Distribution is a critical element to a successful content marketing strategy. While platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook have sponsored content options that’ve made it easier for B2B marketers to distribute content to targeted audiences, they don’t come close to the level of personalization and segmentation you can get with email marketing. In fact, 74 percent of B2B marketers found email to be their most effective distribution method, according to the “B2B Content Marketing: 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” report. And for manufacturing marketers in particular, a recent study from Engineering.com found email to be a top source among engineers with 95 percent of engineers saying they consider opening an email based on the subject line. With the potential for an open rate that high, it is no surprise that marketers targeting engineers want to hit send.
Pair that precision targeting and open rate with the trust and credibility of earned media content, and you have a winning combination.
Let’s take a look at why manufacturing marketers should be using email to reach engineers as part of an integrated PR program. It first begs the question, “why email?” Here are the key reasons:
- Control and own the content: Whether you have a new product announcement, thought leadership article or are promoting a webinar, email creates an avenue for you to reach your audience directly with earned and owned content. Instead of hoping your audience sees the latest issue of Engineered Systems your brand was mentioned in, you can promote it directly to them on a regular cadence that keeps your company top of mind.
- Support demand generation: Email allows you to deliver personalized messages based on where the customer is at in the sales cycle. It also allows you to re-engage customers who have gone dormant or haven’t ordered from you in a couple of years. Draw them in with a promo deal or, for a softer call to action, offer them valuable thought leadership content.
- Track measurable results: At the end of the day, impressions don’t cut it when reporting to the c-suite. You need to be able to report meaningful metrics, including actions and conversions. Modern email and marketing automation platforms can gather a borderline-creepy amount of data. You can analyze click-throughs and email open rates to understand what content your potential customers are engaging with and help inform what part of the buyer’s journey they are on. For instance, if you see users clicking on case study CTAs or downloading a design guide, you can begin to draw conclusions that they are indicating an intent to buy and moving towards the end of the buyer’s journey.
- Adjust to changing landscape: Impending privacy regulations in Europe are changing the way PR companies will be able to share announcements with the press. In May of 2018, media contacts will be required to opt-in to company’s media outreach lists to receive announcements, press releases or even story pitches. And while that is just in Europe at this time, PR firms need to be ready for similar laws to go into effect in the U.S. And with trade publication readership numbers declining, it raises the stakes for finding new ways to deliver the content you have worked so hard to produce.
A well-thought out email strategy can be a strong marketing asset. In fact, NewsCred has found that newsletter subscribers often convert at a higher rate than non-subscribers. To realize the true value, it pays to do it right. So, don’t just draft an email and think you are ready to hit send for all your contacts to see. There are some key elements you need to establish for a successful email marketing program:
Compelling content: Email is a powerful avenue to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. But it is only as powerful as the content it’s sharing. Therefore, before you kick off an email campaign, be sure you have a content calendar to determine what and when you will disseminate information. And with the end goal being conversion, it is critical that you have content developed that will support all phases of the buying cycle. Earned content can be more successful than paid or owned content in an email campaign at the beginning of the buying cycle because it comes from a trusted, third-party source, such as an influencer, key opinion leader or peer-reviewed trade publication. Additionally, emails can be a great way to drive action or traffic to a broader integrated campaign. Whether you are promoting a white paper or an upcoming webinar, email can support the campaign to increase downloads and engagement.
Opt-ins: Building and maintaining a list of opt-ins or subscribers is critical to the success of your email marketing program. And this doesn’t happen overnight. The days of buying email lists and blasting strangers are over. So how do you build a list organically? Valuable gated content, such as webinars and white papers, opens the door for people to provide their email to access the content. The more high-value content you produce and promote through other channels will continue to help you build it over time. In addition, it is important to add subscribe forms on your online publishing platforms, such as a blog or resources section. And don’t forget about customers – they need to opt-in too. Once you have a list started, maintenance is key. Keep the data clean and review it at regular intervals to ensure you are properly segmenting and personalizing messages for each audience.
You’ve already worked hard to establish a strong, trusted brand narrative and an integrated content strategy, so don’t fall short on distribution. This is a critical part of optimizing PR’s ROI. Interested in getting started? Email us at email@example.com.