“Engagement” in email marketing is often viewed as a tactic; for example, you are sending engaging emails. In reality, engagement is an outcome of your email campaign goals and objectives. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Gmail and Yahoo are relying more on subscriber engagement to determine your IP/domain reputation. The more disengaged your subscribers are with your emails, the more your deliverability with ISPs will suffer and could lead to delivery delays or bulked mail.
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Every ISP in the world calculates subscriber engagement differently and many use it to determine email inbox placement. When asked the ISP's don't often give specific metrics for determining engagement. Some details have to remain private to protect subscriber inboxes from malicious senders.
Based on various public forums and interviews with ISP's the general consensus is the ISP's look at a number of factors to determine subscriber engagement:
- Email open
- Email click
- Ignoring email
- Deleting email
- Moving the email to a folder
The ISP's use this data on a subscriber by subscriber basis to determine the subscriber's engagement. Having a many disengaged subscribers then leads to the ISP filters blocking or placing the email into the spam folder.
Can we calculate 'engagement'?
In WordFly we can only really look at two metrics to calculate email campaign engagement. Those metrics are opens and clicks. Unfortunately, we can't determine who is ignoring, deleting or placing emails in folders. Therefore the engagement rate of an individual campaign is calculated by taking your unique subscribers who clicked any link in your email divided by number of unique opens.
Unique subscribers who clicked (20) / Number of unique opens (100) = 20% campaign engagement rate
You can review your WordFly campaign engagement metrics by running the Compare Campaigns report. This post goes over how to find your campaign engagement rate.
We've also created a unique formula to calculate subscriber engagement scores and ratings (stars) in WordFly. This data can help you better target the right subscriber with the right message. You can learn more about this in our post, What is Subscriber Engagement Rating?
If campaign engagement is calculated by looking at opens and clicks, naturally the best way to increase engagement is by increasing opens and clicks!
Put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes. What email content do they want to receive? How often do they want to receive it?
Focus on being relevant and targeted in your email marketing.
- Collect subscriber preferences around content and frequency, then use this information to customize your emails.
- Use personalization by including dynamic tags and data fields in your template.
- Include videos, animated gifs, and images that draw clicks from your subscribers.
- Limit marketing messages.
Run A/B campaign tests to see how small changes make a difference. In WordFly, you can do three types of A/B campaigns:
- A/B Subject Lines
- A/B From Names
- A/B Templates
Send segmented campaigns. Engagement treats the “engaged” customer differently.
- Use WordFly’s segmentation feature.
- Provide offers to engaged subscribers.
- Turn engaged subscribers into brand ambassadors. Let them help spread your brand presence.
When content isn’t engaging you risk losing subscribers through the opt-out process or (worse) receiving an abuse complaint when the subscriber clicks “this is spam”. Focus on quality rather than quantity.
Equally harmful to your reputation is when subscribers ignore or delete your email. ISPs are trained to monitor even this non-action and it does play into your reputation score.
Conduct regular list audits every 3-4 months. Pull out subscribers who haven’t opened or clicked on your emails in over 6 months.
Plan a re-engagement campaign. This should be done with small groups of inactive subscribers (5% at a time). Use WordFly’s segmentation feature to easily find your inactive subscribers.
Re-engagement campaigns will look different depending on your organization, but you might consider some of the following tactics:
- Provide a great discount for purchasing online
- Ask direct questions, for example:
“Where have you been?”
“Was it something we said?”
“How are we doing?”
Reach out to your inactive subscribers 2-3 times. In the last campaign consider telling the subscriber you will be removing their email address from your mailing list if no response is received. While this seems drastic, purging your list of inactive subscribers will ultimately keep your emails delivering to your other “engaged” subscribers.