Guest post provided by: Sabahet Amjad, Mailmodo
Let’s be honest, when was the last time that your discussion about email engagement went beyond open and click rates? Do you remember speaking to your customer success team to understand your subscribers’ pain points? Did any of your emails in the recent past ask the subscribers the product/service feedback?
If any of these questions put you in a dilemma, you might be doing email engagement wrong. Don’t worry, though; in this article, we will discuss your criteria to evaluate your email engagement and what you can do to improve it.
But before we move forward, let’s sort out the basics.
What is email engagement?
I hate to break it to you, but email engagement ISN’t about how many subscribers open your emails and click on the CTAs you’ve provided. These numbers of course reflect the success of your efforts and prove to your manager that you’re indeed working hard. But a single instance of click or open cannot be the true measure of engagement.
In the long run, email engagement is how your audience perceives your emails and how often and frequently they react to your emails via opens, clicks, or submissions (in the case of AMP emails).
Note: AMP email is an open-source framework created by Google that allows emails to render and display dynamic elements like accordions, carousels, forms, calendars, shopping carts, dynamic APIs, etc. It creates a mini-website inside an email.
Why is email engagement important?
Keeping it simple, emails are the highest revenue-generating digital channel for any marketing team. Studies also suggest that emails are the most actionable touchpoints in a customer journey.
Basically, if a marketer is looking for the right time and channel place to nurture a lead, emails are your answer. This is also why email engagement is way more effective than any other strategy in the long run despite a steep rise in other marketing channels. The following data, too, suggests the dominance of emails in lead nurturing programs.
Basically, you need emails in your arsenal to reach and engage your audience, but how should you go about it? In my experience, you must begin by introspecting the following fundamental questions –
- Are your subscribers increasing or decreasing with every email blast?
- How many email touchpoints do you need to convert or re-engage a prospect?
- Do you measure your emails’ success in educating your audience by tracking their attendance to webinars and clicks on eBook links?
- In your marketing funnel, where are your emails most effective?
These questions help you gauge the impact of your email campaigns and how engaging they were in converting and retaining customers.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
5 ways to improve your email engagement
The thing about emails, and in fact, everything in marketing, is that it isn’t about you, the marketer; it is always about your audience. Any marketer who learns to prioritize and empathizes with their audience creates the most engaging campaigns. Below we cover what you can do in an email to put your audience first.
Start with segmenting your email lists.
Imagine sending a cloud-computing eBook to a marketer or a new-mom discount offer to a college-going kid in an email?
This could happen when you send out email blasts without segmenting your list. If personalization is the key to driving email engagement, list segmentation must be your best friend. By carefully grouping your contacts in segments based on common email activity, user journey, location, and behavior, you can send relevant and relatable content to your target audience.
Similarly, maintaining list hygiene is also equally important. Sending emails to inactive users who do not engage with your brand will badly reflect your performance metric and dampen your deliverability score. So, ensure that you remove non-engaging, blocked, invalid, and bounced contacts from your list.
- Make sun-setting inactive subscribers a routine activity.
- Check for bounced and unsubscribes after every email campaign.
Say hello to hyper-personalization
The whole purpose of segmenting your email list into various categories is to send subscribers relevant and personalized emails. But personalization is no longer about using a subscriber’s first name and sending them content based on their location.
This is the age of hyper-personalization where subscribers engage with the content that is curated solely keeping them in mind. This may include an email about a t-shirt they left in their cart or a reminder to download an eBook they’ve checked out.
You need to get into specific details about your subscribers
# Did they find you through Google search, social media, or referral?
# What was their last activity on your platform?
# Do you have their details like birthdays and dates?
# Have they been active readers of your emails?
A lot of this information can easily be tracked through automation tools but for some of it, you need to plan your email campaigns carefully. For example, you can ask personal details like birthdays to curate special offers later during your onboarding campaign. Similarly, you could also ask them the kind of emails they would like to receive in the same series of emails to ensure hyper-personalization.
To sum it up – all you need is the right tool and the right strategy to learn more about your users and send them hyper-personalized emails, which can catapult your email engagement.
- Use your welcome emails to ask your new subscribers about their preferences and interest.
- Track platform activity to find out where they are in their journey.
- Create user personas and send personalized email sequences for each.
- Identity behavior triggers and automate emails for them.
- Analyze different behavioral cohorts, i.e., if you’ve 30% open rates, find out what’s working with that cohort.
- Leverage the send-time optimization feature available in most marketing automation tools.
- Always ask for consent before collecting any user data
Keep your customer success and sales team in the loop
If you want to move beyond scratching the surface in your email campaigns, you have to know your customers & ICP. And who else could be a better bridge between you and your target audience than your sales or customer success team?
Instead of just making assumptions or googling to understand what a particular segment of customers would like to receive in an email, talk to the people who have interacted with them. They would have insights into why customers choose you over competitors and why they don’t. They would know the kind of content they’re more likely to engage with if received in an email and what they would ignore.
Understand a customer’s journey from them and the problem they’re trying to solve at each stage. This will help you determine the frequency of your email nudges, shortlist the type of emails you should send, and curate the right information to be sent in an email.
- Interview your customer success team to understand the problems customers mostly face.
- While building user personas, involve a member of your customer success and sales team member.
- Get them to review the nurturing journeys and emails you’ve curated for each stage.
- Try to conduct customer interviews yourself too if feasible.
Spend sufficient time on your subject line
Did you know that 49% of the email recipients open an email because of the subject line, and as many as 69% report an email to be spam purely based on the same? Your email subject line can make or break your email engagement metrics.
But crafting a good subject line is not a last-minute job. It requires a scientific approach, an understanding of end-user behavior, and great copywriting skills. To begin with, stick to a maximum of 60 characters or 4-5 words in your subject line.
Also, one of the most common subject lines mistakes that many marketers commit is using spammy words to leverage FOMO. You don’t have to create forced urgency- your subscribers are smart and can sense when you’re genuine about their needs and vice-versa. As a result, you may put them off instead of engaging them.
So, the key here is to be genuine in your intent and show empathy in your subject line. Interestingly, a few words are already flagged as spammy and may discourage your subscribers from engaging. Thankfully, there’re resources like this one that has listed as many as 284 spammy words that you must avoid.
Recently, Mailmodo conducted a real-life test with 90 recipients to understand what makes a subject line engaging. They sent 3 different subject lines to 30 recipients each and observed their behavior.
The catch, however, was that they sent them their 3 most successful subject lines of the same email to learn which one would win the ultimate race. These short subject lines mentioned subscribers’ pain points and created or foreshadowed context. Basically, they were curiosity-driven, asked a question, and used a CTA.
The results of this survey were interesting. They found out that subscribers prefer direct subject lines that are more humane. Anything that seems forced, automated, or salesy doesn’t work. In simple words, genuine intent would win over witty wordplay.
- Simplicity wins over fancy words.
- Be relevant, specific, and direct.
- Avoid click baits; they’re not liked.
- Asking a question and preparing users to take an action work the best.
Use GIFs in your email body
We all love GIFs, don’t we? They bring humor and interactivity to static communication. Similarly, they can turn around the engagement on your emails too. Dell managed to increase its click rate by 42% and conversion rate by 103% by using GIFs to explain its new product update.
Technically, engagement is all about inciting curiosity, conversation, and response. GIFs are bite-sized videos that grab the reader’s attention without them having to read out a text to understand your message.
Our generation’s chat history is filled with GIF exchanges, and similarly, emails, be it B2B or B2C, are inherently a discussion with people you want to build a relationship with. Then, why not include spontaneity and interactivity with GIFs.
- Use GIFs to show a product in action.
- GIFs can also work great for new product updates.
- GIFs can turn your CTA interactive.
- Don’t forget about email accessibility, so always give your GIFs an alt text.
Have you started using AMP emails yet?
When we talk about engagement in emails, we miss out on the basic elements that could interest users and inspire them to take immediate actions – interactivity. Many marketers have realized its importance in the recent past, and you can see them using videos, GIFs, and animation in emails. What they might be missing out still are the next-gen email technology like AMP emails, that enable us to create and send interactive emails,
In a recent survey that included 350+ marketers, it was concluded that only 24.8% of them used AMP emails in 2021 and the most dominant reason for this was their unawareness of this technology.
Announced by Google in 2015, AMP for emails enables content to be updated in real-time, and enables users to fill out forms, schedule an appointment or meeting, and undertake various other actions within the email without getting redirected to another landing page.
Your emails become mini-websites where users can engage with your live content and enjoy a better customer experience. The customer journey also gets shortened, and the conversion increases manifold. Your customers’ attention plays a major role in optimizing email engagement, and AMP emails can help you hook them in less time and with more features.
Pro tips for incorporating AMP emails
- Explore AMP emails and interactivity. Contrary to popular belief, no-code tools like Mailmodo can help you create and send AMP emails within minutes.
- Recover abandoned carts inside an email without any landing page.
- Improve response rate by embedding data collection surveys, CSAT, and NPS inside an email.
Marketing has gone beyond catching momentary attention; it’s important to make your way through the noise and build long-lasting relationships. Interestingly, emails are a great way to engage with users on a deeper level and build a one-on-one bond with them.
By ensuring that your emails are hyper-personalized, you can address the unique pain points of your subscribers and make an impact. Similarly, AMP emails bring a website to their inbox and make it super easy for your users to take an action.
In the long run, email engagement can help you get not just customers but also advocates for your brand. You need to look at your subscribers as people you want to grow with and not just the number you would like to achieve.
Guest post provided by: Sabahet Amjad, Mailmodo