Making emails more useful part 2 – content marketing

Previously I looked at making emails more useful for your subscribers in order to improve engagement through relevance and targeting. But you can become even more useful through content marketing.

Sending helpful, informative, or entertaining information can help retain customers and increase customer lifetime value, which helps your bottom line. B2B companies have been using content marketing in emails for a while, this blog is an example as a summary will end up in our email newsletter. B2C emails have some catching up to do and should look to move away from the common layout of blocks of products available to buy.

Paradoxically, despite a plethora of tracking tools and modelling algorithms, customer lifetime value is increasingly difficult to nail down. As consumers, our brand loyalty will only stretch so far as we are bombarded from every angle with deals and offers for competing brands and products.

Improve your customer loyalty and the customer lifetime value becomes easier to calculate. It’s still true that it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to sell to existing ones and using content in your emails can go a long way to building loyalty. It’s the ability to maintain reader trust while still profiting off of the product that you’re pushing to these readers.

The long and the short of it

“But emails should be clean, clear and simple with an obvious call to action” I hear you cry. This depends on what you’re trying to achieve. A sales-led email often works well using this approach but, if you think about it, whether we’re reading something that has appeal in an email, on a website, in an app or social media shouldn’t matter – it is still useful, engaging content and it makes us feel good about the brand.

Good content makes us feel good about a brand

According to marketing research company Demand Metric, 80 percent of customers they surveyed appreciated learning about a company through custom content, 57 percent read some form of content marketing at least once per month and 82 percent felt more positive about a company after reading it. Get it right and you should see conversion rates increase through repeat business.

So, how should you use content in your emails? Being useful, informative or entertaining is the key. Content marketing works best when it useful and relevant information, or is entertaining, even amusing. Nike are good at this, spending millions of dollars creating a range of content for multiple channels, tying digital and offline content together seamlessly with live events and sports stars.

Very few of us have Nike’s budget to generate this type of content but we can repurpose what we have. Fashion brands are creating ‘look books’ offering a theme or lifestyle for their clothing which helps bring it to life.

Tell me more

Hotel and travel brands could do a lot better here, most emails I receive are images of places and prices. Adding content about the location, history and things to do in the area helps build an enticing picture in our minds and gives us more reason to book. ‘But this content is on our website’ I hear you say. That’s great but if the email isn’t appealing enough I may not go to your site and see it. 10 pictures of pretty hotels or stunning beaches with a duration and price causes us to just scroll. Four locations with complimentary images and well written copy adds another dimension and makes us pause to read more.

Once you start you need to keep it going. Create a constant stream of content so your subscribers look forward to receiving your emails. Content marketing is a long-term strategy and can take time to begin to show results and there will be testing and learning during the early stages to see what approach produces the best results.

Make communication a two way street by building in interactivity using customer reviews, social media posts and shares. Make it easy for your subscribers to get closer to your brand through surveys and review invites.

For many of us, content marketing isn’t easy. Having enough good stuff to say becomes a constant challenge. It requires planning and a budget. You’ll need to create an editorial calendar and put resources in place to build a content library, ideally working a quarter in advance.

Content marketing strategy

So is it all worthwhile? Only time will tell but it’s already working for those brands that do it well. The use of content marketing is on the rise so we should at least investigate what can be incorporated into our email marketing communications to keep our subscribers engaged and coming back to buy more of our products and services.