Adam T. Sutton

Inbound Marketing: Unlock the content from your emails and social marketing

April 19th, 2011

Think about how many emails you sent yesterday. Now think about how many your company sent yesterday — to customers and coworkers. Probably thousands of unique emails, right? That is a mountain of content, but little of it gets used for marketing.

I spoke last week with Chris Baggott, CEO and Co-Founder of Compendium (also co-founder of ExactTarget). During our discussion, Baggott pointed out two content-rich resources that marketers often overlook: their email marketing campaigns, and their social media profiles.

Marketing emails, for example, often tell a story or feature content that is not published elsewhere. The content is not indexed by search engines — but it could be if published online.

Also, the comments and conversations on your Facebook profile typically never escape the walled garden. But you can grab that content and incorporate it into your marketing.Content Funnel

“We’re working on breaking down content silos to be able to pull content from anywhere and distribute content anywhere,” Baggott says.

Here are some examples Baggott provided of how some companies are breaking down content silos and combining email marketing, social marketing, natural search and content marketing:

Publishing emails for long-tail search

One of Baggott’s first points was that a company’s emails are a huge untapped resource for content. Of course, there are your marketing emails, as mentioned above. But even your sales and customer service emails can be published.

Sales and service teams write thousands of emails to answer customers’ questions. Questions such as:

  • What is the best product for my situation?
  • When would I have to update my product?
  • Will this product work while I’m traveling?

The answers to these questions are extremely specific to each customer’s situation. If published, they’re potentially valuable for long-tail (low volume, highly qualified) search traffic. What is the best parka for sub-zero temperatures? That sounds like a Google search to me…

Of course, not every email you send will be valuable. They should be screened before publishing, but you could identify several emails to publish each day.

Collecting and leveraging user-generated content

Baggott also mentioned an email strategy to gather and use content in your program. Here’s the process he laid out:

  1. Send a triggered email asking customers for reviews, testimonials, or other types of user-generated content. These emails can be sent after customers use a product, such as after they’ve stayed in a hotel room.
  2. Publish that content online to help attract natural search traffic and encourage visitors to sign up for your emails.
  3. Send another triggered email asking customers to share their content with friends on social networks.
  4. Use the content in marketing emails or nurturing campaigns.

The content generated, again, will be very specific to each customer’s situation. If you have good information in your database, you can match the content to subscribers’ attributes and use it to send them targeted, highly relevant messages.

“One of the biggest problems we’ve always had with dynamic content [in email marketing] is the content,” Baggott says. “The problem isn’t that I don’t have enough data, or the tools to make it easy to send relevant emails. The problem is that I don’t have enough relevant content to send to the right person.”

Related resources

Social Media Marketing: Turning social media engagement into action at Threadless

Inbound Marketing: A pioneering YouTube video strategy

Marketing Research Chart: Top tactics for delivering relevant email content

Marketing Research Chart: Using social media as a list-growth tactic

Search Marketing: Capture future seasonal traffic lifts by preparing today with these 4 SEO factors

Inbound Marketing newsletter – Free Case Studies and How To Articles from MarketingSherpa’s reporters

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

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  1. April 20th, 2011 at 12:13 | #1

    Great summary of our conversation Adam. Thank you. So many marketers struggle with a blank screen, trying to create great content. Meanwhile throughout their organizations fantastic content is literally being thrown away every day.

    We see a huge shift in Marketing departments from “Marketing Communications” to “Content Coordinator” Internal content curation is going to be one of the best slots in marketing.

  2. John Oedry
    April 20th, 2011 at 12:29 | #2

    Good information. Never thought of using email as content, and I send and receive a TON of it! Thanks!

  3. April 20th, 2011 at 14:04 | #3

    Great post. I think that Compendium’s new approach is very interesting in that is takes the “burden” of content creation from the marketing department and spreads it out to everyone else in the organization. For a company to be truly successful at content marketing, my sense is that it is key that the mentality is baked in throughout the entire company. Unfortunately it is sometimes challenging to get everyone on board, especially if they are outside of the marketing department. I have blogged a few times about marrying your employees’ strengths to your content marketing strategy ( and I think this added feature from can help get all employees engaged.


  4. April 20th, 2011 at 17:49 | #4

    Totally right! I have had to suggest to the writers of several email newsletters that they please get a URL somewhere so I can tweet their content to the world. It’s the equivalent of telling someone 10 years ago trying to do business without a website, or 25 years ago trying to do business without a yellow pages ad.

    How they findja if you don’t give them a place to do so?

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