May 08 2014

Content Marketing, Email, ESPs & The Future of Marketing with Andy Crestodina

I recently interviewed Andy Crestodina to give you a look inside the mind of a content marketing genius. Andy is co-founder of Orbit Media, author of Content Chemistry, and a contributor to dozens of industry-leading marketing blogs. Below, Andy shares his thoughts on a variety of topics including content marketing, email marketing, ESPs, and the future of marketing. Let's jump right in...

Content Marketing

Some businesses don't have resources to develop a full-blown content marketing program. What are the most essential ingredients to content marketing success?

When you break it down, content marketing comes down to just a few things.

  1. Creating something useful that answers questions your audience is asking.
  2. Making it visible through search (keyword research), social (shareable, stimulating and network-friendly) and email (gets opened and grows your list).
  3. Measuring what's working and optimizing your approach accordingly.

You don't need to do this every day. Depending on the competition in your niche, monthly may be enough to start building relevance. If there is a lot of competition, you'll need to be more focused and structured. Websites organized around content hubs often do well, even against big competitors. Content marketing is time consuming and slow, especially at first, but if you don't do it, someone else in your industry will. Your audience is looking for information and someone is winning the battle for their attention. Someone is answering their questions, becoming relevant, being shared and staying top of mind. If you're not being helpful to your audience with great information, promoted well, don't be surprised if you become less relevant over time and your competitors emerge as influencers of your audience.

Email Marketing

Why does email play such an important role in content marketing?

Email is possibly the most important content promotion tool there is. There's a saying among social media marketers: “Don't Build on Rented Land.” It means that not everything in your marketing is owned by you. You don't own Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google. But you do own your website, your content and your email list. That's one big reason email is important. There are others: virtually everyone uses email. Email is permission based. Email is easily measured. Email is the number one method for sharing content. Email marketing is absolutely critical in content marketing.

You run a thriving email program at your web design and development company, Orbit Media. Why is email marketing important for your business?

People need a new website once every 3-5 years. If we have a great conversation with someone who doesn't need us at the moment, we need an efficient way to keep in touch with them for the next several years. Email is the answer. It's an autopilot mechanism for keeping in touch with loads of people for years, until that day when they need our services. If our content (delivered via email) has been helpful to them for the last few months and years, we've got a better chance of being top of mind. Bottom line, along with search optimization and social media, email is one of the three main website traffic sources. How could we ignore it?!

Email Service Providers

In your book Content Chemistry, you mention that an email service provider is one of five essential tools for content marketing. What characteristics should you focus on when selecting an ESP for your business?

Here are some of the big criteria for selecting an ESP:

  1. Deliverability: It should be 99% or close to it.
  2. Easy Setup: The first time you setup your email template, it shouldn't take 6 hours of design and programming time.
  3. Easy Management: After it's all set up, creating subsequent emails should not be difficult.
  4. Reports: They should be easy to read and very pretty. Beatiful reports somehow have a way of motivating the marketer to pay close attention.
  5. Support: In a distance fifth place is support. An ESP should be self-service, but there are times when you need a little help. It's nice when help is available.

You left Mailchimp over a year ago for ExpressPigeon. Why the switch?

We took a close look at ExpressPigeon and knew right away it would be an easy switch. The tools for creating and managing emails are the best I've ever seen.

Since flying with ExpressPigeon, has your email marketing process changed?

The time is takes to manage our email program has gone down. Deliverability is as good as it ever was.

The Future Of Marketing

In Content Chemistry you talk about the history and evolution of marketing. How do you see marketing evolving over the next five years? How do you see email marketing and content marketing in the mix?

Lots of niches are getting more crowded, so the winners will be mostly in two camps: those that produce more detailed, practical, honest content, and those that produce content is higher quality formats, videos, events and podcasts. Of course, both of these work beautifully with email. Every serious marketer I know is aggressively growing their email list. It&aposs the main factor in long-term growth. If you do everything else right, but leave out email marketing, you&aposll have to work much harder for much longer to get the same results...

You can follow and connect with Andy on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Be sure to sign up for his bi-weekly web marketing newsletter on Orbit Media.