How do you think of what to put in your emails? It isn’t easy, is it? After a while, the same old content we depend on feels, well, old. Though it’s still converting fairly well, you know that you can’t be a one trick pony if you want to grow your email channel into a real asset for your company. But if you’ve been pulling ideas and links from the same places for a while, it’s hard to think new content sources.
Lucky for you, the best places for you to look are often right under your nose. You don’t need to go far to find content to put in your emails or ideas on how to position you next email send — you just need to know where to look. To point you in the right direction, we put together the following post.
But before we begin, you need to remember one thing: Keep your email marketing goals in mind when sourcing content. If you are trying to generate leads through your email marketing, for example, you will probably want to use content that’s gated by a form. If you are trying to nurture leads into customers, you will probably want to look for product-centric content like reviews and testimonials. If you are trying to spread some customer delight, you probably don’t need to worry about linking to gated content. Don’t just use a certain type of content because you want to try something new — you’ve got to use it to address your larger goals.
Now onto the good stuff. Here are 17 great places to source your content for email marketing.
1) Top-Performing Website Content
If you don’t already do this, you should — it’s one of the easiest ways to source content for your emails.
Talk to the rest of your marketing team to find out what types of content they are planning on producing in the future. Also, based on past email sends of content, think about what type of content performs well on email that your content team should focus on. Do infographics get high click-throughs? Do you have a high conversion rate on landing pages that are promoted by email? Or is your audience more interested in blog posts? Look through the content that has performed well on email over the last month, and consider how you can replicate that success in your next send.
You should also take a look at the pages on your website that got the most traffic in the past month. That could be your help documentation, landing pages, blog posts, or other resources. At the beginning of the next month, send some of these resources out to the appropriate email subscribers. There is a reason certain pages on your website will be popular and worth sharing. You never know, you may end up answering someone’s question about your company before they even have the chance to ask it. Now that’s lovable marketing!
2) Top Questions Asked in Support Forums
You don’t have to think of all your email content by yourself. Your prospects and customers will be great sources of email content as they ask questions about your product, services, or company. Take some of the questions that they ask on support forums and answer them in your latest email newsletter. If you see one particular topic popping up numerous times, this is a great indication that it is a piece of content a lot of people will be interested in — it might even deserve its own email send.
3) Successful Customer Stories
Don’t just feature your customers on your website or through case studies — think about how their work or stories can be featured on an email as well. That doesn’t mean your email should be paragraphs and paragraphs long, but you could try sharing a quick customer tip and linking to their full case study instead.
4) Popular Industry LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups can be another great source of content, similar to other forums. Look at some of the industry LinkedIn groups you or other employees at your company belong to, and see what topics are being discussed and what questions are being asked. Doing this can spark some interesting ideas for your next email.
In the example below, Jan asks, “Would you recommend outsourcing your branding and marketing strategies? Why or why not?” This may be a topic that multiple people in your audience have. Sending an email with the answers to this question can make a pretty powerful email — plus, you could reply to Jan and the rest of the thread with the URL of your email to help get more subscribers.
5) Frequently Asked Questions on Twitter
You can also look at Twitter to see what questions your leads and customers are asking. Many times if they have a question, they won’t necessarily email their contact at your company; they’ll just ask on social media. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can use Social Inbox to set up a stream that pulls in questions from your leads and customers. Not only can you give them a response on social media, but if you see a question appear a couple of times, you will know that you may need to do some more communication around the answer via email.
6) Frequently Asked Questions From Email Subscribers
People don’t only ask questions on social media — many times your email subscribers will respond directly to you asking for more information on a topic. If you see a couple of questions that are regularly being asked, this is your chance to respond more broadly in an email send. Chances are, other people have those same questions but are too afraid to ask.
7) Frequently Asked Questions From Prospects
Your sales team is on the phone talking to prospects multiple times a day. What better source of prospect-gen content ideas than questions that your current prospects are asking?
Talk to your sales team to understand what they are hearing on the phone. What objections are they coming up against? What information do they wish prospects and leads knew before they even answered the phone? Your sales team’s answers to these questions may spark an idea for your next send.
8) Frequently Asked Questions From Customers
You may hear similar questions from your customers over and over. How do I do “X” using your product? How do I speed up this process? How can I save more time with your service? The list goes on and on. Based on some of these questions, it may be valuable to send information out to your customers helping them use your product or service better.
So don’t be afraid to survey your customers to find out the type of information they want to learn more about. This can help you position your information more appropriately to this audience segment.
9) Inspiring Quotes
This source won’t necessarily work for every industry, but some audiences may be interested in inspiring quotes about your industry. Not every email you send needs to be about generating leads. You should also think about emails that may delight your customers. Save quotes emails for light-hearted sends that aren’t used for generating leads but for spreading some goodwill, and your customers could become some of your most engaged advocates.
10) Top Posts on Influencer Blogs
Like we said — not every email you send needs to generate leads — so it’s okay to link to content that doesn’t live on your website that you think a segment of your contacts will be interested in. For example, industry or influencer blogs may content they’d love. Look for the most popular posts that have lots of social media shares, then figure out how you can include some of those posts in your email strategy.
11) Upcoming Industry Events
In addition to promoting any events your company is hosting in the future, you can send out a list of industry events that you know your audience may be interested in. The majority of events are held between the months of March and October. At the beginning of this season, compile a list of industry events to send out to your email subscribers. You would be surprised at how helpful a list like this can be for your audience.
(And if you haven’t done so already, register for HubSpot’s event, INBOUND 2014!)
12) Industry News
The most exciting thing about newsjacking is that the information is “hot off the press.” Something recently happened in your industry, and you have the chance to create content about what happened, your reaction to it, and what it means for your industry — and then send that out to a segment of your contact database.
Let’s take Apple’s recent announcement of iOS8. If your email segment is a group of developers, you can write on your blog about the announcements that happened at WWDC and what it means for developers in the future. Because the information is new and exciting, you have a great excuse to not just write the blog post but to promote it out to your subscribers. After all, when you have breaking news on your hands, your audience will want to hear about it as soon as possible.
13) Customer Calls
As marketer, we are constantly thinking of ways to delight our customers and interest our prospects and leads. But how often do we actually get on a phone call with a customer?
If you talk to customers, frequently, that’s great! If not, talk to your account managers to set up some customer calls so you can find out what they are the happiest with, what they would like to see in the future, and what questions they have about your product or services — and then use that information to inspire your email marketing.
14) Partner Content
Have you ever entered into a co-marketing agreement with another company? Co-marketing is a great way to work with another company on promotional efforts. Here’s how it works: Both companies promote a piece of content to each other’s audiences, and then share the results of their promotional efforts with each other.
Partnering up with another company like this is a great source of email content. Instead of sending the same old content to your email subscribers, you will have something new and exciting to send that they may not have seen before since you are working with another company. Bonus: While you’re testing out new content with your typical audience, your typical content is getting seen by a new audience through your partner — potentially winning you over some more contacts.
15) Short-Term Contests
People love competition, and contests are just the form of competition that your audience may be looking for.
A great way to spread awareness of a contest and get people to enter is through email marketing. You need your audience to be aware of the rules, length of the contest, how to enter, what they need to do to participate, etc. — and email’s a great way to deliver that information.
16) Support Calls
One of the best ways to get inside your customers’ heads is to hear the conversations they have on support calls. If you have a support team, spend some time listening to a couple of conversations with customers. You’ll be able to hear what their concerns are, and then gather some great ideas of how you can address those concerns in your emails.
17) Blog Comments
How often do you read and respond to your blog comments? After you publish a blog post, you will most likely get a series of responses and maybe some questions in the comments section. You may find some great ideas hidden away in these comments. The questions and discussions that happen at the end of the blog post can be a great way to get ideas for your emails.
What other ways do you source content for your email marketing?