Do You Know Your Subscribers’ Content Needs?

In my last post I went into the difference between product (sales) focused emails and other content. But what is that “other” content? This is anything other than content that simply promotes your product or service.

 

Now how do we get the right mix? It all depends on your target audience(s), but a few rules of thumb are applicable across the board:

 

  • Segment your list according to subscriber interests
  • Test the proportion of promotional vs. other content
  • Offer different email subscriptions based on preferences or behavior

 

Let’s face it, email marketing is still a very cost-effective channel for communicating with prospects and customers. That means you should make the most of your email messaging. Use your emails as an opportunity to do more than just sell, sell, sell. Build your brand. Build a relationship with your subscribers.

A great way to do this is with content. Your emails can educate, entertain and provide added value to your subscribers.

Humor… videos… behind-the-scenes details… all are examples of content designed to entertain. Lancôme incorporates all of the above in its email series promoting both virtual and in-store beauty events. The subject line – Let the show begin! – says it all. And some say that the green light is given to send out emails with video inside them. Don’t have the bandwidth to include the actual video in your email? No problem! Link to your site or a site such as YouTube where your video is hosted. You can even add an animated gif to make it look like a video.

 

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Educational content

Although this example from Bed Bath & Beyond targets college students, “educational” content doesn’t have to target actual students. It can be anything from tax tips to sports and relationship tips. BB&B’s “Destination Campus” is ingenious. Visitors can find college-specific dorm information, watch videos on campus life tips and more… without ever leaving the site. This makes the site more “sticky” – and increases the likelihood of converting visitors to buyers.
Of course it all begins with an email promoting the content. Why I like it even more? The email plays with the need that the college-bound students have at that time. It is a very timely email, timing is a very important part of email marketing.

 

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Content that provides added value

Resources that make your personal or professional life easier fall into this category. Do you want to set up a good added-value email? Answer the question “How can I help my subscribers do [x]? ” Social Media Examiner offers their Social Media Marketing Report for free with email signup. (You can’t go wrong with “Free,” right?)

 

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You can entice new subscribers to sign up with the offer and you can send it to your current subscribers to give them more value.

Offer your B2B subscribers a free case study, white paper, solutions brief. Offer your B2C subscribers a free checklist, a how-to video or an app.

 

Brand-building content

Many companies use cause-related marketing to build their brands – and endear themselves to the public. Life is good does an excellent job of making philanthropy part of its brand mission. It draws in subscribers with an inclusionary greeting: “Hello Optimists.” Well done.

 

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This theme is reinforced on their website:

 

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And, in the wake of the Boston bombings, Life is good responded with a positive message that resonated with – and thanked – its subscribers:

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Relationship-building content

One way to build relationships with your customers is to show them you value their input. Create a simple survey and send it to your email list. Not only does it allow you to capture data, it also makes your email more interactive. Here’s an example of a survey from the folks at Multichannel Merchant. They offer an incentive – and a choice of incentive. Bravo!

 

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Plan in advance

If you don’t already have an email marketing calendar, create one. Plan as far in advance as possible – a minimum of one month, preferable three months to a year. This will allow you to see the big picture and actually develop some of that great content.  Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to be set in stone. But it will enable you to work in content where appropriate, and develop an email marketing strategy beyond the one-off product offer only campaign approach.

 

So tell me, what kind of content do you provide your subscribers? What has worked the best?