You have the most amazing product/service but… what’s the best way to promote it? Pay-per-click ads? Social media marketing? Or maybe, search engine marketing?

Generating a quick ROI highly depends on the choice of promotional strategy. If you have both limited time as well as resources, making the right choice can be the difference between absolute success and total annihilation for your business. Cue, email marketing and content marketing.


“Quality over quantity. Emails may be cost-efficient but it’s no excuse to not produce quality content to give to a targeted audience.” – Benjamin Murray

In 2018 the average return on email spend was $38 for every $1 invested in the channel. By 2019, that number has increased to $42 to $1. Essentially, just when marketers thought the average email return on investment is high, it went higher. Now here are some content marketing stats, 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing with 76% of them using organic traffic as a measure of content success and 42% state they are effective at content marketing. But, we know stats aren’t always enough to convince people of the effectiveness of these two channels. So, let’s take a deeper look at both email marketing and content marketing.

In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:

  1. Email marketing: The Basics
  2. Content marketing: The Basics

Ready to dive in?

Before going to the end, we first must focus on the beginning. So, prior to diving into the relationship between email marketing and content marketing,  we’d like to share some definitions and outline the basics of each marketing approach.

Email marketing is a direct marketing technique focused on sending commercial messages – usually to a group of people (a.k.a an email list) – via one of the most reliable and effective communication channels – email. It’s a method used to improve the relationship between a company and its current, previous or future (those are known as leads) customers, as well as, inspire loyalty, customer acquisition and retention.

Content marketing is a form of marketing concentrated on the creation, publishing and distribution of content for targeted audiences online. Its primary focus is to help businesses create continuous brand loyalty by building trust with their audience through sharing relevant, valuable  – and often free – content instead of directly going for the sale.

Email marketing is a “push” marketing method – directly contacting customers to generate repeated sales. Content marketing, on the other hand, is a “pull” method – attracting new customers to increase first-time sales.

Email Marketing: The Basics

Email marketing campaigns are the perfect method of converting people into customers since they already have an existing relationship with your business (they gave you permission to contact them after all) and to top it off, they already know what it is that your business is offering.

Marketers always aim at expanding their customer base in order to achieve higher revenue. However, it’s imperative that you are vigilant about how you are growing your email lists – buying/renting them is a huge ‘no-no’. Some marketers might be tempted by this ‘seductive’ shortcut, however, such things always come with a price and in this case, the price is your marketing emails being flagged as spam and, even worse, violating privacy laws and ending up with hefty fines.

With email marketing, the added benefit comes in the form of repeat business. Furthermore, according to stats, 61% of small businesses state that more than half of their revenue comes from repeat customers instead of new ones. Additionally, it costs five times more to obtain a new subscriber than it does to retain and nurture an existing one. Marketers need to decide if the effort they’ll put in now is worth the possible reward afterwards.

List decay is a normal occurrence. Subscribers switching from active to inactive is too. However, you can always give it another shot by trying to re-engage them with valuable and relevant content matching their interests and needs. They did subscribe to your email list for a reason, remind them. But, if your re-engaging efforts don’t bring the desired results don’t hold on to the ‘dead weight’. It could be not only costly but also harmful to your email marketing strategy and your business as a whole.

How To Reach Your Audience With Email Marketing?

Have you heard about “The Identity of Indiscernibles”? How about “Leibniz’s Law”? Well, they’re both actually referring to one and the same principle – “no two objects have exactly the same properties”

Wondering why we’re telling you this? Because the same principle applies when it comes to customers – not all of them are created the same with the same interests and needs. As such, and in order to achieve maximum ROI from your email marketing, you need to also focus your efforts not only on designing the perfect email marketing campaign but also on segmenting your email lists based on specific factors such as location, age, purchase frequency and history, types of products/services subscribers have shown interest in, types of customers (in-store or online), etc.

You don’t want to be the annoying brand who sends irrelevant emails to its subscribers, do you?

Important Email Marketing KPIs

When compared to other communication channels, email has a gargantuan advantage – it’s fully trackable in every aspect. 

As email marketers, you are perfectly aware of email marketing metrics like open, click-through and unsubscribe rates. But, are these email marketing KPIs enough when it comes to determining the success of your email campaign? 

The standard email metrics to analyse closely are – 

a) bounce rate
b) open rate
c) click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate
d) share/forward rate 

However, we’d like to emphasise on the fact that solely focusing on just one or two email marketing KPIs will not give you the full picture of how your email campaign performed. So, look at a wider range of email metrics like click-to-open rate (CTOR), unsubscribe/complaint rate and deliverability. They’ll help you further understand what’s working and what needs improvement.

Content Marketing: The Basics

With email marketing, marketers focus their campaigns primarily on targeted offers to generate sales. Content marketing, on the other hand, is built around the concept of attracting and expanding your customer base – organically – based on the value of the content businesses provide. From focusing on a wider audience to targeting a specific niche, this marketing strategy offers great versatility.

Let’s say, for example, you are selling mobile phones. You can craft an email campaign offering your existing customers a discount on their next purchase. However, with content marketing, you’d be able to show your expertise and prove yourself as a leader when it comes to mobile phones. Thus, instead of focusing solely on your own products/services, establish yourself as the ‘go-to’ source for all things mobile phones with the help of content marketing – how are phones made, which manufacturer is proven to be best, what differentiates Android from iOS or how to utilise your mobile phone as the perfect business device. 

The difference between email marketing and content marketing comes from the fact that the first is used to make highly targeted personalised sales pitches, while the latter is utilised to deliver relevant content such as best practice and even answers to questions readers haven’t even asked – but will convince them to buy once they’ve read them. Let’s face it, nothing can be as off-putting as an email which is supposed to offer valuable information but quickly turns into a sales pitch. Then again, if your business proves to be a good source of content, people are more likely to come back to your website and take the action outlined in your emails.

How To Build An Effective Content Marketing Strategy?

The effectiveness of your content marketing strategy primarily depends on appealing to the types of customers that will purchase your products/services – buyer personas.

Email marketing’s advantage is that it deals with existing customers who already have an established relationship with your business. However, by creating buyer personas, marketers will provide an even greater return on investment as it allows them to target their content more specifically. 

Similar to the email list segmentation approach, buyer personas are divided into categories – 

a) location;
b) price;
c) customer needs; and,
d) factors influencing a purchase – for example, education, income, age and gender.

Important Content Marketing Metrics

While email marketing allows marketers to track a lot more metrics to measure the success of their efforts, content marketing lacks that advantage. However, this in no way means there isn’t a way to track important KPIs such as – 

a) page traffic – you might have written the perfect content but if no one sees it you will have no actual ROI;

b) number of visitors – you might have some visitors on your page but riddle us this: How long do they actually stay on it? How did they even find it? Or, how many of them are new or repeat traffic?;

c) number of shares – the number of times your visitors share your content on their social profiles is a clear indicator of the value they found in it;

d) number of comments – valuable, engaging content makes people willing to share their thoughts. But, when they do – make sure you are not only collecting comments but also responding to them; and,

e) engagement –  visitors clicking from one page to another (for example, from your blog to your products/services page) is a clear indication that the content you’ve provided delivers tangible results.

Final Thoughts

Email marketing and content marketing are the ultimate perfect relationship – just like Han Solo and Chewbacca or Batman and Robin. 

Since nobody likes to be talked at, content marketing is the perfect way to talk to your targeted audience. With this approach, people will feel less like they’re being pitched to generate a sale; and, more like you are giving them something valuable and worth their while.

Once you absolutely nail your content marketing and build relationships with your targeted audience, make your marketing strategy even better – and way more effective – by integrating content marketing into your email campaigns. After all, emails cannot really exist without content, can they? 

When both marketing strategies are used correctly – and in conjunction – email marketing and content marketing can supercharge your digital marketing efforts and provide a higher ROI.

Highly recommended further reading – 

1) Email List Building Techniques
2) Inactive Email Subscribers
3) Email Marketing Stats 2020
4) Email Design Best Practices
5) Email Marketing KPIs
6) Personalise Your Marketing Emails

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