This post is the fourth installment of our new series, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. For eight weeks, we’re featuring a new article that covers a specific area of focus in email! Want a sneak peek into the content? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. It’s easy to become obsessed with the latest and greatest “tricks” in email marketing: the formula for creating an effective subject line; the perfect call-to-action copy that will influence more of your subscribers; the ideal way to design an email that will bypass the spam filter. While it’s certainly a good thing to stay on top of the latest email marketing best practices, there is one key to boosting subscriber engagement that is often overlooked. And that’s sending valuable content your subscribers expect and want to receive from you. But how do you know if you’re sending relevant emails? What does “valuable content” actually mean? In this post, we’ll dive deeper into what it takes to create engaging content and how you can apply it to your emails today. Prefer to listen to this blog post? Check out the podcast adaptation of this post or watch the YouTube video:
So what is valuable email content, anyway?
The dictionary definition of “valuable” is “worth a great deal of money; extremely useful or important.” So content that is valuable to your subscribers should first and foremost be useful and important. As a result, the goal of every email you send and the foundation of your email content strategy should be to help your audience.
“I approach email marketing as the chance to open up a conversation. Of course, I have goals and objectives for my emails but I always look at what value I can add to the person reading my email before asking them to do anything.” – Mark Asquith, Excellence Expected[bctt tweet=”I have goals and objectives for my emails, but I always look at what value I can add. – Mark Asquith”]
To help you craft useful emails your subscribers won’t be able to find anywhere else, there are 5 questions to use as a litmus test for your content.
1. Is it useful?
The best way to create helpful content is to take what you know about your specific audience and brainstorm topics that addresses their needs and goals.
Using your subscriber/customer personas, you can identify ways to provide solutions to specific problems, help them achieve their goals, keep them up-to-date on industry news and so on – just be sure the education you provide ties back to your business.
To deliver this educational content via email, you can send either a broadcast or a follow up.
Broadcasts are one-time emails you can send to deliver time-sensitive information, such as a newsletter, blog updates or information about an upcoming sale or event.
In this email newsletter below from food blogger Meghan Young, for example, she shares her latest blog post:
Follow ups (also known as autoresponders) are emails you can create and schedule in advance to be automatically delivered to subscribers the moment they sign up to your list. Since these emails can run for weeks, months or years at a time, the content is usually evergreen (not time-sensitive).
Some follow up emails you might schedule include welcome emails, an educational course or a lead nurturing series.
Before determining which type of email you want to send, you should identify the goal of your message. Then, make sure it’s clearly conveyed to readers.
“I also make sure to be super clear on where the value is within the email for the reader. I only ever ask them to take one action and ensure that they know exactly what taking that action will result in.” – Mark Asquith[bctt tweet=”I make sure to be clear on where the value is within the email for the reader. – Mark Asquith”]
2. Is it interesting?
To create interesting content, there are a few writing principles to keep in mind.
First, choose a tone that works best for your audience. In many cases, taking a conversational tone can improve readability and help your brand appear more relatable.
However, if your audience expects a more formal tone because it’s more appropriate for your industry, then keep it formal. Again, reference your audience persona to confirm you’re writing in a way that’s most appealing to them.
“I treat my subscribers like I would someone I really respect and admire. I know some people who are very intelligent and discerning are on my email list and they read my stuff. So I don’t talk down to people, and I make it worthwhile to read my emails. I even bury jokes in the “P.S.” and small font at the end just to delight and surprise people who are paying attention.” – John Corcoran, Smart Business Revolution[bctt tweet=”I treat my subscribers like I would someone I really respect and admire. – John Corcoran “]
Second, organize your email content in a way that’s easy for subscribers to read and skim. In today’s fast-paced world, you may only have a few seconds to showcase the value of your email. So make it as easy as possible for them to understand.
To accomplish this, structure your content so the most important information is at the top. Additionally, use headlines, subheadlines and bullet points to break up large chunks of text. To emphasize important parts of your message, try bolding, italicizing or underlining words and phrases.
3. Is it unique?
As you consider what you want to write about in your emails, you may find that your topics have already been covered by someone else. But that doesn’t mean you can’t jump in on the conversation.
In order to make your content stand out from the rest, try taking a new angle on the topic. By doing so, you’ll be able to stand out from competitors and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
I also encourage you to try new content mediums where your competitors may not have big audiences. If your industry is flooded with blog posts and ebooks, experiment with other forms of communication like podcasts or video.
As you test different angles, keep an eye on your email performance to see what resonates best with your audience. To help you really stand out in the inbox, optimize your subject line to include specific references to what subscribers will learn in your email!
4. Is it what you promised in your sign up form?
A big reason why subscribers disengage with an email list is because the emails no longer deliver the value they were expecting.
When it comes to sending valuable emails, the expectations you set in your sign up form play a huge role. By telling people what you’ll be sending them in your emails (as well as how often they’ll receive them) before they sign up to your list, they’ll know what they’re getting into. Plus, you’ll be more likely to attract the right subscribers.
This will also prevent any unpleasant surprises for your subscribers, which could lead to spam complaints and unsubscribes.
Check out the sign up form from the previous example from food blogger, Meghan Young:
In the sign up form, she tells me what kind of content to expect in my inbox and how often it’ll arrive.
Once you’ve verified that you’re setting clear expectations, it’s time to follow up on your promise by delivering that content.
5. Does it align with your business goals?
Whether you send emails to build an audience, grow your business or both, the content you send should help achieve your goals.
When you’re not directly promoting a product or your service, consider how you can still give your subscribers opportunities to connect with you and become a customer. As you provide educational content, show how your business can also be an answer to their problem and include links back to your website.
Maybe there are ways you can include customer case studies or testimonials, or even share user-generated content from your social followers.
As long as you regularly deliver valuable content, providing opportunities for them to turn into customers should feel like a natural element of your emails, rather than a sales push.
If you keep these elements in mind, you’ll be creating valuable email content in no time.
Create addictive content
While all five of these tactics are great ways to craft engaging content for your audience, I encourage you to choose one and give it a try in your next email!
To learn even more ways to improve your email content (like what to write in your subject lines and welcome emails), check out The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing!