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How to Leverage E-mail and Social Media to Engage Your Audiences.
In today’s highly-connected world, effective marketing is no longer about simply broadcasting your message and waiting for the phone to ring. Talking at your customers doesn’t fly. The way businesses connect and communicate with their customers and prospects has changed. Consumers want more – they want to engage.

E-mail marketing and social media marketing are great ways to keep in touch, engage customers and prospects, and build relationships. E-mail marketing is a really easy starting place, and remains the best way to get your message heard.  Within minutes, you can put together a message that will motivate your customers. Then, social media can help get your message to spread. You can expand the reach of your e-mail campaign beyond the inbox by simply sharing a link to the campaign in your different social media sites.  Additionally, adding a “Like” and “Tweet” buttons in the body of your e-mail will make it easy for your e-mail subscribers to share your message with their friends.

When you combine e-mail and social media efforts, you present a stronger message, one that’s more engaging and more visible. E-mail and social media, when used effectively, can make the difference between a business whose messages blend into the others, and one where people actively look forward to receiving and interacting with them.

The key to doing this successfully is to create content that is both engaging and valuable to your audience. When you’re thinking about content to put in your newsletters and e-mails, or to share on social media, it’s easy to get caught up in talking about your company.  While your audience subscribes to stay current on your business, they’re more likely to tune in when the conversation is focused on how your business can help them.

Shifting your focus to their interests and needs is the biggest differentiator between simply distributing information and fully engaging your audience. When you’re able to engage readers, you’ll see repeat sales as well as a boost to your readership thanks to your loyal followers passing it along to their colleagues and friends.

This doesn’t mean you need to ditch your current approach to e-mail or social media marketing, especially if it’s been effective. Rather, it’s about focusing the conversation toward the “what’s in it for me” from the reader’s perspective. 

How to create content that’s worth sharing

It is great to communicate to your current customers and prospects. It is even better if they share your e-mails or social media posts with their friends!  When they do that, they are giving you free advertising.

What can you write about that is share-worthy?  Think about Q&As, insider tips, and interviews with experts. So where can you go for inspiration? Here are some easy and effective ideas to consider:

1. Follow the news: Track the headlines, top stories and trends and then consider how it affects your audience. From there, develop your content from a more personal and/or local point of view. Just be sure to steer clear of controversial or polarizing topics.

2. Look to others in your industry: One of the best ways to find inspiration is to look at what others in your industry are talking about. Can you offer a different viewpoint or advice on a topic? You may also want to interview other experts in your industry. Chance are they would be delighted if you ask.

3. Create a Q&A column: If you’re getting asked the same or similar questions from customers, you can bet that other customers also have the same questions in mind. Start a Q&A column with questions people ask. These add personality to your business and can also lead to online discussions where your customers weigh in on the topic and provide additional advice.

4. Interview one of your customers: Ask one of your own customers if they want to be featured in one of your posts. This could be a loyal customer or even a new customer. Write about their business challenges and how they’ve overcome them. Customer stories are an engaging way to create more visibility for both your business and theirs. Ask them to share the story with their own network as well.

5. Ask your employees for topic ideas: Create a simple system to gather topic ideas from those who know your business best ... your own employees. You could even make this fun and create a contest for others to vote on a few of the ideas. Engage your employees while creating great content ideas.

6. Share Stats: People gravitate toward stats and data when it’s relevant to their interests. Keep up on what’s happening in your industry and pass along the stats that are interesting, quirky and amusing yet still related to your business.

7. Create a survey: Ask customers to participate in a short survey or poll. The answers will likely provide lots of good fodder for future newsletters and can also spark conversations in social media. Not to mention the added benefit of getting to know more about your customers so you can further engage them.

8. Offer Tips & Tricks: Offer quick tips or shortcuts on anything related to your business that will help your readers improve some aspect of their life. When you freely share your insight, you’re able to more actively engage your readers while subtly showcasing your expertise.

9. Make your predictions: Crystal ball gazing is always a magnet for readers and it’s not as difficult at you may think. Given that you know enough about your industry, your customers and their past buying behaviors, as well as what’s happening in the news, you can put forth your own set of fun predictions. While you’re at it, ask customers to chime in on their views of the future. This way, you’ll be able to generate discussions, get more content ideas, and gain more insight into your customers’ interests.

10. Go Social!:
Facebook: Search Facebook for groups or Pages relevant to your business. “Like” these Pages or join these groups. You’ll begin to see their posts in your newsfeed. If you see something interesting, hit the “Share” button below the post, add your own commentary, and then share it on your own Facebook business Page!

LinkedIn: Similar to Facebook, you can join various groups on LinkedIn and watch the various conversations going on. You may see someone there you want to connect with and interview, find an interesting article you want to link to, and/or get ideas from questions people are asking.

Twitter: Twitter is also a great place to get ideas. People use Twitter for linking to quick content, articles, and news. Follow those in your industry and watch what they post for ideas. You can even search for people asking questions related to your business. Let those questions fuel the content you create.

One final tip: No matter where you are gathering content or where you are sharing it, always remember to include a direct call to action, a.k.a. an “engagement driver.” The driver is the content that hooks your readers and includes clear directions about the next steps you want them to take. In many instances, your readers may be nodding their head in agreement with your content. To transform this passive experience into an engaging one that seizes their interest and enthusiasm, insert options such as comment, forward, “Like,” and Tweet. This way, they can further spread the word and entice others to engage with you.

For more information on Constant Contact e-mail campaigns, visit www.constantcontact.com or call Customer Support at (866) 289-2101.

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