Encouragement and email marketing engagement go hand in hand, though it might not seem like it at first.
Email marketers encourage their subscribers to open their emails.
Email marketers encourage subscribers to read and digest the content of the email.
Email marketers encourage people to click and 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 discourage them.
We’re discouraging them from acting or reading, or even opening the email to begin with.
How? 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.
While it may sound complicated at first, it’s not hard to create a stellar marketing email like this one from Red Bull.
Source: Campaign Monitor
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 where to focus.
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’re emailing.
With all the data available, it’s easier than ever to personalize emails for every step of every buyer’s journey.
Check out this highly visual Pizza Hut email.
Source: Campaign Monitor
This email already has two chances for engagement with order buttons at the top and bottom.
By sending with an event trigger and adding a few personal touches, the engagement goes through the roof.
Brands need to stop looking at customers and subscribers as “LeadID #102415” or a list of names in a spreadsheet.
They need to treat each subscriber as the individual that they are. The best way to do this is through email personalization and 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? By 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: “Please 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 you’re fully aware of those qualities, you’ll be more likely to engage them successfully.
Let’s pretend you’re dining in a restaurant.
The owner takes a moment and stops by your table to ask what you think of the food, the service or your overall experience.
It makes you feel special.
That quick visit can be the key to creating loyal, long-term customers.
It’s hard to recreate that personalized experience online, but it’s what your customers want.
Email, instant messengers, and social media platforms are all customer contact points that can be automated with marketing technology.
Use these platforms to interact and engage with your customers and build a two-way conversation.
Email is a (relatively) private channel, so you can have one-on-one discussions.
Take the time to ask how products or services can be improved, gather opinions on new releases, and tap this resource of brand advocates. Your customers will genuinely appreciate the fact that you took the time to ask for their input. The more valuable you make your emails, the less likely they’ll end up in the spam folder.
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.
Take this email example from Twitch. They explicitly state in both their subject line and email copy that they want to hear from their subscribers to better their services and support.
Source: Really Good Emails
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, so learn the best times to send emails specifically to your audience.
The longer your email sits, the less likely it is ever to be read. Plus, 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 for your subscribers 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.
Data is the key to understanding where each email fits into your customer’s journey. Think of it as building a house from the ground up.
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, they’ll 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.”
Alternatively, “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.
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, personalize, and automate your customer’s experience and increase email marketing engagement.
3. Don’t lose sight of their “why”
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 the following question whenever you start working on your email messaging:
- “Why should he/she care?”
- “Is this email personalized to my customers?”
There should always be a point to your email and why readers should go to your site to find out more.
By taking the time to ask yourself each of these questions, you’ll be able to create and send content that your readers not only find relevant, but that will encourage them to click on your call-to-action.
Take this example from AARP. As the fall season descends upon their audience, they take the time to pull together a fall-themed newsletter that provides information on events and services that are catered to their readers.
Source: Really Good Emails
If we address those questions from earlier, we can see how they used them to create their fall newsletter.
Why should the reader care? With the approaching change in season, there are plenty of ways to still get out of the house and live their best life.
Is the email personalized to the customer? Yes, they can “explore now” to get more information on events in their area.
4. Keep it short and clean
In the decorating business, less is more and the same goes for email marketing campaigns. Resist the temptation to write too much or you’ll overwhelm the people on your list.
Instead, get to the point.This goes back to respecting your recipients' time.
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, which allows you to send out two different emails to a selected set of your recipients at the same time.
Essentially, you send two different versions of the same email to different recipients to determine which performs better.
If you have a massive list, it’s worth creating and testing multiple versions to really determine what’s affecting engagement. Sometimes it’s a simple color or font change. Other times, the CTA needs to be relocated. Taking the time to A/B test, different designs and layouts now gets everything right for the future.
By investing time upfront, you’ll develop better conversations which lead to higher email marketing engagement.
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. That’s why we focus much of our technology on personalizing the customer experience. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being catfished by some Nigerian Prince or other robots.
Your emails should reflect a one-on-one conversation between you and another person.
Learn how Delivra helps brands increase their engagement by signing up for a demo today.