Email: The oft-overlooked backbone of successful content marketing & SEO

As a platform, email has become such a norm that unless you’re a regular and devout practitioner, you may not appreciate its immense reach and utility. Especially in this day and age, with Snapchat filters, Instagram stories, AR displays and the like, email’s allure has definitely diminished in the red-hot glow of these sexier newcomers.

But experience and age come with their perks. Email may have been around the block a time or two — or twelve — but it’s proven to be an incredibly reliable and effective marketing tactic, so much so that many marketers simply take it for granted or don’t actively think about how to truly harness its power.

This is a foolish mistake. No doubt your company employs content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to drive awareness, generate sales and conversions and, ultimately, position your brand in a crowded, competitive marketing landscape.

In reality, email is a significant driver of success in content marketing and SEO campaigns. Not only is it extremely cost-effective, scalable, efficient and relatively risk-free, but email’s unmatched power in disseminating content to mass audiences and bolstering SEO establish it as the backbone of flourishing content marketing and SEO efforts.

Email’s ubiquity

When you look at why this is, it helps to realize that email delivers an ROI four times greater than social media marketing (the next highest marketing strategy), according to a 2016 DMA/Demand Metric study cited by eMarketer.

In the US alone, there will be a projected 259 million email users by 2020, eMarketer predicts. What’s more, most adults have multiple email addresses, demonstrating the relative importance individuals place on email to help them segment and document their online and offline activities.

Savvy businesses are understanding that this level of ROI and the sheer market penetration of email equate to lucrative marketing opportunities. Email marketing generates $38 in revenue for every dollar spent on it, a 2015 DMA study found, and, while Econsultancy in 2016 said that the average business only allocates 15 percent of their overall marketing budget toward email, these programs contribute to 23 percent of a company’s total sales — further proof that email can’t be beaten when it comes to ROI.

Regardless of these impressive numbers, email has become such a pervasive form of communication that it’s entrenched itself in the lives of people around the world and transcended the demographics that tend to define the target audiences of other marketing tactics. In fact, consumers prefer and even expect emails because it’s such a familiar and accepted B2C strategy. What’s more, Gen Z believes they will use more email in the ensuing years, an EggStrategy report commissioned by SendGrid (my employer) found, thereby insulating and future-proofing the channel against erosion to other forms of communication.

Promoting content

While content may be the be-all and end-all, it’s not going to benefit your business unless people actually see it. When it comes to content promotion, email is a content marketer’s best friend, acting as the initial and main traffic driver for any new content your company creates.

Because email is relatively simple for new and established companies to generate — not to mention cost effective — you’re able to more easily tap into a built-in audience that actively engages and shares your content. Email is the steroid-fueled distribution channel capable of making your content flourish.

As a channel that can continuously push out content with regularity and ease, email is a great tool for not only spreading content but getting an audience excited about it and engaging with it. By promoting new promotional deals, events, special offerings and so on, email can actually strengthen customer engagement and loyalty in a symbiotic, organic manner.

The better you can tailor content to your customers’ needs through email, the more willing they will be to engage and promote your brand of their own volition. This can increase subscribers and solidify your brand’s reputation. Clever and engaging content can not only increase brand engagement, but it also has the potential to go viral and further spread the company’s message to new fans and social circles.

Most people probably think that social media trumps email marketing when it comes to content promotion, but in actuality, email is a crucial driver of social channel and follower growth. Embedding links to your corporate social media accounts within an email blast is a simple, effective call to action encouraging people to follow and engage with you across multiple channels. Since more than 50 percent of email is opened and read on a mobile device, as Return Path found last year, embedding deep links in messages to app experiences or directly to social channels increases the likelihood of achieving social virally CTAs.

How email can boost SEO

Without email’s assistance, social media would be far less effective than it actually is. Linking social channels in email doesn’t have a direct impact on boosting your SEO results, but it’s a shadow method that can help improve your SEO standing by furthering your content’s reach and visibility through more potential inbound links that pass authority to your website so that you can better compete with organic search.

Where email can absolutely lend a hand to your SEO efforts is by helping you create a stronger link profile. A great SEO best practice is to identify topics likely to attract links, build out content focusing on those areas and then link to them from your existing content. Email can then spotlight this content and these links, getting them in front of a wider audience and resulting in an even greater influx of new links. This web of new links will solidify your link profile and benefit your overall SEO standing.

Finally, because email is so cost-effective, it lends itself to much more experimentation without breaking your bank. Switching creative gears on the fly is a huge luxury email affords that won’t derail your overall content marketing or SEO campaigns. A/B and multivariate testing of links and content to hone messages, tonality and CTAs can easily be executed through email. This experimentation will offer better insights into your customers’ desires so that you can fine-tune your marketing efforts to deliver the content they truly crave.

Hopefully, you now understand the immense role and value of email in both content marketing and SEO efforts. When you’re busy cooking up these initiatives, the secret (yet wholly necessary!) ingredient to this recipe is, and will always be, email.