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Email Subscriber Engagement Checklist: Six Tips to Keep Handy

by Ryan Deutsch  |  
June 1, 2011
  |  12,032 views

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Six ways to elevate subscriber engagement in your email programs
  • The rapid changes in email that could affect your campaigns

Subscriber engagement refers to the level of engagement or interaction an email subscriber maintains with a brand's email communications. The lack of subscriber engagement has become a critical topic for email marketers in recent years.

Engaged subscribers, generally defined as recipients who have opened, clicked on, or otherwise interacted with an email message in the previous 3-6 months, often make up only 30-40% of an email marketer's database.

It is truly a sad state of affairs when marketers are immune to the fact that at least 60% of email recipients ignore communications.

To make matters worse, email is undergoing rapid change at the subscriber level:

  • The inbox is morphing. Solutions like Gmail's Priority Inbox and Xobni take control away from the email marketer and make it more difficult to guarantee meaningful placement in the inbox.
  • The proliferation of daily-deal sites (e.g., Rue La La, Groupon) has raised consumer expectations around discounting and offer variety.
  • Perhaps most important, Internet service providers are beginning to use engagement as a gauge to determine where emails appear in the consumer's inbox—or whether they should be delivered at all. Confronting such a headwind, email marketers must understand how to maximize subscriber engagement.

Below is a short engagement strategy checklist to help elevate engagement in your email programs.


The Basics

1. The Welcome Series

The welcome series is perhaps the most underused program in the subscriber lifecycle. As subscribers enter your program, setting their expectations—about frequency of communication, content, etc.—is critical.


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Ryan Deutsch is vice-president of strategic services at StrongMail, a leading provider of online marketing solutions for email and social media.

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  • by Bill Kaplan, CEO of FreshAddress, Inc. Wed Jun 1, 2011 via web

    Important topic and great suggestions, Ryan. One critical point is missing, however. The majority of seemingly disengaged (inactive) subscribers are the direct result of email communications being sent to dormant email accounts that people are no longer checking. As a consequence, the best re-engagement strategies (e.g. time-based offers, subscription confirmations, etc.) will see little return as no one is reading these emails.

    Companies should take Ryan's suggestions for holding on to their customers' interest as long as possible but also understand the law of diminishing returns. For those customers who do not respond to your re-engagement emails, these email addresses should be pulled from your mailing list, added to your bounce file, and sent off for ECOA (Email Change of Address) processing.

    Reconnecting with former customers is less expensive than acquiring new customers and returns a significantly higher ROI. So watch your engagement metrics closely, vary your re-engagement offers, and optimize your reconnection efforts for that portion of your file that's going to dead addresses people stopped reading months ago.

  • by Amit Verma Wed Jun 1, 2011 via web

    Very Good informative discussion on email marketing, thank to both of you Ryan and bill kaplan,

    I have a Question, Now a days lots of cheating email about scheme and offer(Lottry , win cash) are distributed all over the world. this reducing the interest of user in reading the email from unkown ID,...

    How can we overcome this issue and engage our target customer,

  • by Spencer Broome Thu Jun 2, 2011 via web

    Really good suggestions. And agree with Bill above; a list and email addresses should be constantly edited and improved to ensure communication is being received.

  • by Noam Tobi Thu Jun 9, 2011 via web

    Thank You Ryan for a very informative post.

    Email marketing has to be involved around constantly adding value to our subscribers , monitoring their engagement and trying to do our best keeping our costumers happy, as it is much more rewarding and cost worthy than adding new costumers is.

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