a Q&A feature with the chain’s tiling expert.
  • Highlight the chain’s Facebook competition, where customers submit their funniest DIY photos (which then feature in a later newsletter).
  • Survey readers on their DIY plans for the coming summer, so the chain can plan content around those needs.
  • Send post-purchase messages asking the customer to post a rating or review of the product on the chain’s website. These product reviews make excellent testimonials for use in promotional email campaigns.

A B2B accountancy software provider might use email to:

  • Survey readers on their bookkeeping challenges, publish the results as a press release and use the insights to prioritize white paper development.
  • Promote a forthcoming Twitter chat with the company’s small business tax expert.
  • Encourage readers to send in stories of unusual expenses claims for an amusing article on the topic.
  • Ask for reader opinion on the impacts for business of the recent government tax changes.

All these approaches engage the subscriber with the sender’s brand. They also produce entertaining, creative or valuable content that can be used to develop future emails.

The email - social content interaction

Email's content role is amplified when integrated with social marketing. The result is a content-email-social matrix that produces and delivers a stream of valuable material to a wide audience in a variety of venues.

Email can promote and generate social content in its own right. For example:

  • Encourage subscribers to share email content on their social networks, seeding online discussion about your brand, your products/services or relevant issues.
  • Invite people to discuss the content featured in the email on your forum or social network page. Direct people to blog posts or YouTube videos and encourage them to comment there.
  • Promote social network events, such as Twitter chats or Facebook competitions.

Of course, much of this user-generated social content - given the right legal permissions - can be repurposed for email.

Another useful tactic is to monitor social conversations for mentions of your brand, products or services. The resultant information can be used as market research intelligence for developing future (email) content. As with formal ratings and reviews, positive feedback in whatever form (perhaps a Tweet) makes a great independent testimonial for product pages and email promotions.