Content Marketing: Web-based tool to help email marketers
Editor’s Note: Since MarketingSherpa recently formed an affiliate partnership with ClickMail to help the value-added reseller of ESPs get more attention for its nifty ESPinator tool, we thought it might be worthwhile to rerun this blog post to give you ideas for using a Web-based tool in your own content marketing. (Original publication date: Feb. 22, 2011)
Content marketing goes well beyond publishing whitepapers and blogs. Your company can provide videos, slide decks, webinars and even Web-based tools — like ClickMail’s ESPinator.
ClickMail pairs companies with email service providers (ESPs) and helps them establish effective programs. For years, its marketers have published a blog and an annual PDF guide on how to select an ESP.
“We’ve always felt that we had a clear view of the strengths and weaknesses of the various ESPs,” says Marco Marini, CEO, ClickMail. “From that, we evolved into an annual guide on selecting the best one. It’s completely vendor-neutral. It doesn’t talk about any vendors at all, just what the factors are.”
The ESPinator is the next step in that strategy, Marini says. Launched in early 2011, the tool asks users a series of questions and suggests up to three ESPs that are well-suited to their needs.
“Every vendor at a trade show says their solution is the best. There truly isn’t a best solution. It all depends on what your specific needs are,” Marini says. “There are more than 30 ESPs in the tool, and we don’t have a relationship with the vast majority of them. So this is truly more for the email marketing audience.”
Steady investment in content
Content marketing requires investment. Someone has to create stuff and it has to be really, really good. You can either invest your time or pay someone else to do it. Either way, there is no free lunch.
This is also true of ClickMail’s ESPinator, which took longer than two years to create. One of the team’s biggest challenges was designing its scoring system. Each ESP had to be rated in various categories to be comparable with each user’s needs. For example, one category is an ESP’s depth of integration with salesforce.com.
“All [salesforce.com] integrations are not created equal among ESPs,” says Cameron Kane, CTO, ClickMail, who headed the project. “Some may synch simply contact data, some synch lead and contact data, some work with custom objects, some will not work with custom objects” and so on.
Keeping content alive
Some types of content — such as books — require a onetime investment. Once a book is published, it’s published. Blogs, on the other hand, require on-going investment or they will wither and die. ClickMail’s tool is somewhere in the middle and will require updates.
“When an ESP on that list comes up with a new version or enhancements, we need to go back and modify the scores on those areas that they have potentially improved,” Marini says.
Marketing plans to attract attention
ClickMail worked to promote the tool and launched it at the annual MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Summit 2011 , which is the email industry’s largest vendor-neutral event.
Other promotion ideas the team has kicked around include:
- Offering co-branding partnerships to companies
- Offering the tool to prospects as part of the lead-nurturing process
- Pitching the tool to industry press and blogs to score inbound links
Ultimately, ClickMail hopes the ESPinator will be helpful to marketers while showing off the company’s expertise and attracting attention to its services.
“When you say content marketing, I immediately think of thought leadership,” Marini says. “Our company philosophy is to show that value upfront without asking for anything.”