How to keep your newsletter subscribers engaged

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Creating a great landing page and offering a fabulous giveaway to grow your mailing list is the first step to a successful email campaign. Yet, success in email marketing is only measured if your campaign is engaging and the subscribers keep craving for your next email.

Think of Moosend. We provide our customers with great tools and innovative technology and with anything that’s necessary for them to have in their arsenal to be successful with email marketing. The success of their campaigns depends on the strategy and primarily on the content.

Engagement is a key metric in Email marketing. Engaging campaigns bring repeat visits to the website along with repeat purchases. In other words, they increase lifetime customer value. It costs much more to acquire new customers than to drive revenues from the existing ones. A rule that applies to the majority of businesses.

Still, content should be able to drive business goals and objectives. It needs great calls to action and other engaging elements to succeed. Think User Experience.

Moosend makes it easy to apply almost any strategy. There were also instances where we had to create custom solutions to accommodate complex business needs. At the end of the day however, it is the various email metrics that prove an email campaign is successful and all of them deal with subscriber engagement.

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Source: dma.org.uk  

Consider e-commerce businesses. Engagement will increase sales, bring repeat product purchases and therefore increase the lifetime value of customers.

You can easily get carried away with all the metrics available to you. Try to focus on tracking and what is important to your industry. The table below indicates the key metrics monitored and analyzed in many sectors.

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Source: Salesforce.com  

I know it sounds confusing! It is not! It is easy. All it needs is the right scheduling and a lot of work to get the most out of every single email you send.

We have compiled a list of great tips and advice to drive engagement so let’s get down to business!

Be captivative

It all starts with a great subject line as it affects the first important email marketing metric – Open Rates. Remember that your subscribers are bombarded with tens if not hundreds of email campaigns each month. So, make sure that your subject lines stand out from the crowd.

Email providers have also innovated in the productivity aspect of their users’ inbox. Think of Gmail’s Promotions tab which even Google’s emails get automatically displayed there.

The Promotions Tab is yet another drawback to email marketers. Your email needs to stand out as it is not in the user’s primary inbox. The content is what will make your subscribers move your email to their Primary inbox. While at the same time, the subject line will be the main factor for them to open it.

Make sure the content of your email delivers on any promises made in the subject line and avoid the use of emojis, exclamation marks and words in ALL CAPS. These are reasons not to open emails, something which email providers are also monitoring to determine which folder your next email will land into.

You certainly don’t want it to end in the spam folder! Monitor your engagement metrics, especially open and click-through rates. If necessary do not hesitate to make the necessary corrections in case your first email has low performance.

Be personal

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If you use generic emails starting with “Dear customer” subscribers will not feel as welcome as they probably do with some of your competitors. Some email campaigns only require the first name and the email from new subscribers.

That is more than sufficient to start personalizing subject lines and content. It makes subscribers feel more welcome and also on the receiving end of something that is somehow unique to them. They are not just a number or part of a group anymore.

Email personalisation is a science on its own. There are millions of ways I can think of to personalize an email campaign.

The important one is to start collecting data from your subscribers. Some industries, e.g., the health sector, are somehow limited to how much personal data they can use. Even in those cases, however, there are behavioral data that can be used to personalize emails.

So get in the habit of collecting, storing and analyzing information on each of your subscribers. Use your analysis to create logical segments and create custom emails for each one of them.

If you are new to personalisation, I am sure you have access to many data which you probably haven’t thought of using in your strategy before. Things like transactions history, website usage data and so on. Analyse these to figure out innovative ways to target your segments.

Monitor user behavior with your brand to understand your subscribers’ needs. Use your analysis to enrich your content with offers they need, either for their business in B2B communications or for their personal life in B2C communications.

What types of content are they engaging more on your website? Which features of your product or service are they using most?

Also, ask questions in your emails and on your landing pages with trackable answers to find out more about each one of your subscribers and their needs. Then just enrich your campaigns accordingly.

It is definitely much more work than sending a generic email, but the impact on the engagement of each newsletter you send will pay off your investment in time and resources.

Be relevant

Similar to the personalisation aspect, subscribers have signed up for a particular reason. If you email them with information and offers which are irrelevant to them, your engagement metrics will suffer, and you may end up loosing many of them.

Improve relevancy by using personalisation and segmentation tactics. Be relevant to all your segments not to your mailing list as a whole. If you include offers, make sure they are related to the content of your email. Utilize personalization strategies as much as you need to in order to increase relevancy.

Keep up with the latest trends in your industry for fresh ideas on relevant content which is hot and share it with your subscribers. Great content is what will keep your email subscribers looking forward to your next email.

When certain subscribers did not open your email, try figuring out if it was the content which was not relevant to them or if there was another factor to blame, e.g., the wording used in the subject line. It is a good idea to resend the email to them after a few days with a different subject line – a different pitch if you like – to see if they open it.

The same applies to click-through rates. If they opened the email but did not click-through or engage with the calls to action, figure out if it is the offerings that were not relevant or the wording used.

Be consistent

Consumers love consistent email campaigns, given the fact that they are relevant, personal and captivating as outlined above. Being consistent with your email sending times and email volumes will pay off with engaged subscribers.

Having an editorial calendar with specific sending dates and times each month will help you organize your email campaigns. It will also give you plenty of time to be prepared by planning ahead.

Apart from your scheduling, all your emails need to be consistent in terms of branding and content too. Ensure that they have identical branding so that subscribers remember your brand and familiarize with it.

Also be consistent with your subject lines and with the way you address your subscribers. It does not help sending an email personalized to the subscriber’s name and then sending another generic one.

Depending on your market sector, you can, of course, send an occasional email which does not relate directly to your previous campaigns. Think of a breaking news email alert sent by news publishers or an email mentioning an innovation or a breakthrough focusing on your business area. It may surprise your audience, but if the content is relevant to them, they are more than likely going to be glad to receive it.

Be rewarding

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While marketers may consider rewards in the form of discounts or coupons, there are other ways to reward your customers or subscribers.

Rewards can take the forms of either special offerings such as an insightful ebook and an in-depth analysis in the form of a white-paper, or products’ discounts from third-party merchants who are complementing your products and services.

Rewarding is a strategy on its own, requiring different tactics based on the subscriber’s persona. So personalisation also plays a great role here.

There are probably customers on your email list who have purchased only once and those who are loyal to the brand and have made a series of purchases. Reward repeat customers with exclusive discounts and offers so they feel even more valuable to you.

I personally consider these rewarding offers as obvious, but there are other ways to improve your engagement metrics. The central focus of such a strategy is to focus on repeat sales and the lifetime customer value.

Gamification is another interesting aspect in email marketing campaigns. Customers can get rewarded based on their engagement and earn discounts and exclusive offers when they engage more.

Rewards can start from the welcome email they receive. Many retailers are offering 10% discounts to consumers, just for signing up to their newsletter.

Be strategic

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Strategy is all about metrics. The earlier you adopt a sophisticated metrics oriented approach in your email strategy, the better regarding engagement (and ultimately sales).

Metrics should be the bread and butter of all your email strategy decisions. If you think that the metrics are overwhelming and it is hard to get to grasp with what they mean and how they can influence your overall email strategy, then it is time to either outsource, hire an expert or discuss with your manager about creating a position within the marketing department.

As a first step, you need to ensure everything is trackable and directly connected to ROI. The role of technology plays a big part in the successful implementation of tracking mechanisms. A wrong calculation will mean wrong conclusions when it comes to analyzing data, so it is essential that either you or the person responsible is knowledgeable regarding implementation and evaluation.

A good example of misconceptions in drawing conclusions are subscribers who do not engage at all with your email campaigns. These can drive engagement metrics down without meaning that your email campaign is problematic. Will the numbers stay the same if you either clean your mailing list by removing hard bounces (email addresses which do not exist) and soft bounces (emails which do not get opened)?

Are your engagement metrics telling an entirely different story when you remove these from your calculations?

Every different aspect of your email campaigns needs to be tracked against both engagement metrics and ROI. For example, if you have introduced personalisation for quite some time now, has it improved open, click-through and ultimately conversion rates for your business?

Additionally, your email strategy needs to align with every other digital and non-digital marketing channel. Integration is a critical strategic issue which many brands take seriously to provide a unique brand experience either on email, social media, paid campaigns and every marketing material.

Therefore the strategic aspect of your email campaigns is crucial for long-term success. Testing and analyzing behavior should be at the core of your strategic thinking and the driving force behind every change you make in the emails that your subscribers receive.

Engagement means revenue and profit

I’ve touched base with the importance of engagement strategies in the beginning of this blog post. Improved performance in terms of engagement is what will bring repeat sales, activate inactive subscribers, make people share your content with their friends on social media and through word of mouth – which will bring new leads and customers – and eventually define success in every email marketing strategy.