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Article first published May 2013, updated April 2019

People regularly ask us about the value in automatically sending email campaigns using RSS to email.

In addition to great site content, are regular email updates an effective way to reach out to customers and benefit the bottom line?

Read on to discover the importance of integrating your content marketing strategy and email marketing efforts. We’ll also provide an example of how deciding to send an RSS to email can boost both strategies and engage subscribers.

How SlyVinyl built a successful music community using RSS feed to email in their campaigns

We got in touch with Scott Wickberg at Wick Creative, to find out how RSS to email has helped his other project, SlyVinyl, drive return visits and create a community for music enthusiasts like himself.

In this interview, we not only got our hands on his strategies and results but, as a bonus, some excellent recommendations for the audiophiles out there.

Scott’s had amazing results from his RSS to Email campaigns for SlyVinyl: An open rate hovering around 60% is almost unheard of for any email campaign. So we had to ask him about it:

What is it about your bi-weekly sends that makes them so popular?

It’s interesting because we started out with a weekly email, but our readers asked for bi-weekly, so we switched. We were initially hesitant, as our general rule is no more than one email a week to a single list, but they asked for it and we decided to give it a go.

SlyVinyl's weekly RSS to Email update

Most sites have a “you come to us” mentality, this email
switches the relationship to “let us come to you.”
The bi-weekly email has been so popular because it meets the casual website reader where they are. We’ve found this to be important as engagement levels are vastly different between readers – some
readers find the bi-weekly email useless because they are on the site
multiple times a day, but as the email isn’t for them, they
usually don’t sign up for it. But for the casual reader, the bi-weekly email is
100% of the driver for their return visits. It allows us to switch the
relationship. Most sites have a “you come to us” mentality, this email
switches the relationship to “let us come to you.” Our readers love this
and therefore the emails have done so well.

How have you benefited from using RSS to email on your site?

While catering to casual users is important, the true benefit we’ve found is in how RSS to email has impacted our new user vs. return user traffic percentage. We’ve seen a 10-15% change in our return visitor numbers since starting and now, return users account for 58% of visitors, which is exceptional. We have another client that is using RSS to email and their return user percentage has also seen a boost.

We look at return users as the golden geese, and we like golden
geese.
We look at return users as the golden geese, and we like golden geese. For those not familiar with return user vs. new users stats, we focus on return users as they are 2 to 3 times more likely to convert than new users. We look at return users as the golden geese, and we like golden geese. That being said, SlyVinyl isn’t eCommerce, it’s a community, but the rule still applies. Communities aren’t built upon new users and so RSS to Email has been key to SlyVinyl’s continual growth.

Was RSS to email part of SlyVinyl’s marketing plan, or did you just give it a go?

I have to laugh when I get asked about marketing plans, as I truly have never made one. Don’t get me wrong, they are great, but I personally just don’t work that way on my own projects. In regards to SlyVinyl, no, it wasn’t in the initial roll-out. The RSS to email came about as I started hearing people say, “I love the site, I just don’t get around to checking it, I’m so busy.” I understand where they’re at, I run 2 companies and feel that strain. Besides, why should they have to make the effort to visit the site consistently to stay up to date? As a result, I figured I’d give RSS to email a go, and it’s been a success. These readers can now see the stories in brief and if they are interested, they go get more info, on their terms.

The growth of subscribers has been pretty consistent, I think it’s now to around 30-40 new signups a week. For a site or company that’s not even a year old, that’s pretty impressive.

This has started us experimenting with all kinds of casual reader techniques, but nothing else we’ve tried has been near as successful. In half the time, email signups have outgrown our Twitter followers and are now double the number of Facebook likes we’ve received—very exciting stuff.

Finally, as the informant on all things vinyl, what’s your favorite record? I’m gripping my copy of ‘Marquee Moon’ as we speak.

That’s awesome. That Television record eluded me for quite some time, but I finally got a sneaky repressed copy last year. It sounds so amazing on wax. That’s definitely a gem.

Hmm, fav record. You know, I’d probably go with ‘Live After Deaf’ by Ryan Adams. This is somewhat cheating, as it’s a 15 LP box set, but it’s gotta be this one for a few reasons.

Firstly, it’s the record release that prompted me to start SlyVinyl. It was a super-limited release and sold out almost instantly; I had many friends that missed it and now the set goes for $600-$1,000 on Discogs or eBay. Got me thinking about how much that sucked that they missed that opportunity, as they would have gotten one if they only had the information.

Secondly, Ryan Adams fights with The National and Sufjan Stevens as my favorite modern artist and I personally don’t believe there is a better representation of his genius and raw talent than this set. It caught him at a tough time—being told his hearing might go, moving into his 30s and finally having settled down some. When recording this set, he played at small venues and laid it all out for fans and, as a result, it’s not only truly great music, but a snapshot of time and emotion for a truly great musician. It reminds me of Bob Dylan’s Royal Albert Hall bootlegs—also one of my favorites. In Dylan’s case, he almost died in a motorcycle accident, came back, and brought a new sound. Similarly, ‘Live After Deaf’ captures a moment in history for one of my favorite artists and plays to the fact that I’m a sucker for a good story of triumph.

Thank you so much for sharing your results, plus indulging the music fans.

I wanted to personally say thanks again for all the innovation that Campaign Monitor continues to bring to the table. It helps us continue to bring smart and effective solutions to a multitude of clients with a variety of needs. It’s a very valuable arrow in our quiver. Thanks again.

A huge thank you to Scott for the marketing know-how and helping us decide what to put on the turntable next. To get wise to the latest quality releases on wax, visit the SlyVinyl site, or sign up for updates.

How email marketing can boost your content marketing efforts

If you’re part of the 53% of companies that use content marketing, you understand how difficult it is to get your content in front of people’s faces.

Unlike social media, you’re completely in control of your email marketing audience because you have a one-on-one line of communication with them. Here are a few ways you can integrate your email marketing and content marketing strategies.

Send your subscribers custom posts based on preferences.

When people sign up for your mailing list, ask them about their favorite topics and how often they’d like to hear from you. If you’ve already started building your list, you can still send out survey emails or ask subscribers to update their preferences.

Imagine you run a website selling outdoor gear. You would like to avoid sending blog posts about fishing to someone who only hunts small game, for example, so ask your subscribers about their interests.

Use survey emails like this one from Anthropologie to collect information about your audience.

Use survey emails like this one from Anthropologie to collect information about your audience.

Source Really Good Emails

Segment your audience for personalized content

You can also break your subscribers up into different categories based on data like location, age, gender, behavior, and interests. Send out personalized content you’ve already created to these unique segments.

This also gives you ideas for fresh content. Have you noticed that a large portion of your subscribers live in the Washington DC metro area, for example? Maybe you could send out a blog post about the area’s top restaurants.

Run A/B tests with your biggest fans

Your biggest fans are the ones who open your emails almost every campaign because they love your content. If you’re thinking of running a sponsored Facebook post, send out a campaign with similar content to your most engaged subscribers. If it flops, then you should probably avoid wasting your money on Facebook ads.

Automatically send an RSS to email

Depending on your website, you could just automatically send your entire RSS feed an email campaign like SlyVinyl. Your email service provider should be able to help you set this up.

Why you need a newsletter

Newsletters build trust. Which brand are you more likely to do business with: the company that sends you informative articles from their experts, or the company that only contacts you when they want you to buy something?

Your email newsletter lets you share your expertise—whatever that may be—with subscribers. It lets them know why you’re an expert in your field and why they should purchase from you.

While authoritative content is important, merely seeing your brand on a regular basis can also help build consumer trust. When they’re ready to make a purchase, you’ll be there.

Wrap up

Sending an RSS feed to your email feed is a good strategy if you put out large volumes of high-quality content. Email marketing, in general, is an excellent medium for integrating with your content marketing strategy because it gives you a one-on-one relationship with your audience. Considering the price of social media ads, that connection is invaluable.

Are you interested in learning more about segmenting your audience for personalized content? We have a detailed guide for that.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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