Within every email list, the interest among your subscribers will vary. Some people will read every single one of your emails, others will never click to open one. While you can't engage everyone all the time, you can constantly strive to improve and in doing so, you will increase engagement.
One thing that can help you is to get a good idea of how your emails are doing and how your metrics compare to the average open and click-through rates. Although it varies based on the industry you are in, the average open rate across all industries is 20.94%.
Are you beating these averages? That's great, but you have a vested interest in improving. Email marketing has the highest ROI with $42 for every $1 spent, and you want to meet and exceed this goal. If it's not happening yet, fear not.
These tips will help you take the first steps towards better email engagement.
Use a healthy, valid email list.
High engagement starts with your email list. Like a house or any building, without a strong foundation, you don't have anything. Buying lists is not an option. It's a waste of time, money and effort, and legally skirts a fine line. Furthermore, it's one reason people mark you as spam because they didn't consent to receive your emails.
However, even if you start with a high-quality, organically grown list, it still needs maintenance. All lists will decline in quality as time goes on, and there are a variety of bad addresses that diminish your email hygiene. Some are fake to begin with; then, good addresses go bad, and others are just risky. For instance, abuse addresses, belonging to people who habitually mark emails as spam, are harmful and you should remove them.
All of these low-quality email addresses will affect your sender reputation, the scoring system email service providers use to determine who is a spammer and who is legitimate. A bad sender reputation will have a dramatic impact on your deliverability – meaning how many of your emails land in the inbox.
Once you are classified as a spammer, your entire email marketing suffers. Not only will you get bounces and spam complaints, but even your engaged subscribers may never see your email. Why? Because internet and email providers will make sure it goes to spam. No wonder why poor-quality addresses cause your engagement to decline.
The answer is to get rid of them, so clean your email list using a reputable email validation service. The first step is to prune your database in bulk by uploading it to the platform. Within hours or even minutes – depending on how many contacts you have – you'll see which addresses were problematic. Remove them without hesitation.
Then, to keep your list clean longer, you can set up a real-time email verification API. Once active on your signup forms, this piece of software checks the validity of every new email address before it gets on your list.
Remove inactive subscribers.
The novice email marketer doesn't want to remove unengaged subscribers because they don't want to see the number of people on the list going down. The seasoned email marketer knows they don't want unengaged subscribers. People who don't open your emails skew your metrics. It's a waste of time and resources to keep emailing them.
Furthermore, inactive subscribers can easily turn into spam traps. There are several types of spam traps, but let's focus on the recycled kind. How do they end up on your list?
Recycled spam traps
We all recall those first email addresses we used when we were just starting our online life. Do you still use that old email? Most likely not – we've largely abandoned them. What do you think happened to them?
Some have been recycled by internet service providers and turned into spam traps. Their only purpose right now is to lure in and block spammers. So, if your email hits a spam trap, chances are, you could be mistaken for a spam sender too. This is another reason why it's so crucial to remove inactive accounts: You don't know which one could be a spam trap.
Use double opt in, and make opting out easy.
Another way to boost your email engagement is to ensure the people on your list express consent to be there. The best way to do that? Use the double opt-in subscription method, where every new subscriber clicks a confirmation link to allow you to email them.
Opting out is just as important.
According to the FTC CAN-SPAM Act, every marketing email or newsletter should have a visible, effective way to unsubscribe. If you make it hard to opt out, someone could mark you as spam out of frustration or because of no other option.
Get to know your audience
Knowledge is power and that’s never been more true than when it comes to knowing your audience. To make your email marketing effective, gather as much information as possible about the people who sign up to your list. You use social media to start conversations, so why not do the same on email?
To begin, send surveys with questions that reveal more about them and what they prefer. The key, though, is to keep your survey short and compelling. Ask questions that are relevant to the industry, products or services you offer, so you can create better-targeted campaigns.
Then start sending personalized emails. Go beyond using subscribers' names in the subject line and email body. That's a great place to start. Go further by using personalization criteria like gender, location or past shopping behavior.
As much as 74% of marketers worldwide say personalization increases their engagement rates, according to eConsultancy. People are more likely to respond when they feel like an individual and not just a number.
Get to know your audience so you can personalize your emails and increase engagement by giving readers what they want. If you're not sure, just ask them!
Connect with your subscribers by writing conversationally.
Unless you're a medical doctor yourself, you probably prefer that your family physician talked to you in a way that is easy to understand. Your email newsletters and promotions are no different.
Tone matters. There's enough dry writing out there. If you're like most people, you avoid very technical writing or those long legal disclaimers.
Are you comfortable with writing conversationally? No matter how skilled a writer you are, there's always room for improvement. Read articles about copywriting and subscribe to newsletters for writers.
Do you want to excel? Then take a class. This will push you to get better and serve as a confidence boost. You'll feel more comfortable sitting at your computer writing your next email, and your new skills will drive up your engagement.
Make your subject line and preview text count.
If anything matters when it comes to increasing engagement, it's the first thing people see: your subject line and that short piece of copy that follows (the preview text).
First, choosing subject lines that people perceive as spammy can be detrimental to engagement and even get you marked as spam. Double-check subject lines to make sure they don't contain any spam trigger words that will land you in the spam folder. For a comprehensive list, Cameron McCool compiled more than 924 spam trigger words. However, common sense prevails, so if you think it seems like spam, rephrase things.
Then, does your subject line compel people to open your email? Try to put yourself in the shoes of the reader and give an honest answer. If you're unsure, you need to work on it. While summing up the content of your email, subject lines should also pique curiosity and entice.
The same goes for your preview text. Those few words people see right after your subject can make all the difference in your open rates. Does it further explain the content of your email? Also, does it make it even more irresistible?
To increase engagement, be consistent.
Some email marketers make the mistake of only sending a newsletter when they have something to sell or another motive. Here's the thing: people can tell what you are after. This is a give-and-take. Sometimes your emails should be more giving; sometimes you'll be transparent in offering something they need. The important thing, though, is to be consistently present in their inbox.
Consider your newsletter like a magazine or newspaper. When does the Sunday paper come out? Every single Sunday, rain or shine!
The same should go for your emails: They should come out like clockwork. In doing so, you communicate that your brand is steady and reliable. You're not a flash in the pan, but rather, you have staying power.
The other good reason for sticking to a schedule is that it increases your deliverability. By consistently sending your newsletters, you become like a trusted advisor or friend to your readers. That in turn helps you keep spam complaints under control.
Want to increase engagement?
Show up in their inbox! For most businesses, sending out emails weekly is ideal. In certain instances, once a month is OK; anything less than this, and you run the risk of hurting engagement, getting spam complaints and a whole host of other issues.
Find joy in it
You know what's contagious? Joy. People can tell when there is passion behind something, and it draws them in. If you find pleasure in creating your newsletters, your readers are going to pick up on it. Enjoy what you write, and it will translate into your engagement soaring.