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Four ways to make the most of your content with email

Content

Creating quality content is tough, so you when you do, you want to make sure it’s working as hard as possible. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your content by using it to drive your email marketing.

Personalization

We identified personalization as one of the top marketing trends for 2017. We hope you’re already engaged in some basic personalization: using customers’ first names and doing some segmentation around location and basic demographics. We challenge you to go deeper using content that’s on hand or readily available.

Here are some elements you can use for deeper personalization:

  • Location: You likely know customers’ zip codes. What does this information tell you? Does someone live in a city, the suburbs or a rural area? You might segment your list this way and send articles that appeal to those different lifestyles.
  • Weather: This is another location-based technique. By drawing in weather data, you can promote snow shovels or swimwear to different segments.
  • Live product feeds: One very valuable source of content that is readily available is your product database. You can insert a feed of your live stock level of a particular item, or include those highly effective product suggestions based on what a customer looked at or bought on your site.

Dynamic content

Dynamic content is a subset of personalization: It involves automatically tailoring the content of an email to a specific person or context. It’s a big part of the First-Person Marketing strategy we’re always on about. But dynamic content deserves a bullet point of its own.

In addition to the personalization tactics we outlined above, dynamic content includes elements that are constantly updating in real-time, such as a countdown clock showing how many hours are left on a particular promotion or a map showing the nearest location of your branch or store. Your email platform may also allow you to include embedded videos that play when the email is opened, eliminating the need for a customer to click through to a website.

Make video work 3X harder

Not every brand needs to create video with high production values. In the past few years, Vine, Periscope et al. have got us used to enjoying simple videos shot on phones. Whether you choose to hire professionals to shoot your video or take the more casual approach, remember that a single video can generate a multitude of stills.

Most consumer-grade video editing programs make it easy to take screen grabs. Use these images to add interest to your email or to tease the actual video. For example, you could use a series of stills in your email layout and include a link to the actual video. Another tactic is to send a teaser email with the images and follow up with an email in which the video begins playing on open.

Don’t stop there; you can also make one or more animated GIFs from that same video. PhotoShop makes this easy but you can also find free, online GIF animation generators.

Facebook and Twitter are rife with animated GIFs for a reason: They’re eye-catching and fun, but they require only a small investment of attention. While tumbling puppies and raving cartoon characters are ubiquitous, animated GIFs can be subtle. They can be used to demonstrate product features or their use, or simply add some visual pizazz, as in this example with a scrolling banner from River Island.

river island dynamic email content

river island scrolling banner

They’re also effective. Marketing Sherpa reported that Dell used a GIF animation to demonstrate its XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook. The animation increased the click rate by 42 percent and conversion by 103 percent.

Social proof

It’s not news that everyone is influenced by the opinions of their friends and people they admire, the so-called influencers. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out, says this “social proof” is one of the three pillars of getting your message understood and appreciated. The other two pillars she identifies are content creation and your network.

These three pillars are highly relevant for marketers. Content creation is something you do almost every day, and you can think of your email subscribers as your network. Adding social proof increases the power of your marketing.

Your social media followers are generating valuable content every day – content you can share with your subscribers, as well as use as social proof.

Some email platforms allow you to feed in or embed social media content such as tweets about your brand, a campaign hashtag or other relevant topics. And this is another form of dynamic content.

Email = distribution

It’s easy to forget that email is an excellent distribution platform for all kinds of content. Email is inexpensive, effective and with the right platform, it requires little overhead to create a robust content marketing program via email.

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