The Email Content Hiding in Plain Sight

Are you one of the 36% of marketers who struggles with producing content? You’re not alone. Sending engaging content is one of the tricky parts of email marketing.

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Sometimes you just can’t see the content for the words. But a good trail map can highlight the obvious sources hiding in plain view. Sources like your customers and the content you already have.

Stop and study these sign posts to weave your way back out of the email marketing content forest.


Your Own Materials

You probably already have a content mine waiting for you to sift through right in your own office (or storefront). We talked earlier about saving your own best subject lines in an email swipe file for future inspiration.

The same idea works for your email content. Popular blog posts, podcasts, whitepapers and even your printed brochures can get repurposed for your campaign.

For example:

  • Take points from a widely circulated whitepaper to use as a follow-up email series.
  • Revisit your best blog posts and give them a fresh angle for your newsletters.
  • Summarize points in a recent podcast for a broadcast message.

There are plenty of ways to adapt your existing content for email. And just think, it’s been sitting there in your archive all this time!

Your Customers

Customers provide a stream of content inspiration to tap into when your own well runs dry. Getting your customers involved in your email content also gets them more engaged – it’s that 15 minutes of email fame that will get them opening and clicking through your messages.

  • A high-profile client or enthusiastic fan can provide a golden interview opportunity. Ask for their perspective and feature the discussion in your emails.
  • Feedback surveys and product reviews are other sources to glean content from your customers to feature in your newsletters.
  • Involving your customers is a win-win-win: You get the content you need, they feel heard and valued and you also foster loyalty.

Finding Your Way Out

The resources don’t stop there. You can take a number of different avenues when your creative path is blocked.

  • Try mind mapping your content strategy with the method we described in this post. When you can visualize places to pick topics and articles from, your job gets easier.
  • Exercises like freewriting can help you uncover hidden gems or a fresh angle. Try explaining your business to an audience who doesn’t know anything about it and see what kind of new perspectives you can come up with.

Where Is Your Content Hiding?

Have you tried looking for new content ideas in obvious places? What kind of brainstorming works for your own content needs?


  1. Lalitha Brahma

    10/13/2011 12:27 pm

    Thanks Rebekah for giving us great ideas.
    Yes-I do get stuck with the question:
    1. What valuable content can I send to my List?
    To my surprise, many times, I realized that it is not that we are short of contents, but we get stuck in negative emotion/self-limiting beliefs/blockage in sharing our OWN contents . Are we really committed to communicate with our list regularly? Do I have any blockage or inner fear -OR will I seem pushy OR needy to market OR Is my information really valuable ?
    I find that these type of fears/limiting beliefs stop us from communicating with our list regularly. The moment I LET Go of the need to be perfect OR the need to be appreciated, and ALLOW myself to feel being of Service by sharing my knowledge with my list, I feel confident to hit the send the button.

  2. Liat

    10/13/2011 3:03 pm

    Great wrap-up of brainstorming ideas for content! I’ll be coming back to this post again and again – thanks!

  3. Mary

    10/13/2011 8:23 pm

    You are a genius Rebekah!
    I am just writing the auto-responder/email campaign
    lessons for my students and was wondering how to
    set out the lesson.
    I’m “swiping” some of your stuff here by using the links
    to send the students back to here!


  4. David

    10/14/2011 7:02 am

    Hello Rebekah,

    Thank you for putting such a great post. I love the idea that you actually broke the whole email marketing and list building process into points. It would help people to care about things that are often ignored when it comes to list building.

    I believe that it is also important to maintain a good relationship with your list so that you may convert better. Recently I found on a blog that you can build your mailing list by using joint venture giveaway events, that is by giving away free products in exchange of name and email. The author suggested use of a website that has a script with which you can hold jv giveaway events. I find this method new and am very curious to try it. We would love to read your view about it and how to use giveaways to build good mailing lists.

    Keep good thoughts rolling and keep rocking, will be back for more info.

  5. David

    10/15/2011 1:17 am

    Hello Rebekah

    Thank you for the reply, the links you have given are really useful. I find the third article quite important and I love the way it is written.

    Hope to get some more interesting posts from you,

    Take care

  6. Stefan Drew

    10/19/2011 2:55 am

    Hi Rebekah

    My problem is the opposite of the one you mention. I have so much content the temptation is to send something everyday. The problem then, even if it is excelllent content, is that people just don’t have time to read it and open rates start to drop.

    How do you determine optimum sending rate .. base it on sales or similar .. or is there a better metric?

  7. Rebekah Henson

    10/19/2011 8:44 am


    If you think your frequency is the problem, you might find this post helpful. It discusses options to let your subscribers choose how often they hear from you if they’re feeling overwhelmed:

    You might want to run a split test on the length of your messages. Send your normal-length message to half of your subscribers and send a shorter message to the other half and see which one gets better results. Here’s more information on setting up a split test for your broadcast messages:

    Hopefully that gives you a good place to start!

  8. Liat

    11/20/2011 8:26 pm

    Hi Rebekah,

    I have a question for you – I have almost a year of autoresponders set up, and I am so tired of writing them! However, they get about a 50-60% open rate, so I know people are reading them.

    Can I ever stop writing autoresponders and just move to special announcements? Can I direct people to sign up for my blog for more updates? Any advice you can give is appreciated!



  9. Rebekah Henson

    11/21/2011 10:26 am


    Yes, yes, you can stop writing autoresponders! New subscribers who sign up to your list will receive your already-written autoresponders automatically, and you can focus your energy on sending important announcements as needed instead.

    And you can easily send subscribers updates directly from your blog. Blog broadcasts automatically pull new posts from your RSS feed. All you have to do is choose a template and hit the “Queue” button when a new broadcast is ready (though you might want to take a minute to look over the message and make some edits before sending). This Knowledge Base article explains how to create and send a blog broadcast:

    Hope that helps! 🙂

  10. Liat

    12/1/2011 11:23 pm

    Thank you so, so much! What a relief! You have saved me many a frantic Monday night! 🙂 I really appreciate the personal response.