Competition for subscriber mindshare is fierce. It starts with getting into the inbox, which requires a good sender reputation and a file of active and engaged email subscribers. However, reaching the inbox isn't a guarantee of high performance and ROI. You need to provide messaging that subscribers want to receive (at a preferred frequency) and interact with. It's also necessary to stand out from the gray mail - mail that subscribers signed up for, but no longer want - and ensure subscribers don't mistake your campaigns as something they'd rather see lumped into the "everything else" folder.
Just as important as distinguishing your messaging from other marketing and promotional messages is standing out from your competition, especially if a percentage of your list overlaps with theirs. For example, how many of your subscribers also receive email from your competition? How big is the percentage of overlap? Do these subscribers engage with your competitors' messaging more than yours? If so, what campaigns are the most successful? Make sure you have a competitive intelligence tool that can answer these questions for you.
Once you know where you stand, you need to make sure you stand out. Sound exhausting? It can be; which is why I often compare email marketing to golf. There are so many things to consider, analyze, and adjust before you even swing your club (or press send) that it's easy to experience analysis paralysis, become overwhelmed, and just keep doing what you've always done while hoping for a different outcome. Unfortunately, I can't offer any advice for improving your golf game, but I do have an effective solution for increasing your inbox placement, subscriber engagement, and the long-term health of your email program while preventing your campaigns from being lost in a pile of gray mail and competing messaging: content. Adding content-focused messaging to your email marketing strategy serves a variety of purposes:
What is the best way to create content for your email program? The good news is that content comes in many forms, can be repurposed across multiple marketing channels, and can likely be pulled from assets that already exist today. Here are some content ideas that work well for engaging with email subscribers:
A number of brands are successfully integrating content-focused campaigns into their email marketing plans today. Here are some great examples across three verticals:
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Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
As vice president of professional services at email intelligence company Return Path, Margaret Farmakis oversees teams of specialists helping global brands improve the deliverability, response, revenue, and ROI of their email marketing programs. Prior to her six years at Return Path, Margaret spent 10 years producing and managing multi-channel integrated direct marketing programs for Fortune 100 companies, focusing on the financial services and technology sectors.
March 19, 2014