Why Email Subscribers are Content Marketing's Secret Weapon

Why Email Subscribers are Content Marketing’s Secret Weapon

by Neil Barlow

5 minute read

Content marketing is nothing new, but the forms of delivery for that content have changed over the last several years. Recently, email has taken a back seat to its younger, shinier and sexier counterpart – social – but the tides are quickly reverting back. Building an audience of email subscribers as a distribution channel is crucial for gathering traffic and customer data, so growing this base should be a goal for every content marketer.

Let’s take a look at some facts:

  • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment. (EmailExpert)

  • Email open rates are the highest they’ve been since 2007 growing year-over-year and month-over-month. (Epsilon)

  • 75% of North Americans read email on their phones every day (that’s 112.8 million people). (Google)

  • Revenue in the marketing automation industry was predicted to grow by 60% in 2014. That’s up from 50% annual growth in 2012 and 2013. (Source: Customer Experience Matrix)

  • Over 45% of NewsCred’s traffic comes from our email newsletter.

Why are blog + email subscribers so important?

You don’t own your audience on social, YouTube, or any other channel that is not truly yours. On many, if not all, occasions you have to pay to communicate to the people that “Like” you. As Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute so eloquently put it, “You are building your house on borrowed land.” Subscribers are different because you have so much more control. A prospect subscribing to your blog shows that not only do they like your content, they are raising their hand to say: “I want this in my inbox.” From there you can capture exact information on what that specific person likes or doesn’t like, so that you can influence the future follow up that they receive from your brand in a very personalized fashion. Can you imagine how powerful it would be for a brand if they knew that when advertising to me to make sure they use pictures of corgis, anecdotes about burritos and soccer references? I would buy EVERYTHING. As you acquire more and more subscribers you can analyze click-throughs and email open rates to understand that type of information about your potential customers on a micro and macro basis. If I’m typically clicking through on emails that reference case studies or specific product information, then I am probably at the end of the buyer journey and looking for late-stage content. Additionally if I’m just trying to understand what this whole content marketing thing everyone keeps talking about is and only clicking on articles titled, “What is Content Marketing?” then what I receive in my inbox should reflect that.

Set a subscription goal + start building your audience

According to our friends at the Content Marketing Institute and their recent findings, “fewer than one in three organizations have subscription growth as a content marketing goal.” Needless to say, that needs to change. Brands need to define a subscription goal and build on it.

NewsCred’s Head of Strategy, Michael Brenner, even recounts how focusing on subscriptions during his time at SAP completely redefined the way he showcased ROI. People subscribed to the SAP newsletter were 10X more likely to convert to a lead. An increase in email subscribers directly correlates to an increase in sales leads, which immediately gives you a way to quantify your efforts as a content marketer.

Here at NewsCred we’ve found that leads that have engaged with our content are 2X more likely to accept a meeting with us, so the best way to get people regularly engaged with our content is to end up in their inbox all the time.

Find subscribers with a pop up

Well the first way is by implementing a pop-up as people view content on our blog that encourages them to subscribe to get information regularly delivered directly to their inbox. You might be thinking to yourself, “Oh pop-ups those are annoying, our audience will hate that.” Well pop-ups are a little annoying, but they work really well at driving action. For further proof just ask Chad Pollitt from Relevance how he attracted over 50K subscribers in less than 6 months.

Secondly, we implemented a sticky header that sits at the top of page and follows readers as they scroll down so they are always one click away from subscribing. This makes the subscription process as seamless as possible.

Serve great content regularly

We share great content on a daily basis so people know that by subscribing to our blog they will regularly get access to great content. People want what they want when they want it and our blog provides a range of information on a consistent basis, which gives readers the ability to choose what they want to read with every newsletter. The main problem brands face when starting this process is lacking a sufficient amount of content to be able to launch an email nurture program or newsletter offering. Ultimately email automation tools like Marketo, Hubspot and Eloqua are extremely powerful at delivering the right content, to the right people at the right time, but they are only as powerful as the content that is going into them. You could have the fastest, coolest car on the block, but if you have no gas to put into your car, then how cool is it really? A bicycle can be more powerful than a Ferrari at getting someone from point A to point B under these circumstances. NewsCred publishes 4-5 pieces of original content a week with 5 pieces of licensed third-party content. This allows us to scale our content production and have enough content to send an email three times a week with less effort than creating all our content from scratch would require.

How do I get started? 

Walk over to the person that handles demand generation and email marketing and ask them: “How many subscribers do we have today?”

Then ask: “How many of those are email subscribers?”

“Do you feel as though you have enough content in order to nurture our subscribers through the buyer journey – top, middle and late stage content?”

Finally, “How much more likely is someone to convert to a sales lead if they are already subscribed to receiving content from us in their inbox?”

The answers to these questions will help define your next steps, whether that’s scaling your content creation or how frequently you send out your newsletter.

Now go forth and drive subscribers. You have the power to own your audience, so make it a top priority going forward.

Neil Barlow is a Director of Sales at NewsCred