I’ve been teaching Constant Contact’s Email Marketing Boot Camps for over four years now and if there’s one question that I get on a consistent basis it’s, “What do I say in my email?”

Many of our customers set off on the right foot and know that they should be doing email marketing, but at some point they hit a wall.

There’s no question it can be difficult to figure out what you should say in your marketing communications. But the solution is actually really simple. And most people are surprised when I offer my response.

What’s the absolute best place to come up with content for your emails?

Simply, listen to your customers and answer their questions.

There’s a big misconception about email marketing, people believe that they have to constantly do a hard sell with sales and promotions. The truth is you have a big advantage when you focus on building relationships with your customers. These relationships allow you to always stay top of mind and earn their trust. In turn, this makes them more likely to buy from you and/or refer you to their friends.

Answer your customers’ questions to build trust

Have you ever gotten a phone call or an email from a customer asking for help? How did they feel after you helped them solve their problem? If you use these questions as the basis for what to say in your emails, you’re able to take the information you gain from a small sample and use it to make your email valuable to many people on your contact list, since they’re likely to have similar questions.

If you’re not getting enough questions, try a survey

If you notice you’re not getting an adequate amount of questions from your contacts, create an online survey.  It’s a great way to proactively seek out their needs. Also, in this vast socially connected world it’s easy to hope online and literally have a conversation. Facebook is a great place to simply have a chat with a large portion of your audience in a short amount of time. The entire time you’re talking you’re actually gathering intelligence.

When I’m attending classes or networking events I’m constantly asking my colleagues questions about their needs. This allows me to build curriculum around those needs. The same applies for the small business or nonprofit that’s trying to capture the attention of their audience.

Capture their attention with how they’ll benefit

When you’re doing any trust-building piece, there seems to be a point that most organizations miss. Always start with what your audience wants to know. They interested in “Why” or “WIFFM” (What’s In It for Me?). Too many people never tell their audience what’s in it for them and why they should care.

It’s may be great that you got a brand new machine at the office, but the thought running through your contact’s heads is, “Wow, I bet my cost is going up.” Tell them why this machine is going to get them their products faster, cheaper, or of higher quality. People are starved for time and they need to know that you bring them value. Nobody is going to know what your audience values more than your audience itself.

When you answer your contacts’ questions they see you as a support system

Once you’re identified as such, you’ll have an onslaught of future questions. You complete the circle by having your customers gain your trust enough to bring you more questions. Once you have those questions you start the process all over again.

This may seem like very simple reasoning—it is. And when done well it’s incredibly effective. When I know that I can trust an organization to be with me every step of the way, I don’t feel like I’m in the endeavor all alone. Your audience needs to know that they have a support system. If they can count on you, then you can count on them.

So to answer the question posited at the beginning, “I can’t find enough to say in my email, where do I turn?” Turn to the people who need you the most, your contacts. They’ll be a wealth of knowledge, insight, and content.

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