Building an Email Engagement Strategy

When do you decide it’s time to stop emailing someone on your list? What is your approach to reengaging someone on your list? If you’re a little fuzzy on these questions, this article is for you. 

While there are some people that say email is dead, I am here to say, it’s still a great and affordable means of reaching, connecting, and marketing to your contact list. For starters, once someone has confirmed their email address, your access to them doesn’t cost you anything and the sky’s the limit as to where that relationship might grow. 

On the other hand, with more than 100 billion emails sent each day, the average user receives somewhere around 120 or more marketing emails. That means your email is competing with more than 100 other messages for the same limited attention.

In a previous post we talked about how the size of your list matters less than the level of engagement of your list, but how do you know? How do you track and measure your engagement? How do you decide when is the right time to decide to stop sending marketing emails and is there anything you can do to prevent that from happening? This article answers these questions!

How and why you should track your engagement and what does that even mean? Sending bulk email to your list is just the beginning of your journey. Unless you are doing your own mail-merge via outlook you are likely using an email tool that allows you to store your email list of contacts and send bulk emails. All these tools have metrics that will tell you how many people opened your email, how many clicked on any links, how many emails failed to deliver or bounced and how many people have asked to unsubscribe. ​

Many years ago, we were wow’d by the ability to see our open rates, but as time has gone by, a few things have happened. First,our ability to accurately track open rates has changed and continues to change based on the method people are using to consume your content. Second, we have decided that someone opening our emails doesn’t tell us much about what they thought. Did they like what we had to say, did they even read it…we will never know! Click rates, however, are a number we can measure with accuracy. It also is an opportunity to drive traffic to a destination that hopefully serves two purposes. It lets us know the reader is reading the content and is likely interested in whatever is held at that link. This teaches us about our customers likes and dislikes so we are better able to do more of that. If we are seeing a high surge of bounces or unsubscribes, these can alert us to problems that might need to be addressed. For example, are we sending too many spammy like emails that people are turned off by? Perhaps that subject line was polarizing and really turned some of your readers off. An unusual number of bounces might signal a deliverability issue and some corrective action might need to be taken.

Tracking engagement, in short, is the feedback from your list about how an email, or a series of emails are performing. Paying attention to these metrics can help shape future marketing and communication metrics.

How do you decide when is the right time to stop sending marketing emails? There is not a universal hard and fast rule for this. Some people believe that this is based on the business sales cycle, some people believe that there is an average shelf life for a person new to your list, which in 2021 is about 100 days. Others are so strict that a person that fails to engage with three consecutive emails might be someone showing signs of disengagement. In my personal opinion, I stick with the 100 days. If a user has not clicked, purchased or engaged with your content in 100 days, then this is someone at high risk for unsubscribing. The reason being that, regardless of what your sales cycle looks, most people have either brought in other tools, solutions, widgets etc. and have simply moved on. Think about what you were interested in 3 months ago. What interests, hobbies, shopping habits remain today that were relevant 100 days ago. If we think about this from the eye of the consumer, this is likely a liberal estimate. So this is where tracking your engagement really matters. If you know and are able to identify when someone starts to disengage from your marketing, you can move to phase two, down below (PS – automation helps with this…let me show you how!). 

What to do when someone starts to disengage or what can I do to try and save someone before I put them on my no-no list?  Now that you have the metrics down, it’s time to implement strategies that help you communicate specifically with your contacts that have not been engaging. What that means is, when someone reaches that point, we want to tell them, hey, we see you and we see you’re not jiving with what I’m sending you…do you want me to keep talking to you, or would you rather go? It’s an invitation for them to safely unsubscribe. What I recommend for my clients is automate an email that goes out with two buttons or links that invite them to either choose yes or no to continue to get emails. It happens separately from the can-spam unsubscribe link and allows me to segment my list accordingly. Sometimes people just get busy and they really want to keep hearing from you and they are going to raise their hand and say yeah, let’s keep doing this! Others will say, thanks but no thanks either with their actions of clicking that no link or by taking no action (which is in and of itself an action). Regardless, having a process by which you give the person a chance to opt-in again when the signals are pointing towards disengagement ultimately will help you not be a nuisance in their inbox and will preserve your email reputation. 

Before I sign off, here are two things to consider when implementing a good email engagement strategy. 

Consider adding a free tool/resource to your reengagement efforts BEFORE they get to the engagement email. For example, if your rule is 100 days of disengagement and they get the email inviting them to unsubscribe, consider sending a free offer or a coupon, or something of value to the contact at 90-days. This might strike up their interest again and get them back in the game with you, and their action of taking you up on that offer just updated their engagement.

Create subscription preferences. No one wants to get a bunch of emails about stuff that doesn’t matter or is not of interest to them. Create a simple form and link it in the bottom of all your emails and you’ve just segmented your list! For example, maybe you are in the events business and you host online and in person events. A simple preference form can help your audience tell you what they like and don’t like. Then when you send out your next email, you’re able to exclude the people that don’t want to hear about anything that’s out of their preferences. 

For a super organized business owner, you could be that person that sits down once a month and crunches a bunch of numbers and reports and manually pushes out all this magic, but let’s be honest, who has time for that? The best strategy for managing your email engagement is through automation. Build your strategy on paper, put it together with some simple tech tools and let it works behind the scenes, allowing you to focus on the meaningful connections you are making with your audience.

Want to learn how, let’s chat! Want to try out automation in your business for free? Join my FREE Automation Challenge Tue – Thurs September 13-16th. 


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