For any online business, list building is a very crucial activity. It’s very common these days to browse any website and come across pop-ups that ask users to fill in their email address and opt in to the website’s newsletter. Sometimes, these websites offer e-books, Amazon gift cards, and free services among other incentives to sign up.
The modern business owner is so obsessed with growing a vast list that he/she often pays less attention to what happens after a user becomes a subscriber. The result is low engagement rates and high unsubscribe rates. Any subscriber is an active lead. You should focus on propelling that lead to a conversion point i.e. a purchase. This is possible only if you make your subscribers engage with your emails.
There is no one-size-fits-all guideline that can help you boost your engagement rates. Customers are often very unpredictable in their behaviour and usage patterns. However, there are some best practices outlined below that can help increase the engagement rate of your emails.
- Define your ‘Engagement’ Objective:
First and foremost you will have to define what engagement means for your business. The success of any email campaign is measured through two metrics: Open Rate i.e. the number of people opening your email and CTR (Click- through Rate) i.e. the number of people clicking on the CTA link and proceeding to your landing page.
Additionally, you can create your own custom goals. You can include UTM parameters in the email and create separate goals in Google Analytics to track conversion at different stages of your funnel. This includes how many users from a particular campaign proceeded to the landing page, how many proceeded to the pricing, how many purchased and so on.
Once you define how you want users to engage with your business it becomes easy to optimise your emails. If you want to increase your open rates, you should focus on enhancing your copywriting and split test with your subject lines and from field. If you want users to click through, you should enhance your email copy, such as using more persuasive copy and visuals.
- Create a schedule:
It is always a good practice to stick to a fixed time to send your emails. Over time, the user becomes habituated to your email arriving at the same time of the day/week.
Generally, refrain from sending out emails at completely different times. You never know when you will catch a user off-guard and the disgruntled user will simply open and hit unsubscribe or worse report it. If you stick to a consistent schedule, you end up setting expectations. No matter the emotional state of the user, he/she will be expecting your email.
There is no ‘perfect-time’ which is considered good to send out an email. You can test out the same emails sent to different set of users at different times and see which one has the highest engagement rates.
- Induce a Brand Personality:
Your email represents a mode of communication with your users. You should strive to maintain a brand personality and voice that is consistent across all your online channels.
The brand voice depends on many factors – audience and the nature of your business being the primary ones. If you run a service that is targeted towards professional individuals, say CTOs and CIOs, you should use a formal and authoritative tone. Likewise, if you are catering to a group of millennials, you need to use a casual tone and stay updated with the latest trends on social media.
- Make a personal connection:
No one likes reading an email that greets them as Hi! or Hi user! Address your users on a first name basis. This establishes a personal connection with the user. However, making a personal connection just doesn’t stop at using the first name of the user while greeting.
Many companies have increasingly started using the name of an actual employee while sending out emails. Doesn’t Jimmy from XYZ Company sound better than email@example.com as a sender? It does! It establishes that the email is being sent by an actual user and not by a bot.
This is a more technical-oriented practice. If you do implement it, either manually or through some platforms, it boosts your engagement rates significantly. Segmentation involves dividing your email subscribers into groups based on their interests and demographics and then sending them content personalized to their interests. You can manually ask users for their preferences and interest when they sign up or you can segment them based on their browsing history and purchase history. Because users now receive content that is more relevant to them, engagement rates increase.
- Keep it short, concise and beautiful:
Your users probably do not have the time to go through 3-pages of a long email. So, keep your email short and concise and use visuals to grab users’ attention and keep them hooked.
For images, refrain from using stock images. They are easily identifiable. Users have reported that actual high-quality photographs of your business (if you have a brick-and-mortar based shop) or those of your team are the ones that induce trust and make a personal connection. Therefore, try to include images of your team or a feedback from a previous client.
- Include a CTA (Call To Action):
Your email should always have a CTA, whether it be signing up for your service, leaving a review, reading a blog post or engaging with your social media accounts. Do not leave the user wondering what to do next after he/she has opened your email. Your CTA should stand out from the rest of the email copy and preferably, your email should have two CTAs – one at the top and the other at the bottom but always for the same action.
- Go Mobile:
A majority of your users will read your emails on their smartphones. So ensure that your emails are mobile-optimised. If possible perform a test run of your emails across all the major Email Service Providers. Many providers, especially Outlook, have a number of restrictions on the HTML and CSS code you can use as well as the links you place in the email. Your user should not see a disoriented email if he/she opens your email on a mobile device.
An engaged user is highly likely to become a loyal customer. The best practices that a company must follow can be found out by running multiple A/B tests for several parameters and record the engagement. But the above list is a good place to start if you don’t have the time and resources to invest in A/B testing.