In today’s digital world, “content is king” is the mantra du jour. But it’s of little use to just push out content, content, content. It’s one thing to fill your email campaigns with content simply for content’s sake. It’s quite another challenge to include content that matches your subscribers’ needs.
So the challenge is to know what your subscribers actually want to hear, what they get excited about and what type of content will drive them to eventually make a purchase. But the real question is, how to push the right buttons and yarn together an experience-rich email.
Selling awesome products
There are actually a couple of different ways to look at the relationship with an email subscriber. One is the sales-driven angle. Picture the sales manager or boss handing over a “list of demands”. This list has upcoming promotions and products he wants highlighted in “his” email campaigns. If you translate that directly into your email campaigns, you will end up sending offers, offers and …. more offers.
A misconception might be that subscribers are never looking to get offers. The customer views of email marketing study shows that a lot of people still sign up to receive discounts. If you are a daily deals site, that might work. People are expecting to get deals once they sign up.
But is the subscriber only looking for product info and offers? If you have products with superpowers that are able to be cool on their own it might also work, because the product IS the content. If you take that very literally, and you like movies / gadgets, the newsletter from www.sideshowtoy.com features superhero collectables, so it is more probable to avoid the cleanse. But content is rarely the product, those are exceptions.
Even if the products are cool enough, you might not only want to serve your catalogue via email. If you do something extra, cater to content needs, you can increase subscriber email engagement, but probably also convert / sell more. The content and the way it is presented fills the gap.
Wearing big brand content pants
Red Bull is one of those brands that takes their content to the next level. Literally to the next level, they go out and jump from space. Quite logical actually, because there is not a lot to say about energy drinks, but extreme sports, those are some interesting topics (for their target audience). If you look for content marketing examples, you get a lot of these examples, way too big for a “normal” brand to do.
So I am not saying that every company needs to wear the big brand content pants and go all out on creating crazy budget content. But you DO want to make your emails interesting or at least tolerable enough. There are plenty of purchases that are made emotionally, then we rationalize those purchases in our mind (but only after the decision has been made). A good feeling with the company is setting the stage for an environment where you are already comfortable to buy from them. And there are a lot low interest products and services out there. Can those also tap into the subscribers’ content needs and how to determine the right mix of content?
The content button to push
A great example was given by Lion brand Yarn. Doesn’t seem too much of a “hot” topic, but people who are into yarn crafting are actually very enthusiastic about it. So you could say their product is a superstar, but it actually isn’t. The new yarn catalogue, really?
So they offer educational how-to and inspirational content, but that doesn’t mean that every how-to will excite a blogpost on how to Crochet a button and it did very, very, very, well, so they put it into their newsletter. How is that for testing a button? But you really never know what that hidden golden gem is, unless…
Peeking into other channels
How to know what content will interest your audience? Now I am not just talking about content inspiration, but have a look at your own and competitors (social) channels like Facebook, Twitter and your blog / website. Just like Lion brand Yarn did. If one of your blog posts goes off the chart in interaction, it is likely to be a winning topic, although you should be careful if it is something which is more off-brand or edgy, not always does popular on Twitter correspond with the content needs of your subscriber base.
Next time I’ll go into the different types of content with some great examples, but for now think about how you can go beyond product driven content and catalogue-style emails, and use:
- Educational content
- Brand-building content
- Entertaining content
- Content that provides added value
It isn’t one or the other, either. The trick probably is to tie the content to the product and create a great email experience.