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  • Rick Dagenais

Marketing Messages: The Power of the Topical Digest

What if your messages were regularly read, then SAVED by your recipients and used for future reference? There’s one type of email message that, when executed well, can achieve this and even create anticipation for receiving the next one… the topical digest.

A recurring theme you’ll hear from me regarding sales and marketing outreach is that you must add value for your prospect with every touch. As a marketer this is a real challenge. Your audience may be fragmented with diverse interests. Their timing may not be right for a particular message. You may need to reach out without a strong call to action. Or you may have lots of content you want to present, and you’re rightly concerned that it will be ignored (or blocked) if you appear in your prospects’ inboxes too often. You can address all of these issues by consolidating some of your messaging into a digest.

So what is a digest? It’s a quick summary of content that may be useful to your broader audience. The primary content will be yours, of course, but by interspersing third party content, you’ll add to the informational value of the messages and keep your audience engaged. And even better, by providing varied content, you’ll be able to reach more diverse segments within your audience and provide something of interest for many of these groups.

A good digest consists of links to 5 to 8 content pieces, organized in a few headings. Use less items and you’re missing the opportunity to resurface some of your older content; use more and you’ll limit the clickthrough to the individual pieces.

Here are some suggested headings, both formal and more casual depending on your chosen tone:

  • Latest Insights (or What’s New) - Links to 1-2 pieces of your new informational content. Use your blog posts, press releases, or white papers of general interest. You may recycle previously posted content if you update it and enough time has elapsed

  • Events (or What’s Up) - A webinar invitation, brief list of events you will be attending (live or virtual), or access to a previously recorded event. To keep your digest short and clean, this section can be combined with the Insights section

  • From the Industry (or The Big Picture) - Links to 1-2 news articles, LinkedIn posts, press releases, or guest content pieces from outside your organization

  • From the Archives (or In case you missed it) - Highlights from your previous digest, and/or a few links to additional older content you want to resurface. This is your best way to re-use previous content, and should appear in every issue of your digest.

Don’t forget your call to action. Always close with one additional opportunity for the recipient to engage with you. Consider any Register, Subscribe, Download, See a Demo, Contact, or other simple button, and change it up in every issue.

Here’s an example:


This should be one piece of your overall outreach program. If you want to increase readership and subscriptions, be sure that at least two out of every three content pieces is primarily informational. Avoid too many product-specific or sales-heavy pieces, and stay away from aggressive calls to action. You can send those in separate marketing or SDR messages.

Also avoid using a large banner or image at the top of your digest. To get maximum impact, you want your readers to be able to see your introduction and several lines of content without scrolling, even on a mobile device. HTML is fine, but other than a small logo or graphic, limit your text styles for section heads and content. You may even want to A-B test a version in plain text with visible links.

How often should you publish? Our research has shown that you’ll get the most clickthrough to your content by publishing every two weeks. If your organization produces a lot of content, consider accelerating this schedule to weekly, but eliminate the bulk of the individual messages you send to your audience. Sending too many messages will likely get you ignored, or even worse, blocked.

Should you track? This is always a controversial question, but our belief is that you want as many people as possible to see your digest. Using tracking technologies can get you caught in SPAM filters and limit the reach of your message.

Catch your important leads with landing pages and content gates once they’ve clicked, but keep the UTM and tracking data out of the links in your digest. For your own content, avoid URL shorteners, as they may also trigger spam filters and security systems. Consider using a short URL alias on your website for the landing page. For third party content, be sure to remove any UTM or tracking from the links and test in advance to make sure they still work.

Results: If you want to increase your audience engagement, create anticipation for your content, and extend the useful life of your content, consider sending a topical digest. Your audience will appreciate that you’re respecting their inboxes, will be more likely to consume your relevant content, and may even save it for future reference.

If you want help producing or managing a digest campaign for your organization, click here.