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Using e-mail to promote your blog

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Today, Technorati, the online blog search engine, is tracking and indexing more than 81.2 million blogs. While the majority are penned by regular Joes and Janes, an ever-increasing number come out of corporate America—first-person marketing vehicles that often spawn conversation and buzz.

If your company has its own blog, experts such as David LaPlante, CEO of interactive agency Twelve Horses, based in Reno, Nev., say you can and should be leveraging it via your e-mail marketing program.

“The e-mail-to-blog connection is quite effective because it archives all of your content online, which means it’s searchable and helps with SEO [search engine optimization],” he said. “It also extends the conversation by allowing people to make comments and refer to your marketing in their own later posts and Web articles. If companies simply send out e-mail marketing to a specific list without any tie-in to the Web, then that content stands a good chance of dying after a short while.”

LaPlante and Todd Van Hoosear, social media practice manager at Woburn, Mass.-based public relations firm Topaz Partners, provide these tips to help you get the most out of your blogging activities.

1) Use Web analytics often. Because blogs are usually updated every day, you might be tempted to reference your CEO’s latest missive. But LaPlante said a better option is to highlight the blog post that was most popular, even if it is a couple of days or weeks old. “Analytics will give you insight into what people really care about and what they are more likely to read,” he said. Van Hoosear said his company likes to use “Best of the Blog” or “Most Commented On” lists in the e-mails it designs.

2) Use your voice. People like blogs because they are conversational; they usually aren’t preachy and don’t use too much marketing-speak. LaPlante suggested taking a page from your own blog when writing e-mail newsletter copy to help boost readership satisfaction.

3) Use your blog to cross-promote—when applicable. If you’re offering e-mail readers a free white paper download or a coupon code, you can carry it over to the blog as long as it’s done right and doesn’t seem like you’re pandering, Van Hoosear said. “You’ve got to be very clear that yes, this is a promotion, and it can’t come out of nowhere,” he said. “If your blog is all about your technology and all of a sudden you’re throwing out a sales pitch, it’s not going to work.”

4) Help others blog about your marketing messages. Van Hoosear said it’s imperative to give people many ways to consume your content so they can make their own decisions. “When you put your e-mail into blog format, you’re making it easy for them to quote your newsletter and pass it on,” he said. “Bloggers want a URL so they can quote and link, so you should always let them know where they can find your content.”

LaPlante said you can benefit even more by turning your blog into an e-mail message. “We have a tool that automatically sucks up RSS feeds according to rules, organizes them, applies rules and filters, and passes it out as an outbound e-mail,” he said. “At the end of the day, people believe in blogs. They aren’t sugar-coated, not edited and re-edited. They are the real deal. People like them, and you’re still extending your brand.”

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