Email marketing is one of the effective marketing channels that can reap in great returns… but only if you do it correctly. Many marketers, who are just starting out with email marketing, tend to misunderstand how it works. They assume that email marketing is like starting an engine of a car. Everything just works with the push of a button. On the contrary, email marketing is more like building an engine; all the pieces need to be at the right place and you need audience engagement as a constant fuel source to have it run smoothly.
In this article, we shall be focusing on the different ways to enhance audience engagement that will in turn increase email deliverability.
What is Email Deliverability & How Does Audience Engagement Affect it?
Email deliverability, in simple words, is the ability of an email to reach the inbox of the intended recipient. When you send an email, the email goes to an outgoing email server from where it is forwarded to the incoming email server of the intended recipient. Before the emails are forwarded from the incoming email server to the inbox, they undergo rigorous checking by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), which checks for any fraud or malicious code. If an IP address is observed to send emails that are not opened or marked as SPAM, the ISP filters blacklist it and the emails are redirected to the SPAM folder instead of the inbox of the recipient. This is termed as lowering the email deliverability.
Where certain user actions (or lack of) such as not opening emails, forwarding it to the SPAM folder manually, or deleting emails without reading will reduce the sender reputation of an email address and thereby reduce the email deliverability, increased audience engagement can help improve email deliverability. So, the goals of your email campaigns in order to increase audience engagement would be:
- Increase in email opens: It is an indication that your subscriber has taken the initiative to read the email. The more email opens means the subject line was effective enough to engage the subscribers.
- Increase in time spent: The more time a subscriber spends on reading your email, the more are the chances of them engaging with it.
- Better CTA clicks: The email is a small space to communicate everything and so, you need to redirect them to the relevant landing page for getting further information. So, your email copy needs to raise the curiosity of your subscribers to motivate them to click the CTA button.
How to Increase Audience Engagement?
1) Create email campaigns based on activity
When you send emails that are of the subscribers’ interest, you can expect engagement on them. Metrics can be your best friend to decipher what email type interests your audience base and the activity level of your subscribers. You can use this information to create segmentation criteria that you can use to create custom email campaigns. Depending on the activity level of your subscribers you can divide them into 4 categories:
- Most Active: These subscribers read every email of yours and keenly anticipate your emails. They ensure greater engagement opportunities and reciprocate with better conversions. You need to appreciate their loyalty and send them frequent emails that maintain their engagement levels.
- Lesser Engaged: These subscribers are the major chunk of your audience base and their interaction with your emails depends on different factors. Using strong and actionable words in the subject lines can make them open your emails and your email copy needs to strike a note with your subscribers in order for them to further engage. Such subscribers need to be sent emails that address their pain points and nurture them till they become more active. A weekly sending frequency is a right balance for them to remain engaged.
- Dormant: This category of subscribers was once engaging with your emails but with time their engagement rate deteriorated. Now, these subscribers would account for low open rates by not opening at least 5 of your past email campaigns. Yet, all hope is not lost. By sending well-crafted re-engagement emails, they can still be revived and made a part of your email campaigns. You need to send them a fortnightly re-engagement email at least thrice before considering them in the next category.
- Disinterested: Email list decays up to 22% every year and this segment of your audience can become a part of the disinterested category. These email addresses are prime targets for ISP filters to monitor your email campaigns. Any subscriber that has not opened any emails in the past 6 months comes under this section and it is better to remove them from your mailing list to avoid penalty.
2) Use Social Proof and User-Generated Content
People (including you) don’t prefer to be the first one to jump but would gladly jump in if they read the experience of someone else. This is because people tend to connect better with someone who is already going through what they are experiencing and are more prone to believe in you if someone recommends you. When you display social proofs in your emails or use user-generated content (such as photos, videos, or customer testimonials), you provide content that is relatable and increases the chance for someone to engage with it.
3) Personalize the Emails
Using merge tags, it is possible to integrate personalization in your emails to an extent that it feels exclusively written for the subscriber. This makes the subscriber feel close to the brand and starts trusting you in providing valuable information that they are looking for. This makes them anticipate your emails. By using the first name in the subject line itself or crafting a personalized subject line, your subscribers feel that the email is written for them and that increases the chances of them opening your emails. Similarly, using dynamic email blocks in your email copy can help you serve custom information that is specific to a customer group.
4) Take Help of Creative Storytelling
Everyone prefers storytelling over cut dried messages. When your emails tell a story, people would be more engaged to read it. It can be the brand story or the story can be extended over a lead nurturing email series. While this is not a sure shot way to ensure maximum engagement but it will surely help your emails become memorable enough to draw the attention of your subscribers every time you send an email.
5) Promote User Interactivity
In conjunction with one of the goals mentioned earlier, by making your emails interactive through CSS3 animations or through your email copy, you make the subscriber spend more time with your emails and this can result in better conversion possibilities.
Interactive content can be as simple as adding an image slider in your emails to being as complex as including a parallax effect in your emails as done by Penguin Random House.
By now, you must be convinced that audience engagement increases the activity on your emails and this is accepted as a trusted email by ISPs. Moreover, by implementing the different ways listed above, we are sure that you are surely going to see an improvement in your email campaign performance and on your email deliverability. Don’t hang your boot yet. By setting up consistent email campaigns that keep your audience engaged, you are surely going to see a great jump in your ROI as well.
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