The popularity of email marketing campaigns has been volatile, especially as the emergence of new online marketing techniques such as social media marketing and content marketing have risen to dominance. Email marketing is sometimes considered ineffective—in part due to the fact that new communication mediums are proving to be more popular than email correspondence, and in part because creating a great list and emailing effectively are tricky to accomplish.
Still, there are a number of advantages to maintaining an email marketing campaign. It’s cheap to sustain, especially if you use templates and have a relatively small list of recipients. It keeps your brand top-of-mind even if your emails aren’t opened and fully read. It gives you another outlet through which to connect with your audience.
If you can combine your other, broader strategies—namely, your content marketing campaign—with your email campaign, and keep them aligned, you can maximize your returns on both fronts. Here’s how you can use your blog synergistically with your email marketing strategy:
This is a great strategy for businesses without a solid offer for their emails. In order to be effective, emails need to offer something valuable to their potential readers; otherwise, readers have no reason to open them. That value is flexible—it can be something tangible, like entry in a giveaway for taking a specific action, a special offer like a discount on new products, or something intangible, like information.
Using your blog as that value can be beneficial, especially if you’re looking for new ways to bring readers in. For example, you could take your three most recent blog posts and highlight them, showcasing the first paragraph of each in your weekly email blast. The idea is to give your email readers value, thereby increasing the likelihood of them opening future emails, while simultaneously reminding them of your blog and giving them the opportunity to revisit it.
This is the second portion of a potentially ongoing mutual process. On one end, you’ll be taking your email subscribers and showing them your blog. On the other end, you’ll be taking your blog readers and getting them to sign up for your email list.
There are several ways to do this. First and most simply, you can include a small signup form on the side of your blog asking users for their name and email address. This is inconspicuous, yet still relatively visible, so it will be effective without interfering with the rest of your page. Alternatively, if you want to be aggressive with your signups, you can hide your content behind a signup wall, mandating or highly suggesting your users to sign up before they read your content. This will get you more conversions, but may also irritate your users. Finally, you can simply call users out in the body text of your blog, sending them to a separate landing page to fill out their information and sign up. This will get attention, since it’s in the body of a post, but few users will take the extra action.
No matter how you choose to woo potential signups, make sure you’re making a good first impression. The quality of the first blog your reader sees could mean the difference between getting a signup and losing one.
Another strategy you can use involves appealing to the fans you’ve already generated. By offering email-exclusive content, such as niche blog posts that don’t appear on your blog, you can earn a significant amount of additional email campaign signups.
The trick is to maintain a balance between the content you offer on your blog and the content you offer through email. You want to ensure your free onsite blog content is substantial, comprehensive, and interesting, but at the same time you want your email-exclusive content to be interesting and unique enough to warrant an audience that follows it. To resolve this potential dilemma, you could publish the email-exclusive content on your blog a few months after sending it out via email—this way, email subscribers still get the value of seeing it early, but you can recycle the content for your regular blog readers as well.
This strategy is perfect if you’re trying to appeal to a highly targeted audience. The first step is to ensure your blog is segmented effectively. Create sub-categories for your content based on the most popular topics you can find, and segment them based on your target audience. For each sub-topic, compose a list in your email management platform, and customize your email signup forms based on the category each blog post belongs to. For example, you could have a list dedicated to customers interested in “SEO,” or “social media,” rather than just having one pooled list. This will allow you to create highly customized messages to each of those audience segments.
Another factor every email blast needs to be effective is a strong call-to-action, usually leading them back to your site in one form or another. Typically, retailers try and assign a monetary value to this call-to-action, asking users to “shop now” or “make a purchase,” but for some businesses, this type of language can turn someone away. By using your blogs as a leverage point, with calls-to-action like “read more,” you can call someone back to your site without that intimidation factor.
Of course, if you’re already making great offers to your customers in the form of discounts, giveaways, or other special events, you can use your blog as a platform to learn more about your customers and make better offers to them. One of the easiest ways to do this is through an on-site survey or discussion thread, which you can initiate under the guise of a blog post. Write briefly about a given sub-topic, and ask your readers for their opinions. Learn what they’re looking for, what they like and don’t like, and tailor your special email offers based on that information.
Ultimately, email is going to serve as one more communication platform you can use to give your customers and followers a seamless overall brand experience. Instead of merely focusing on how to convert your email recipients, use email as it was intended—as a medium for communication. Reinforce the ideas and values you’ve presented in your blog, remind users of who you are and what you do, and use your blog to get your users to trust you and sign up for the updates.
Remember, the key to building an effective email strategy is trial and error. Measure the results of each of your campaigns and analyze them. Understand the factors that work, the factors that don’t work, and put that information to good use in your future campaigns. Only through a series of ongoing reflection and adjustment will you be able to perfect your strategy, especially when you’re integrating it with an otherwise independent content marketing campaign.