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!