On any email list, there will be three populations: the people who love you, the people who like you, and the group who are just hanging in there.

Last month I wrote about how to re-engage inactives, but this month I'd like to focus on a far more appealing sector: the people who love you. I call them "brand loyalists."

So how do you figure out who's who? Here are five ways to identify brand loyalists on your email list.

1. They open more than 80% of your emails

Brand loyalists keep an eye peeled for what you have to say, so when you show up in the inbox they're curious enough to open and at least skim your message, even if they're not in the market to buy or respond right then and there.

2. They frequently click, read, or buy

Because brand loyalists use and love your products, services, and content, they do more frequently click on your email offers, read your articles, watch your videos, and purchase than your average customer.

Although you shouldn't expect brand loyalists to respond every time, you will see them respond to competitive or exclusive offers more often because they know a good deal from you when they see it and don't want to miss one.

They also often wait for specific specials and savings—such as free shipping or your annual clearance sale—and then strike when the iron is hot.

3. They forward/share your email

Brand loyalists are your strongest advocates. They love telling their friends and family about you, your products, and your offers, so they'll pass along your email messages or use your "share to social" buttons to share with their friends and followers whether you encourage them to or not.

If you're being intentional about pass-along and do give them a specific incentive—such as a contest or reward—to forward email or share with their social networks, they're likely to go a little crazy, so make sure you put reasonable limits in place. You don't want to turn this group into spammers.

4. They've connected with you on social media

They love you so much they don't want to miss a chance to receive your exclusive treatment and insider information from anywhere, so they'll follow you on Twitter, friend or "like" you on Facebook, and subscribe to your blog.

Remember, in those environments, they'll also try to talk with you, so be sure you're listening!

5. They recommend you to their friends and followers on social media

Because social networks provide multi-way communication, brand loyalists won't just try to talk with you; they'll also talk about you to their friends, followers, and connections within social media.

If that is an activity you would like to see more of, make it easy for them to do so (hint: put those share-to-social buttons in the appropriate emails and on blog posts), and reward the ones who do so routinely.

* * *

When you've matched your social-media audiences to your email-list members and coded your email list to track response and sharing behaviors, it's easy to see who the loyalists are.

The question is, Once you know, what will you do differently, just for them?

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image of Karen Talavera

Karen Talavera is the founder of Synchronicity Marketing, a company specializing in digital marketing training, coaching, and education.