Email Marketing | October 14, 2020

6 Email Marketing Engagement Strategies you (Probably) Haven’t Tried

Tanishq Agarwal

Despite all the flak it receives, email marketing can earn up to a $44 ROI for every dollar spent. In many industries, it can lead to better conversions than popular social media platforms. 

One of the reasons it continues to deliver is its ability to adapt and incorporate new trends seamlessly. Even though that may be the case, you still need to keep yourself updated. 

It is common knowledge that marketing emails need to be personalized and mobile-friendly but what else can you do to enhance your email marketing campaigns? 

In this guide, we take a look at proven email marketing engagement strategies that you can leverage to boost conversions and build your brand.

1. Segment your subscriber list

Sending the exact same email to everyone in your subscriber list might be worse than sending no email at all. 

No matter the content of the email, it is impossible that it will be relevant to all your subscribers at the same time. If you keep bombarding your subscribers with irrelevant information and content, sooner or later, they’ll unsubscribe.

The simplest solution is to segment your subscriber list based on criteria important to your business. 

For example, basic segmentation would involve creating lists based on demographics like age, gender, location, education, or profession. 

Similarly, subscribers can be segmented by past engagement levels, sign up sources, the links that have clicked on, or the pages/products that they have shown interest in. You can also use a combination of these criteria to make your lists as specific and targeted as possible.

A great example of segmenting done right is Netflix. It categorizes viewers based on their interests, watch history, demographics, and location. 

It uses this information to not only promote the most relevant content on the website, but also through emails. 

Suppose you’re watching a lot of stand-up comedy; in that case, you are likely to be notified when a new comedy series is available. Or, if you’ve been watching food and travel shows, you will most certainly receive an email about their latest food show. 

Netflix email marketing engagement strategy

Netflix knows exactly what is views want (Source)

At its core, running separate email campaigns for segmented subscribers is a way to connect with them more personally. 

And there’s ample proof that segmenting works. Data has consistently shown that targeted email marketing not only improves engagement but also leads to higher revenue. 

MailChimp’s research shows that segmented campaigns are more than 14 times more likely to be opened and get 60 percent more clicks. Others have found that segmented campaigns can lead up to a 760 percent increase in the revenue from email marketing for e-commerce companies.

Overall, treating your customers differently based on their likes, dislikes, and preferences means making more money for your business and improving your brand’s reputation in the long-run.

For those who are unaware of the concept, it might take some trial and error to define the best way to segment your subscribers.  The most important aspect is reliable and accurate data for your segmentation efforts.

Thus, you need to either collect it directly from the customer during sign up (or as a part of a survey) or invest in tools that help you procure the same. 

2. Add interactive features

Text and image-only emails in email marketing have evolved to incorporate more interactive features like gifs, videos, timers, and animations. 

Adding interactive elements not only enhances the user experience, resulting in higher engagement, but also helps you to attract attention through creativity and novelty.

Gifs, video loops, animations, sliders, countdown timers, and other elements can help you increase the click-through rate and even improve your brand image. 

With advances in technology and browser compatibility, there’s a wide range of customization available to help you stand out from the crowd. 

To provide more specific use-cases, e-commerce businesses can use accordions, carousels, and navigation menus to showcase products and add live timers to announce flash sales and limited period discounts. 

Rotating banners can be used to focus on the top announcements or products by businesses, and sliders can be used to view a product from different angles. 

Clothing and apparel stores can showcase different fashion looks using moving elements or gifs as well. Here’s a great example of how to use the countdown timer in emails.

countdown timers used to increase email engagement and add a sense of urgency

Countdown timers add a sense of urgency (Source)

Create animations that include scratching a digital coupon or solving a puzzle to further engage subscribers. 

You can also offer more information or add giveaway bonuses using QR codes to redirect customers to a landing page, an online chatbot, or activate a special coupon. There are plenty of free QR Code generators online to help you get started.

If you are planning to incorporate such elements in your email promotions, test everything before hitting the send button (more on that later). 

Also, consider experimenting with the design of the email and use the unique placement of text and visual elements to catch your reader’s attention. There are many ways to draft creative emails, which brings us to the next point.

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment

There is no singular rulebook to follow in email marketing, and a lot of your success depends on your ability to gauge what’s working and what isn’t. 

Experimenting with various types of emails, particularly when you are starting an email campaign and building a base, is crucial. 

Remember, emails are not just a means to send advertisements and promotions to your subscribers, but also engage with them and create a community. 

 

Take a leaf from traditional content marketing strategies and employ storytelling techniques as well.

To begin with, have a set email template for the welcome, thank you, newsletters, and related notifications. Then, create emails to showcase products, make announcements, share news, tell customer stories, and introduce new products or concepts. 

Only when you identify which type of email is working with your audience can you start building on the theme and tone. 

Depending on your product or service, your audience might respond favorably to any type of email. 

Here are some examples of the many kinds of email you can create:

Discount and sale emails: E-commerce stores can send special discounts and exclusive deals with a time limit to boost sales. Along with being visually rich, these emails can become more effective with countdown timers or showcase carousels. Keep the text minimal, to-the-point, and catchy. 

price drop email engagement example

 Here is a great example to let your customer know of a price drop (Source)

Real testimonials: Do not underestimate the power of genuine and moving customer stories. Nearly 70% of online customers check product reviews before buying. 

Real testimonies can yield great influence on your audience, and if not, nudge them to try out what you are offering, at least find new solutions to a problem and learn new information. 

Contest and Competitions: A well-thought-out contest campaign can bring in new leads and rejuvenate existing subscribers as well. You can offer small freebies or discounts to winners, or provide any other relevant incentive.

Special occasion and milestones: These may include completing X years as a customer, birthdays, anniversaries, or festivals. This improves the scope of personalization and appeals more intimately than generic brand promotions.

Experiment with different subject lines to see which ones deliver a higher open rate. Get creative by using emojis and symbols to make sure that the viewer doesn’t pass your message as another promotional email.

Once you get the hang of it, create an events calendar, and draft relevant emails in advance. Line them up in your email marketing tool to prepare ahead of time and automate the sending process (again, more later).

Remember to create different emails for different segmented lists and use appropriate language, design, and CTA as per the recipient.

However, a word of caution, avoid wacky fonts or jarring colors in the name of being creative. The idea is to experiment with the content and messaging, and not the individual elements every time. 

4. Add value by offering knowledge

Email campaigns do a lot more than showcase advertisements and promotions. Ensure your emails offer some sort of value or new information to your audience.

This could be in the form of a free resource (like an e-book or template), exclusive access to content behind paywalls, a financial incentive (in the form of a discount code or cashback), or any other relevant, yet valuable, item.

To your most active and engaged customers, set up automatic cart abandonment emails, supply refill reminders, new product launches, or early access to sales or podcasts

This will ensure that they keep getting value from your emails. If you can, incentivize them to take action immediately. Data shows that nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened, and almost one in three leads to a sale.

You can use a variety of techniques to educate your audiences and keep them engaged. For example, a blogger can send a list of the most discussed blogs read by the viewer, alongside previews to new blogs. 

Look at what Spotify does with their ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist or Amazon does with their ‘Special offers for you’ emails. 

Spotify email engagement tactic

Spotify adds value to your playlist every Monday (Photo from Spotify)

Based on customer habits and interests, these companies send recommendations of the best (and most relevant) music and products, respectively. These marketing tools ensure customers are engaged and keep them coming back for more each week.

Likewise, links in the email signature leading to the website, sign up pages, or social media accounts are common ways to introduce viewers to new content. 

You can also add live Instagram or Twitter feeds that show some of the latest posts in the email to nudge viewers to visit and follow your social media accounts for more awesome content.

Similarly, a link or a QR code to redirect audiences to exclusive content or limited period offers can be used. For instance, a blog that explains the benefits of certain ingredients of a food product can be added to a QR code with the message, “Know more about why this is healthy for you.” 

In the past few months, QR codes have rapidly become an integral part of real estate marketing and F&B marketing due to their contactless nature and they are likely to become central to all forms of marketing in the future.

The bottom line is that you should continually offer value and information to your subscribers to continue invading their inboxes. 

5. Test everything

After all the effort to segment, design, and create the perfect emails for your subscribers, don’t let it all go to waste by skipping the most important step of all: testing. Let’s talk about both kinds of email testing in detail.

Few things do more damage to your brand than a broken email with images that fail to load and text that is all over the place. Make sure you test your final email across all devices and platforms to ensure they render properly. 

It will also help you decipher the legibility, ratio, and resolution of the images used in the final email. Make sure that nothing requires the viewer to zoom in. 

You also want to make sure your emails are mobile-optimized and responsive, i.e., suitable to be viewed on as many devices as possible. Having responsive emails leads to a better user experience while improving the open and click-through rates. 

Next, split testing (or A/B) testing involves testing different campaign ideas, copy, and email types to identify the most effective strategy. Some businesses have improved their click-through rates by as much as 127% using the results of split testing methods. 

email testing

Testing can increase the click-through rate significantly (Source)

As opposed to the point before, this involves testing minute details related to your email one by one. 

These elements include subject lines, newsletter headings, images, copy, font, colors, design, and CTA buttons, among other things. You can also send emails at different times, on different days, and even as per seasonal events to check which ones resonate the most with your subscribers.

Think of it this way, without split testing, you wouldn’t really know what’s going wrong or how you can improve your current results. It is the most simple and effective technique to check what’s working and what isn’t and continuously change your approach. 

Remember, testing requires continuous effort, time, and patience, but it can be a useful tool for generating consistent results. Most email marketing tools offer A/B testing as a feature, and it is also the norm in most consumer-based marketing campaigns. 

6. Deploying email marketing automation tools

Email marketing automation tools do not merely schedule and automate email campaigns. They also deploy smart tools and plug-ins that enable a high degree of personalization, provide analytical insights, and offer unique ways to boost engagement. 

Apart from setting up action-based triggered emails like welcome emails and order confirmation emails, automation tools personalize and populate autoresponder emails, track actions, and journeys of the subscribers. 

You can automate workflows using the if-then rules, and never miss sending an email on time again. You can also set up and automate drip email sequences to nurture leads and ensure that all follow-ups are regularly done.

AI-based tools not only help you implement workflows, send emails timely and regularly, but also evaluate what elements of your campaign are working effectively. 

Some tools also offer suggestions and recommendations based on real-time feedback and performance. Similarly, others provide detailed profiles of segmented subscribers, test different subject lines and copy, and accurately measure open and click rates. 

They not only keep subscribers engaged but also help increase retention levels and strengthen the brand relationship with its community. 

A smart email marketing tool will help you get a lot more done in less time and allow you to focus on creating the best copy, visuals, and messaging for your emails.

If you have absolutely no idea how email marketing automation works, sign up for an online course or go through the starter guide for such service providers to get up to speed.

Conclusion

So, to recap, here’s what you need to do:

  • Segment your audience/subscriber list for more relevant messaging
  • Add interactive features to improve the user experience
  • Try different email content types to identify which one is working the best
  • Test everything comprehensively before launching the campaign 
  • Go beyond ads to offer genuine value and information to your subscribers 
  • Use automation tools to simplify the implementation

Besides, remember the basics of keeping the email short and simple, using compelling subject lines, writing crisp and engaging content, and unfailingly including a CTA.

We must keep in mind that there are more than 3.9 billion email addresses in the world, and they are set to grow to 4.4 billion by 2024. The scale of these numbers indicates the vast potential that businesses and content creators have to connect with users. 

Email marketing is one of the best ways to establish these connections and also sustain existing ones. The fact that most marketers consider email to be a crucial part of their overall marketing strategy further proves their vitality. 

It’s not just marketers, though, because customers also prefer email as their marketing channel.

Finally, the fact that email marketing has delivered consistent results for over a decade now is the biggest testament to its success and effectiveness. 

However, as you use this tested channel for marketing, be sure to use the more recent and innovative strategies listed above to ensure a greater chance of success.

What are some new strategies that you are using to make your email marketing campaigns more effective? Let us know in the comments.

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