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