ClickZ Content Marketing Jennings 15-Sept-2014

Note from Jeanne: I wanted to share this in case you missed it — it was one of the top ten most popular articles published on ClickZ in September 2014. Enjoy! 

Content marketing is all the rage these days; 90% of B2C Marketers and 93% of B2B Marketers are doing it, according to recent reports from The Content Marketing Institute (CMI). And email newsletters are a channel of choice for distributing this content, according to more than 75% of the marketers surveyed by CMI.

But like many things, successful content marketing is more difficult that it initially sounds. According to the CMI reports the #1 challenge is lack of time.

ClickZ Content Marketing Jennings 15-Sept-2014

Here are three simple ideas to help overcome it.

Have an Editorial Calendar
Successful content marketing programs are run like traditional editorial publishing groups. You need to work from an editorial calendar and, when possible, produce in bulk and schedule distribution.

A traditional editorial calendar lists the content that will be published, along with some information on sources and deadlines, for a given period going forward. How far forward depends on how frequently you publish, how timely your information needs to be and how organized you are (or want to be).

In general, you want to plan at least a week in advance (if you’re publishing daily) up to three months in advance (if you’re publishing monthly). I don’t recommend publishing less frequently than monthly; once you get to every-other-month or quarterly you won’t likely get the brand and top-of-mind impact you’re looking for.

Editorial calendars can be specific to one publishing vehicle or can cover all the content you publish via all vehicles. It’s your choice. An example of a very simple editorial calendar for a single issue of an email newsletter is below.

ClickZ Editorial Calendar 15-Sept-2014
Automate
Another way to save time is to automate the creation of each issue of your email newsletter. This is easiest when you are already publishing the content for your newsletter on your own Website or blog.

Starting from a template with distinct content blocks, a program is developed to pull content for each block from your existing Website or blog. If you’re segmenting your list, you can automate customization based on personas or other criteria.

While this type of automation requires an initial investment, the ongoing cost tends to be very low – much lower than manually creating each issue of your newsletter. The key to success here is developing the initial content block definitions and mapping each to where the content for the block will be pulled from your Website or blog.

While automation like this is, for the most part, ‘set it and forget it,’ it’s important to have someone monitoring the newsletters on a regular basis, just to be sure everything is working as it should. It’s also important to spend some of the time and resources freed up from newsletter creation to do testing to optimize performance on an ongoing basis. For this reason, the most effective automation programs include the ability to perform either A/B split or multivariate testing.

If you were going to automate the newsletter content, your mapping might look something like this:

ClickZ Automation 15-Sept-2014

Add Your Own ‘Take’ to Third Party Content
One of the easiest ways to showcase your organization’s expertise without taxing your internal resources is to start with a third-party article or report and ask a member of your team to read it and provide a value-added comment (typically no more than 100 words) related to the item.

This is a great way to put your organization’s own ‘spin’ on an issue without investing the time, money or resources to develop an original article or report. They key here is NOT to summarize the article, but to add to the points made in it.

This is something I recommended and helped implement for Alchemy Worx; here’s an example:

email worx what we're reading

Give this a try with your email newsletter and let me know how it goes!

Jeanne Signature Oct-2014 smaller still

Sherpa Blog 2010

Happy Throwback Thursday!

One of the things that I love about email and online marketing is the robust tracking and reporting available. The metrics tell you so much about how people are interacting with your email messages and Web pages — and you can use this information to identify areas with opportunity for improvement.

Back in 2010 I wrote a blog post for MarketingSherpa (at the time I was leading their full day Email Marketing Training Workshops in Canada, Germany and the United States) about metrics and numbers that every email marketer should know by heart. While some of the usual suspects (open rate, click-through rate) are on the list, many of the items are things that are often overlooked — even thought they are important for success.

Although the list will be celebrating it’s 4th birthday early next month it’s still relevant, so I decided to share it as this week’s Throwback Thursday (TBT) post.

Here are the first 5 from the list — do you know these numbers cold?

  1. Percentage of New Website Visitors that Sign-up for Email
  2. Abandon Rate on Your Online Sign-up Process
  3. List Size(s)
  4. Monthly List Growth Rate
  5. Bounce Rate

To get more detail on each of these and see the complete list of all ten numbers, read the full original blog post.

What would you add to the list today? I’ve got some ideas — let me know yours (feel free to use the comments section here) and I’ll give you full credit when I write the updated version.

Happy TBT!

Jeanne Jennings Head Shot 11 2013 smaller with spacer

Friday, October 3rd was my last day as Vice President, Global Strategic Services, for Alchemy Worx.

What’s Next?

I’m not 100% certain — but I am excited about what I’m calling ‘Jeanne 2.0.’

In the near term I’ll be doing some independent consulting. Thank you to those who have already reached out to me about projects. If you have work that I might help with, I’d love to hear from you.

In the longer term, the possibilities are endless and I am, as I said, very excited. I may:

    • Join an established agency (either multi-discipline or solely email) to help magnify the growth of its email marketing practice and provide better email marketing strategies and tactics to its clients
    • Become part of a vendor organization to help increase its industry profile and assist clients with better leveraging its technology to boost email results
    • Shift gears to the research side, to become a leading analyst on email marketing issues
    • Move back to the brand side in a Director or higher level position to significantly improve the bottom-line performance of a single organization’s email marketing efforts
    • Strike out on my own to start an email marketing agency that exceeds client expectations and raises the bar with regard to the bottom line performance of email marketing initiatives
    • Do something else that I’ve yet to envision

Once again, if you have ideas on my next career move or if you are with an organization that could benefit from my experience and expertise, I’d love to speak with you.

Some Things Change. Some Things Stay The Same.

Although my professional affiliation has changed, pretty much everything else about me remains the same, including:

  1. I am still passionate about email marketing
  2. I still love helping companies make their email marketing initiatives more effective and more profitable
  3. I still have a proven track record of email marketing success, be it measured by an increase in ROI, revenue, conversion rate or another bottom line metric
  4. I will still be writing my Email Marketing Column for ClickZ and my blog posts for Only Influencers, as well as looking for other opportunities to contribute to the industry’s body of published knowledge
  5. I will still be speaking at industry events — Catch me in November 2014 at ClickZ Live Chicago or the free All About Email Virtual Conference
  6. I will still be tweeting about email marketing (@jeajen)
  7. I will still be an active member of the Email Experience Council, helping with the Annual Conference, the Pollard and Thought-leader Awards and other initiatives that will benefit our industry
  8. I am still one of the World’s Top 50 Email Marketing Influencers

And I have some new tricks up my sleeve, including:

  1. I’ll be blogging about email marketing here at JeanneJennings.com, with a focus on practical tips to improve performance
  2. I’ll be relaunching my email newsletter in the very near future (see the sign-up at the top right of this page)
  3. I’ll be looking for ways to better leverage social media to evangelize about the benefits of strategic email marketing

Email marketing is my passion – it’s what I do, it’s what I love. I can’t imagine my life without it. Nor can I imagine my life without the friends I’ve made – and the friends I look forward to making in the future – in this industry.

Be well. Do good in all things — email and otherwise. Feel free to reach out to me – I always enjoy hearing from industry folks.

Best,

Jeanne Signature Oct-2014 smaller still