Relevant Content: The Next Frontier For Email Marketing

"Content will be the next frontier for marketers using email." That is how the DMA sums up the future for email marketing as it gets firmly into bed with content marketing.

The problem, as its Email Tracker 2017 points out, is that there is a massive disconnect between what marketers do and what consumers want. Or to be more precise, there is a gap between what marketers assume consumers want and what they actually engage with.

Regular readers will remember that this column has examined this issue before -- but now, this week, the DMA is highlighting content marketing as email's major "pinch point" going forward.

The main statistic to bear in mind is that nearly one in two email marketers believe that content is key in driving effectiveness. However, just 4% of consumers -- less than one in twenty -- say they like receiving exclusive content via email.

The possible answer is that email marketers are not hitting the right buttons. Indeed, the tracker report suggests that a quarter of email marketers find that the lack of content is a limiting factor -- around the same proportion that also cite a lack of strategy and data silos as limiting factors.

So we have a situation where half of email marketers believe content is vital in developing and deepening relationships, yet just one in twenty actually look forward to receiving that content. Clearly, the disconnect is centred around quality and relevance.

I remember some very simple advice one that email marketer gave me a year or two ago -- help three times, sell once. His mantra was that every business had a way in which it could generate content that consumers would find useful. I seem to remember that we spoke about trades that would usually think they are dull, such as drain clearing or roofing. Any business in these areas, however, would likely have heaps of useful information to pass on, such as what not to put down the toilet, how to stop birds from nesting in your roof and so on. 

The point that the DMA is making is that if email marketers just carry on pumping out content without thinking too hard about what consumers will find truly helpful, this mismatch of half of marketers thinking content is useful and only one in twenty consumers agreeing will just carry on.

In fact, they point out that the average person now has 379 unread emails in their inbox at any one time. With email piling up, it will only get worse.

Email marketing needs to seriously "up" its content game, then, or what it thinks consumers want will not only continue to be ignored, it will add to the general inbox fatigue that makes grabbing attention ever harder.

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