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Email marketing and content marketing are two must-haves for any modern business–especially a business that operates online. But if you’re treating them as two separate entities, instead of viewing them as activities that can work together for better results, then you’re missing out, and so is your business.

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What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a fairly simple concept: you’re marketing to people via email. Straightforward enough, right? The problem is that many business owners aren’t sure how to fit email marketing into their larger marketing activities, or how to do it well. These are big topics, each deserving of their own post, but to get a basic understanding, you should make sure to read our article on why a good email list is the lifeblood of your business.

In the meantime, we’re going to talk more about how email marketing and content marketing can work together in your business.

Looking at your marketing as an ecosystem

People tend to think of marketing as one sole activity, or one area of their business. If this was ever true, it’s certainly not any more–your marketing is more like an ecosystem than any one activity. If you think back to your high school biology class and remember what an ecosystem is, you’ll realize that means your marketing is comprised of individual components which are all codependent on each other, and can be set up so that they feed into each other.

For example, instead of thinking about social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing as separate activities, putting them together into one ecosystem can let you use social media marketing to drive people to your content, which in turn, entices people to sign up for your email list (which, as we talked about last time, has a higher conversion rate and return on investment than social media). Looking at things this way makes your marketing more effective and will get you a better return on investment for your marketing than if you looked at all of these as separate activities.

Given that, how can we make email marketing and content marketing play better together?

Re-use your content for email marketing

You put a lot of effort into creating solid, quality content for your site–why would you just let it sit afterwards? It won’t go entirely to waste, because it’ll still keep driving traffic, showing up in search engines, and creating backlinks, but you can get a lot more mileage out of your content by repurposing it in various ways, including in your email marketing. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Take a post or a post series and turn it into a webinar. Set up a landing page (there’s more on landing pages in our previous post) and use the webinar content as a way to entice people to sign up for your email list. You can pre-record the webinar (or do it live once and record it) and use that over and over again, or you can do it live and allow time for Q&A. Questions might be more time-consuming, but they can also give you valuable insight into your readers and potential customers that
  • Take a post, expand it, and turn it into a whitepaper that people can put in their email to download and read. If you have a previous post series that was well-received, you can edit it together so that it reads cohesively and turn it into a whitepaper, instead of using a previous one-off post.
  • Instead of creating a whitepaper, take a post series and turn it into a free email course using autoresponders. That means they sign up and get lesson one, then a week later, get lesson two, and so on, without you or your team having to manually send each lesson. For bonus points, you can create a Facebook group (or LinkedIn or G+ community) for people who sign up to the course, allowing them to ask questions, interact with each other, and post about the “homework” they’re doing or actions they took as a result of the course. Again, this will take more time, but the extra engagement might be well worth it. 

With all of these, it’s a good idea to look at your analytics to see which posts (or videos, or podcasts, or whatever form of content you use) have performed the best. Use those pieces of content as jumping off points for your repurposing efforts–if they were popular in one medium, they’re likely to be popular in another.

Use content to drive email leads

All of the above examples show you different ways to use content to drive email list sign-ups. Of course, you can also do that with new content. But even aside from using content as email-bait, you can use your existing content to drive email leads. You can do this by:

  • Adding a call to action in the middle of a blog post to sign up. You can either simply remind people to sign up for your newsletter (make sure to emphasize the benefits of doing so: discounts, additional information, etc.) or for more content. The Leads add on for SumoMe makes it easy to create embeddable call to action buttons that do just that.
  • Adding a call to action at the end of blog posts to sign up for your email list. People will naturally look for something else to do after they finish reading your post, so why not prompt them to sign up for your email list? Magic Action Box is a great free plugin that allows you to do this, with the paid version allowing for extra customization of the way the box looks.

Use email as a way to validate content ideas

A good content marketing strategy is constantly being honed, refined, and improved. You might think people want to see a certain kind of content from your company, but instead, they actually want to see a different type of content. How do you figure out where to take your content strategy? Among other options, you can use email sign-ups to validate content ideas.

Let’s take the previous whitepaper idea. You can create whitepapers on two different topics, or even a very similar topic with two different variations (make them for different industries, or rework the title to feature a different benefit of the information inside). If you drive an equal amount of traffic to each one, and Whitepaper A gets three times the amount of email addresses that Whitepaper B does, then you should use Whitepaper A as a model for brainstorming future content ideas, because your potential customers are clearly more interested in it.

All told, email and content can work together in a variety of ways to engage potential customers and grow your business. And if you need help creating and implementing a big-picture marketing strategy that gets results, don’t forget to give us a call.