Email service provider Constant Contact is currently keeping data on some 200 million monthly emails sent by customers who use its platform, including open rates, click rates and bounce rates. The numbers are broken down by industry to make comparisons easier. In the second quarter, the overall average open rate for all industries was 34.46%. The click rate was 1.33% and the bounce rate was 10.09%.
In general, these numbers support the continued value of email marketing, particularly for B2B, even though some marketers say the focus should be on new primary key performance indicators (KPIs), as open rates aren’t the solid signal they used to be.
But even if click-through rates (CTRs) and conversions are better KPIs than open rates, no one disputes the value of a smart email campaign to build brand awareness, generate website traffic and leads, boost customer engagement, promote other marketing channels, such as blogs, and stimulate product trials.
“Email campaigns are an important part of inbound marketing, an ongoing process and philosophy where marketers meet buyers in whatever stage of the journey they’re in,” according to HubSpot. “Inbound marketing acknowledges that not everyone is ready to buy from you at this exact moment. That’s why email is such an important channel.”
OK, we get it. Email marketing is a smart strategy.
But what if the content generator (you or your team) struggle for relevant and valuable ideas? We’re going to be bold here and say that shouldn’t be a problem, as there’s always something you can say to your email list, even if that means you have to get creative in the process.
If you’ve read any of our other blog posts, you know we’re advocates of having a plan. You can’t just pull content ideas from thin air (well, you can, but it’s tough to sustain). Before you begin to document your content ideas, establish your marketing goal(s) and objective(s) for the campaign. What do you want to accomplish? Remember, marketing tactics alone rarely get you market share or make you money, so avoid making those your email marketing campaign goals.
If you have a new product or value-added service, you may want to create awareness or build association. If you want to educate your audience on how to use a new ordering system or a product, your content and goal will be different than if you want them to stock up on items. Know what you want your email content to communicate and accomplish so that, in part, you can measure your campaign’s effectiveness—in addition to building content ideas.
If you’ve documented what you and your team or company want to accomplish with your email marketing campaign, here are three ideas to implement so you never run out of email marketing content again. Create a planning document to tap into every idea you have, and you’ll soon see you have a host of options for consistent content.
Choose products or services to highlight
Highlighting products is always an effective idea for email content. But email messages don’t always have to push buy, buy, buy. If you manufacture products, describe how the product is made. Add photos for an extra level of specificity.
For example, if you have a product that dovetails with a relevant issue that affects the environment, educate your audiences about how that product can help build a more sustainable industry. You can include discounts, if your goal is to move inventory, but if you want to build awareness about a line extension or help customers understand why your product is different, start with an educational email.
Also, your email doesn’t have to be a specific product you offer. You can also use a supplier business, especially if that manufacturer produces numerous items in your catalog. You can highlight the reasons you use a particular supplier in your manufacturing process. And, if your business is in a service trade, you could even discuss what the service is and why it is so important to your industry/region/customer.
You can also choose company information to highlight, such as new employees or new vendors. Email recipients often appreciate the transparency of a look behind the curtain to how the company operates. It doesn’t need to expose you to risks, but it can help build trust in how you do business. An occasional message from your CEO or president also makes for good company info to highlight. If your goal is to build connection and engagement, this is an effective way to relay your humanness.
During the pandemic, we were among the many who looked forward to weekly email communications from Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison on leadership and life. His short messages were personable, as if he knew us by name, and yet universal. Korn Ferry may have won the CEO email message contest of the decade, or should.
Offer insights, tools and resources
If one of your goals is to start building your credibility as a thought leader in your specialty or niche in the industry, advice shared via email can be the formative blocks that help build your foundation. Use regional, national or global news of the day or week as a springboard to how it might affect your industry and your email audience. Provide links for your readers to learn more. Write a brief intro to an issue and link to a case study that demonstrates how you and your team approached a problem, challenge and solution.
Tips and advice also help position you as a reliable source your audience can count on. If your products can be used by Do-It-Yourself afficionados, include instructions, shortcuts or hacks that encourage use of your products. DIYers are the best at sharing what they learn, so your content can reach far beyond your initial audience. Share links to your blog content or explainer and how-to videos. Consider your email the connective tissue to deeper content on your site or in your brick-and-mortar store.
Myth shattering is one of our favorites to add to sharing insights in an email marketing campaign. Because myths exist in every industry (we bet you’re thinking of at least one right now), it’s easy to bust them and enlighten your customers.
Maybe the myth in your industry is that only baby boomers use Facebook or only young people use Tik Tok, or only those under 30 years of age make purchases on mobile. Do people think employees in your industry care only about trendy perks, benefits and lots of money? Look for your top industry myths and bring them down with facts, data and insider knowledge shared as part of your email content. How? Consider what a LinkedIn blog post suggests.
What are the myths in your industry or specialty that you’d like to bust open?
Use pivotal months or seasons for your specialty (and holidays) to connect
Every niche has a time of the year where work is steadier or there is a more pressing demand for what your business offers. Use this to your advantage by planning your email marketing content to mesh with those pressure points.
If your customers are typically busier in the summer, make sure you highlight in your content how you or your products can help them during a hectic and demanding time of the year. If winter is a season of planning, what can your business offer that assists customers with organization and preparation? Create content that demonstrates that you understand your customers’ struggle to find enough time or resources to deal with a specific problem. The more you can relate to what your customers are currently doing or what is going on in the industry, the better you’ll be in capturing their attention.
Even just highlighting a season in email content creates interest. Seasonal emails usually have higher open rates, as they create a sense of urgency because they’re timebound. You can be as specific as you want during a season, including creating a product page with selected products relevant to a season and promote that web page in emails. Or promote upcoming seasonal events, such as holidays, by offering early-bird discounts, sneak previews and exclusive access to deals. Email service Constant Contact demonstrates how using a seasonal email theme can work well (even though the example from CC is more B2C based).
Want more ideas to spark your content creator? This Content Marketing Institute blog on creating disruptive content is a thought-provoking read. Or contact us by phone or email and start a conversation. We can help with email content planning and ideas.
Open rates are not the most reliable key performance indicators (KPIs) anymore, but email campaigns still hold value in building brand awareness, generating website traffic, and stimulating customer engagement.
Before creating content ideas, it’s important to establish marketing goals and objectives for the campaign. Determine what you want to accomplish, such as creating awareness, educating your audience, or building connections.
Create a planning document and tap into various ideas, such as highlighting products or services, offering insights, tools, and resources, and connecting content with pivotal months, seasons, or holidays.
Instead of focusing solely on selling, you can describe how the product is made, educate audiences about its relevance to specific issues, or highlight the reasons you use a particular supplier. Educational emails can be more effective in building awareness and engagement.
Share advice, insights, and resources related to your specialty or niche. Use current news or case studies to demonstrate your expertise and provide tips, instructions, or myth-busting content to establish credibility.
Align your email marketing content with periods when there is a higher demand for your products or services. Address customers’ needs during those times and create a sense of urgency with seasonal promotions, discounts, or exclusive offers.
You can explore resources like the Content Marketing Institute blog for thought-provoking reads on disruptive content. Alternatively, reach out to experts in the field who can assist you with email content planning and generate more ideas.