Email isn’t dead. Some might consider it a traditional or older digital channel, but it still performs well. Of course, the engagement it brings depends on the content. Email content should deliver value to recipients, not add noise to the inbox.
So, what’s the perfect recipe for email content to keep subscribers? There’s no one right answer to the question. There are, however, lots of great tips and insights you can use to turn emails into an experience for the receiver and satisfy goals in your content strategy.
What Does the Data Say?
Before we get into tips and ideas, let’s set the field by looking at email marketing statistics.
- It has a high ROI (return on investment): Email marketing generates $42 for every $1 spent. (See the breakdown by industry below).
- It’s a preferred channel: 73 percent of millennials prefer businesses to communicate via email.
- Engagement is still growing: 78 percent of marketers said they’ve seen engagement grow in the last 12 months.
- It’s a proven way to nurture and convert: 31 percent of B2B marketers believe email newsletters to be the best way to nurture. Email is also 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers versus some social channels.
- It helps with customer retention: 80 percent of professionals assert that email marketing boosts customer retention.
Looking at this data, it’s clear that email marketing can be very impactful. It’s a way to connect with customers, distribute content, and drive conversions. The biggest factor contributing to success and failure in the space is email content. So, what does your audience want to find in their inbox?
Email Content Should Align with Buyer Stage, Preferences, and Interests
Sending blanket emails to all your subscribers isn’t the best approach. There are certainly some email communications that can be broad, but segmenting emails leads to better engagement.
Segmenting is a top challenge for enterprise content teams. While you’re likely using powerful CRMs (customer relationship management) platforms, that doesn’t mean you have the right data. To segment effectively, you need to know key things about your subscribers:
- Industry: In most organizations, your messaging and products are different depending on use cases for specific industries.
- Buyer stage: If you’re using lead scoring tools, you should be able to track where the person is in the buyer’s journey so you can speak more relevantly to where they are.
- Interests: Do your content analytics reveal trends about previous behaviors? For example, you may have a subset of subscribers that have a high interest in a specific topic. If you know this, give them more of that.
- Prospects vs. customers: In most cases, email content for prospects and customers is different. For prospects, they are still on a drip campaign to nurture. Customers have different needs, so you can feed them upsell campaigns or thought leadership articles, helping you continue to deepen relationships and trust.
Key Stats to Evaluate Your Email Content
What are the metrics that matter in assessing the quality of email content?
- Open rates: You want to see this trend up. If your average is decreasing month-over-month, it could mean your subject lines aren’t resonating, or you aren’t targeting the right kind of buyers.
- Click-through-rates: Do email openers click? If they don’t, your email content isn’t compelling enough to read more or explore the offer.
- Bounce rates: If you see lots of hard and soft bounces in delivery, you probably have stale data. Without quality data, your email marketing won’t perform at expectations.
- Unsubscribes: If your unsubscribes and spam complaints are growing, your email list is in bad shape. Either subscribers didn’t opt-in, or they are no longer interested in your business.
Keep a close eye on these metrics as a tangible way to measure the impact of your email content.
Email Content Starts with a Subject Line
In just a few short words, you need to hook your audience. Subject lines need to give a hint of the value inside your emails. Without a relevant and intriguing subject line, recipients will never even open them. You also must balance good copy with being cognizant of what could land your email in spam jail.
Email subject lines are perfect for A/B testing. As you continue to generate data about email marketing performance, you can refine your subject lines to lead to more opens and engagement. It’s part science and part art, and it’s also a moving target. It’s something you’ll need to evaluate and improve continually.
Tips and Ideas for Email Content that Fosters, Converts, and Engages
There are many different types of email campaigns—drips for nurturing, promos, newsletters, and announcements, to name a few. Nothing revolutionary is happening in the types of campaigns, but there’s always an opportunity to innovate and try new things.
Top Blog Post Emails
Email is a perfect content distribution channel. Subscribers may receive blog updates via automated emails that send when you publish new posts. You may also do a content roundup in a newsletter. But these types of emails are what’s new, not what’s top-performing.
Look at your content performance over the last 12 to 18 months and find the top five posts. If they are still relevant, leave them alone. If they could use a refresh, do it. Then send them out as the top blogs, which could create interest, kind of like a FOMO. Everybody else is reading these, so I should too!
Industry Expert Profiles
Do you have riveting case studies? Interviews with thought leaders? This type of content could be very engaging for your readers. Packing a few together allows them to see your reach and could enhance your credibility.
Data and Surveys
Conducting original research and sharing what you find, is great email content. You’re not selling anything but your expertise. Invite them to download your report. For those who do download, follow up with another email that takes specific points and adds more insight. It’s an excellent approach to build thought leadership and trust.
Email Content: Giving Your Readers What They Want
Email content is really the beginning of a conversation. That’s what email is all about. To get subscribers to participate, you have to know what they like, segment strategically, and take chances to heighten engagement.
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