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Four Ways E-mail Helps Power Search's Long Tail

  |  January 6, 2010   |  Comments

Tips to synergize your digital content across channels, and a look at those powerful connection points.

Say something interesting -- or nothing at all. This is a hallmark of successful digital conversations. To participate, brands must have something to say. However, it's not a trivial task to create all that content for all those landing pages, Webinars, blogs, newsletters, Web sites, white papers, tweets, social network fan pages, forums, and newsgroups.

Even if you have great content it's worthless if you can't turn it into demand generation and lead flow. The two great traffic drivers in digital marketing -- e-mail and search engine marketing -- are friendly, but distant. However, there are some powerful connection points, particularly in how e-mail marketing can help power the "long tail" of search optimization -- those extended content links that help ensure you capture traffic searching for topics related to your business.

  1. Serialize it to improve conversion. Feature specific and short-term e-mail series options on search landing pages to engage and nurture initial interest. This is especially valuable for prospects in the research stage, as it gives the marketer an opportunity for multiple touch points. For example, take the content of your Webinars and white papers and offer them as a multi-message e-mail subscription. These become short-term conversations specific to a topic. Many prospects will download a white paper and never read it, which defeats the purpose and deadens the chance for meaningful follow up. Business professionals are more likely to read a brief e-mail than dig into a long white paper or watch a recorded Webinar. More educated and informed prospects should make better decisions about consideration of your products and services. As you build trust and brand awareness during the series, be sure to encourage them to sign up for your ongoing e-mail newsletter as well.

  2. Utilize e-mail content to be found. The work that goes into creating an e-mail newsletter often doesn't help your search results. Simply posting your e-mail newsletters to a hosted page may not be optimizing results. Instead, consider publishing an RSS feed of your newsletter directly to a blog; either your primary business blog or one dedicated to this purpose. Eloqua, a marketing automation company, has had good success "experimenting with a simultaneous e-mail-publish-to-RSS feed, that creates its own content rich site," according to Steve Woods, cofounder and CTO. "That makes it searchable, even if the feed page itself is not a destination," he says.

    Be sure this feed lives on your domain, of course. Even if the feed isn't designed for humans, another benefit Woods has discovered is that sales teams love to receive it. "Sales teams get frustrated because they feel they are never told what is being sent out. This feed is an easy way to give them access to all your event, newsletter, webinar and social media content."

  3. Learn from customer searches. Use the data from customers and prospects across channels. What are the terms they use to find your solutions? Use those same words in your e-mail subject lines and tweets.

    "Odds are, the keywords your prospects use to reach you are also the keywords that resonate with folks you are trying to reach via e-mail and social media," says search optimization expert William Leake, CEO of Apogee Search Management. "Search keywords connote intent, and especially in the b2b world, often connote pain the way that the users describe it themselves."

    Fellow ClickZ columnist and Web optimization expert Bryan Eisenberg agrees. "You want the search engines to index the content and with today's real time search and Google and Bing returning results from Twitter, it's also a good idea to Tweet it as well," he says.

  4. Improve conversions. Search conversion data from PPC (define) landings pages can also be a great source of inspiration when designing e-mail forms and landing pages, according to Leake. "It shouldn't surprise us that the same people search and sign up for e-mail," he says. "Search terms, comments on your blog and successful e-mail subject lines are all great sources of language that resonates with particular audiences."

    Eisenberg notes, "It is critical to post e-mail content on the web, both as a place for visitors to land if they are interested in bookmarking or sharing the content through social networks, as well as for those who want to search for that content later on and didn't keep the e-mail."

    This is also a great way to segment your file. If the language you're using or the search terms certain audiences are using aren't a good fit for the targets you want to reach, then use conversion data to prove that you need to shift.

How are you synergizing your digital content across channels? Please add your comments below.

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Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org). Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.

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