Once upon a time, e-mail marketing was considered intrusive, at best. Sure, there were plenty of people willing to sign up to get coupons and discounts from their favorite business, but if you were an “e-mail marketer” you were just a rung or two above a telemarketer on the scale of professions people didn’t like.
The factor that gradually changed the environment of e-mail marketing in the last 10 years is content. Companies today are focusing more on relevant content aimed at consumers who opt-in to the messaging. It’s no longer an e-mail “blast.” It’s a gift-wrapped package of goodness the receiver wanted in the first place.
You can thank the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 for a lot of that. But I think you can also thank the consumer demand that produced a shift toward a content-centric web, the immediate precursor to what we call social media. Content is king. If you deliver good stuff, people will consume it.
I’ve called myself an e-mail marketer for a mere four months now. Sure, I’ve helped clients with their e-mail efforts, too, but I started my own e-newsletter in October. Thanks to my e-mail partners at Blue Sky Factory, I’ve learned a graduate degree’s worth of information about e-mail in that short time. That, along with my previous experiences, leads me to one firm conclusion: Social media is critical to modern e-mail marketing.
It’s All About The Content
A good e-newsletter is like a series of very useful, short blog posts put together in a fashion that serves the audience good information in bite-size portions, then perhaps directs them to where they can find more. Coupons and discounts still serve a purpose, but if you spit out 300 words or so of just company news that doesn’t resonate with the subscribers, you soon won’t have many. The same content rules apply in blogs and social media outposts. The content has to be good.
Growing Your List Is Now About Sharing
You can’t just buy lists and add them to yours anymore. Legalities aside, your audience won’t appreciate the practice and you’ll be labeled a spammer. Promoting your list is a great jump-start, but the way you’ll grow qualified, interested audience members is when your current readers share your content. Whether it’s the “Forward To A Friend” button or social media sharing on sites like Twitter and Facebook, your readers will grow your list for you so long as you provide them both reason and motivation to do so.
Great content (the hub, if you will, of social media) begets great sharing (one way you build trust in social media) which grows your audience and helps you build a community (often the aspiration of social media marketing). And that community is a collection of people who voluntarily signed up to be in your tribe. They are your influencers, your fans, your ambassadors.
The area I’ve focused most of my studying upon recently is the Share With Your Network (SWYN) effect. In fact, D.J. Waldow and I have prepared a free webinar on the SWYN effect. We’ll present it as one of Blue Sky Factory’s free webinars at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT Wednesday. You can sign up to attend here. And if you’re occupied at that time, Blue Sky will have it available shortly after at their webinar archives.
As a bit of a teaser, here are some interesting items you’ll learn more about in the webinar:
- Exploring Social Media (my newsletter) saw a reach increase of an astonishing 107 percent from November’s newsletter.
- With good SWYN metrics, you can tell which singular subscriber spreads your message to more people, helping you identify your biggest brand influencers.
- Incentivizing sharing produces real results that grow your list to people who want to be on it.
And if you think e-mail is sooooo 2006, we’ll help you understand why it’s not.
In the meantime, tell me how you use e-mail marketing, or how you would if you don’t currently. What challenges and questions do you have about e-mail marketing that either I, or your fellow readers can help with. The comments are yours.