Good content drives engagement. Sure, we know you’ve heard it, but it’s more than an idle adage. Content is everything. Online marketing guru Seth Godin goes as far as to say that the future of marketing itself is content. In his blog post at Contently, he says there’s really no difference between sponsored and non-sponsored content to the reader. He says that the only thing that’s really important when it comes to content is that it’s valuable to the user.
So you know you need relevant content for your online presence, but why is it so important for email? After all, emails are really just a way to nudge the user into a response, right?
Well, yes and no. While your customer should feel like any communication they receive is talking directly to them, it wouldn’t be cost-effective or even reasonable to write a personal note to each one. That’s where targeting and razor-sharp messaging comes in. As marketing becomes more and more niche, we can sharpen the messaging even more and while talking to more than one person at a time, each person believes they are getting what they need.
Out there in the vast online marketing space outside of email, a key metric of how valuable the content you provide is whether that item is shared or forwarded. Emails can and should be measured the same way. Here are some ways you can use content to make your emails more effective:
See the big picture. Don’t write an email as in a vacuum. Don’t think of it as a “lead generating letter” or “response letter”. Think of this letter as one part of a broader conversation you are having with your customer. If you are writing a series of emails over time, make sure to outline what that narrative arc is.
Solidify your goals. Clients can be in a rush to do an email campaign without thinking what they really want out of it. Awareness, leads and product sales are some of the more common email campaigns, but each one requires a different approach and a different call to action. Be clear about what you want to accomplish with each campaign and make sure to set specific goals, ie, a 5% lift in sales over 6 months vs. last year at this time; 100 leads over the time of the campaign.
Know what your customer is thinking. Sure, you’ve targeted your list to hit customers with the most potential for a sale or lead. But that’s just half the battle. What does your customer need? Make sure your email gives them a reason to believe that you have that answer. Have they opted in to this communication? Have they joined your list because of a trusted partner? If you anticipate what your user might be thinking when they see your email, you can craft a more appropriate and direct message to them.
Tweak, edit, evolve. It’s always a safe bet to make your message as succinct as possible. Boil it down to the core message. Then test and optimize. Run an A/B test. Study analytics. See what subject lines drive open rates and how many of those end in conversions. Then edit, revise and test again.
Make sure you’re mobile. Depending on your audience’s niche, it is now more likely that your customer is viewing your email on a mobile device than a laptop or desktop computer. This means a few different things. It means that the copy needs to be short and easily digested (ie, bullets, short sentences). It also means that that emails and other online communication should be responsive or at least scale to a mobile view. It also means that you should have an easy way to take action that delivers a stress-free way to respond. But, don’t forget about the experience post-click. If your email is optimized for mobile, the entire experience on the site or landing page should be as well.
What’s most important overall, is to give the user what they want. Through relevant and useful communication, you build credibility and affinity. It’s a simple concept, but many companies do not do it. They’re too focused on the particular prompt for a message, than the message itself. Useful and relevant content will always keep users engaged. In Godin’s interview, he’s asked what the most important metric. As always, Godin keeps it simple: will they miss me when I’m gone?