Why Email Autoresponders are Essential for Content Marketing

Let’s face it. Email marketing is not sexy.

Because email has been around for so long, it’s an old-school marketing tactic that we tend to push to the back burner.

In the marketing world, it’s far more exciting to talk about the latest social network or blogging tips that will help you drive more traffic to your website.

But, the problem is that many businesses focus so much on building traffic and attracting followers that they forget about closing the deal and turning traffic into leads and customers.

Email marketing can help you bridge that gap because it helps you create a deeper relationship with your audience.

Moving beyond the monthly e-letter

Earlier this week, we talked about how offering premium content, such as eBooks and white papers, can help you grow your email list.

But, once you capture that email, you need to make sure you do something with it.

And no, it shouldn’t be a monthly e-letter.

Don’t get me wrong – e-letters have their place. They can be a great way to communicate with your existing customers, employees and stakeholders.

However, the messages you send that audience is going to be vastly different than what a new visitor to your website needs to hear.

This person is just learning about you. Chances are they are looking for information because they have a problem to solve. And, they want to know how you can help.

Enter the email autoresponder.

An email autoresponder, sometimes called an email drip campaign, allows you to set up a series of emails that a set of subscribers will automatically receive at pre-determined intervals.

So, for instance, if someone gives you their email address to receive your free eBook, they will then receive an email from you once a week for the next several weeks.

Why Email Autoresponders Work

Here’s why this works:

  • Keeps them engaged until they’re ready to buy. When someone visits your website for the first time, chances are good that the person won’t be ready to buy from you just yet. Even when someone downloads your ebook or signs up for your webinar, it might be several weeks or months before he or she is ready to make a purchase. A drip campaign can help you stay top-of-mind and at the ready for when that time comes.
  • Eliminates the manual process. An automated drip campaign will help you be more effective and efficient by making sure every new subscriber gets the same level of attention. You don’t have to worry about busy schedules getting in the way of sending out the latest e-letter. Once you build this campaign, it continues to do the heavy lifting for you.
  • Better targeting & segmentation. Marketing that’s targeted is always going to work better. And, this approach allows you to do that. Let’s say you offer three key different services to your customers. You could develop a piece of free content and corresponding email campaign for each service. And, you can also gain valuable insight about your audience by paying attention to who is attracted to each service line and piece of content.

Now that you understand why an automated drip campaign can be useful, let’s look a few things that you should keep in mind with this approach:

  • Make it useful. As we’ve been talking about through the Compelling Content series, your content has to be useful to the reader. Although it might be tempting, don’t make every message a sales message. Focus on providing valuable information that helps your target audience solve problems and make their lives better.
  • Keep them short. Giving people small, bite-sized chunks of information that they can quickly read and put into action is going to be far better than a lengthy diatribe. People will be more likely to read messages if they know you will make it easy to digest.   
  • Integrate your sales team into this process.  Although this automated campaign can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, don’t forget to make your sales team part of this process. Determine how and when your sales team should contact the subscriber based on the actions he or she takes. Also, be sure to work with your sales team to find other ways to add personal, human touches throughout the campaign.

If you’re going to invest the time and money into content marketing, don’t let leads fall through the cracks because you don’t use email marketing to help close the deal.

Are you using an email autoresponder with your content marketing? If not, what’s holding you back? What questions do you have about implementing this approach?

Image credit: Sebastian Wiertz

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  • Adam

    Ah Laura, you’re reading our minds. So, right now when you join our list, you get the ebook 1st and then 2 drip emails, but they are random — an old blog post and a “best of” article collection. We have decided to move to 7 drips (if I can ever write them :) ), and each one will relate to one of the “7 Secret Techniques” that the ebook writes about, so that they reinforce the content in the book.

    The big quandary with drips (after the content itself) is what is the best frequency and length of time to spread it over. And how do you test that? Would love to hear your thoughts on that one.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      That sounds like a GREAT plan, Adam. Reinforcing the messages from your eBook is smart for so many reasons. I’m glad you’ve got that in the works. Admittedly, I’ve yet to do this, but I plan to build that along with the eBook I’m working on.

      As for the drip campaign, I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules, but I would suggest maybe once or twice a week would be a good place to start. I think you just don’t want to go too far between drips so people don’t forget what they signed up for. For instance, I would say monthly would be too far of a gap between messages – especially at first.

      As for the number of emails, I think seven is a great place to start. But, the good thing is you can always add emails to it or send additional emails to that group. You can then watch your subscriber activity and see if they hang with you, take your calls to action, convert to leads/customers, etc, and tweak accordingly.

      Does this help?

  • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

    Great info, and sort of the reinforcement I needed right now. I’m working with a client who has fairly low online conversion that we’d like to bump up 1 or 2% so I suggested exactly this – repurposing some of the content to offer an ebook download in exchange for an email address followed by a drip campaign. He’s not doing any of that so I think this will help. Might take a few months at least to start to see that number bump up, don’t you think?

    The tricky part is definitely creating those emails. But they have a lot of content to work with, so I have that going for me!! :)

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      That sounds like a great plan! I think the offer combined with the drip campaign is really powerful. And, it definitely helps that they’ve already got the content. I have clients with the opposite problem – I’ve got one I’d love to do this for, but we really need to ramp up their content. You’ll have to let me know how well it works!

      • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

        I will for sure let you know. :)

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  • Radhika V

    Nice info! Well said on how to mix content and email marketing.

    I use autoresponder to send ezine articles to publishers. Here is an article on how to do it. EIGHT tips on Submitting Your Ezine articles to content sites and Publishers.