It’s a well-known fact that email marketing is one of the most effective channels to reach your target audience, especially for those with a B2B business model. But, thanks to the ubiquity of email marketing, the competition for your audience’s attention is at an all-time high.
The real key to getting through to your email recipients and staying in their good graces is sending them timely, relevant content on a consistent basis. The problem then lies in the amount of time it would realistically take to personalize every email to every individual on your contact list. This task would be practically insurmountable for even a full-time email marketer.
Enter the Content Distribution System (CDS), our brand new solution to content personalization. With this tool, any given person on your email list will receive an email personalized with content they have expressed interest in, typically via a preference form. Your emails are auto-populated with your content and filtered through each individual’s expressed preferences to ensure they are getting exactly what they want from your communications every time it hits their inbox.
That all sounds fine and dandy, but how exactly does a system like that work? Well, since we are henceforth using CDS to send out our monthly newsletter, we will walk you through the process of setting that system up to give you a better idea of how it’s all done behind the scenes!
1. Initializing the Feed
In order to pull your different types of content, be it blog posts, memos, white papers, etc., to personalize your emails, they need to live in an active content library that we call a “feed”. These “feeds” house your content and automatically update when a new piece of content is published.
There are three different approaches to setting up your feed.
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds are the most common because, just as the name suggests, they’re easy to use. They basically use HTML to store and publish frequently updated information, like blog posts or white papers. If you have a blog or a podcast, you may already have an RSS feed and just not know it.
Whether you have an existing RSS feed or need to set one up, we will handle the legwork. All we need is the source of the content and we can set up a new RSS feed or connect your existing feed to our app, allowing our tech to seamlessly fill your emails with your content.
The second option is to work through Contently, a third party content production, and management company that StoneShot is partnering with to ensure our clients have a steady stream of content no matter what.
If your content production team is bare bones, you can opt to work with Contently’s vast network of professional content producers to set you up a feed and consistently fill it with well researched, quality content. In this scenario, Contently would provide you with an API key for your feed which you can use to merge your feed with the StoneShot app.
Setting up your feed manually is a much more labor intensive, bare bones way to do things, but it’s a solid option if you don’t have a ton of content and don’t want to bother setting up a third party content channel.
Manually creating your feed essentially means that you are publishing your content straight onto the StoneShot app. The content will live exclusively in the StoneShot app until it is pulled into your email campaign.
2. Customizing the Feed
Once you have a feed set up, you can then pass it off to us to handle the nitty gritty coding magic to customize your feed to your exact specifications. There are plenty of innovative ways to set up the way you distribute your content, so if you tell us exactly what you want, we can get that set up for you in no time.
The way the personalization works is through a series of tags: one on the piece of content, and a corresponding tag on the recipient who’s expressed interest in that type of content. For example, say you want to send out a white paper focusing on a certain type of fund. If a recipient fills out a preference form that says they want to receive content regarding that type of fund, the CDS picks up on it and pulls that content into your email to send.
The simplicity of this tag-matching system allows for a great deal of wiggle room when working out your marketing strategy. You could tag your content by category, tone, audience, sales team, season, or literally any other metric that fits your strategy best. If there’s one thing we know it’s that different clients have vastly different needs, which is why we made our tech to be as flexible as possible.
3. Building a Preference Center
Once your feed is set and ready to go, we will design you a client-facing preference center so your email recipients can choose what types of content they’re interested in. The success of your CDS is a two-way street since your audience will need to express their interests in your preference center in order for the system to personalize their emails.
For an example of a preference center in action, check out the StoneShot Preference Center. While you’re at it, you might as well fill it out!
4. Designing an Email Template
The CDS email itself will essentially consist of a standard header and footer with empty space in between where your content will be filtered in. We will design your CDS email to your exact specifications, taking into account your brand image and style. There are countless options of how you can design your email to populate your content in interesting ways, so we’ll work with you until you’re completely satisfied with your design.
5. Scheduling Send Times
A major advantage to having your emails auto-populate with content is the time you save building and sending those emails. The “set it and forget it” aspect is extremely appealing since you don’t really have to worry about making emails while not sacrificing the quality communication and exposure with your audience.
But, in order to forget it, you first must set it using our Automated Scheduler tool.
It’s extremely easy to use and to prove it, we’ll walk you through the process in 2 steps.
- Find your Email
If you make an email in the CDS tool, all you need to do is type the first 4 letter of that email’s name, and the scheduler will automatically fill in the rest.
2. Set up your schedule
This is where you decide when and how often your emails will send. Choose the start date, the send time, the time zone, the frequency, and the end date of your email.
And that’s all there is to it! The beauty is you can set up multiple feeds for multiple emails to send at various intervals of your choosing. Your content distribution strategy can be as simple or as complex as you want it. Whatever you needs are, our tech can make it happen.
The campaign reporting tool for our Content Distribution System is the most advanced and user-friendly reporting system we’ve ever built. With 5 unique tabs to toggle between, we give you more angles to analyze your content’s performance and more ways put your data in context than ever before.
Each of the charts in the CDS reporting page is fully dynamic and can be clicked, filtered, and manipulated in countless ways so you can view the data however you see fit. Let’s go through the 5 reporting tabs and what each has to offer.
If you have more than one content feed delivering emails, this page will display the each feed on the graph and their performances over time. You’re able to click into each feed to get a more in-depth look at the feed’s individual performance enabling you to get both the micro and macro views of your data
This tab will display which pieces of content are getting the most engagement from your audience. You can filter the charts by tag, types of content, feed, or any combination of the three to gain deep insights into why certain things are performing better than others. You can also click into specific pieces of content to see which one of your contents clicked on what, an invaluable tool for sales teams.
The nature of tag strategies is that they can vary widely in the ways they’re used, so the tag reporting page could mean different things for different people. But say your tags are differentiating the categories in your blog, you can see which category is most appealing to your audience so you can focus your content creation towards what’s working. You can also see how many people are signed up for each tag to get a better idea of what your audience likes in general.
This tab lets you compare your various email campaigns and identify any trends in engagement over time. It also gives you the statistics on your email’s deliverability so you can keep your email lists clean to maximize meaningful engagement.
Last, but certainly not least, is the contacts tab where you can compare the most engaged recipients of your emails. You can get deep into what they’re engaging with, how often they’re engaging, even what they specifically click on. It can also identify what firm your recipients work for, aggregate them, and compare each firm’s total engagement. This tab is a sales team’s best friend.
And that’s essentially everything that goes into making a successful Content Distribution System through the StoneShot app! Using amazing tech to take the legwork out of your email marketing duties is what we do best, and we believe that this tech is the pièce de résistance of our entire marketing suite.
For more info on all of our tech, and financial marketing in general, why don’t you take our CDS for a spin by filling out our preference center! Every month we’ll send you an email loaded with content relevant to the categories you find interesting.