Posts Tagged ‘engaged’

How often should you send? How often is too often? Is it better to send more or less? Is there a ‘just the right amount’? With email marketing one size doesn’t fit all which makes this whole question very complex and multi-faceted. One thing we can say is that experts may not all agree on everything, however they do all agree that it is not recommended to send more frequently to every address on your list.

“We’re of the opinion that treating everybody the same with frequency is not the right approach” says Forest Bronzan, CEO of email marketing strategy-management firm Email Aptitude.

He says by increasing email frequency to those who are engaged, they make more money. And in the same token, by decreasing frequency to those who aren’t engaged, they also win that way too.

OK sounds great in theory, but how do you determine which subscribers should be in the ‘increase email frequency’ basket, and which should be in the ‘decrease email frequency’ basket? Optimising email frequency requires analysing all your email campaign reporting metrics to see where people are sitting on the spectrum.

Email Aptitude looks at opens, clicks and measures who is consistently opening, reading and clicking through their emails…. these go in group A – the engaged group. And for those subscribers who do nothing with their email they go in group B - the unengaged group. The big caveat here is that this can change so you will need to keep monitoring your reports, as one week someone could be really engaged, as your emails could be really relevant for them at that time, yet over the next couple of weeks this may change and you find them dropping into the unengaged group, so you need to adjust accordingly. One thing to note is that if you see a trend of subscribers moving into the un-engaged territory, you may need to revise your content and make sure that it’s relevant to your audience. Also, check that you aren’t just over-emailing people either.  One thing you could do is send a survey out to all your subscribers and ask them to give you feedback. You need to be prepared to listen and act on that though – don’t ask them what they think unless you are prepared to make some serious changes.

Email Aptitude applied this philosophy to men’s clothing retailer Bonobos’ email strategy and was able to increase email frequency to highly engaged subscribers by two to three times.  They increased the revenue for that group of highly engaged subscribers, and they decreased the frequency to the more un-engaged subscribers and that ironically had a positive impact as they suddenly started to become more engaged  by becoming more interested in the emails as they arrived less often, as opposed to being overwhelmed and deleting emails. So over the course of a few weeks, those people became more engaged and thus the email frequency to those subscribers started to increase.

In the land of email marketing it’s critical to continually be testing to ensure you are constantly adjusting all aspects of your campaigns to your subscribers needs and wants.  One of the best ways to find out what people want apart from analysing email metrics and data is use a preference centre. Some of my favourite email campaigns have a link at the top of every email saying ‘don’t love this? click here’ and this takes me directly to their preference centre where I can tell them that I like animals, but I’m not interested in food, I do want emails about art and homewares but not sports, and that is exactly what they deliver. In a weeks time if I decide I want to get emails about food again I simply have to click that link and tell them. And I love them for it.

Basically it all boils down to sending the right message to the right person at the right time which we have said many times before – basically that sending targeted, relevant, and timely emails wins every time.

Credit for Email Aptitude Case Study: McGill Report

If you follow the email marketing industry, you know that engagement is quite the buzzword lately.  But Engagement isn’t new at all. It has been a part of the filtering mix for quite a while. ISPs including Yahoo! (Xtra) Hotmail and Gmail are adding clicks, opens and other measures of user engagement to the long list of other engagement metrics that have been in use for a while. All these metrics try to do the same thing — figure out which messages are truly wanted by subscribers.

ISPs are measuring engagement and using it to decide who gets to the inbox, and who goes to the junk folder. In simple terms, the ISP is basically looking at whether or not your subscribers open, click, and in general, “interact” with you. If you send an email that mistakenly goes to the junk folder, then the subscriber moves it back out, you scored some engagement points. If your subscriber clicks your links or hits “reply” to send you a message, you get some engagement points.

Returnpath’s George Bilbrey says to senders:

“Treat inactive subscribers differently: This is probably the biggest change that most marketers need to think about. Mailing to a lot of inactive accounts may actually make your reputation look worse at some ISPs. Segment out inactive users and run a win-back campaign. If you cannot win back these subscribers, you may simply want to stop mailing them altogether.”

Over at Clickz, Jeanne Jennings had this to say about inactive members of your list:

“If these folks really aren’t that into you, they may take the next step and report you as spam. It’s like that shunned suitor who just won’t go away; eventually the victim will consider him a stalker and get a restraining order. Keeping inactive names on your list can open you up to blacklisting and deliverability issues.”

There is an art to deciding who is engaged and who is not.  This will depend on your buying cycle and the types of emails you send. It is good to use an email expert to help you make a matrix for your own business but there are some things you can consider:

Do you have strong calls to action in your emails – so that there is something to click?

Do you have a genuinely relevant and  interesting email stream, sent at least bi-monthly (6 per year)?

If you have a frequent email (weekly or more) do you allow people to control the frequency and type of emails they get using a Preference Centre?

  • From time to time you should dissect your email list to identify who have never opened, clicked or bought something from you. We call them ‘zombies’.  They bring all your metrics down, they impact your engagement measures and they don’t pay their way.  Try to get them to wake up – or kill them off.
  • Next look for who is in a coma – used to engage and now don’t.  Talk to them differently too.
  • Who is on their way out?
  • Who are you best responders?  Make them feel special, use them to spread your word, and keep up the good work!

There is much to this and a good agency can help you do this and come out the other side with a more profitable program.

And worst case is you get to kill a few zombies!




Expanding on our earlier post about re-engagement, we thought we would talk a bit about subject lines specifically for re-engagement campaigns.

I’m sure we all agree, the subject line is really the door to the email, that really hooks you and gets you to open it, (The email that is, not the door) Of course other factors are just as important, but for today, the guy in the hot seat is the subject line.

We take some inspiration from Tim Watson from Smart Insights who recently presented at the DMA Email Customer Lifecycle Win-back breakfast seminar. He has provided a full write up which you can read here but we know you are busy and we thought you might like a summary.

So what makes for a winning subject line?  Tim says the tone and voice must reflect the current state of relationship to the person you are communicating. He says for your active/engaged subscribers, the usual incentive based ‘hey it’s us again, here’s 20% off just for you’ subject line works, however for disengaged customers, a different type of subject line is needed. People are people regardless of the brand or what they are purchasing, and they may be inactive or disengaged for a reason so don’t just launch in and stuff your products down their throat without first asking what’s going on for them. So, some good principles to follow are:

  • It should be different to the subject line of a normal marketing message.
  • It should be simple and honest
  • It should have a conversational style
  • It should NOT try to sell anything
  • Questions work very well

Here is a little case study for you. Three companies ran subject line split tests to find the best performing subject line. The three winning subject lines were:

  • Was it something we said?
  • Are we still welcome in your inbox?
  • Is this goodbye?

These three winning subject lines are from independent tests, from different companies, with different audiences. Yet it is very interesting to note they are all questions, and all so similar.

And apparently, the words free, win or save in the subject line were also tested and found to decrease the response rate when directed at inactive subscribers. So steer away from these in this context.

We suggest as a good rule of thumb, to keep the subject line for your re-engagement campaigns to inactive subscribers honest, simple, conversational, don’t sell anything, don’t assume anything, and preferably use a question. Also be open to offering an incentive in the email if appropriate. I would even suggest using a feedback form to get some information around why these subscribers are inactive, and use this as an opportunity to enhance your communications and learn what your subscribers want.

PS – want some more examples? Read this post on effective subject lines.