Did they click on anything (besides delete or unsubscribe)? Did they visit your store, buy something, register for your event, or download your app? These answers often hinge on the style and substance of your content. Were you sales-oriented or informational? Was your content purely transactional, or did you provide value beyond the hard sell?
In short: Are you thinking like a content marketer?
In the flowing river of digital marketing buzzwords, “content marketing” sits right at the headwaters. That said, content marketing spend continues to grow and is expected to exceed $54 billion by 2019. But what exactly is content marketing and why is it important for brands to think about when planning email campaigns?
The Content Marketing Institute says: “Content marketing is a technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” It differs from advertising in that selling isn’t the main priority. Instead, content marketing’s value exists in the content itself, independent from any direct sales message.
Sure, sometimes a 50% off promotion is just that: a sales promotion. But how you position and supplement the sales part of your email, what you lead with and the words you use, can impact how consumers engage with your content. Here are three reasons you can benefit by integrating content marketing into your overall email strategy.
Content marketing engenders trust. There’s an implicit and special level of trust that consumers give a brand along with their email address. Brands can easily break that trust with non-stop push marketing. This isn’t to say that all email content must be Shakespearean, but building trust by being a resource is what makes content marketing work well with blogs and social, and it’s what will compel consumers to stay subscribed to emails and come back for more.
Content marketing stands out. Make no mistake — time is of the essence in winning consumers’ attention. Email may not be the best place for long form content. Calls-to-action must be pithy and bold, but providing content that’s interesting and brief is possible, even in the age of listicles. It’s summer. If you’re an auto insurance company, provide a downloadable playlist of top ten road trip songs in your email. If you’re an outdoor gear company, including a few recipes in your next email for simple yet delicious meals to cook over a campfire could be useful to your audience (and maybe even spark their interest in that Dutch oven you sell).
Content marketing can boost email ROI (even more). Email has long stood as the highest-ROI direct-marketing channel. Think about it. If your brand already uses content marketing for other channels (e.g. blog, social media, native advertising), you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Integrating elements of your existing content into your emails reduces the cost of creating new content. In fact, you don’t always need to be the one creating the content. User-generated content is a great way to increase authenticity and engagement.
This isn’t to say that hard sales messages are never appropriate. Both have their place in an email marketing strategy when executed competently. But to maximize success, make content marketing a core part of your program.