Increase Email Marketing Engagement by Leveraging Your Data
Encouragement and email marketing engagement go hand in hand.
It might not seem like it at first blush, but that’s exactly what every email marketer strives to do.
They encourage their recipient to open the email.
They encourage them to read and digest the content of the email.
They encourage a click to take further action.
We should all become masters of email encouragement.
But rather than encouraging our subscribers and customers to engage with us, we do something worse.
We’re discouraging them to act, or read, or even open the email to begin with.
Because too often brands don’t put in the time, effort, and resources to truly understand what it is their subscribers and customers want or need out of an email from them.
And you don’t need a big budget or a team of 10 email experts to test, optimize and grow your email marketing engagement.
You just need to know what to focus on.
In this post, we uncover where email marketing engagement went from encouragement to discouragement, and the steps any brand of any size can take to achieve more engagement through email.
Where Has Email Marketing Engagement Gone?
Let’s be clear about one thing before we get any further.
Email marketing engagement didn’t just get up and leave the room.
Brands just started to ignore it.
All of the talk about tracking engagement and lead scoring and optimizing all of the metrics surrounding email engagement never vanished.
In fact, email marketing technology has improved over recent years to more closely report on key marks to better hone in on true engagement.
But the growing trend for some email marketers has been to stop learning about who they were emailing.
Poor email engagement typically stems from a lack of one common factor…
It’s not a coincidence every marketing technology expert out there is stressing the importance of personalization in today’s noisy landscape.
Brands need to stop looking at customers and subscribers as “LeadID #102415” or a list of names in a spreadsheet.
To really stand out in the inbox, you need to think of each email as an in-person interaction.
And how can you make it feel like you’re hosting face-to-face interactions with each individual subscriber?
Leveraging their data.
Let your customer and subscriber data speak for itself.
Study and survey your audience, and provide them the most personalized messages possible.
Getting Back to Email Engagement Fundamentals
Email marketers are on a relentless quest to engage with their subscribers.
And with so many marketers competing for subscribers’ attention, the tone of some emails occasionally verges on desperate:
“Pleeeease read this email. We still have that product you looked at once three months ago!”
One of the main barriers to email engagement is a lack of empathy.
Marketers must be able to think like subscribers – to see them as more than data points and dollar signs, but as human beings with opinions, responsibilities and emotions.
If you can demonstrate that you’re aware of those qualities, you’ll be more likely to successfully engage them.
Let’s pretend you’re dining in a restaurant.
The owner stops by your table to ask what you think of the food, the service or your overall experience.
It makes you feel a little special, doesn’t it?
That quick visit can be the key to creating loyal, long-term customers.
Email marketers don’t have the luxury of face-to-face communication with their audience, but you can at least ask for people’s opinions.
Send a short survey to ask customers to rate your service or products, or to rate specific aspects of your email newsletter (such as relevance, use of images and frequency).
Another way to show subscribers you value their opinion is to collect their input on product development.
For example, one non-profit organization offered commemorative t-shirts for its anniversary and asked email subscribers to vote for their favorite t-shirt design from four choices.
In the workplace, if someone is on the phone or in a meeting, you don’t walk up and start talking loudly about a point you want to make.
Understand that busy people are not going to adapt to your schedule.
Pay attention to when subscribers are opening your emails, because you may need to adjust your timing.
The longer your email languishes in a recipient’s inbox, the less likely it is to be noticed.
The volume of incoming mail may bump your message onto the second page of unread emails.
So, ideally, you want people to open your messages soon after receiving them.
If you’re sending emails at 8 a.m. every Tuesday, but most people are reading them at 3 p.m. Thursday, change your schedule.
And even better, send subscribers an email telling them you made the change to be more respectful of their time.
Exhibiting interest and respect can help you build a list of engaged subscribers.
Tips to Improve Your Email Engagement Strategy
You want an email marketing campaign that keeps your recipients engaged for the long haul.
And this is where data comes into play.
Think of it as building a house from the ground up.
Or a renovation.
By investing more time on the foundation, or your customer data, you’ll find that the remaining steps will come together smoothly.
Keeping that in mind, here’s how you can build better email marketing engagement in five easy steps:
1) Figure out your “why?”
Don’t rush to come up with an immediate answer.
It’s not as simple as saying, “I want to sell more products and services.”
Or “we want to double our profits this year.”
This step is more about what you want to accomplish as part of building better relationships with your subscribers and customers.
The focus should be on delivering a great experience — in addition to that stellar service and product — so that your prospects will become more engaged, more loyal.
… and, even better, refer your company to family and friends.
The “why” behind your email may be more along the lines of “I want to educate my email recipients so that they feel better informed about their purchasing decisions.”
Or “I want to keep my email recipients updated on trends that can make their lives easier or more productive.”
Using that as a focus, you can hone in on the types of email messages you will send out.
2) Integrate customer data into your email software
Data needs to be the bloodline to your email marketing engagement success.
This includes demographic data, preference center data, transactional data, and behavioral data.
There are a few ways to pull data into your email marketing software…
You can manually upload your data, which may be the quickest way to do it, but can lead to human error.
Also, you can’t send timely drip marketing campaigns since the data isn’t updating on a regular basis.
To help here, you can use an API to sync free-flowing data between any system of record and your ESP.
This allows for automated drip campaigns to trigger instantly when the fresh data is received.
Finally, pre-built integrations can allow you to pull or push external data without the need of a developer.
Many email marketing software companies have a slew of integrations already built out.
Once the data is in your ESP, you can use it to segment, personalized, and automate your customer’s experience and increase email marketing engagement.
3) Don’t lose sight of their “why?”
Now it’s time for a few finishing touches.
As you follow your content calendar, don’t just blindly send emails to get eyes on your content.
You’ll lose sight of your email recipient’s perspective in no time.
Make sure you regularly question why a recipient would want to open your email, and click for further engagement.
To break it down, simply ask this following question whenever you start working on your email messaging:
“Why should he/she care?”
“Is this email personalized to my customers?”
There always should be a point to the email message — and why they should go to your site to find out more.
4) Keep it short and clean
In the decorating business, less is more.
Same goes for email marketing campaigns.
And this point for that matter.
Resist the temptation to write too much copy.
You’ll overwhelm the people on your list.
Get to the point.
5) Measure and tweak
Like a house, an email campaign requires maintenance.
Regularly test to determine if — and when — your email marketing campaign needs tweaks and updates.
Try A/B testing, sending out two different emails to a selected set of your recipients at the same time.
If one performs better than the other, then send it out to your list.
If neither seems to be attracting much activity (opens, click-throughs), start over with a more engaging email.
Likewise, measure what type of content gets more engagement.
Then create more content on those topics.
By investing time upfront, you’ll develop better conversations which leads to higher email marketing engagement.
A Brief Review of Email Engagement Metrics
We previously wrote a lengthy post on email metrics that you can find here.
What we’re covering here are email marketing engagement metrics.
Believe it or not, email engagement also impacts your deliverability.
To help measure email engagement, Internet service provides (or ISPs for short) use custom algorithms.
ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, and Outlook look at both positive and negative email engagement metrics to determine whether your emails are engaging subscribers successfully.
Positive engagement metrics include the following:
- Number of opens
- Number of clicks
- Moving an email to the primary folder
- Number of subscribers clicking “This Is Not Spam”
Now, here are the negative engagement metrics that count against you:
- Unsubscribe rate
- Spam rate
- Number of times emails are deleted without opening
Drive Email Marketing Engagement With Data
With great data comes great personalization.
And with great personalization comes high email engagement.
Make the most of the customer data to increase email marketing engagement with your customers and subscribers.
Learn how Delivra helps brands increase their engagement by signing up for a demo today.