E-newsletters continue to be a popular content marketing tool, with 63 percent of companies using them as part of their marketing mix, according to a survey last year by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

They're traditionally delivered via email, but integrating them into social-media marketing efforts could help you reach a broader audience, grow your subscriber list and increase sales, experts say.

"In the past if I subscribed to your e-newsletter and got it, I might forward it to a friend," says Michael Katz, president of Blue Penguin Development, a Hopkinton, Mass.-based marketing firm, and author of "It Sure Beats Working" (BookSurge; $12.99). "But now if I tweet about it, I might be telling 500 friends."

Greater leverage: "You get additional leverage that you didn't have before," Katz says, noting that each individual on your email list has the ability to share your e-newsletter with hundreds of friends and contacts via social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The key is providing valuable content and making it easy for your audience to share your newsletter on the social networks with the click of a button.

Most online marketing service providers like Constant Contact allow you to add social media buttons to your e-newsletter, but only 41 percent of companies with 10 employees or fewer include social sharing icons in their newsletters, according to a recent survey by GetResponse.

You'd be amazed how much more "shareability" you'd get just by adding that feature, experts say.

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Grassi & Co. in Jericho, an accounting and professional services firm, added social media buttons to its e-newsletters in January. The company produces six e-newsletters monthly for the firm and its different practice areas, says marketing manager Vicki Mullin.

As part of the company's website redesign last fall, it revamped its e-newsletter and made a greater push into social media, she says. "It's a great way to reach an audience you wouldn't otherwise reach," Mullin says, noting she's happy with the results so far.

Once you tap into an audience, piquing interest can be tricky given all the noise out there.

Content sharing: "The most shareable content directly relates to the people you're trying to reach," says Arthur Germain, principal of Communication Strategy Group, an East Northport-based brand marketing agency. In general, people like to share lists, how-tos and downloadable content like an e-book.

"I use my blog as the basic building block for my content sharing," says Germain, who circulates a monthly e-newsletter. He will include three to four articles from his blog as the top stories of his e-newsletter and perhaps add calls to action to promote sharing (i.e. offering a free consultation).

Content that highlights problem-solving techniques or how you're helping your customers "save money, make money, or save time and do things better" will promote sharing as well, says Ellen DePasquale, New York metro regional development director for Waltham, Mass.-based Constant Contact.

And there's nothing wrong with asking your e-newsletter recipients outright to share it via the social networks if they find it valuable, she says. She had one customer post on Facebook that if followers subscribed to the company's e-newsletter, they would gain access to breaking company news there first.

Use analytics to see what resonates with your audience (i.e. how many people clicked on links, etc.) so you can develop content that will be more likely to be shared, she says.

It comes down to "generating content that matters," DePasquale says.

Fast fact

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Sixty percent of respondents in a recent survey of 1,092 marketers found e-newsletters to be an effective content marketing vehicle.

Source: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs