Email as part of your Content Strategy
Before you click send, you’ve got to plan. Email marketing is only one piece of your greater content marketing strategy and should align with your overarching marketing plan. Strategy is foundational to your marketing. Your approach helps determine tactics, such as an email marketing or social media campaign. As a professional marketer, all marketing messages should be created from the information found in your content strategy.
Your content marketing strategy:
- Outlines your business goals
- Defines and understands the segments of your audience (often described as buyer personas)
- Contains company’s key messages
- Sets out the pieces of high quality content your business plans to invest in over the upcoming year i.e. Video, Infographics, High Quality Images, Whitepapers, etc.
Create a content calendar
The best email campaigns are planned in advance, with an understanding of your audience, their behaviour and your product’s buying cycles. Your emails should be in sync with your other online marketing channels, often sharing the same information, and adapted for the medium. A content calendar allows you to look ahead, plan, and assign tactics to your team to ensure your marketing efforts are effective and cohesive across all platforms and channels.
Once you have a clear content strategy developed, it's time to map out your marketing tactics for the month/quarter/year. There are many templates available online that you can use to create your content calendar, which should be a living document that can be adjusted over time.
As with the rest of your marketing initiatives, email marketing campaigns are best when they are planned, crafted for a specific audience and tied to a piece of high quality content (such as videos, infographics or beautiful imagery). This means that your content calendar is in fact a key component to your email marketing initiatives and should be planned before you hit send.
How to plan for the year
A complete content strategy looks at everything from the big picture down to day-to-day postings. When planning a bird's eye view of 365 days of content, use data from previous years to inform your decisions.
Analyze your data to determine:
- How can we use content to solve the user’s pain points?
- What kind of content can we develop to match user intent at each stage of the buying cycle?
- When was traffic at its highest on your site?
- What do your customers buy seasonally?
- Were there any missed opportunities to join in on a conversation about your industry? i.e. a donut shop not knowing in advance about #nationaldonutday and failing to develop rockstar content for their channels
- Allocate your total yearly budget to be spent on creating “Big Rock” content pieces (i.e.the large thought leadership pieces that illustrate your unique point of view) in each quarter.
How to plan for the quarter
Quarterly, you want to identify timely events that you’ll need to plan your content around. Holidays are great opportunities to run more broad promotions or launch topical pieces of rich content. For in-store events, refine your segmentation of subscribers by location and content preferences.
“Big Rock” content should be reviewed on a quarterly basis. This content can take the form of videos, whitepapers, professional photo galleries, ebooks, etc., and should be extensive enough to fuel a quarter or month of supporting smaller pieces of content, such as blog posts from a larger guide or 30 second social friendly videos from a three minute explainer video.
How to plan for the month
Monthly, you want to be thinking at a slightly more detailed level. Follow your eCommerce holiday calendar and seasonality for priority themes, plan your articles/posts/emails out in more detail (titles, description, images and calls to action) and assign respective duties to employees or freelancers with defined deadlines.