Years ago, when I was running marketing for an IT consulting company, time was my biggest challenge. I was writing blog posts. I was writing emails. I was writing social media posts. I was doing… everything. And it felt like everything I did was single-purpose. Right? I was depending on people to go read my blog. I was depending on people reading the – sometimes lengthy – marketing emails I was sending out. I didn’t really know who was actually reading any of it. Sure, I could look at my email open rates, but that didn’t really tell me they were READING my emails.  I felt like I was spinning in place.

Do you ever feel like that?

Do you ever get emails that are so long that you read a paragraph and then stop? Maybe you promise yourself you’ll go back to it later, but before you know it, that email has completely slipped out of sight and out of mind. Here’s a tip – a lot of those super-long yet informative emails should really be blog posts.

Make your blog your center of content

In a prior post, I wrote about how a good blog can be your greatest asset. What I am about to share with you is the strategy I developed when I was back in the IT consulting company, and it really works. It saved me so much time, AND I got so much more insight about the people on my list than I had ever had before.

  1. I turned my blog posts into emails. The emails were short and had a link to the actual blog post. This challenged me to write compelling headlines as well as a good first paragraph, because I included the blog post title and the first little bit of the blog post in the emails. If someone clicked the “continue reading” link, I knew they were interested in that topic – and I could easily track that in my marketing system (which was Genoo).
  2. I used my blog posts for follow-up emails to specific actions on my website. If someone visited my Business Intelligence page on my website, I could automatically give them a series of emails about business intelligence – and many of those emails were links to prior blog posts in that same subject area. If someone downloaded a Business Intelligence white paper from the website, I could follow-up on that download with… you guessed it… emails with links to blog posts on that topic.
  3. I used social media tools to publish my blog posts to social media automatically. Whenever a new post was published, the social media tool I used would automatically post it to the networks I was using.
  4. I also leveraged my blog by publishing replays of my webinars. Again, since I could so easily see what people were reading on my website, I collected actionable data about what people were really interested in – and then I could respond to them based on their interests.

How cool is that?

Suddenly, instead of publishing blog posts and hoping that people would find them on my website and read them, I was controlling the conversation. I was sending marketing emails that linked to informative and valuable information – that I owned (versus sending people to a post on Forbes or Inc. or whatever). Because I owned the content and controlled the distribution of that content, I built a devoted audience.

How does it pay off?

The most obvious answer is time. I saved a ton of time when I figured out how to project the company as an authority with blog posts, and then re-purposing those blog posts into emails and social media. Saving time was huge.

But it didn’t matter how much time I saved if I wasn’t getting results, right?

I was getting results. Because I could respond to people’s interests, continue the conversation with more content from my blog, we were building trust. People came to love our “marketing” emails because they weren’t trying to sell them something. They were links to informative and valuable bits of information they could use. Sales went up. New opportunities were finding us. Our primary partner, Microsoft, was referring business to us.

The best payoff ever was when the VP of Sales came into my office one day and said “I just got a BIG contract with [this company] and the decision maker said that one of the things that made him want to work with us is our commitment to educating the community and providing valuable information without a sales pitch. He really respects that. So… great job and thanks!”

That deal, by the way? It was so big that it covered 100% of the firm’s marketing costs for the entire year. While marketing ROI can be challenging to track, that one was easy.

And it happened because of our blog.

If you’re like a bajillion other people and just can’t think what to blog about, you could start by looking at some of those lengthy emails you’ve sent to the people on your list. What do you want to say to your audience? How can you provide inspiration or value? If you’re totally stumped and want some help, we’d be happy to talk with you about a content strategy.