Do you have great content that is buried on your blog? Or maybe you have older content that is still very relevant but you're not quite sure how to use it in your marketing campaign?
If you are looking for a way to highlight your best content, think about developing a series of emails on a targeted topic. (Coincidentally, Stephanie's post yesterday included another suggestion on how you can to repurpose your content: the creation of content centers on your website.)
To be clear, an email series (I've also seen these are called e-courses or e-classes) is distinctly different than an email newsletter. Instead of registering for all upcoming newsletters, subscribers are registering to receive a certain number of emails on a certain topic. Everyone who registers receives email #1 followed by the rest of the emails in order and timeline you specify.
I like email series for many reasons:
- All readers are starting in the same place, so you don't have to guess at what content they may have already viewed.
- You have multiple touch points with a client over a period of time.
- They can be very targeted (and you can have multiple series covering different topics).
- You can tell your story exactly how you want it to be presented (instead of having a bunch of content out there, with readers not knowing what to view next).
- If you already have existing content, this can be a relatively quick program to launch.
The beauty of this approach is that it can be automated with an email provider using a capability called an autoresponder (do a search for autoresponders to see companies that offer this).
Think this is something you want to try? Here are 10 steps to get you started.
Step 1: Select your topic.
It's best to make your email series as focused as possible (and, as a bonus, if you have a lot of material, you can have multiple email series). Decide if you want to build you series around a certain topic or an audience.
Step 2: Find content to share.
Once you have decided you topic, find all of the content you have on the subject. This includes blog posts, articles, white papers, eBooks, webcasts and more (for ideas on content you may already have or content you can create, see these 20 ideas).
Step 3: Structure the order of the content to tell a story.
Now that you have all of your potential content in one place, organize it in a way that tells a story. What would a prospect want to know about first, what is the logical next step, and so on? You may find that you don't need all of the content you have, and you may need additional content to fill in the gaps. This isn't a bad thing: you're figuring out -- and filling -- gaps in your prospect's knowledge.
Step 4: Figure out what action(s) you want the reader to take.
At the end of the series, you want to have a call to action; what step do you want the reader to take once they have read your emails? Make sure that all of your emails build to this. You may also want to have calls to actions throughout the email series, so consider that as well.
Step 5: Decide on the timing of the emails.
How often do you want your emails to be delivered? I've subscribed to email series that have delivered content every day, every few days or every week. Of course, think about how long you want the series to last as well. If you have five emails, do you want it to last a week, a month, or somewhere in between?
Step 6: Tie the content together.
You don't want to simply deliver articles one after the other: you want the story you are telling to be evident. To help the reader know where you're going (and to organize your thoughts), briefly remind readers where you have been at the beginning of the email (providing links to previous content in the series), and tell them what you'll be covering in this issue. At the end of the issue, give your reader a preview of what is coming next.
Step 7: Decide if you want the content to be online or in email only.
I've subscribed to a number of email series, and they have been delivered in multiple ways:
- Email only
- Emails that point to PDFs
- Emails that point to web pages.
My preference is to have short introductory emails that link to content online because this makes the content easier to share and your readers don't need to save the physical emails.
Step 8: Consider adding a "buzz piece" to encourage registration.
If you want to increase your registrations to your email series, you can offer a "buzz piece," such as a white paper or a special report. However, consider this offer carefully as it should be something that positions you well to tell the story of your planned emails.
Considering this from the other end of the spectrum, when you have a white paper, eBook or other content that needs a call to action, you can develop an email series that will take them through the next steps.
Step 9: Create a dedicated landing page
Your landing page should specifically explain what the email series is and how many emails the reader will receive how often. If you want your readers to share information from your email series, you can certainly ask them to forward your emails, but I prefer askng them to send those who are interested to your registration page so everyone is starting from the same place.
Step 10: Set up emails in an autoresponder
Of course, the last thing you need to do is to set up your emails with an autoresponder. All email providers are unique, so check with your vendor for specifics.
Have you tried an email series? If so, I'd love to get your thoughts on what's worked well and what hasn't.
Read more Savvy B2B posts from Michele.