The various practices of digital marketing are deeply intertwined. SEO affects paid efforts, and content can make or break your social media campaign.
However, few digital marketing concepts are as closely connected as email marketing and content creation. When marketers grow concerned about their email efforts, they often turn to content.
The past two years have been hectic in the world of email marketing, and many industry professionals are changing how they strategize, bridging silos in order to run successful campaigns.
Check out some of the latest email trends below to learn how content marketers are serving as a valuable support system for their profitable strategy.
Let’s Bury the Myth That Email as a Platform is Ineffective
The first step to understanding the value of email and content marketing is dispelling the idea that either tactics are dying. Over the past few years, marketing professionals have fervently defended email marketing from seemingly unseen forces claiming its demise.
According to research by eMarketer, email marketing has an average ROI of 122 percent, four times higher than social media (28 percent), direct mail (27 percent), and paid search (25 percent). Even though marketers only invest 16 percent of their budget on average, it makes up 23 percent of average total sales.
Sarah Peterson from Unsettle.org defends email marketing by explaining it’s one of the only things marketers can control. Google algorithms change each year, meaning sites can gain or lose SERPs on a whim. Facebook recently changed its algorithm, throwing the marketing world through a loop.
However, you will always have your email contacts and will always be able to reach them.
The idea that email is dying has gained such a ferver in the past few years that Jordie van Rijn even created the website Emailisnotdead.com with monthly updated statistics proving exactly how not-dead email is. Check back for use statistics and links to supporting articles any time someone tries to tell you email is dying.
If email marketing is alive and well, then why are so many people concerned about it? Why are people convinced that the tool is on its way out?
Where Email Marketing Typically Goes Wrong
While email marketing isn’t dying, it does have its problems — like every other marketing tactic. Of course, just because email marketing has it’s problems doesn’t mean it needs to be completely rejected. Dismissing email marketing for its flaws is a waste of potential resources.
Understanding these flaws and where they come from can help your brand overcome systematic problems.
Marketers Lack the Resources to Grow
Some companies take the high ROI that comes with email marketing for granted. They don’t see the need to improve on their email strategy because they’re focused on other channels that are struggling more. They focus in on putting out fires instead of growing what works.
However, just because something works well doesn’t mean it couldn’t use help to improve. Chad S. White, research director for Litmus, polled hundreds of email marketers to determine their biggest email challenges for 2018. Among this responses include:
- Poor coordination between other departments (16.4%)
- Insufficient staffing (14.4%)
- Bad strategy or leadership (12.8%)
- Lack of quality data and integration (12.2%)
This shows that departments want to grow their email efforts and provide valuable resources to readers, but struggle to prove the value of their work. Without the support they need (in the form of co-workers, leadership, staff and tools), email efforts are bound to flounder — giving the impression of a dying strategy.
Customers Are Wary About What They Subscribe To
Another issue that email managers highlight is list growth. It’s harder in 2018 to grow an email list than ever, and even harder to get people to pay attention.
Gary Vaynerchuk says consumers are more careful with email in the same way that they’re careful when liking brands on Facebook. People used to like and subscribe to anything. Now that they know what they’re signing up for, they’re more cautious.
“Once you understand that marketers have ruined it, you’re a little bit more careful with that like button and email sign up,” he writes.
However, consumers are still willing to sign up for email newsletters if they feel like they know what they’re getting.
Email Fatigue Means Customers Are Tuning Out
An additional problem that marketing managers contend with is email fatigue. The team at Precision Dialogue recently explored this concept and why it is driving customers away from email. While your customers might unsubscribe because they feel overwhelmed by email as a whole, it’s more common that they don’t like what you’re sending out or how often you’re sending content.
Essentially, blaming your customers for the death of email as a whole will only hinder your email marketing strategy. You’re better off looking inward to see what ails your email content.
How Content Marketing Can Help Email Marketing Grow
Your email marketing can’t be successful on its own. No amount of curated lists and strategic sending can make email marketing succeed without great content.
In an article for Content Marketing Institute, Jodi Harris shared an infographic highlighting how content and email work together. Both B2B and B2C companies stand to benefit from these tools. In fact, 93 percent of all marketers use email to distribute content, and 74 percent of marketers say it’s the most important content distribution channel in their arsenal.
Marco Marini, CEO at ClickMail, shares some of his own company’s statistics on email marketing relevance. Of email marketers surveyed who consider themselves very successful, 55 percent named content creation the most important key to success. This was followed by email personalizations at 17 percent.
One of the main reasons successful marketers are denying the death of email is because they have taken steps to improve the email experience with content. By improving your content marketing and intertwining it with your email strategy, your overall traffic and lead generation efforts can grow.
You Should Focus Primarily on Content
Email marketing has plenty of moving parts. There are segments, layouts and other factors that managers worry about. This often makes content a forgotten element, as marketers become so worried about how they will send it that what they send takes a back seat.
“Most marketers will tell you that [content] is the most time-consuming part of their strategy, but it’s also the most important,” the team at PostUp writes. “If your content doesn’t compel your reader to keep clicking, email’s revenue potential is wasted.”
The first step toward improving your email marketing is making sure what you have to say is important and relevant.
Your Content Needs to Align With What You Promised
The team at AWeber Communications says marketers have a habit of saying what they want to get people to sign up for their emails, only to bombard them with irrelevant messages. If you have ever signed up to “receive industry news and insights” from a blog only to get a sales consultant pitching you the next day, you understand this.
Brands that struggle to maintain subscribers often aren’t giving readers what they want. This is one big reason why subscribers churn.
Your Email Content Needs to be Unique
The team at IZEA highlights a few ways people make mistakes with email marketing. Too often, they send the same content in their email bodies as their social media campaigns. This burns people out: Your email is irrelevant to people who already saw the content on Facebook.
Additionally, no one likes to be on the receiving end of a “spray and pray” approach to content marketing, where brands share their content everywhere and to everyone and hope it gets picked up somehow.
Email marketing is ideal for honing existing customers and building customer loyalty. The team at Apsis points out that a 5-percent increase in customer retention can grow an online business by 25 to 95 percent. Email provides a medium for growing loyalty. While social content might target new customers, email is the home base for your existing customers. You can be different and more loyalty-focused.
Your Email Content Should be Highly Personalized
Along with creating targeted content for loyal audiences, your email campaigns should be highly personalized. It’s unlikely that every piece of content you create will be relevant to everyone on your list. That’s what segmentation and personalization are for.
“The best content marketers who are also great email marketers are now starting to think about email and content as connective tissue for the broader digital journey,” writes Damian Borichevsky, SVP of customer success and business development at OneSpot.
In particular, using data to determine which content will have the highest success rates in email can help marketers improve their efficiency.
“In order to create personalized experiences, you need information about your subscribers,” Tori Johnson writes for Campaign Monitor. “You need to know their preferences, interests, location, gender, age, and other attributes in order to send compelling campaigns.”
These factors actually play off of each other. Not only will you know what content to share with your email clients, but your email clients can determine what content you create.
You Need to Anticipate Customer Changes
One of the biggest mistakes in email marketing is placing a customer in one segment and never changing them. As customer behaviors change, their needs change and they might not be right for certain segments anymore.
“Subscriber expectations change as they move through your process,” the team at GetResponse writes. “To provide value, recognize various needs across the email marketing funnel.”
If you’re not analyzing customers to understand what segments they fit into or where they fall in your sales funnel, then you’re bound to share irrelevant content and turn off anyone who signs up for your email list.
The people who are most likely to say email marketing is dying are also the ones who aren’t doing it well. They’re also likely the same people who aren’t focusing on the content they share in their email bodies. By combining content marketing and email marketing, brands can reap the high ROI that email marketing is known for while ignoring others panicking around them.