The following blog post was written by dotmailer. You can learn more about dotmailer here.
Ever open your email and feel like you’ve stepped into a busy street market?
Often, it’s hard to hear yourself think above the din of sales, offers and exclusives. This kind of content is great for incentivizing new subscribers and generating first-time purchases. But when it comes to driving long-term loyalty, customers expect valuable communication aligned to their needs.
For marketers, too, the volume of offer-led emails sitting in customers’ inboxes presents an issue. Increased pressure to cut prices and offer complementary services to coax conversions means that many businesses are in danger of devaluing their brand; discount-driven campaigns do little to promote your story and can quickly confuse the customer experience.
Plus, continually bombarding your contacts with campaigns spouting terms like ‘sale’ and ‘bargain’ increases the risk of your emails being marked as SPAM.
84% of customers expect to see content-led emails from their favorite brands. 
Creating customer-focused content to use in your emails is the best way to show subscribers that you’re about more than just cut prices. From brand storytelling to tailored product and service advice, content that’s built around the customer’s needs drives respect, love and loyalty for your brand. Plus, a good content-focused marketing strategy drives 6x higher conversion rates! 
Not every marketer is a copywriter. And when time and resource is strained, you need to ensure you’ve got access to a strong reserve of material. Here’s ten ways to generate customer-led content that drives conversion:
1. Make use of your sales and services
There are teams in your business sitting on a goldmine of info that you can repurpose into and engaging content. Speak to your sales and customer service colleagues: find out the common challenges customers face and the questions they ask, and use these to deliver targeted campaigns based around a relevant area of your product or service catalogue.
Having access to the right content at the right time is clearly a crucial component of the customer lifecycle. Utilize data from all around – be it your CRM, ecommerce store, or customer support system – to deliver timely content that addresses any queries or reservations your customer might be having.
2. Keep eyes on the industry
The reality is: when you’re in the middle of an ongoing internal conversation every day, it’s very easy to lose sight of the external dialogue surrounding your brand. Make sure you keep a continual watch of online forums related to your business, product and your wider industry.
Pick up on relevant topics, trends and concerns that can be spun into content gold; position yourself as a thought leader in your field by using online conversation to preempt questions that might be asked of your business.
Plus, you can use these same channels to get more eyes on your material and build your email list. If someone asks a question on a forum, why not answer it with a link to your newsletter subscription, or to a downloadable piece of content?
3. Engage in social listening
You might already be monitoring your brand mentions and handles. You might even be tracking industry buzzwords. This kind of activity is a great start to capturing the key data you’ll end up using in campaigns.
But to really listen socially, you need to look beyond the metrics to capture the overall mood; for example, can you determine how people feel about you, your competitors, and your overall industry?
Here’s just a few actions you can take from successful social listening:
- Identify strategic wins in real-time and harvest organic UCG to instantly use in on-the-pulse email marketing campaigns.
- Discover industry pain points that you can address before anyone else.
- Identify industry influencers and advocates – then bring them on board with your brand!
- Scope out leads to nurture into trusted relationships
4. Do competitor research
Conducting a thorough and ongoing competitor analysis will help you identify key content areas that your contemporaries are pushing out to their subscribers. Identify industry trends, pain points, and (perhaps most importantly) gaps for your brand to fill.
With 38% of consumers claiming to receive more than 41 messages from brands in one week, these gaps may not manifest as topics, but perhaps also as send times. Payday marketing messages tend to arrive in the inbox at a similar time and follow a similar subject line format; a B2C retailer could analyze payday campaigns from competitors to identify an optimized time to cut through the noise of the inbox with a campaign that cleans up.
5. Use industry influencers
A recent report reveals that only 6% of UK consumers trust the information given to them by brands, while over half will actively question this information. Bringing the power of influencer content to the point of sale trumpets the value of your products and services and helps customers feel they’re part of an impressive community.
Align elements of your email marketing strategy with comments and insight from key figures to bolster the material you put out and generate elevated open and click rates. Whether it’s video content from a vlogger, a piece of good press from a reputable source, or some UGC from a household name, pulling influencer content into your email campaigns can bolster your brand’s integrity when it’s most needed.
6. Popular search terms
Take a look at what internet users are searching for in relation to your business – and their use of long-tail keywords in particular. Long-tail keywords are (surprise!) longer and more targeted keyword phrases that people engaged with your brand are almost certain to use at different points in the purchase cycle.
Use sites HitWise and UberSuggest to find out what your customers are searching for – and then align your content campaigns with your most popular long-tail keyword searches. You could implement this challenge-specific content in a program to convert cart abandons or to drive first time purchases that are beginning to lapse.
7. Don’t overlook your star performers
It’s all too easy to overlook current customers when you’re focused on landing the next big fish.
Repurposing information that’s constantly relevant to customers ensures you’re getting the best possible ROI for your efforts and minimizes time and resource pressures. Consider the kind of content that’s always important to your mailing list and think about the different ways you can package it into relevant messages.
At dotmailer, for example, we find that our subscribers are always keen to receive ‘back-to-basics’ content focused on the foundations of email marketing, so we make sure we’re always circulating material that fits in with this need.
Think too about transforming old content into new forms – a how-to article or care instructions could easily be repurposed as an engaging videographic.
8. Check your website search data
Here you’ll find a wealth of customer-initiated topics to include in your email campaigns. Once you’ve got hold of this information, consider pairing it with data you already hold on different customers; for example, if you know someone is a repeat purchaser of leather shoes, they might be keen to receive emails based around shoe care queries. Here are some further ideas for content campaigns based on site searches:
- On-trend lookbook
- Industry insight digest
- Aftercare information
- Delivery and returns FAQs
- ‘As seen on’ gallery / video content
9. Bring in the big data
Got metrics that you think will matter to your mailing list? Great! Pull data from your CRM, ESP, or ecommerce store to create interesting stories for your customers. Whether you’re distributing primary research or delivering one-to-one customer insight, this kind of hyper-relevant content drives great engagement rates and fosters a sense of community spirit between brand and customer.
Last year at dotmailer we invited our valued customers to peruse their ‘Year in review’ metrics. Account holders were able to view personal statistics on their email practice. This is a campaign we’re proud of!
10. Nab from the news
Today’s customer is connected to current events 24/7, and highlighting your brand’s pertinence during times of piqued interest is a good way to keep your emails from falling by the wayside. While some news elements are best avoided, look out for events that align with your brand message.
Some viral content can be particularly useful to integrate with your content marketing as its reach and searchability is already much higher than other news articles; remember, however, to distinguish your messages from clickbait content with superior copy and consistent branding!
Keen to take your content marketing to the next level? Check out our most popular resource: Don’t be a copywronger!
 Havas, Meaningful Brands 2017 – from a sample of 375,000 respondents
 The Content Marketing Institute, Why is Content Marketing Today’s Marketing? 10 Stats That Prove It 2016
 Rare, 2016.