Archive for March, 2012

Are your enewsletters helping customers engage with your brand?

March 27, 2012

If you run a regular enewsletter, make sure you have a content plan to best make use of your database. Send valuable messages  to your customers and prospects and you’ll be rewarded with increased engagement, leads and retention.  Newsletters are a valuable and cost-effective communication tool, which can help your brand resonate with your target market.

‘Your’ newsletter: The time has come to put your newsletter together and you’re thinking to yourself “what do I have to say that’s news worthy and customers will want to read about?” Well here’s where the term your newsletter becomes redundant. Just because it’s yours, doesn’t mean it should be all about you…

So how do you know what to write about and when?

1. What’s trending

Start by looking at search trends to work out what’s coming up. Google Insights can help you identify search trends in your market, and this is a great way to anticipate topics that are clearly of interest. http://www.google.com/insights/search/

2. What’s topical

Social networking platforms are a great way to identify hot topics and up-and-coming ones. With the world conversing openly on social networks, you have easy access to the kind of insights that marketers used to pay for. Look at the discussions your target audience are having and don’t ignore them – use them to your advantage. If they’re relevant (your number 1 priority!), make sure you don’t miss out – produce content around the topic and use that in your newsletter.

Use your annual marketing plan to create integrated content. You’ve planned out the year for a reason. Make sure your newsletter features valuable content related to your wider marketing campaigns to maximise their reach.

3. What knowledge is at your fingertips?

Your client base and commercial partners are great sources of content too. Just putting a line in your newsletter requesting guest bloggers is a start, and why not ask commercial partners if you can use their videos, images and other media?

Make sure you tap all the following resources for content and content ideas:

– Client base – Employees – Board of directors – Outsource options – Commercial partners – Your personal and professional social networks

Top tip: On Twitter, use bit.ly reverse spying to see how your competitors’ shortened links performed – just add the plus symbol to any bit.ly link to see the stats. If topic a doesn’t work for them – focus your attention elsewhere.

 4. Let customers tell you what they want

Giving your readers options of what you contact them about will seriously increase your chances of your newsletter being opened or read. Set up a simple email preference centre asking questions related to your offering, such as ‘are you involved in specifying green roofing?’ or ‘are you interested in CPD seminars?

If you are operating in a B2B environment, split up your preference centre by brands or services, or specific industries, depending on your product and service areas. It’s a sure way to increase open rates and engagement.

Most people will fill out their preferences if it means they get the emails they are interested in; it also shows that you care about your customers by giving them the option.

However, if you are going to go down this route, you need to make sure you follow through on their requests. Nothing more annoying than filling out your details for them to be ignored! You can use email platforms to help you create dynamic content and segmentation queries to manage the process effectively and automatically, saving you time and making insight and tracking easy to see how much more engaged your customers are being?

Guest Post by Emma Raw,   Marketing Executive at the DotDigitalGroup  Follow dotmailer on twitter @dotmailer

ESI.info provides qualified lists of professional designers, specifiers and buyers, enabling you to confidently target the right people. So if you’re looking to increase your email marketing activity then talk to our Research Manager,  Liz Robertson  Tel. 01786 407009 to discuss your data requirements.

ESI.info Building Design blog – Q & A with editor and expert blogger Benedikte Ranum

March 27, 2012


1. What do you do at ESI.info? 

I am the editor who looks after ESI.info’s building design / building services community and content. I have to make sure that we publish and share useful information in these subject areas, and that we make it easy for our audience to find what they’re looking for. This involves connecting with built environment professionals through many different channels – our website, face-to-face meetings, remote meetings, seminars and conferences, webinars, social media and blogging.

2.  Can you tell us a bit about the ESI.info marketplace blog?

The ESI.info Building Design blog covers a wide range of topics. Architecture is at its heart, but posts have touched on anything from geo-engineering to environmental psychology; from ancient brickmaking methods to the latest developments in concrete manufacture; and from renewable energy developments to biomimicry. Some posts are simply descriptions of recent architectural projects, while others try to get behind the headlines a little bit: explorations of the relative sustainability of different building materials, or a look at what it’s really like to live in a PassivHaus.

3. How long have you been running the marketplace blog and why did you start it?

We started the blog back in the summer of 2009. The idea was to provide a more informal space for our community to interact with ESI.info and with each other. We wanted to broaden our scope from simply providing product information for specifiers, and show our readership that we share their interests and concerns. Our clients and the people who use ESI.info would get a chance to influence or contribute to blog content, which would in turn strengthen those relationships. A blog allows a company to fulfill certain pragmatic requirements – like boosting SEO, gathering leads and reinforcing a brand – while also showing a more human face. In addition to all of those benefits, I find that I learn a lot through researching, writing and commissioning blog posts. It is often hard to find the time to read through all the relevant trade journals and articles, but the blog provides a focus to keep me informed of what’s happening in the market. Rather than provide in-depth, expert articles, our blogs often act as signposts to other interesting content. I am not an architect or engineer myself, but I am keen to share the useful information that I come across.

4. What does your ideal blog reader look like? Who is the target audience?

The target reader for the ESI.info Building Design blog is a professional involved in the built environment – be they an architect, technologist, consulting engineer, QS, building product manufacturer, contractor, urban designer or housebuilder. Most of the visits to the blog come from within the UK, but we have also had visits and comments from readers in the US and mainland Europe. While the people who use ESI.info for product information are often in the middle of specifying for a live project, the blog is more of a venue for browsing, exchanging ideas or satisfying one’s curiosity. I once wrote a post about a Gateshead development of IKEA-designed housing, and the person who was actually the lead contractor / project manager of the scheme got in touch to comment – I got a kick out of that. An ideal blog reader is one who is happy to comment, get involved in a debate, share an alternative link, offer an opinion or correct a mistake; that’s when a blog really comes into its own.

5. Is there a specific editorial programme for creating posts?

We have an editorial programme for 2012, which coincides with our monthly Focus on e-mail newsletters. This means we look at a different subject area every month for each of our marketplace blogs, and write or commission posts to suit our marketing schedule. However, we also write and accept blog posts ad hoc, whenever a good idea springs to mind, a specific event is coming up, or some interesting content presents itself in other ways.

6. Have you featured any guest posts from manufacturers on the marketplace blog?

Absolutely: the last two blog posts on ESI.info Building Design blog came from Kingspan and CA Group respectively, giving some interesting insights into solar energy technologies and projects, and last month we had a brickmaking blog post from Ibstock. These have all been very well received by our readership and in our social networks. We also have posts lined up from other clients over the next few months. This is something I am keen to see more of: after all, building product manufacturers are the true experts in their field. It’s great to help them raise awareness of their recent developments, and provide a venue where they can share their knowledge.

7. How do others get involved in the blog? What are the benefits of submitting a guest post?

It’s really very simple: they can just send me an email at benedikteranum@esi.info with a broad outline of their idea for a blog post. It can be something new, or an article they have already published on their own website. I will then check how it fits into our editorial programme and advise them on suitable word-count, illustrations etc. Some ESI clients submit a finished blog post, whilst others provide the raw materials for me to edit or rewrite – either way is fine. There are many good reasons for submitting a guest post: aside from the SEO benefits that rich content and reciprocal links bring, there are the advantages of opening their content up to a wider audience, and gaining extra exposure for their brand. Guest bloggers also get a chance to establish themselves as thought-leaders or experts in their niche. We promote our blog content through our opt-in e-newsletter programme as well as through our extensive social media networks, which helps drive traffic to our clients’ content.

 8. What highlights are coming up?

Over the next few months, we are highlighting developments in the areas of doors and hardware, staircases and balustrades, and roof finishes. We will also be taking a closer look at Eurocodes. This suite of structural codes is becoming increasingly used throughout Europe and will be affecting a lot of the people who use ESI.info, as well as our clients. What with ‘everybody’ being at Ecobuild this week, I will also be doing a post-show report. I would love to hear from clients who have a stand at this year’s show – how did it work for them, which products did they showcase, and what is their method for following up on prospects and contacts after the event?


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