Maximising email engagement: Strategies and tactics

Every marketer knows that sending emails is still a great way to reach people. But without the right tricks under your belt, it can be more difficult to engage your subscribers than it needs to be. Imagine you bake a cake, but no one wants to eat it. That's how it feels when you send an email, but no one pays attention to it.

In this article, we'll talk about how to make your emails more interesting so that people actually read them and engage.

Let’s go!

What is email engagement?

Email engagement refers to how actively and positively recipients interact with the emails they receive from you or your organisation. It's an important aspect of email marketing because it goes beyond merely sending messages; it focuses on how your audience responds to those messages.

Email engagement is like a conversation between you and your subscribers, and it encompasses various actions and reactions that recipients can take when they receive an email.

Email engagement metrics

Email engagement metrics are like the scorecard for your email marketing efforts. They provide valuable insights into how well your emails are performing and how your audience is interacting with them. These metrics are essential because they help you gauge the effectiveness of your email campaigns and make data-driven decisions to improve them.

Let's take a closer look at some key email engagement metrics:

Open rate: This metric tells you how many recipients opened your email. A higher open rate generally indicates that your subject line and sender name are compelling enough to grab attention. It's the first step in getting your message across.

Click-through rate (CTR): CTR measures the percentage of people who clicked on a link or a call-to-action button in your email. It's an important metric because it shows how well your email content and visuals motivate recipients to take action. A higher CTR means your email content is engaging.

Conversion rate: This metric focuses on the percentage of email recipients who completed a specific action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or filling out a form. A high conversion rate indicates that your email effectively guides recipients towards your intended goal.

Bounce rate: Bounces occur when emails cannot be delivered to the recipient's inbox. There are two types of bounces: "soft" bounces, which are usually temporary issues like a full inbox, and "hard" bounces, which are permanent issues like an invalid email address. Monitoring bounce rates is important for maintaining a healthy email list.

Unsubscribe rate: This metric measures the number of recipients who decided to opt out of your email list after receiving your email. While some unsubscribes are inevitable, a consistently high unsubscribe rate may indicate that your content or email frequency needs adjustment.

Forward rate and social sharing: These metrics track how often your recipients forward your email to others or share it on social media. A high forward and share rate indicates that your content is resonating with your audience and has the potential to reach a broader audience.

Time and day of engagement: Understanding when your emails are most likely to be opened and engaged with can help you optimise your sending schedule. Sending emails when your audience is most active can lead to higher engagement.

Email client and device metrics: These metrics provide insights into the email clients and devices your audience uses to read your emails. Optimizing your emails for different devices and email clients can enhance the user experience.

By regularly monitoring these email engagement metrics, you can fine-tune your email marketing strategy, identify areas for improvement and ultimately deliver more relevant and engaging content to your subscribers.

Now that you know what engagement metrics there are in email marketing, let’s get into some examples of how you can encourage engagement from your subscribers.

Start with crafting engaging emails

1. Send a welcome email

Sending a welcome email is an essential best practice in email marketing. It's the digital equivalent of a warm greeting and a firm handshake when someone walks into your store. So, you need it.

Why? Well, this initial interaction sets the tone for your future relationship with the subscriber and offers several benefits.

And here’s the thing: The average open rate for a welcome email is 50%. This makes it a great driving force for engagement, so you can’t sleep on it.

Here’s what it will do for you:

First impressions matter: A welcome email is your opportunity to make a memorable first impression. It shows that you value your subscribers and are eager to connect with them. A positive first experience can lead to higher engagement and brand loyalty.

So, for example, if you own a gym and a new subscriber signs up for your fitness newsletter, you can immediately send them a welcome email that thanks them for joining the community and offers a free workout guide as a token of appreciation.

Expectation setting: In your welcome email, you can set clear expectations about the type and frequency of emails the subscriber will receive. This transparency helps manage their expectations and reduces the likelihood of them marking your emails as spam. So, they will be open to reading and engaging with what you send them.

At this point, you can even channel them to your preference centre if you have one. This will ensure that you send content that they’re actually interested in.

Offering value: Provide immediate value in your welcome email. This could be in the form of a special discount, access to exclusive content, or a helpful resource. When subscribers see an immediate benefit, they're more likely to engage with future emails.

2. Write killer subject lines

Crafting irresistible subject lines is a fundamental aspect of successful email marketing. Subject lines are the gateway to your emails, and if they fail to captivate your recipients, your carefully crafted content might never get the attention it deserves.

Here are key strategies to help you write subject lines that are simply irresistible:

Be concise and clear: An effective subject line is clear and to the point. It should give recipients a good idea of what to expect inside the email.

Example: 50% Off All Shoes Today Only!

Create a sense of urgency: Use words that convey urgency to encourage recipients to open your email right away. Limited-time offers and deadlines can be compelling.

Example: Last Chance to Claim Your Exclusive Discount!

Ask a question: Questions can pique curiosity and encourage recipients to open the email in search of an answer.

Example: Are You Ready for Your Best Vacation Ever?

Use numbers and lists: Numbers and lists in subject lines can make your email content seem more digestible and actionable.

Example: 10 Essential Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

Invoke emotion: Emotional subject lines can resonate with recipients and spark their interest.

Example: Discover the Joy of New Adventures

Highlight benefits: Make it clear how opening the email will benefit the recipient.

Example: Unlock Exclusive Savings for Loyal Customers

Add personalisation: Including the recipient's name or other personalised elements can grab their attention.

Example: John, Your Special Offer Awaits!

Create a mystery: Leave a little to the imagination by hinting at what's inside without giving everything away.

Example: The Secret to Effortless Productivity Revealed

Use power words: Certain words can have a powerful impact, such as "free," "new," "exclusive," and "instant."

Example: Get Your Free Sample Today!

Tailor to your audience: Understand your audience's interests and needs and tailor subject lines accordingly.

Example: Top Gadgets for Tech Enthusiasts

A/B Testing: Experiment with different subject lines to see which ones resonate best with your audience. A/B testing can help you refine your approach over time.

Avoid spammy language: Steer clear of overly promotional or spammy language that might trigger spam filters.

Example: Avoid excessive use of exclamation points or words like "guaranteed" or "free money."

3. Have quality content

Quality content is a cornerstone of successful email marketing, and it plays a vital role in engaging your audience, driving conversions and building brand loyalty.

When we talk about quality content, we're referring to the relevance, value, and overall appeal of the content you create and share with your target audience.

Here's an in-depth exploration of the importance of content quality:

Audience engagement: High-quality content is like a magnet that attracts and engages your audience. It's informative, entertaining and addresses the needs or interests of your target demographic. When your audience finds value in your content, they are more likely to read, watch, or interact with it.

Example: A gardening supply company can publish detailed articles on seasonal plant care, attracting gardening enthusiasts who appreciate the expert advice.

Credibility and trust: Quality content establishes your brand as a trusted authority in your industry. When you consistently provide accurate, well-researched and insightful content, your audience is more likely to trust your recommendations and view your brand as a reliable source of information.

Example: A financial advisory firm can produce comprehensive guides on investment strategies, enhancing its reputation as a trustworthy advisor.

Audience retention: Quality content keeps your audience coming back for more. When your audience consistently finds value in your content, they're more likely to remain engaged over the long term.

Example: A cooking YouTuber can regularly share high-quality recipe guides, building a loyal subscriber base that eagerly anticipates more.

Conversion rate optimisation: Quality content isn't just about attracting traffic; it also helps in converting visitors into customers. Well-crafted content can educate prospects, address their concerns and guide them towards making informed decisions.

Example: An e-commerce store can provide detailed product descriptions, helping potential buyers make confident purchase choices.

4. Take advantage of the preview text/preheader

Yes! Optimising the preview text in your email marketing campaigns is an important but often overlooked aspect of crafting compelling emails. The preview text, also known as the preheader or snippet text, is the brief snippet of text that appears right next to or below the subject line in most email clients. It serves as a teaser, providing recipients with a glimpse of what to expect when they open your email.

Here's why optimising the preview text is important and how to do it effectively:

Increased open rates: A well-optimised preview text can work hand in hand with the subject line to capture the recipient's attention. When these two elements align and create curiosity or interest, recipients are more likely to open your email.

Enhanced message clarity: Preview text can provide context to the subject line, making the email's purpose or content clearer to the recipient. This can prevent confusion and encourage open rates.

Mobile-friendly engagement: On mobile devices, where space is limited, the preview text is particularly important. Many mobile email clients display both the subject line and preview text, so optimising both ensures your message is concise and engaging.

Tips for optimising your preview text:

Reinforce the subject line: The preview text should complement and expand upon the subject line, creating a cohesive message. It should provide additional information without being repetitive.

Example #1:

Subject Line: Don't Miss Our Exclusive Sale.

Preview Text: Save Big on Your Favourite Products Today!

Highlight the value: Use the preview text to emphasise the value or benefits recipients will gain by opening the email.

Example #2:

Subject Line: Get Fit for Summer!

Preview Text: Discover workout routines and nutrition tips for a healthier you.

5. Use your graphics to tell the story

This is a powerful principle in marketing, design and content creation. This concept emphasises the use of visual elements, such as images, infographics, charts, and videos, to convey a narrative or message effectively.

Here's a deeper exploration of why and how to tell a compelling story with graphics:

Visual appeal: Humans are naturally drawn to visuals. Graphics capture attention more quickly than text alone and can make your content more visually appealing, encouraging engagement.

Enhanced understanding: Complex ideas or data can be simplified and made more understandable through visuals. Graphics help break down information into digestible components.

Emotional impact: Visuals can evoke emotions and create a more profound connection with your audience. They can convey feelings and moods that words alone may struggle to express.

Memorability: People tend to remember visual content better than text. An engaging visual story is more likely to stick in the viewer's memory.

How to encourage engagement in your emails

1. CTA buttons for product promotion

To encourage subscribers to interact and make a purchase, consider using CTA buttons like "Shop Now" or "Explore Our New Arrivals." These buttons guide them to your online store and showcase your latest products. Another effective approach is to offer an exclusive deal with a CTA button that says "Get Your Exclusive Offer," enticing them to take immediate action by making a purchase or browsing your offerings. Also, the "Add to Cart" button is an effective way to prompt subscribers to select products and begin the checkout process, which you can track.

2. CTA buttons for content engagement

For content-focused emails, you can use CTA buttons like "Read the Full Article" or "Discover More" to encourage subscribers to click and read an article. If you're sharing video content, a "Watch the Video" button can drive video views. To promote the download of valuable resources like eBooks, consider using a CTA button that says "Download the eBook." Likewise, for email campaigns centred around podcasts, a "Listen to the Podcast" button can engage subscribers with your episodes.

3. CTA buttons for subscription and sign-up

To grow your subscriber base, use CTA buttons such as "Subscribe Now" or "Join Our Newsletter" to encourage sign-ups for regular updates. For platforms or services that require user registration, a "Create Your Account" button guides subscribers to register. If you offer free trials or freemium services, a "Get Started for Free" button can prompt sign-ups and trial activations.

4. Survey and feedback requests

Engaging your subscribers for their feedback is important. You can use CTA buttons like "Take Our Survey" or "Share Your Thoughts" to invite their opinions and reviews. By saying "Help Us Improve," you signal that their input is valued and can contribute to enhancing your offerings. Another approach is to use "Rate Your Experience" to request feedback on a recent purchase or interaction.

5. Interactive content

Interactive content can be engaging. Use CTAs like "Try Our Interactive Quiz" or "Play Now" to invite subscribers to participate in games, quizzes, or other interactive features within your email.

6. Event participation

For events, whether physical or virtual, CTAs like "RSVP Now" or "Save Your Seat" can create a sense of urgency and encourage subscribers to register. To promote participation in online webinars or virtual events, use an "Attend the Webinar" CTA to direct them to the registration page.

Here’s to greater engagement!

By weaving these tactics into your email marketing strategy, you'll transform your emails from mere messages into engaging, interactive conversations. These strategies enable you to create lasting connections, foster brand loyalty, and drive the desired conversions that fuel your business's success. Remember, effective email marketing is both an art and a science, one that combines data-driven insights with thoughtful, customer-centric communication.


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