email marketing

16 Tips to Increase Email Engagement

If you’re seeing low email engagement rates, implement one of these 16 tips to start seeing an improvement today.

Mara Calvello Mara Calvello on June 29, 2021 (last modified on June 28, 2021) • 14 minute read

When it comes to sending emails to your customers, how do you ensure yours stands out from their crowded inbox?

Finding a tactic that works is easier said than done, especially when you consider that what attracts one type of customer may not interest the other. So, it can be tricky to narrow down what a successful email engagement strategy looks like for your organization. 

As you go about creating an email strategy, there are a lot of important metrics to consider. The metric most important to you may vary, but at the end of the day, here are the top metrics we have found to be most important.

email engagement metrics

If you’re looking to boost one of the above metrics and see more success with email engagement, check out these 16 tips from our community of experts.

  1. Segment your audience
  2. Focus on the subject line
  3. Remove cold subscribers
  4. Make it personal
  5. Appeal to FOMO
  6. Consider trigger emails
  7. Provide value to the reader
  8. Tell a story
  9. Treat your readers like your friends
  10. Make it visual
  11. Incorporate social proof
  12. Run an A/B test
  13. Plan ahead by creating a calendar
  14. Wow your audience with statistics
  15. Utilize rich content
  16. Don’t forget the CTA

1. Segment Your Audience

The first tip you should implement if you’re looking to improve your email engagement is to segment your audience

To get started with this tip, Madison Tong at My Supplement Store shares, “Our best tactic for increasing engagement in our emails is through segmentation. We have found that for our business, being able to segment between the genders gives us not only the highest open rates, but also leads to more conversions. This is because we can now craft the email to be more visually appealing to each gender. We have seen some of our open rates increase by 5-10% and our sales double by targeting this way.

Another expert who recommends segmentation is Tiffany Lewis at More Meaningful Marketing. Lewis adds, “The best way for increasing email engagement is to segment your audience(s) and to find out what is most important to them. Then, focus your email strategy around a solution-oriented message that puts your ideal client at the center of your offering.”

Pro tip: Are your email marketing efforts paying off? Watch the video below or recreate this dashboard in Databox to discover which sources bring in the most opportunities for your business.

2. Focus on the Subject Line

What’s the first thing you notice when an email comes through? Chances are good it’s the subject line. Because of this, you need to make sure the subject line of your email stands out from a cluttered inbox. 

How do you accomplish this? Dr. Juan Izquierdo at Dr. Juan Izquierdo Marketing Consulting starts off by saying, “Make sure that the subject line of the email is based on a very competitive term that has a high monthly search volume. Nothing else matters in email marketing if your target audience doesn’t open that email and that is why the subject line is crucial.”

Adding to the ways you make the subject line stand out is Randi Grant at Smile Marketing. Grant shares, “Hands down the best tactic for increasing email engagement is prioritizing your subject line. It shouldn’t be an afterthought. After all, if your subject line doesn’t encourage the reader to open the email, it doesn’t matter what’s inside. A/B tests, personalization, emojis – try it all and find what works for your specific audience.”

3. Remove Cold Subscribers

Another strategy you can implement is to clean up your email subscriber list. 

Wendy Margolin at Sparkr Marketing recommends this tip if you’re looking to increase engagement. To get started, Margolin shares, “The best tactic for improving email engagement is scrubbing your list of cold subscribers. Once they’re gone, your open rate will go up, and your email is less likely to go into spam for your other subscribers.

I also recommend giving subscribers the option to receive your emails at the cadence that works for them. Every email has an unsubscribe link at the bottom, but you can also add text at the top to allow people to select to hear from you once a month instead of weekly, for example.”

Editor’s note: Is your audience tired from your emails? Use this free Audience Email Fatigue dashboard to measure your email list engagement based on the email activity of each member.

audience-email-fatigue-dashboard

4. Make It Personal

Your customers want to feel like they’re more than just a name on a subscriber list. They want to feel connected to your brand and its products or services. To make this work, you want to personalize your emails as much as possible. 

Unsure how to make this work? Natalie Slyman at Benchmark Email recommends, “Pairing knowledge of your customer base with where they are in the buyer’s journey and using that knowledge to send personalized email nurture is the most effective way to increase email engagement. People want to receive emails that matter to them and that tie into their personal needs and wants. When you know those needs and wants, you can craft emails that address them, giving your recipients an email worth reading.”

Adding some tips and suggestions for how your business can personalize their emails is Natalya Bucuy at LiveHelpNow. The more information you have about your audience, the easier this is to apply. “The best way to increase email engagement is to connect with your audiences on a personal level. When creating email content, tailor it to the recipients. That might mean segmenting your large customer database into smaller groups. Then, you can optimize content for the best engagement.

As an example, send a reminder with an additional discount code to those customers who abandoned their carts on your website and didn’t go through with their purchases. Or send a happy birthday message to each customer. Make it personal!” shares Bucuy.

One way to ensure your emails don’t feel personal at all is to send them in bulk. Limiting the number of emails your company sends is a great way to make the ones that do appear in the inbox of your customers feel a little more personal.

how many bulk emails to send a month

5. Appeal to FOMO

No one likes to miss out, whether it be on a party, a great deal, or the trip of a lifetime. Your email can appeal to the fact that your audience doesn’t want to experience FOMO on a great deal. 

To appeal to the fear of missing out that your audience may have, it’s all about how you word your email. “There are many tactics that help boost email engagement, but the best is appealing to FOMO.. When you use trigger words in your subject lines, people act quickly. The words trigger people to urgency. For instance, use words like ‘’Act now,’’ ‘Limited time,’ ‘Limited quantities,’ ‘Today only,’ and ‘Going fast.’ You won’t engage your list members unless they open the email. Using these phrases will boost your open rates and your sales,” explains Janice Wald at Mostly Blogging.

6. Consider Trigger Emails

Still seeing low engagement? Try sending out a different type of email, like a trigger email.

Bruce Hogan at SoftwarePundit believes that trigger emails can improve your engagement metrics. “The best way to increase email engagement over the long-term is to develop and implement more trigger emails. Trigger emails have significantly greater engagement rates than newsletters and bulk campaigns. Since they are triggered by user behavior, they are more relevant and will lead to more opens, clicks, and sales,” shares Hogan.

7. Provide Value to the Reader

Have you ever opened an email and thought, “what was the point?” If your emails aren’t providing value to your audience, not only will they not engage with your email, it’ll go right to the trash bin, or worse — they’ll unsubscribe altogether. 

To accomplish this, Chris Wilks at BrandExtract elaborates to say, “Provide value. Too many emails ask recipients for something without explaining to them why it will benefit them. Be clear about why you’re asking them to click, respond, or download and how their participation will help them. Maybe it’s a discount, maybe it’s knowledge, maybe it’s something else. But give them a reason to participate.”

For more advice on this tip, Brian Stewart at ProsperoWeb, LLC adds, “The key to email engagement, in my opinion, is to provide value. One of the first things learned by industry pros is that your campaigns and products must add value to your customers. You should only send email campaigns if you have something worthwhile to communicate. To put it another way, don’t send email campaigns just for the pleasure of sending them!”

8. Tell a Story

In addition to making an email personal, adding value to the reader, it’s also a good idea to ensure the content of the email tells a story to your subscribers.

Not sure the type of story to share? Jonathan Aufray at Growth Hackers Agency recommends, “Create suspense by telling a story. Most people love a good story. And, a story is good when you wonder what happens next, but you cannot figure out the ending.

In your email marketing campaigns, you also want to tell a story and create suspense. For instance, start by writing about one problem your audience is facing. If that problem resonates with your subscribers, they will want to read the rest, click the link on your email or reply to your email because they want to find the solution to that problem.”

Editor’s note: For more insights into if this strategy is working, utilize the MailChimp dashboard template from Databox. This free dashboard makes it easy to measure the overall performance of your email campaign by monitoring subscribe/unsubscribe rate, open rate, click rate, and more.

mailchimp databox dashboard

9. Treat Your Readers Like Your Friends

Take a look at the email you’re about to send to your subscribers. Would you send it to your friends or family? If the answer is no, it’s time to rethink your email strategy. 

Remember, your audience is made up of humans who want to be treated as such. Unsure how to go about this? Take some advice from Mitchel Harad at Expert Opportunities. Harad states, “To improve email engagement, you need to forget close to everything you’ve read in guides and ‘how-to’ articles online. Your emails should be framed and written the same way you’d communicate with an old-school friend via email.

This can come as a shock to businesses who feel like a deviation from their brand guidelines might as well be lighting customer relationships on fire. In reality, strict adherence to brand guidelines is what causes a lack of engagement.

Don’t be afraid to use slang, write run-on sentences, overuse exclamation marks, etc. The BEST tactic for increasing email engagement is to treat people like people, not try to ‘optimize’ the life out of your emails.”

10. Make It Visual

How appealing is your email? Is it easy on the eye? Do people want to keep reading once they open? 

Make sure your email has enough visual elements to entice the reader to, well, keep reading. “One of the best ways to increase email engagement is by leveraging the use of visual content like interesting infographics and videos. People are likely to skim through your textual content as they receive a dozen text emails in a day. So, you need to offer something unique in order to catch the attention of the readers, and visual content can pave your way,” explains Raaquib Pathan at Salesmate.

11. Incorporate Social Proof

Sure, you think your products and services are great, but where’s the proof? What do other users have to say? 

If you’re looking for another way to boost engagement on your emails, try adding some social proof, or social evidence, to the content. Elaborating on how you can incorporate social proof into your emails is Tori Bell from Clever Touch Marketing. Bell shares, “If others have done it, then there you go. People feel assured, they are given new information and see answers to problems when they can see that others have done the same thing already. Using testimonials and names of famous people will help to persuade people as well.”

12. Run an A/B Test

You’ve probably run an effective A/B test before, but have you tried with your email campaigns? 

From subject lines to body copy, it’s a great way to know what’s working and what needs to be tweaked. “As a marketing agency, we always aim to maximize email open rates first. If your emails aren’t being read, then nothing else matters. To ensure high open rates and high engagement, you need to carefully curate your email lists and run multiple A/B tests to see what works best. We test different approaches with different subject lines until we are happy with the results. The email content is just as important, and when we are sending chain emails, we always make sure the audience has a good reason to open that next email,” elaborates Aaron Agius at Louder Online.

13. Plan Ahead by Creating a Calendar

The perfect email strategy doesn’t come about in a day. It takes hard work, and you’ll likely have to plan ahead. Instead of pushing out a last-minute email, try utilizing a content calendar to ensure all of the elements are there and nothing falls through the cracks.

Jennie Montgomery at EPOCH Clemson shares more on how to do this by adding, “A tactic that seems to be effective in increasing email engagement with our clients has been creating and implementing a communication calendar. Each month, we outline when, what, and how we plan to communicate with our current and prospective residents. Without a plan, we were often missing opportunities to engage with our clients or sending out ‘last minute’ messages on the fly that allowed for less preparation and thoughtfulness before hitting ‘send.’ Once we started creating a month-to-month schedule, we ensured we were sending out consistent and meaningful communications – and an appropriate number of emails to our clients.”

14. Wow Your Audience with Statistics

Believe it or not, people love data. If you can visually showcase some interesting statistics or data points in your email, chances are it’s worth a shot.

For this to work, Rachel Klaver at Identify Marketing recommends, “Create an email that will provide the stats and ratios. Combine that with highlighting the benefits and stating what’s in it for them. You can easily convince people if you point out why they need it. 

For example, Grammarly sends out a stat sheet where you can see how many times they used the app. They also break it down further by showing how many were corrected and how many should have been corrected using the premium version. This will clearly state what they are missing and will entice action from your customers.”

15. Utilize Rich Content

I hate to break it to you, but your audience has a short attention span. Your email only has a few seconds to get their attention, so why not try adding some rich content to the body?

Unsure how to get started with this? Paige Arnof-Fenn at Mavens & Moguls recommends, “Include video and rich content. In a mobile-first world, you have less time to grab people, attention spans are shorter than ever so video will be used even more, show don’t tell for maximum impact, rich content drives email engagement. Live video will only grow in importance – live streaming is available on every major social media platform, and it is only getting bigger to hook in users with short attention spans.”

16. Don’t Forget the CTA

Last but certainly not least, let’s not forget about the emails call-to-action. Knowing how to write a CTA can make or break your email engagement. 

Andre Oentoro at Milkwhale wraps things up by sharing, “Whether you’re asking the recipient to reply to your email or including a button that leads to your site, including a CTA significantly increases email engagement because it lets people know what the next step is after reading your email. So, it’s important to make your CTA visible and easy to spot.”

You’ve Got Mail

The perfect email marketing strategy is hard to come by, but if you implement these 16 techniques, you may see the boost of engagement that your company is looking for. Remember that not all of these tips are going to work for everyone, so if one doesn’t do the trick, get creative and try a different one, or two!

About the author
Mara Calvello
Mara Calvello Mara is a freelance writer at Databox and a Content Marketing Manager at G2. In her spare time, she's either at the gym, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, enjoying the great outdoors with her rescue dog Zeke, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable.
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