If you have your thumb on the pulse of inbound marketing today you are no doubt aware of the importance and power of content marketing. But an interesting corollary to this phenomenon is the resurgence of the e-newsletter. One of the earliest online tools for reaching an audience has made a comeback and, if you are already content marketing, it can be a powerful addition to your marketing lineup.
In the early days of email marketing e-newsletters were actually an effective means of disseminating information to engaged audiences. However, as the internet grew and waves of spam surged into inboxes, people became less interested in receiving them and this once powerful marketing tool fell into decline. Now, despite the relentless battle we all fight against spam, the lauded form of communication is seeing a resurgence and content marketing has a lot to do with it. As content marketing has grown to be a defining element of every inbound marketing strategy, businesses have focused on developing a steady stream of fresh, engaging content for specific target audiences and the tried and true e-newsletter is a great complementary way to increase its exposure.
Let’s say you generate content for your website at the pace of one article a month. Using a decent template that presents a feature article and two secondary articles, you have the workflow already in place to send out a quarterly newsletter. If you produce more content you can shorten your interval to monthly or even weekly. Plus, since bulk email systems (like MailChimp) have become much easier to use, setting up each send and monitoring the results is a snap.
Best Practices for Re-tasking Content Marketing to an E-newsletter
If you are considering launching an e-newsletter, the good news is that It’s never been easier to do, but there are a few things that you need to include to ensure you get the most out of it.
Your bulk email system will have provisions for list management so be sure to include unsubscribe, forward to a friend, and other basic functionality. From a marketing perspective, here are some additional things to consider.
- Target Audience – Since you are approaching this as a means to extend the benefits of your content marketing efforts, the targets that you are using for those efforts will drive your audience for the e-newsletter. You should have some wiggle room to do some content manipulation to focus on niche audiences within your target group by using a visual hierarchy to adjust the primary focus. Simply put, the most important article should be featured prominently and the secondary articles will be smaller. This guides readers to engage with what you think will be valuable to them and gives you the opportunity to experiment.
- Subject Line for E-newsletters – Subject lines are important for all emails and could easily occupy several blog posts just about the nuances of effective subject lines, but for a newsletter based on content marketing, a consistent focus on the benefits your articles will provide the reader is the key. A tease about the best content will build the brand and the value of your offering, like “3 Great Ways to Reduce Energy Costs” Keep it to between 30-40 characters long and do not, under any circumstances, use ALL CAPS.
- Title and Excerpt – Do not include entire articles in your newsletter. Use the article title and an excerpt that teases the best aspect of the article for your audience.
- Strong Images – Visual elements like photos, charts and infographics are a core part of your content marketing plan, so reusing them in an e-newsletter will be easy and will distinguish the quality of your content in the emailer.
- Follow Up – After you have sent out your newsletter to your list make sure you look at the analytics. Check your click through list and export it. Those are warm leads that merit a follow up with a personal email. Ask them what they thought of the article and if there was any further information you can provide them with. Some systems can automate this and if you are dealing with a massive list that may be a necessity, but I always like a personal mail with one caveat, don’t be creepy. Some people don’t realize you can monitor what link they clicked on and it can be a little unsettling. Play it soft and mention that you saw they showed an interest in an article on your site and go from there.
Getting the most out of every dollar you spend on marketing is important and e-newsletters offer a great way to extend the value of content marketing. All of the time and energy spent developing great articles about the things that your customers have questions about can be repackaged into a powerful tool for working your email list. So dig into your content and start spreading the news by email today.