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Email is an effective and cost-efficient mechanism to communicate with prospects and customers. The cost per contact with email can be a fraction of the cost versus other targeted channels such as direct mail. Purchasing email lists, however, has a number of drawbacks. Typically, purchased email lists don’t work. Email marketing is most effective where the user has a perceived relationship with the company. People simply view unsolicited emails as spam. There is significant fear about opening and clicking on emails that aren’t from a company or brand people perceive having a relationship with, or have actually provided their email address.
A test we conducted several months back demonstrated this phenomena. People who had an existing relationship were 8 to 10 times more likely to click through versus emails sent to a cold list.
Additionally, purchased lists are plagued with other challenges, specifically risking high undeliverable rates, or negatively impacting your sender reputation. Undeliverables, or hard bounces, can occur, and as a result email providers will reject or delay messages from a domain that has high bounce activity because it reflects the behavior of a spammer. This can directly impact your sender reputation as your domain is now seen as questionable.
Content marketing provides a unique ability to help build your opt-in database. This is an extremely effective lead generation technique and one of the top mechanisms to ensure content marketing is working to build a prospect database. Even if you have an existing set of customers, content marketing can help provide reasons for them to provide their email address. Here are the 5 steps to leverage content marketing for building an email database.
1. Drive them to your website.
Blogs are at the core of any inbound marketing strategy, and the chief vehicle to get prospects and customers to your website. One of the key techniques to get users to the next step and capture their email address is to incorporate a call-to-action that leads the reader to other relevant content. This is a critical technique in migrating content marketing to a more response-oriented technique and essential to email data capture.
The goal is to lead the reader to other content, which is downloadable and requires an email address. Promote downloadable content that relates to articles or web pages that the user surfed on the site initially. Providing the reader with a mechanism to learn more about the topic is a natural extension to get them to the next step.
2. Get users to a landing page via content offers.
Now that the user has clicked through to learn more, it’s essential to optimize every aspect of the landing page and to provide a compelling offer that will incentivize users to provide their email address. Landing pages that focus on email data collection should stay extremely focused, simple and keep the user on task. Unlike landing pages that serve as the next step to email or direct mail, these landing pages should be assumptive and to the point. The goal is to ensure the content is perceived as valuable information that the target feels is worth providing their email address.
3. Create a unique landing page for each offer.
It’s impossible to replicate what is working if it isn’t measurable. Individual landing pages for each incentive or offer ensure measurement. Even though it requires more work and manpower, it’s essential to create unique landing pages for each offer. This ensures that each landing page is being optimized for one choice and that you’ll have clear access to understanding success and failure. Remember, the goal is to get the users to complete the download form.
4. Require an email address for a prospect to access the downloadable content.
Don’t give away any information, outside of blog articles, without capturing an email address. Ensure users provide an email address to gain access to information and downloads. This is the key to leveraging content development to build an opt-in email list. This gate is critical and a key to ensuring your website is transformed into an effective lead generation tool.
Operationally this is accomplished by utilizing an email with a link as the fulfillment for each offer. Once a user has completed the download form (which should be short, collecting only necessary data), send an email with a link for the download. This ensures that you have received an accurate email address. A thank you page should appear after the user submits the downloadable form, so the user is clear that the link for the download will arrive in their email inbox shortly. Typically people who have not completed the form correctly will resubmit the form with their correct email information.
5. Applying behavior to deliver relevant and personalized communications.
The opt-in email list is now at your fingertips to use as you see fit. One consideration is leverage behavior and the content that users engaged with to develop targeted, relevant communications. Applying behavioral information to personalize outbound and follow-up communications takes the entire customer experience to a more actionable level.
Email marketing is an essential element in most marketers’ mix today. Content marketing is an effective strategy to building an opt-in email list.
Topics: Inbound Marketing