Seven Principles of Content Marketing in the Digital Age — Part 4

A Mequoda Content Marketing System depends on building user relationships that begin with email capture.

In 2011, more than ever before in the history of publishing, the database is king.

Building user relationships starts with the proven strategy of acquiring a potential paying customer’s email address and permission to send valuable free information, as well as your marketing messages.

When I remember the “old days” of marketing print publications via direct mail, and the importance of acquiring (usually renting) SRDS postal mailing lists, it gives me pause. The advent of email changed direct response marketing more than any other Internet application.

The email address is both unique and ubiquitous. It’s usually both permanent and portable. And content-rich email is a phenomenally discrete, unobtrusive, economical and efficient medium by which to communicate with your customers, regardless of whether your database comprises thousands or even millions of names.

Your database of users — you may be reluctant to call them customers until they purchase a premium product — can grow to include postal addresses, Twitter handles, first and last names, telephone numbers, the states and regions in which they live, their purchasing patterns — numerous useful data that are demographic, psychographic and behavioral.

The extent to which you build this database will depend, in part, on the price of your premium products and how much your customers trust your brand.

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Content marketing principle #4: Build User Relationships

Who is your customer? Why does he or she buy your product?

Have there ever been two more basic questions about the essential marketing strategy of any business?

Online, as in a brick and mortar store, long-term customer relationships are built on trust. The trusted vendor earns the repeat customer.

Database marketing done well enables personalized marketing. Consider Amazon, and its persistent, personal recommendations for additional purchases based on previous purchases and site searches.

Done well, database/personalized marketing creates happy, valuable, and enthusiastic customers. Done poorly, it makes marketers look inept and antagonizes customers.

Building customer relationships begins with capturing email addresses when users visit your website. Posting valuable free content enables search engines and users to find your website, and sets up what Seth Godin calls permission marketing vs. interruption marketing.

Your free content provides the incentive, and enables users to sample your brand before eventually becoming paying customers. But without the names/addresses in your email database, permission marketing is impossible.

For B2B publishers, your user file may eventually be tied to an Act contact and customer management database, enabling your sales force to record and access every inquiry, purchase and other touch point.

In 2011, building user relationships begins with email capture.

In my next blog post we’ll discuss content marketing principle #5: Maximize Customer Value.

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