How to Take Your Email Marketing Outside the Inbox

Email marketing is personal, a one-to-one medium in a world of noisy social networks. More than anything else, it's about a crafting a communication that makes a connection with the individual, whose valuable inbox space you are entering with your business. Even so, that doesn't mean that your emails should ignore the idea that they can bring value to people other than the recipient. Email marketing works best when your messages are carefully targeted, yet easily shared. There are ways to encourage wider distribution without sacrificing that special connection between you and your subscriber. In fact, if the content you provide is valuable enough, sharing it becomes a part of the relationship and can strengthen that bond you're building. [caption id="attachment_3597" align="aligncenter" width="639"]email marketing puzzle piece Image Credit: Marie Elena[/caption]

Expand Your Email Content

You know by now that your content, whether it's email, articles on your website, or social media updates, must be be more than just an automated sales pitch. To stand out against the vast sea of "same old, same old" content, you have to think about what will make customers laugh, learn, or love your business because you make them think about or feel something. People who follow you on any channel usually want the value of your expert opinion and insights. This is especially true of email subscribers, as they're allowing you into a more private space where they also manage business and personal matters. Think of email marketing as your highlights clip, showing off your best advice in that one monthly (or weekly) opportunity you have to enter your subscriber's inbox. Viewed in this light, you have a chance to review your other marketing channels for the best (and worst) of your content. This is valuable as you need to know what's performing, and what. We've talked about this before in terms of blending your marketing mix, but this approach sets email apart as a distinct communications channel, while still relating back to other contact points with your customer Try mixing more of the following into your next newsletter to see what increases subscriber opens and engagement:
  • A popular picture that you've recently posted to Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Top tips that you've tweeted during the month. You can take this opportunity to expand upon that advice, or link to other resources that do so).
  • Spotlight customers or suppliers who help to make your business what it is. This is a smart way to weave in brief testimonials without directly selling the fact.
  • The most insightful comments from Facebook fans about your product or service (a great way to both add value to other customers and highlight what you do.)
  • Links to your most popular blog posts, which can sometimes get buried in the sands of time, even when someone subscribes to your site.
  • Serialize longer form site content across several emails, or amalgamate it all into one email with links to all the related posts. This provides another way to re-purpose isolated articles into a collection and drive extra traffic that they otherwise would not have seen.
  • Offer unique feature that provides deeper advice and is only available to email subscribers. This can also be built out into a regular section of your mails, to keep readers coming back for more.
Remember to include easy social sharing and forward options in your emails. Prompting readers to share your content - and making it easy to do so - when you've just delivered the most value is crucial to getting that personal inbox message out to a wider audience. It also connects the dots to your social outposts, where people are reminded to like your Facebook page or follow you on other networks. [caption id="attachment_3198" align="aligncenter" width="570"]approaches to online business When you think marketing, think across all of your business media.[/caption]  

Bring It Back to the Inbox

The final point in the list above is especially important, as it closes the loop on your email marketing efforts, because your email list is the next best thing to your website in terms of web assets that you can control and measure. Try to reserve a special amount of value for your subscribers. Let everyone on the outside know that what goes on in their inbox is even better than what they see on social media. By making it easy to subscribe to your list and offering free ebooks, reports, industry-insider knowledge, or whatever unique insights you have to offer, you give visitors added incentive to sign up for your mails and keep coming back to open them. Increased activity on your emails holds the potential to give you all kinds of customer insight in return, including:
  • What type of content your audience responds best to, and how you can mold it into a compelling case to buy from you.
  • The language and terms that help to convince customers to click, research, and eventually buy. This can then be applied to all kinds of marketing assets, from online landing pages to printed materials.
  • Which other marketing channels your email readers want to connect with you on, and therefore where you should synchronize more of your content strategy elements.
  • What subjects make most sense for your business to address, and the kind of free content that goes down well with potential customers.
  When it comes time to focus on your next big product push, you'll be glad you've earned that email access and have the data to support whatever strategy you've chosen to roll out!

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