Improving your skills in email communications improves your content marketing efforts, and vice versa, as an audience member (nonprofit technology consultant Kate Bladow) pointed out after a presentation I gave about writing for the web last week.
I couldn’t agree more. To follow on Kate’s point, here are five best practices to think about when you’re communicating with an audience, whether you’re organizing a team or writing for the company blog.
1. Make everything as easy as possible
Emailing: When I first started at Right Source Marketing, Will Davis gave me some advice to live by: When you can, provide numbered lists in emails, rather than bullets or multiple paragraphs. That way, people you email know exactly what points you’re making, and can respond to each point easily using the numbers you provided.
Content marketing: I’m a huge fan of writing blog posts in formats like this. Numbered lists and sections make blog posts easier for you to write and easier for your audience to digest. Always think about using the format that makes things easiest for your audience and yourself.
2. Ask for action
Emailing: I always try to include clear action steps in emails rather than open ended questions or suggestions. Specifying actions from the start means you’re less likely to need to re-initiate conversation on the same topic, saving everyone time.
Content marketing: Decide what action you want your readers to take, and ask for that action. You could ask readers to comment on your post, follow your company on Twitter or sign up for a product demo. Ask in a clear and confident way just as you would when writing to your coworkers.
3. Be professional
Emailing: When I say “be professional,” I don’t mean that you should, say, avoid fart jokes (though that’s probably a good idea). I mean that you should write in complete sentences and proofread. Taking time to write well thought out emails will show your recipients that you respect their time.
Content marketing: While part of the fun of content marketing is that you have the chance to show your personality, you should still produce high quality content. Just as a professional should design your HTML emails, an editor should read your posts before they’re published. In addition to paying attention to detail, allocate resources to finding ways to set your content marketing apart, and you will be more effective.
4. Provide appropriate context
Emailing: I hate receiving an email that simply says “FYI” as a preface to a long chain of email conversation. When I need to bring someone into a chain of emails, I always try to provide a sentence or two to summarize what’s going on in the emails and why the person I’m writing to should see them. Even a “more on this later” helps me prioritize. A little context saves a lot of confusion.
Content marketing: One of the worst mistakes content creators make, especially in blog posts, is to jump from one topic to another with no explanation or transition. When you want to write about two different ideas in one piece of content, make sure the connection is clear for your readers, not just in your head.
5. Use the right medium
Emailing: Emailing isn’t always the best way to communicate. Some people you have to call. Some you have to Skype. Some you have to send a message through a project management system like Basecamp. Figuring out how to most effectively contact the people you’re working with will get you quicker responses and help your team accomplish more.
Content marketing: Just as some people are easier to reach on Skype and others on Gchat, some people read blog posts while some people prefer to watch videos. Make sure you have content in several different forms. Additionally, distribute that content on multiple outlets — from posting it on Twitter to printing it out to give to a client. This will enable people with different styles to read your content in the medium they prefer.
What content marketing or email tips do you have to add? Comment, and let us know!