7 Ways to Get Better Engagement with Email Marketing

Email Marketing - Open rate

If you are sending regular email marketing campaigns and your click-through rate falls below industry average, you are not engaging your customers.  In fact, you may be annoying them and damaging your brand.  The good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your email marketing.  These seven proven strategies will help you improve customer engagement with your emails.

#1.    Send fewer, better segmented emails

There are two key components to this tip: (1) evaluating the number of emails you send to each contact and (2) determining which contacts get sent which emails.  Your contacts will let you know if you are sending email too frequently.  They will either ignore your email or unsubscribe altogether.

Both of these actions are painful and expensive.  Most email marketing services (like MailChimp and Constant Contact) share industry average click-throughs or alert you if your unsubscribe rate is way above average.  Use these metrics as benchmarks along with the past performance of your own email campaigns to decide if you should send fewer emails.

To determine which contacts get which emails, you will need to segment your contact list.  Choose segments that are related to the content you are sending.  If you are sending an email about a specific product, create a segment of leads that previously expressed interest in that product (for instance, by viewing it on your website).  You can segment by demographic characteristics, by purchasing behavior (such prospect, customer or advocate) and other attributes of your contacts.

#2.    Send targeted, relevant messages

Once you have defined segments that work for your business, avoid sending mass emails to your entire contact list.  You will improve open rates and click-throughs if leads and customers feel like you are speaking to them directly.  It’s not only important to address contacts by name, but also to develop a habit of sending relevant information so that your email isn’t “filed” in the trash bin or spam folder.
When an email click-through rate (CTR) performs below average, look for opportunities to refine segmentation and send more targeted messaging to a specific audience.

#3.    Create inviting subject lines

Subject lines drive email open rates and open rates are a key metric in the email marketing funnel.  However, a subject line serves another equally important purpose.  A subject line tells the reader what is to come.  It is an anticipation builder.  If an email contact opens an email expecting to find content relevant to the subject line and the content does not meet expectations, it is likely that the reader will abandon the email without a click.  Using an inviting and relevant subject line helps to optimize CTRs.

#4.    Ask for the click

Facebook has added an optional call-to-action (CTA) button to the profile for business and community page owners.  The CTA button encourages visitors to engage by doing a specific action.  Similarly, it is useful and effective for email marketers to use a CTA to ask for the click.  Emails with CTAs are more likely to get a click than those without.  Use “Register now”, “Download”, “Sign Up”, “Play now” or other CTAs to increase engagement with your emails.

#5.    Create a sense of urgency

Contacts are far more likely to open an email sooner if there is a reason to not delay.  While it’s important to not overuse this tactic, emails with a deadline experience higher response rates as they are less likely to be relegated to the “I’ll respond later” pile.  (How many of those emails do you really get back to?)
You create this sense of urgency in the subject line.  Retailers are especially savvy with this approach.  They use “Last Day” or “Ends tomorrow” frequently in promotional sales emails.  When contacts have a short window in which to respond, they are more likely to open and engage sooner.

#6.    Use compelling images

Emails that are too dense (or too long) simply will not be read.  Consider the scan-ability of email and break up text with compelling images.  Be careful not to use images that are too large, as they can slow load times.  Use relevant alt text with your images so that when an image does not load, the reader gets a sense of the subject matter.

#7.    Multiple links for a SINGLE call-to-action

Your CTA is the action you want a reader to take.  Use links for buttons, texts and images to drive readers to a single CTA.  Keep your marketing emails brief and focused.  Multiple messages or calls-to-action can be overwhelming for a reader and lead to indecision and ultimately no engagement.  Whenever possible, limit your email to one focused point.

Email Marketing as a Key Digital Marketing Tool

Stand out with digital marketing

Email marketing continues to be a strong marketing tool for a variety of organizations.  Whether you’re a nonprofit looking to raise funds, a government agency promoting new programs or a business looking to sell more products, email marketing can be an effective digital marketing tool.

Email is a low cost promotional vehicle.

Email is a low cost digital marketing option for many organizations. There are a number of email marketing software companies that offer competitive pricing for an automated email marketing platform.  Small businesses can opt for a no frills, high value package at no cost.  Organizations with more than 500,000 email subscribers can purchase an online email marketing service for less than a penny per subscriber. These automated systems keep a history of email marketing campaigns and help users stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM regulations.

Email marketing can be used as market research.

Organizations can use email marketing to introduce new products to customers.  Open rates and click-throughs inform the sender about customer interest.  When a customer or prospect opens an email, he implicitly expresses interest in the topic or product included in the subject line.  A clickable call-to-action (CTA) in the email gives the email opener an opportunity to further engage.  Whether the CTA is “buy now” or “reorder” or “subscribe”, clicks tells the sender which customers are interested in engaging further with the company and how.

Senders can use emailing marketing to test pricing by simply A/B testing different price points and sending the test emails to separate (but similar) email segments.  Senders can gather information about effective messaging by testing subject lines.  The dynamic nature of email marketing allows users to gain insights about customer preferences through observation of their behavior.

Personalized emails encourage future customer engagement.

The best email marketing campaigns are personalized.  If an organization is holding an event at a specific location, it may be prudent to send an email campaign only to recipients near that location.  If an organization has a program or product for a specific audience, personalized emails with relevant messaging can be sent to just that audience.  No matter if the email list is consumers or businesses, a well-built email list, with pertinent and relevant data, can be an incredibly effective marketing tool.  Sending targeted emails to specific segments increases open rates and click through rates and increases the likelihood that future emails to the same recipients will be opened.

Despite the flood of emails that can accost consumers’ inboxes, a robust, opt-in email list represents a powerful marketing opportunity.  Email marketing is a cost efficient form of digital marketing that can used to grow sales or gain insight.  It is an efficient promotional vehicle that should be a part of most organizations marketing strategy.