In part two of our short series on content marketing, Matt and Chris are chatting about email marketing. Is your inbox full of spammy emails you don’t remember subscribing to? Do you spend valuable time from your day deleting a load of crap that’s been sent to you by companies you bought something from once?
Email marketing can be awful. But email marketing can be great. A lot of companies make it awful, but some companies - like Hiut Denim - make it great. If you want to be one of the great ones, we have some tips.
Tip #1: The future is subscribed
GDPR and other tech initiatives are making it harder for companies to spam their customers - and this is a good thing. As a conscientious company who cares about the wellbeing of their customers, you should be happy that consumers are being given more power over the kind of content they choose to receive. But it puts the onus on you to provide content that they actively want to sign up for - and that’s where the challenge lies. Just understanding that the future of content marketing is going to be on the consumer’s terms can help you to craft better content.
Tip #2: Don’t spam your customers!
We all get a lot of rubbish in our inboxes. How much of that mail actually gets opened? Hardly any of it. The more crap you send out to your mailing lists, the less likely those emails will be opened. You know how it is - you book a flight with an airline, and then you get sent an email every week for the next three years about flight deals you don’t even want. Don’t oversaturate your audience’s inboxes with stuff they don’t care about.
Tip #3: Accept that most people don’t care about your news
Many companies fall into the trap of trying to share company news with their audience. ‘We’ve just expanded our warehouse!’; ‘We’ve just won a big contract with this company you’ve never heard of!’; ‘We’ve just had a paper published in this obscure journal!’; ‘We’ve reached this financial goal!’ It’s important to accept that most people don’t care about the stuff that goes on internally at your company. It may feel like big news to you, but it’s probably irrelevant to them. Understanding this can be the first step towards creating content people actually do care about.
Tip #4: Don’t just sell, sell, sell
One of the biggest turn-offs as an email user is the endless stream of companies trying to flog their shit to you via email. It’s all PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT, DISCOUNT DISCOUNT DISCOUNT. Nobody wants to read this stuff. Maybe once in a while you’ll get lucky, and send a sales email to someone who happens to be thinking about buying that item at that particular moment, but all the rest of the time it’s just instant trash. It’s okay to publicise your promotions, but don’t have a new promotion every day. If you are offering a great deal once or twice a year, you’ll get more uptake than if you’re knocking 20% off every ten minutes. Instead, maybe there is something better you can be talking about, something that actually brings value to your customers and improves their day?
Tip #5: Less can be more when it comes to subscribers
Often there’s an arbitrary goal like ‘Let’s get to 1,000,000 subscribers!’ But that doesn’t really mean anything if 99% of those subscribers bin your email without reading it. Instead, it’s much more valuable to have a small list of carefully chosen subscribers who really care about what you’re doing. The goal is not to target everyone, it’s to target those who believe what you believe. If you do this, you’ll have a much better chance of connecting with your audience and retaining their loyalty.
Tip #6: Understand your audience
It’s always the most important thing to do in any marketing exercise, and email marketing is no exception. Understand your audience, and create content for them. Are they busy and time-starved? Then don’t send them loads of stuff to read. Are they interested in animal rights? Give them some interesting content on this topic. Are they keen travellers? Write about your travel experiences. Make the content personal and tailored to your audience, and this will give them an incentive to open.
Tip #7: Is email marketing even the right choice?
Don’t just copy what your competitors are doing. There might be a better way to spend your marketing budget than email marketing. Think about what you’re trying to achieve and analyse the best way to get there.
Tip #8: Get the tone right, align it with your brand, and be authentic
Your email marketing is a part of your brand, so make sure it’s telling the right story. How can you help or entertain your audience with this email? How well does this email communicate your core brand message? How accurately does this email reflect who you are, as a business, and as an individual? Think about your tone of voice and the type of imagery you use. All of these things can contribute towards cultivating brand loyalty with your customers.
Who do it well?
Our favourite marketing email is always from Hiut Denim. They thoughtfully curate interesting and intelligent content that we’re interested in. It’s not all about jeans - it’s about their philosophy, which is very similar to ours. They share other people’s content that’s aligned with their vision. The overall experience leaves you feeling better and more intellectually nourished than before. And that’s a rare thing to get from an email.
Here’s the breakdown
00:00 - Intro
01:48 - The future is subscribed
04:05 - Don’t spam your customers!
04:55 - Accept that most people don’t care about your news
06:15 - Don’t just sell, sell, sell
08:11 - Less can be more when it comes to subscribers
10:01 - Understand your audience
10:47 - Is email marketing even the right choice?
11:20 - Get the tone right, align it with your brand, and be authentic
Freebies and downloads
Transcript Show / Hide
Chris, get your nose out of that exciting book there. Have you got, um...
It was all about, um, globe artichokes. It's just too fascinating.
Oh, I was expecting a saucy postcard or something where you were pretending to read a vegetable book, but actually you were looking at naughty pictures.
I mean, as you can tell, I'm really into my vegetables.
Hi, I'm Matt.
I'm Chris. It's another Monkey Monday.
It's another one. And it's part two of our content marketing.
Yeah. It's to finish off the cliffhanger from last week.
It was good, wasn't it? If you didn't see it, just check, check out the, uh, the trader at the end. Worth it for that, right, Chris?
Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Should you watch them in the proper order so there's some, this isn't a spoiler? Anyway.
I don't know. I don't think it matters. Treat it like Star Wars. Watch what you like. People are going to watch this every Christmas anyway, so it doesn't really matter. So we're drilling down now into our content marketing. We're thinking about, in particular, newsletter marketing. It's a bit of a bugbear of ours, I think, isn't it, Chris?
Yeah, it is. I mean, it can be so boring. So the subtitle of this is, uh, 'Why, how and what versus [redacted] content marketing'.
Yes. You're gonna have to bleep out--
Yeah, every time you say '[redacted] content', I'm going to have to do something, aren't I.
Right, well let's get knee-deep in the [redacted] content, shall we? I'd say it's quite easy. It's quite easy to create [redacted] content though, right?
It is. I mean, I mean, how many emails do you get as a standard human being? Like, I just get tons. Anytime you buy anything, suddenly you're randomly subscribed to their email newsletter, which is just rubbish.
And it's a double-edged sword really, because we would definitely say subscribed opted-in marketing is probably going to be the future, right?
Yeah, it has to be, I mean, everything's going more ethical and surely it's going to... well at the minute you can be, you can be opted-in and subscribed sort of through the back door, can't you, by buying something. I'm sure, every time I buy something, I would say, please don't send me an email newsletter, but I still get them. So by buying something, are you opting in?
Well, yeah, a lot of people are getting around that by using the, um, I dunno, there's a, there's a clause in GDPR, isn't there, the, uh, well, it's business related or, or something. So it's, I don't know the GDPR stuff's there to protect us, but it's only going to get, it's only going to go one way, I think. And certainly we've done other vlogs talking about how browsers and, uh, big technology providers, such as Apple, are looking at ways of protecting us as individuals so that our data isn't shared as much. And, um, we only, we have to kind of opt-in for this kind of stuff. It's kind of, you know, as a consumer, that's what I want. I want stuff to be relevant to the stuff that I've actually asked for. I mean, I just spend a lot of time, uh, every so often, just unsubscribing to stuff, just to try and clear out the noise in my day. Um, so that's the problem. Lots and lots of people are shoving their content in your face, uh, in a vulgar way. It's like walking in a park, isn't it, and you've got a load of dirty old men in coats.
Where is this going?
I don't know mate. You know, we're just getting exposed to things we maybe don't necessarily want to see or care about. So it's important that, um, when you look at content marketing and email marketing, that you've got a genuinely good subscribed list, you're not buying stuff, um, and making sure that you start building a tribe and getting that message great. That's the way to do it and avoid just sending out a load of old spam.
Yes. I mean, one of my bugbears is companies like, um, ones that sell flowers or holidays just going, sending something out every single week. How often are you buying flowers and how often do you want to go on holiday? It's just like oversaturation. You've just come back from this holiday - now every week we're going to send you something for the next three years. I mean, it's just ridiculous.
Yeah. So I think getting the focus down and understanding your audience is really good. And we talked a bit about that last week. So, um, the takeaways in a way from this are to understand that the future is subscribed. You should, we should bear that in mind, but you should also bear in mind that people really probably don't care about most of your content. And the biggest trap we see organizations fall into is they get a subscriber's list and then they send them a newsletter.
Yeah. 'Derek, our CEO has just done this'. Hmm.
'We just won this big contract'. Um, ugh. Even actually I would say some cultural causes can, can be a bit tiring for people, you know, this self-grandiosing, you know, stuff that we've done. 'Look at our team who have done this charity thing'. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that, and that's certainly a step in the right direction, but it's a little bit, um, organization-centric, aren't they? That's the problem.
Yeah. And I think about, um, all of the email marketing that I get. There's only that one Hiut Denim one that I kind of look forward to getting every week, because they're not trying to flog me stuff and there might be something in there that's quite interesting. I don't see many other companies in my inbox that I actually look forward to or just don't go, I'm just going to delete that, oh, it's that thing again. It's kind of tricky.
It is tricky. And, you know, a lot of the newsletters that go out there are just offer-related, especially for e-commerce sites. It is, well, we know we can send this email out and knock 10% off stuff and sell some stuff. And that's fine. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but you're not gonna win a load of brand loyalty by discounting stuff all the time. Uh, you're going to win brand loyalty by, um, sharing really valuable content that your audience cares about. And, uh, so, you know, tipping the conversation on its head a little bit, giving those audiences stories and genuine bits of content that's meaningful for them. And we talked a little bit last time about how you can come up with those ideas of that good content. But getting that in your newsletter at the top is probably more important than your 20% off. If you want to put some guarantees or some, uh, money off bits at the bottom, that's cool. But you know, if you're not ready to buy you, you're just gonna delete that money off email. And the one I get all the time is Holiday Taxis. Ugh, it just tires me out. I think I've unsubscribed now because I can just search for the, uh, I can just search for the discount code if I want it. So, you know, we sign up for these things and quickly we get tired of them. If they're not saying the right thing.
Yeah. That leads us onto the third thing about not selling stuff. I think that's, that's what really is the big turnoff. Like it seems as if, um, email marketing has become a cheaper way to put flyers through your door that everyone would just chuck in the bin anyway.
Because you don't have to print them. I mean that's it. I mean, it's as dumb or as smart as that.
I mean, everyone's like, oh, I'm saving loads of money, but you're still not connecting with people. And that's the main thing.
And I think people can sometimes think about subscribers like they think about web traffic. 'I want the biggest number'. But actually you maybe don't, and part of a really good content marketing strategy is to think about a smaller, more defined audience. In fact, maybe you'd have two or three - you don't have to send the same bit of information to everybody. So having a really, sometimes small, but focused list is more meaningful because that audience is going to have more in common with itself. When you look at an audience of say, I don't know, 200 people versus an audience of 2 million.
Yeah, I'm thinking about one of our clients who potentially could sell-- um, that business could be 10 or 12 1 million pound contracts, and they would be quite happy at that level. You could create something remarkable if you were to go, I'm just going to create a personalized email to these 10 or 12 people. And you could, you could email them personally and go, would you, would you like to me to aggregate some stuff? Can we connect? Can we do something really personal? Maybe we'll form a little group together and I will just email once a month. And, um, it'll just be stuff which is really specific to our industry and things that will, that you might not find on your day-to-day life. You know, it could be really interesting at that point.
Yeah. I think once you, if you think of it in those terms, you can define different audiences, give them different messages and give them different newsletter content, but make sure that content really means something to them. And it doesn't have to be super regular. Um, I think that's when you can, that's when your newsletter stuff will start working for you better. I don't even like the term newsletter, your mailing campaign, uh, is going to work better for you and just avoid putting, you know, too much information in there, especially if your audience is time-starved - understanding how much time your audience has is a really important thing. So that audience analysis is really important if we, even, if you just think, even if you just go, our audience is time-starved. Well, if they're time-starved, don't give them reams of stuff. If your audience is time-rich and loves reading, if it's academia, then maybe, that is where you want to go, well, hey, here's a white paper on this and here's some reports on this and did you know, uh, this event, um, we're now arranging for this small audience exists, and we're gonna work on this together. You can, you can give more detail for the audience if they care about it, but you have to get that right.
Hmm. And, um, one of the other things is that, uh, a lot of people come to the conclusion that they want an email marketing campaign, having seen others, they've seen bigger companies do it. And they go, okay, if bigger companies do it like this, then we must do it like this. And they create a copycat campaign. Whereas if you're B2C, or if you're a smaller player, you can do something more interesting. You need to be zagging rather than zigging to really connect with your audience.
And tone is important too, right? I mean, there's two, there's a couple of ways you could think about why your email exists. You could follow the, um, like the Google, uh, the Think Google strategy stuff? I can't remember off the top of my head, but it's things like, oh, you know, um, you know, impress me, surprise me, help me, support me. Um, you know, is your, is your email there to support your guys? Is it there to, um, entertain them in some way? So understanding that. You could also look at brand archetypes, you know, if you haven't got that tone of voice, that brand strategy written down anywhere just check out brand archetypes - we might do a separate vlog on this - and work out who are you? Are you, you know, are you a hero to your audience? What does that feel like? And that will help get that content working better for you as well. Sort of how are you looking after that audience?
Yeah. And it's about being authentic. I think most of our clients would say that our vlogs represent who we are.
Yeah, well, yeah. I mean, otherwise, you know, maybe we'd be loads better if we were less authentic. We'd maybe plan more. I don't know. So that's it, I think, that brings us to the end of part two. There is no part three, unless we get, you know, loads of demands. We'll do some prequels.
A New Hope.
Well let's leave it at that. Roll the credits.
It'll just be me! Mostly me. Editing, me.
Hey, it might be nice opportunity to put all of the contributors actually in there.
Oh yeah. There's a lot, Mel does a lot.
Yeah Mel, everybody, the Monkey Monday team's heavily involved.
Yes. Okay. I'll run some credits. It'll be all over this.