Email marketing may seem like a dead strategy, since the majority of us treat most incoming promotional emails as spam, but the reality is that email marketing can still be a beneficial lead generating strategy—as long as it fits in with the rest of your campaign.
Inbound marketing, content marketing, and SEO have slowly morphed into one interchangeable, composite strategy. In order to increase website traffic, improve search engine rank, or build customer loyalty, you need to incorporate all the elements of a solid inbound marketing campaign. The strength of that campaign depends on the amount of consistency you run it with; if you try to use four radically different approaches to attract new customers, you’ll likely see mediocre results. However, if you can align all those channels under one umbrella of consistent branding with one ultimate goal, you can harness the advantages of each of them.
As an illustration of this point, email marketing is most valuable when used in conjunction with the rest of your inbound marketing strategy. You can no longer count on an outbound “traditional advertising” style email blast to bring in new traffic every week. Instead, if you integrate your email marketing into your overall content marketing strategy, you can increase the size and loyalty of your target audience.
Your first option is to use email marketing as a means of promoting your content. If you use it this way, you won’t be explicitly advertising your products or services to your email readership. Instead, you’ll simply be offering them valuable insights and free information. This will make your email readership far more likely to open and read your emails, and you’ll be less likely to be flagged as spam.
Over time, your readers will become more familiar with your writing style and the types of content you post. Some of your readers will naturally unsubscribe, but others will grow to expect and look forward to your updates. It’s a way of subtly building brand loyalty by helping your company stay top-of-mind on a recurring basis. And of course, the more time your readers spend on your site, the more likely they are to convert.
There are two major ways to take advantage of this:
Either way, you’ll start email marketing to the people you already know, but you’ll need a way to attract new subscribers regularly if you want to grow your audience.The easiest way to do this is to feature “subscribe” buttons throughout your website, but any type of subscriber funnel can be successful.
Using an email marketing campaign to fuel your social media marketing efforts is even easier. You can actually use a content-focused email blast as your basis, and expand upon it to link your email marketing campaign to your social campaign. For example, at the end of each content excerpt in your email, provide buttons for users to quickly and easily share that excerpt on one of their social media profiles. The more people share your content, the more web authority you’ll build, and the more visibility your company will have. Eventually, that extra social media attention will result in higher page rankings and more organic web traffic.
No matter what type of body email you use, it’s a good idea to include links to your company’s own social media profiles. It’s an easy way to get a few extra people to like or follow you. You can also add in a free offer for email subscribers who like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter account. Set up a custom landing page to track who takes this effort, and send those users a discount or free promotion.
Conversely, you can take advantage of your social media followers as potential new email subscribers. You can offer “email exclusive” deals, content, or other incentives as a way to motivate your current followers to sign up. Remember, the goal here isn’t necessarily to get them to sign up for your email campaign (in whatever form it takes). The primary goal is to get their information. Every person who signs up is a potential lead, and you can segment your lists to identify which users signed up over social media, so you can market to them differently in the future.
Finally, you can use your email marketing campaign to gather online reviews, which will, in turn, improve your search engine standings. For example, you could create an email list that specifically targets customers who have already engaged with your brand, and send out an occasional email that prompts those users to review your business.
First, you could ask your users to post a review on a local listing, such as one found on Yelp! orUrbanSpoon. Getting lots of good reviews on a local listing site like these can significantly increase your local SEO ranking. You could even offer a small reward for those that take steps to review you—but don’t directly pay your users for good reviews, or you could get flagged.
Second, you could ask your users to post video reviews on social media or on their personal websites. Either way, you’ll get free visual content circulating the web alongside links that point back to your site. Again, you could offer a reward to your potential reviewers. Some large companies have held competitions, offering a major reward for the “best” video submission and attracting thousands of participants as a result. You can even tie it into social media using a hashtag.
No matter how you choose to use email marketing as a part of your company’s campaign, remember the fundamental principle that makes it effective: consistency. Your email marketing campaign needs to serve as a complement to the remainder of your efforts, supporting and enhancing the other marketing channels of your core campaign.
Over time, you’ll be able to gather more information about the key demographics subscribing to and reading your emails, and you’ll be able to refine your approach to best capture their attention. Like with any other inbound marketing strategy, it will take time and effort to perfect your approach. Experiment with different variations and different intentions, and try to segment your readership to get the most out of each demographic. In time, you’ll have a successful direct marketing campaign that also promotes your rankings in search engines with its secondary goals.