Email Energized - 10 Ways to Generate Powerful Email Ideas

When you send out weekly, if not daily, email messages, you're bound to run out of ideas, even bad ones, sooner than later. The good news is that by opening your mind (and sometimes your inbox), the next effective approach could be just a few clicks away.

If your engagement metrics are getting weaker - fewer click-throughs, increases in unsubscribes, etc. - use these ideas to re-energize your email marketing efforts.

1) Leverage social media assets. You've worked hard to get all those likes and followers. These individual brand and messaging validations, as well as ongoing interactions, can serve as insights into what customers want.

Ask yourself: What do they respond to? Which questions or contests receive the most response? What questions do they ask the most? What are they sharing? What do they discuss with you in direct messages? How could those interests morph into an email message, or better yet, messages?

For instance, perhaps your Facebook fans are posting photos regularly, could you create an email profiling customer photos? A regularly emailed collection of fan photos will receive plenty of attention and click-throughs, as recipients will feel like they're part of your brand experience. Also consider what customers are commenting on. What updates or shares get the most likes, tweets and pins? Can you make more of those content assets? Will it work in (translate to) an email message?

2) Offer an exclusive discount or sale. The primary reason people sign up to email lists is to get access to special sales and discounts. Have you made good on that promise lately?

If you haven't given your subscribers a really good sale (e.g. 20 percent off their next purchase), then that's the first email you should send.

Another technique is to partake in inventory clearance. If there is product stock that needs to move (to make way for new inventory), consider offering a limited-time discount or discounting it heavily, offering it to subscribers until it sells out. This "scarcity marketing" technique has been overused, but in this case, your shortage is legit.

3) Use customer insights. Employees in your service or support department know an enormous amount about your company's customers. They not only know what the most common complaints are, but they also know what generates compliments, which can serve as additional ideas for your next email.

Try to engage in regular discussions with your customer service team to find out what they know about your customers that you don't. You might even ask them how they would take their knowledge and put it into an email. You may not be able to use everything they suggest, but there's sure to be some gems.

4) Know everything about your niche. Check online forums and groups, join networking organizations and participate actively in everything related to your brand's product or service.

But remember, you're there to listen, and maybe ask 1-2 questions. Never pitch products at this point; you want to look for common problems people/businesses have and what the newbies' questions or experts' concerns tend to be. 

Pay particular attention to the problems that are hardest to solve and the information that is most difficult to find. This is where your emails can make the most difference and generate the best results. As you know, there is a glut of information available on the Web, but sometimes, there's almost no information available on how to solve the toughest problems. That's where your emails could become valuable and viral treasures. 

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5) Ask them. You have that Facebook page, use it. Ask your customers what they want to get in their emails. Even offer to let them develop some of the email content. Social media has put customers in the driver's seat, so if you're sick of driving, give them the wheel for a while.

6) Sniff out the competition. Don't steal ideas, but do read your competitors' content. Do they have dozens of popular videos, a vast on-site how-to section or a popular Pinterest account?

Follow your competitors closely. Sign up for their email lists, subscribe to their YouTube channels, follow them on Twitter and Pinterest and Like them on Facebook. Set up Google alerts for their brand and product names.

All that listening is NOT to steal their content. It is to seed your own content creation with good ideas and show you what not to cover. You don't want to publish a blog post on the same topic that one of your competitors published a week ago, right?

Also consider addressing the gaps in their content and for openings/opportunities in the content your niche has produced as a whole. Capitalize on those opportunities and your subscribers will benefit, as will your email metrics.

7) Set up a listening station for your product names and top keywords. This will actually be several sites, plus the strategic use of a few tools, like TweetGrid.

This is similar to listening in on social media sites and learning all you can about your topic, but creating a listening station may lead you to sources that you didn't know about before. For example, maybe your company is all over Quora, but you have only been checking LinkedIn.

8) Play around with a keyword tool. This becomes even more effective if you use several tools. See how keywords are related. There may be a related topic that no one has ever written about that would be perfect for your audience.

9) Borrow from other industries or mediums. Take what works from another industry and apply it to your own. Not everything will work, but this is the kind of out-of-the box thinking that can generate a sharing domino effect. For example, a "Monster Truck Fashion Show" is sure to capture the attention (and clicks of users) out of curiosity alone.

10) Seek an expert. There are hundreds of experts, in any given niche, who would love to show off their knowledge. Authors are especially hungry for attention. An interview usually makes for interesting, promotable content. The email can be a summary or an embedded video. It could link to a transcript, a podcast, a longer video or an article on your website.

Utilizing other professionals' expertise is especially good for tight marketing budgets, as experts regularly work free in exchange for some promotion (e.g. a short pitch at the end of the interview or a byline). This way, they get exposure, you get content and your subscribers get a great email. Everybody wins.

See Website Magazine's Big List of FREE Keyword Tools

About the Author:Pam Neely is a copywriter and email strategist. To download the free report, "50 Ways to Grow Your Email List," visit