The Lost Art Of Editorialized Email Content

I was recently at a client meeting when the inevitable benchmarking questions came up: they were comparing themselves to others in their space. And as that conversation carried forward, I was asked specifically what brands are doing a *great* job at striking the right balance between promotional content and editorial content within an email marketing program. Even though there surely are brands balancing promotional and editorial content well, unfortunately not a single one leapt immediately to mind.

Consumers have been trained to wait for discounts and deals in the inbox, so much so that these promotions are the prevailing reason for subscribing to email in the first place. (Some primary research about a year ago confirmed this very point.) Still, it’s important to remember that email is a relationship channel -- and a key element of any relationship is a sense of give and take.



Have you ever had a friend who constantly talked to you about issues she has with her significant other? Every time you speak, it feels like the same conversation (maybe the problem is a little different, but it’s a problem nonetheless). Eventually you build up a tolerance for the conversation, learn the right times to nod your head and offer some generic advice -- but you’re ultimately checked out and disengaged from the topic.

Constantly sending your email subscribers discounts and offers is no different. Eventually they will begin to overlook all of your messaging. So how do you combat consumers’ desensitization to offers? Add some variety to your content mix. After all, variety is the spice of life, right?

To be clear, I’m not saying there isn't a place in the program for promotional content -- because there absolutely is -- but it shouldn't be the only content you send. For those driving e-commerce, it seems the art of editorial content has been switched to "percent off" deals. Adding some spice to your program not only keeps customers on their toes, but it can breathe new life into your internal staff as well. Working on the exact same thing day in and day out becomes mundane for nearly anyone.

Here are three things to consider when rediscovering your editorial content (or finding it for the first time):

1.     Offer a variety of content. In order to keep customers engaged, you need to provide a sense of "need" for your email beyond a coupon. Create a scenario where you are sending several distinct email programs, such as a promotional program and a newsletter program. The key word here is "distinct," though. Your newsletter program must be something other than a consolidated view of your current promotional offers.

2.     Define an appropriate way to measure your success. Measuring editorial efforts with a hard and fast revenue number may not best reflect your success. Even though I have seen a number of cases when editorial content did drive substantial revenue, profit should not be the main purpose of the editorial program. Be sure to establish those metrics appropriately.

3.     Don't forgo revenue. Even though revenue numbers may not be the main measurement of success for an editorial program, driving revenue should always be encouraged. In the case of editorial content, the sell should be much softer, not avoided completely.

There are a number of content opportunities to keep your program spicy, but finding the right topic to drive value inside an editorially focused email program can go a long way toward increasing lifetime value for customers and enhancing positive brand perception. Maybe it’s time for you to rediscover your editorial content, too.

2 comments about "The Lost Art Of Editorialized Email Content".
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  1. Neil Mahoney from Mahoney/Marketing, January 20, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.

    As an ex-B2B magazine publisher, I commend marketers who can provide varied, interesting editorial content about their company & its products. When we published the magazine, we represented an entire industry, hence our content was viewed as unbiased and represented many products and services.

    How, as an information provider that represents just one company, do you maintain interest in you company & its products, plus appear unbiased?? Neil Mahoney

  2. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, January 21, 2014 at 8:20 a.m.

    Sounds exactly like the business model of Groupon etc.

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