September 25, 2012
How To

Email Marketing: 6 tactics on combining content and email strategies

SUMMARY: Email without content to share with a database of potential customers is just technology, not marketing. In fact, Chris Baggott, Chairman, Compendium, and co-founder, ExactTarget, sees email marketing as a three-legged stool comprised of technology, data and content.

This article offers six tactics from Baggott. Read on for tips on content marketing and how it intersects with email, including mining customers for content, why the blog should be the content "hub," repurposing content, and even how to mine outgoing email from Sales and customer service reps for effective, and reusable, content.
by David Kirkpatrick, Senior Reporter

At the recent MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012, Chris Baggott, Chairman and co-founder, Compendium, a content marketing company, sat on a social media panel and provided a presentation on using email and social media to accelerate content marketing.

Content is a key component of email marketing for lead nurturing and providing prospects with information about products, services and news about the company and industry. At the same time, email marketing is an essential part of content marketing in getting that content in front of prospects and customers.

Baggott was also a co-founder of the email marketing firm, ExactTarget, which combined with his current focus at Compendium provides him with insight into both marketing channels.

This article covers the intersection of email and content marketing, and even includes one interesting tactic where outgoing email copy can be used to improve the content marketing strategy.

Tactic #1. Understand that content is a vital part of email marketing

Baggott described email marketing as a "three-legged stool":
  1. Technology

  2. Data

  3. Content

He said sophisticated and easy-to-use software tools created efficiency in email marketing. To take advantage of these tools, marketers then needed a database to create automated email campaigns.

Baggott described the change in email technology, "Right now, my dry cleaner has a better database than the largest retailer in the world [had] 11 years ago."

The last leg in that stool is content, according to Baggott. He said that good, relevant content in large quantity is the final step in email marketing.

He even provided an idea for creating effective, relevant content.

"The greatest marketing tactic in the history of mankind is the ‘similar situation’ story," Baggott said. "You tell me a story about [how] you helped someone exactly like me, and I am going to be inclined to trust that you could help solve my problem."

He continued, "The problem we have in marketing today is we don’t have enough of those stories."

Tactic #2. Make the blog the hub of all content

Baggott stated that the blog should be the hub of content for email, social media and search strategies.

The idea is any content on the blog is always available -- it’s indexed, searchable and can be reused.

This contrasts with any content that is only found in email. After just one use, it’s gone. It is not searchable, so it’s not improving SEO efforts and can’t be shared across social media platforms.

Content found on the blog can be dynamically pulled into email, as well as be o shared through social media.

Baggott explained, "(Marketers) can build dynamic content emails now because they have this vast library of content that sits on the blog, and is already working for them on search. Now they can make it work for them on email, Facebook and Twitter."

Tactic #3. Use internal resources to create content

To explain this tactic, Baggott offered a real-world example ...

Indium, a B2B company that makes solder, allows its employees to create content about its product and how that product can be used.

"They empower all of their employees, all of their engineers especially, to blog," said Baggott. "They don’t blog, ‘My solder is better than your solder.’ They blog about what the customer is doing with the solder; they blog about problems that they are solving."

He said the result is a blog that is the primary traffic source for Indium, and is full of very specific application of its products.

"If someone should search ‘golf cart solder,’ they are going to land on a (blog) post of a story about a golf cart company using (Indium’s) solder," Baggott explained. "They are not going to land on a generic homepage that says, ‘Oh yes, our solder is good for tanks and airplanes and golf carts.'"

He added that, from his experience, a blog post with a "similar situation" story that taps into the visitors’ needs or answers visitors’ questions converts at a significantly higher rate than the average Web landing page.

Tactic #4. Mine incoming email for content

This tactic will be more important for B2B marketers than consumer marketers. Customer-created content is a great marketing tool, and B2C marketers can reuse customer reviews and other similar content.

B2B marketers are more likely to ask for ratings or testimonials, and Baggott suggested sending email asking, "Tell us the problem you were trying to solve when you came to us."

Take these stories as they come back in the return email, edit them and turn those customer stories into blog posts.

These posts can serve multiple purposes:
  • SEO

  • Social media sharing

  • Dynamic email content

Baggott explained how to use customer story blog posts in dynamic email, "I am going to have an email marketing newsletter, and I am going to have people with certain data attributes."

He continued, "Some segment of my list is going to get that piece of content. (And) I am going to put in links, clickthroughs and calls-to-action trying to drive people back into the organization."

Tactic #5. Mine outgoing email for content

Baggott said that outgoing email messages from the sales team and customer service to customers and prospects that answer specific questions can be a gold mine of content. It’s just a matter of curating those messages.

He said there is value in "those three paragraphs that a guy is writing to a customer to explain why they should be using product ‘x’ in this circumstance."

He added, "A lot of people tell me in the B2B world, ‘I can’t get my employees to blog.’"

Baggott’s response is to ask if company employees send email -- an obvious affirmative. Then, he suggests they curate outgoing email messages for copy addressing customer concerns that can be edited and repurposed as a blog post.

Tactic #6. Repurpose content

Email copy can be repurposed into marketing content, but, at the same time, that marketing content should be repurposed as well.

It should be spread on social media platforms more than once, and used as a subject matter library to dynamically add to email where appropriate.

Baggott said, "Let’s say last year you had ten great pieces of content in your blog, you should want to retweet that content again, push it back out to Facebook, and put it out on your email marketing again. You have this content, repurpose it."

He mentioned one client in the tire business that had one blog post that brought in $10,000 last year. The company could make that conversion measurement because they placed tracking technology on every content piece.

That same post was reused this year, and promoted more successfully, leading to $60,000 in sales.



Related Resources

Event Recap: MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2012

B2B Social Media Marketing: 5 career killers and how to overcome them

Inbound Marketing: Unlock the content from your emails and social marketing

Getting Sales and Marketing into the Same Room: Marketing automation implementation spurs successful integration process

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