Cindy Hamilton

Content is now six times more powerful than traditional advertising in turning leads into customers. Currently, 86% of B2C marketers and 91% of B2B marketers use it to better engage, educate, inform, entertain and guide customers along their purchase journey. And 75% of all marketers plan to increase their investment in it the next 12 months.

So, what’s caused this huge shift in marketing? Today’s consumers are bombarded by thousands of marketing messages every day. They’ve become immune to irrelevant advertising and have grown to distrust and ignore it. They like and respond to content marketing because it’s authentic, transparent, friendly and adds value to their lives. So much so, that the average person now consumes 11.4 pieces of content before even making a purchase.  What types of email content are they consuming? Everything from video, newsletters, and polls to newsletters, infographics, and success stories.

Challenges

While everyone’s creating content, not everyone’s doing it right. Many marketers find that they lack the time/bandwidth, budget and resources to dedicate to it, although the cost is typically 62% less than traditional marketing.

Killer content can make a big difference in your emails’ performance and can help create loyalty and trust in your brand. It gives customers a reason to open your emails, engage in them and click through.

So, where do you begin? Start by following these 7 simple tips:

1. Put Your Customers First

Understanding your customers and their purchase journey is crucial. Write down what you know about them, what they’re interested in or passionate about, what their needs are and what they want to learn more about. Do they have challenges you can help solve? What insights can you draw from the data that will allow you to create email content that’s more contextual and personalized (beyond first name — things like purchase behavior, lifestyle, interests, location, etc.)? Keep in mind that 80% of consumers prefer brands that deliver personalized experiences.

2. Analyze the Competition

What are your competitors doing with email content? How often are they serving it up? What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly? Once you’ve sized up the competition, think about what you can do that’s different, better and unique and that embodies your brand’s voice.

3. Identify Goals & Measures of Success

Setting objectives will help you and your content stay focused. Do you want to generate awareness, drive traffic to your website, increase leads, drive retention or boost sales?

One mistake many organizations make is not deciding on measures of success before beginning their content efforts. Determine which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will be most important based on what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

4. Create a Strategy

Your strategy should define how you’ll reach your goals and will help you determine the type of content you’ll develop. For example, if your goal is awareness, your content should have mass appeal and be entertaining and shareable (e.g., video, poll or quiz). If your goal is to generate sales, your content should focus on the problem your product can solve and might take the form of a customer story/case study.

5. Develop a Content Calendar

A content calendar helps you create a framework for the ongoing story you want to tell about your product/service. It also helps you map out your ideas, turn them into an actionable plan and develop a regular email cadence. When ideating, keep these things in mind:

Think Like Your Customers

  • What’s your customers’ mindset and what are their challenges during each time period? What advice or tips can you offer? What type of content would get their attention and be unique, different and useful?
Celebrate Every Day
  • Capitalize on major holidays as well as customer milestones like birthdays, anniversaries and everyday holidays like Groundhog’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Tax Day and National Pie Day. Heck, why not create your own holiday like Amazon did with Prime Day and American Express did with Small Business Saturday?
  • Develop different themes/ideas for each holiday, season, month or day of week

Engage Them

  • It all starts in the inbox. Subject lines need to grab attention and intrigue customers to open, or your content won’t ever be seen
  • Use imagery, animated GIFs and video to help tell your story — imagesresult in 94% more views, higher engagement and increased conversion rates than text-only content.
  • Segment, personalize and use dynamic content (e.g., geo-targeting for local weather or places of interest near each customer)
  • Be a storyteller, inject personality into your writing and make customers feel something
Invite Them to Interact
  • Get customers to vote using live in-email polls, test their knowledge with an email quiz or encourage them to interact with live content using an image carousel
  • Surprise and delight them with kinetic content that changes upon hovering or rollover
  • Ask them to share pictures or comments using a hashtag and feature their posts via live social feeds in your email


6. Test

  • As always, test subject lines, the length of your content, the effectiveness of your content and the types of content your customers are clicking on and adjust often

7. Gather Feedback

  • Periodically gather feedback from your customers (invite them to comment on social, use live polls, or surveys) to make sure you’re delivering the type of content that appeals to them

If you’re not currently creating content, you should consider adding it to your 2018 marketing roadmap. Great content takes time and energy. But if you find the right resources, invest in it and follow the steps above you’ll be creating killer content in no time and seeing real results!

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