Many business owners will look at a small team and think of how limiting it is. But small teams provide one really huge advantage when it comes to forging relationships.
"Prospecting today is about building relationships more than it is selling." - April Rudin, The Rudin Group
When reaching out to your clients with written content, you may think it's necessary to constantly produce original material. The fact is, you can use curated third-party content to enhance your customer engagement and establish relationships. Not only does curated content free up your creative team's time, but it also helps your customers establish a human connection with your organization.
Newsletters have been a critical component of marketing strategies for years. Although it can be easy to dismiss newsletters as just another outreach email in the customer's inbox, they actually present an amazing opportunity to share your organization's perspective and establish trust. For newsletters, this means delivering a service to your audience, and that starts with caring about what your audience want's to receive.
Newsletter Definition: "A newsletter is a tool used by businesses and organizations to share relevant and valuable information with their network of customers, prospects, and subscribers." - Brafton
Over the past few years, the definition of a newsletter has evolved from a simple email to a critical tool that shares relevant and valuable information with a network of customers, subscribers, and prospective customers. Newsletters are no longer restricted to the inbox. As the idea of moving the newsletter outside the inbox has begun to take hold, the fundamental concepts of newsletters are being applied to social media and other platforms to get more customer engagement outside the inbox.
For organizations who are accustomed to doing inbox newsletters, this trend is useful. Many of the same principles used to engage customers in the inbox apply outside the inbox, too. These tactics can be used to handle customers across a variety of digital platforms. The use of curated articles will further help you to expand your reach and enhance customer engagement with your newsletter in any digital setting.
A curated article, or curated content, is an article that's written by a third party. This is someone who's not in your organization, with whom you have no affiliation, and they may not even know who you are. You bring this third-party content to your audience with full attribution that drives traffic back to that original publisher's site. For example, if I found a curated blog post, decided it was amazing, and sent it to my friends, I'm sending all that traffic back to the original company. Third-party curated articles are different from hiring someone to write an article on your behalf that lives on your blog, which would be first-party content. It is also different from asking someone if you can re-post an article that is already written on your website, which would be second-party content.
Social networks and businesses are increasingly turning to newsletters. There are three main reasons for this shift:
The more that a customer knows about who you are, where you're coming from, and your perspective, the easier it is for them to trust what you have to say and take it as a data point upon which they can base decisions. Customers will trust your content, rather than just getting information from someone they don't know anything about, and then trying to use that to make the right decision.
Newsletters provide familiarity by being in the customer's inbox or visible location. Consistently seeing the business name and the content you're providing makes customers feel like they know you better, and that helps them to trust what you have to say. This helps to enhance the customer's reception when you're ready to move onto more traditional prospecting or selling activities.
Showing the customer that you have credibility is important. This involves providing content that is necessary to help the customer understand what you have to say, but also where your perspective is derived. Credibility is where your curated content can shine.
When we switch from looking at newsletters to looking at curation, certainly in the context of newsletters, the same three things matter: Context, Familiarity, and Credibility.
One of the values of curated content is that it can help to build good habits in your marketing team. It can be difficult without a newsletter to keep everyone on task and execute your curation strategy in a timely fashion. The knowledge that there is a newsletter deadline for which you need to create great content is an excellent way to motivate your team to curated enough valuable articles for the next edition.
Keep in mind that building your brand's credibility is not just sending out a newsletter under your company's logo. It's also ensuring that the content inside the newsletter is coming from the collective insights of your team. Your newsletter is not just one person putting their ideas into the world, but the universal summation of your team's view. All of those articles combined work to create a true content perspective.
You are also providing a service. From the customer's perspective, there is too much going on in the world for them to be able to read everything. They look to you as an organization they trust to help them cut through that noise and figure out what they should read, and how they should use that information for decision-making. Curated content can help achieve that.
Many organizations see curated content as a gap-filler for when the marketing team doesn't have time to complete original content. On the contrary, the need for curated content to create credibility, familiarity, and context has actually grown significantly over the past 5-6 years. In fact, a recent study by Convince & Convert showcases why curated content matters. Even if you have 50 people on your content team who create the most beautiful works of art that anyone's ever seen, you still need familiarity, credibility, and context to build trust. The study illustrates that it is important to have the right mix of original content and curated content.
Don't expect curation to be a silver bullet that eliminates the need for original content. You will still need to supplement the curated articles and provide content from your organization's unique perspective. By the same token, just because you have the resources doesn't mean that you should only create original content. You can benefit from spending some of those resources curating.
When you can achieve the perfect blend of curation and original content, with 50% to 75% curated from 3rd party sources, it increases customer engagement more than two-fold when compared with newsletters with only original content. More importantly, it increases your conversion rate on the original content by more than two-fold, because of the trust you derive from those three important factors: context, familiarity, and credibility.
You are now aware of the benefits of curation and the ways that current trends challenge traditional views of curation. How do you apply these concepts to your own newsletter? Below are the four key points to consider every week before your newsletter goes out.
This is the most important consideration! Your newsletter needs to be the result of true curation, not just content aggregation. Although you aren't crafting every individual article, you still need to honor the space in the inbox of the person receiving the newsletters. You do this by ensuring that each article is selected to help your subscriber get closer to your brand. The idea is to create a collection of articles that is unique to your organization and provides perspective while also providing information that the subscriber wants to read.
Get the whole team involved. It can be easy to allow the newsletter to become the project of an individual within the organization. This can cause problems if the person moves on, as the newsletter's tone and perspective are likely to change. This can undermine the customer's trust in your newsletter and the brand as a whole. You can avoid this problem by involving as many members of the organization as possible in the process. Encourage different parts of your organization, from HR to senior leadership, to forward articles of interest for inclusion in the newsletter. Not only does this provide content consistency through organizational shifts, but it also helps everyone in the organization to see things from the customer's perspective.
Consider separating your original and curated content campaigns. This will help the subscribers better anticipate what they are about to open and ensure you can adhere to a schedule. Finding the right balance between curated and original content can be a challenge. Rather than trying to add original content to your curated materials in the form of wordy prefaces, consider distributing the curated and original material on separate schedules. This will help you save time when meeting your newsletter deadline. It also allows you to better determine the customer's preferences with regard to original versus curated content. You can gauge opt-outs and click-throughs and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Connect the dots between curated and created content. Providing this context helps your audience understand why they should engage with your created materials and take the next step in the relationship with your brand. By fattening the right tail, we mean using a curated perspective to drive traffic to the original content. Your sales department can use that to help connect the dots between relevant 3rd party content and your organization's perspective.
Incorporating curated content into your newsletter offers a number of benefits over the more traditional approach. It allows your team to take a consistent, nurturing approach to content that requires less time while enhancing customer engagement. Sharing articles on a weekly basis also keeps your organization at the forefront of the customer's mind and assures them that your organization knows what they're talking about. Curated articles also help to add context and stimulate engagement in your original content. You will then have the time to gauge customer reception of your "canary content" and adjust your focus as needed.
Check out our other blog posts for more on marketing, content curation, user stories, and more.
Regardless of whether in-house content creation is a core focus for your company, or if you simply don't have the resources to consistently meet the demands associated with it, leveraging curated content may make a lot of sense for your brand.