What Makes Good Online Marketing Content?


I once worked with a broadcaster who hosted the morning drive show in Ottawa, Canada. We were having lunch one day and I asked him how he prepared for his show. He explained his secret show prep method to me and as I listened, my jaw slowly started to descend.

About twice a week he would board a random city bus in rush hour and ride along for an hour or two, listening to what people were talking about. Again randomly, he would choose a stop to get off at near some local breakfast diner and go in for a coffee. Once again, his objective was to be the “fly on the wall” and eavesdrop on what the talk of the day was.

According to him, about one trip a week provided more than enough show prep. Doing this allowed my colleague to discern what issues were relevant and resonating with people in his market. By being aware of what people were talking about, he was able to add his own voice to the discussion and feed the conversation further.

I was reminded of this when I read Mark Brownlow’s recent column at Email Marketing Reports. Mark skillfully tackles the why, what and how of quality content in email. Mark observes that all the technology tools we now have to reach out are wonderful, but are marketers giving people something worth talking about? It seems to me that if we were actually listening to what people want, we wouldn’t need to be reminded of the importance of relevancy so often.

What is quality content?

Here is how Mark defines it: “Consider quality content simply as any element in the message that provides standout value to the recipient (aside from the inherent ‘value’ of any offer).”

As Mark points out, good content is useful and/or entertaining and/or has emotional impact. I agree with him, but I think you could say that emotional impact is really the common factor here.

  • If your content is useful it provokes a positive emotional response.
  • If your content is entertaining it provokes a positive emotional response.

Mark states that the issue of emotional response is often overlooked and I agree. Perhaps it is overlooked because it is that underlying common denominator and not a separate factor. The question I’m asking here is: Can content in email or online marketing provoke any action without some kind of emotional response?

Add some positive emotion to my day. Make me laugh! Tell me a good story! Give me some information that excites me about what I can do with your product or service! Don’t just tell me what a product does. Tell me about what others are doing with it and make me so excited about trying that myself that I can’t wait to give it a go.