Mailbox providers are increasing their dependence on subscriber engagement metrics to determine your sending reputation and to decide if your email reaches the inbox.
Effectively improving engagement involves obtaining high quality subscribers, targeting them with relevant content, optimizing the mobile experience, and testing different subscriber segments and content to find out what resonates with your customers.
- Use opt-in consent methods: More people engage with your email when they choose to receive it. Don’t assume consent is given after a purchase or document download.
- Preference center: A subscriber is more invested with your email program when they get to choose what content they want and how often they receive it.
- Welcome message incentive: Provide a special offer or discount in the welcome message. It incentivizes subscribers to engage with your email early in the relationship so they look forward to receiving future messages.
- Don’t send to your suppression list: It can be tempting to send to people that previously subscribed, but you run the risk of sending to recycled spam traps.
- Implement a re-engagement strategy: Determine when subscribers stop engaging with your email program. Unengaged subscribers lower your engagement rate. Incentivize subscribers to re-engage with special offers or discounts. After a couple of attempts with no response, add the subscriber to your suppression list.
- Send a re-permission campaign: A more aggressive approach is to send dormant subscribers a single email requesting them to reconfirm their consent. Suppress anyone that does not reply. Incorporate this into a re-engagement strategy for best results.
- Suppress unknown users after one bounce: Mailbox providers bounce an inactive email address as an unknown user prior to creating it into a recycled spam trap.
- Suppress anyone that complains: Sign up with all available feedback loops and remove any subscriber that complains. Once someone complains, all future emails are placed in the spam folder. If you don’t suppress them, they become an unengaged user.
- Make it easy to unsubscribe: If someone no longer wants to receive your email then it is better they unsubscribe instead of going dormant and deleting your email without reading it.
Targeting and segmentation
- Have a plan for engaging customers at each stage of the customer lifecycle (awareness, research, comparison, purchase, post-purchase): Your customers require different messaging depending on where they are in the lifecycle.
- Use available data to segment your email list: Popular segments are often based on: purchase history and frequency, prospects, current customers, location, event attendance, in-store buyers vs online buyers, and demographics. Create content and offers appropriate for each segment.
- Triggered messaging: Send messages to a subscriber based on an action they took (abandoned shopping cart, account login) or an anniversary (birthday, anniversary, renewal reminder).
- Personalization: Tied to segmentation, subscribers are more likely to engage when a message is personalized to their individual tastes. Using their name, location, time of day, weather, and product recommendations make your email more relevant to the recipient.
- Use well-crafted subject lines and preheaders. Make use of exclusive offers and present a sense of urgency such as a limited time offer. Ensure the preheader provides a summary about the content of the message.
- Use responsive design techniques: Make sure your content renders well on mobile devices and desktop computers.
- Use interactive content: Interactive polls, animated GIFs, Image rollovers and video are all effective at increasing engagement.
- Ensure call-to-action buttons and URLs are large and easily clickable. Small buttons and URLs that are difficult to see and click may be missed.
- Use images sparingly: Use images that have the highest emotional impact since there are some mobile devices and webmail providers that have images off by default. When images do render, a large number of images makes interaction with the content more difficult.
- Keep content easily skimmable: Get to the point and make content so someone can scroll using a thumb or finger in a few seconds. Many mobile users read content while on-the-go and don’t want to spend time scrolling and reading a lot of text.
- Ensure discount codes and barcodes are easy to find: Display these within your content so subscribers can locate them with minimal scrolling.
- Include social sharing buttons: Encourage your socially active subscribers to share your information with friends and family.
Your customers may respond differently to changes in your email program and you need to figure out what resonates with them the most. Testing different elements of your email program is a part of any successful marketing effort.
Sometimes your competition produces email that connects with their customers. Review competitor emails and see if there are design elements or offers you can provide your customers. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of the competition and trends in your industry to help you fine-tune your email program and improve engagement.