We all know that email marketing is a powerful tool. It’s been around for decades and has proven to be the most effective way of communicating with your audience.
But lately, it seems like many marketers have forgotten about the importance of keeping their emails fresh and exciting.
The solution to this is simple – include user-generated content in your emails. User-generated content will keep your customers engaged, excited, and eager to continue reading what you have to say next time they get an email from you.
The importance of User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content is a powerful thing. Not only is it entertaining for your audience, but it’s also very useful because your customers are the experts on what they like and don’t like. That means that if you’re sending them email newsletters about a certain topic, they’ll be able to tell you which emails were helpful and which weren’t based on their preferences.
Including user-generated content has another advantage – it greatly reduces marketing costs. When you include information that was generated by real users rather than paid professionals in marketing firms, your company will appear more credible to your readers.
Your brand won’t seem like a “sales” business trying to sell products or services to people at every opportunity. Instead, it will seem like the friend who cares about his/her other friends (customers) and is trying to provide them with the information they need.
How to Gather User-Generated Content for Use in Marketing Emails
The first step to gathering user-generated content is identifying what kind of information you’d like to include in your emails. You’ll need to take a look at the products or services that you offer and figure out which ones are most popular based on customer feedback, sales, and several repeat purchases.
With this in mind, find ways to implement user-generated content that is related to the products or services your company offers.
Let’s say you own a website about pets, and some of the most popular items you sell are dog leashes. You can generate more interest in this type of product by including customer reviews on it in your marketing emails. As users submit more reviews, include them all in fresh emails to keep customers excited about reading what other people have to say about these leashes.
Another example would be user-generated content that comes directly from the content you produce. For instance, let’s say that you used one of the many webinar software tools available to host a webinar. During this event, people were raving about the content you were delivering since they got a ton of value out of it. If that was the case, then why not use this feedback and praise as part of your emails?
When including user-generated content in your emails, make sure that whatever examples you use are interesting and relevant. There’s nothing worse than receiving an email with boring information included that was just filler. It will seem like the sender didn’t put any effort into creating the email, and your company will be viewed as unprofessional.
Don’t include every review that you receive, either – only put the ones that are most entertaining or helpful for your readers. You can also ask users to submit other types of content, such as pictures or videos, using an online form on your website so that you have a good supply of new user-generated content to send out in future emails.
Apart from reviews, you can also include UGC that has to do with the topic of your email newsletters. For example, if you own a local restaurant and send out weekly emails about different types of food, include pictures or videos that customers have submitted of their favorite dishes.
Remember not to overdo it – including a couple of pieces of UGC in every email is enough. If it becomes too much, your readers will begin ignoring them because they’ll think they’re uninteresting.
When Should You Send User-Generated Content?
The best time to send user-generated content is directly after sending out your original newsletter.
After sending out an email, we recommend that you wait at least a few days before including UGC in your next email. Most customers won’t have had time to view the original newsletter yet, but it will still open up the second one because it offers them something new.
Make sure to include some variety when it comes to the type of content included in your second email – for example, if you started with customer reviews about a certain product or service in one email, don’t start with another review right away. Instead, send out a video or picture that was submitted by someone else so that you mix it up.
Use the Power of Social Media When Gathering UGC
If you or your staff members are active on social media, use this to your advantage when trying to gather more UGC. In fact, social media emails are the new trend when it comes to combining the best of both worlds.
Post on Facebook and Twitter about how you’re looking for new user-generated content. These postings should include a deadline so that customers know they need to submit their work before it’s too late.
By posting regularly, you’ll be able to build up a continuous list of users who will supply you with great examples of reviews and other types of content.
One thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t publish any customer information without permission – only post pictures or videos if the person who is in the picture agrees beforehand.
Even though most people will be fine with having their UGC published by a company, there is always that rare chance that someone won’t be happy with the publication of their image or text, so make sure to ask first.
Getting More Content From Your Clients
If you are just starting an online business, it might be difficult to get UGC from clients. The following are some of the best ideas to use for getting more user-generated content from customers when the normal channels do not seem to be as effective as you’d like.
If you have a shop or restaurant, ask your customers before they leave if they’d like to make an account on your website and post a review. Make sure that these are real reviews, though – receiving fakes will result in lower credibility, and visitors might begin steering away from your site.
After sending out your newsletter about upcoming products, hold a contest asking people to submit pictures of themselves using the product in the best way possible. If enough submissions come in, publish the most interesting ones online so that others can vote for their favorite picture. This is excellent UGC because it’s not just coming from one person but rather several people who all have different styles, which means you’re getting a wide range of material.
Pose the question, “What is your most memorable customer service experience?” Ask that they leave a comment underneath the post with answers. Everyone loves talking about good customer service – this will attract plenty of submissions.
Tie in a giveaway aspect. Encourage users to submit user-generated content, like a photo or review, that then enters them into a raffle. This will help you gather more submissions and enable you to keep your emails interesting. Just make sure you don’t promise a prize to anyone with the best review, as that can be seen as bribery (big no-no).
Use social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook to announce when new contests are beginning and encourage customers to participate. This is great because even if someone doesn’t subscribe to your email list, they can still see what you’re up to on their preferred social media outlet and take part in it.
The final step is getting all of this wonderful user-generated content into your next newsletter. Include pictures, reviews, quotes from commenters, etc. Anything you think your customers would enjoy seeing is fair game—the more different types of emails that have varying content submitted, the better.
You have so many options at your disposal now that UGC is in your hands – just make sure that you pick the most interesting submissions to display in your newsletter and don’t include more than one or two per email. Too much UGC can be overwhelming for people.
Remember that not every one of your newsletters will have user-generated content included – mixing it up is important so that subscribers don’t get bored of seeing the same material over and over again.
Also, be careful of where you source your UGC from. Make sure that you don’t include any material which breaks copyright law, and make sure those entering the contest through email or social media feel comfortable with the terms.
By including user-generated content in your newsletters, you’ll reach new audiences who will be interested in what you have to say. You’ll also receive a second wave of interest when these people see the contests you’re holding and join them.
With over 500,000 monthly readers, Adam Enfroy’s mission is to teach the next generation of online entrepreneurs how to scale their influence at startup speed.
What Not to do in Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your audience. You can build a relationship with them and create loyal customers. It is also a great way to generate traffic to your website, increase leads, and execute large campaigns.
With all of the benefits that your company can gain from email marketing, it’s no wonder that 64% of small businesses engage in email marketing. However, there are still a few important things to keep in mind. In order to be successful, you should avoid these 4 mistakes explained by 97 Switch when preparing an email marketing campaign.
Talk About Yourself
Many companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. They assume that since their audience signed up for emails, they want to hear all about the company and the sales. While marketing your products or services is important to do sometimes, your audience is still looking for value.
Failing to foster a relationship with them by being too sales-y will lead to unsubscribers and a loss of potential customers.
Instead, it’s important to give the audience something in return for their loyalty. Exclusive deals and sales codes are appreciated, but they also want to see educational or entertaining content in their inbox.
One way to do this is by creating content such as “you asked, we delivered” or “your questions answered” to show that you care about your customers and the feedback they give you, and it builds trust.
It’s also important to speak your audience’s language. Sometimes, companies get too caught up in trying to sound professional and impressive and end up using jargon that’s hard to understand.
Using more simple ways to get your message across is imperative, as it makes the email easier to consume and thus more valuable.
Email Without a Purpose
While building relationships with your customers is one of the main goals of email marketing, you should keep in mind that they don’t want to hear from your company just for the sake of connecting.
Ensure that you have a clear purpose for each email you send, whether that be to inform, entertain, or motivate.
Being intentional about when to reach out includes sending timely emails. You should respond to relevant industry, company, or world news in a timely manner. Readers would find you reminding them about the last day of a sale important, and that qualifies as a purposeful email.
Part of proceeding with a clear purpose is also including a call to action in your emails. Your readers want to know exactly what you’re asking of them, and making it simple is the best way to get it. Beware of including too many calls to action, as it can be more confusing and seem more selfish than helpful.
Personalization is one of the greatest strengths of email marketing, yet it is often overlooked. Simply including first names in an email makes it sound more personal and builds stronger relationships. This can easily be achieved using an email scheduling tool such as Mailchimp. Again, this is a way to build customer relationships. Research shows that using someone’s name in the subject line increases open rates by 26%. Be that as it may, personalization is more than just plugging in names.
Using an email marketing tool is also an easy way to utilize the segmentation aspect of personalization. By separating your audience into groups, you can categorize what they would each be most interested to hear from you.
It has been shown that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns. An example of this is categorizing your readers as beginners, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your industry. Based on this category, you can send each segment a different email that would pertain to them more specifically.
Your readers will appreciate that your content is tailored to their needs. Imagine sending a beginner an email that skips over the basics of a process. They would be confused and find it very unhelpful.
Now imagine an expert who is wasting time reading the basics that they know by heart. They would become frustrated and lose interest in finishing the email. These are just two examples of using segmentation to better serve your audience.
Use Poor Subject Lines
Often, people will decide whether to open an email at all based on the subject line alone. A mistake that marketers tend to make is wording the subject in a way that sounds like spam, and thus never gets opened or reaches the audience.
As we mentioned before, it is also helpful to include someone’s name in the subject line. While it might seem like a shot in the dark to form an effective subject, there are a few tips for the best open rates you can achieve.
A good subject line should be short. The ideal length for a subject is 7 words, based on a study conducted by Marketo.
However, you also want to make it interesting so that people are curious and want to know more. This curiosity is enough to encourage people to read the email.
However, you want to avoid click-baiting your readers with interesting subject lines that have nothing to do with the content in the email. Make sure that your subject is also relevant to what you have to say. Otherwise, you will have the opposite effect you’d intended by destroying trust and losing credibility.
Simply sending out random emails is not enough to see results. You have to stick to a schedule that your readers can count on and know when to expect to hear from you in their inbox.
The frequency can vary based on your industry and from business to business, but emailing at least once a month is recommended. The more you email, the more you will be on the top of potential customers’ minds when they need what you offer.
That being said, you shouldn’t always assume more contact is better. If your company emails are flooding their inbox, you can bet that they will either block the sender or unsubscribe from future emails. Finding a balance is key to seeing the best results from your campaigns.
You should also consider the brand voice that you are using to speak to your customers. If your emails all sound like they were written by different people, then it’s hard to gain the brand-strengthening benefits of email marketing. It is also confusing to your audience and makes it harder for them to connect with the company.
A good way to remedy this is to create a company persona, where you give a personality to the company that is sending the emails.
Are you funny and witty, or are you serious and somber? Consider strengthening your branding within the company before communicating it with the world.
You can’t expect to be perfect at email marketing, so don’t get discouraged if you find that you have made these mistakes. There is always room for improvements, and every so often it’s a good idea to evaluate how your email marketing campaigns are going.
Using analytics to track your results and adjusting your strategy will help you grow as you fix any mistakes you might be making.
By taking the time to improve your strategy, you will see the success that can carry across all your marketing efforts.
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