The first email “blast” was sent out in 1978 to 400 recipients. It generated $13 million in sales. Email marketing has changed drastically since those early days. In fact, if there was an award for “most valuable tool in the modern marketer’s toolkit”, email marketing would surely win!
- 73% of marketers say that email yields “Good” or “Excellent” ROI
- 59% of consumers say emails affect their purchase decisions
- In 2020, 78% of marketers saw an increase in email engagement over the previous 12 months
- Emails are 6X more likely to generate a click-through compared to a tweet
But to yield such great results, it’s important to put your audience first. By engaging with them and delighting them with great experiences, you can grow your brand, increase retention, and create long-term brand advocates.
So how can you elevate your customer engagement with email marketing?
In this article, we show you 4 email engagement strategies with Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC).
#1. Create a welcome campaign
Start engaging with customers from the very beginning of their journey with welcome emails. First impressions matter, so your welcome campaign could set the tone for your entire relationship with them.
Design a welcome journey in SFMC Journey Builder with multiple emails to:
- Introduce your brand
- Remind them when they signed up
- Explain what value they can expect to get
In SFMC Email Studio, you can send three types of welcome emails to engage subscribers from the get-go:
a. Thank you or Welcome
b. Event invites
c. Sign-up offers
Some best practices to get the best engagement results from your SFMC welcome emails:
- If you promised them a resource when they signed up (free ebook, white paper, etc.), make sure you send it!
- Send the welcome email as soon as they sign up
- Use a clear CTA so they know exactly what to do next
- Create both HTML and plain-text versions to ensure that all new subscribers feel welcome
#2. Personalize all emails
Brands that use personalization in email generate 17% more revenue compared to other brands
Sending generic email campaigns with the same message to every subscriber will not boost engagement. In fact, if you keep using such “spray and pray marketing” tactics, your emails will be ignored. Worse, subscribers may actively disengage from your brand. They may even unsubscribe from your messages, or mark them as “spam”. To avoid such eventualities, personalization is critical. With email personalization, you can build long-term relationships, and drive more conversions and loyalty.
In 2019, email personalization was the number one goal for 38% of marketers. But for 36%, it was also the number one challenge!
It is possible to overcome these challenges and improve engagement with SFMC.
Review your customer personas, individual preferences, and previous purchases. One great way to do this is by asking for their name, gender, and interests in your signup forms. This will help you create valuable, personalized content that delights, inspires, informs, or educates them.
Include their names in the subject line, greeting, and copy.
Also include personalization in one or more of these elements:
- Subject line
To re-engage with subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in a while, send out custom re-engagement campaigns explaining that you miss them. To identify dis-engaged subscribers, look for Email Studio Reports in Analytics Builder. Offer personalized special deals, limited-time promotions, or product recommendations to tempt them to come back.
With SFMC Email Studio, you can also send engagement-worthy:
- Polls and surveys
- Competition invites
- Coupons or promo codes
Some more ways to engage with subscribers through personalization via SFMC Content Builder:
- Segment your email list by gender, age, interests, location, transactional data, behavioral data, etc.
- Use data from your CRM to personalize your campaigns
- Personalize the “from” name with the name of a real person
- Personalize different emails:
b. Cart abandonment
d. Special occasions (e.g. birthdays or anniversaries)
- Create interactive emails to delight your audience
a. Add forms, quizzes, videos or maps
b. Add product carousels to highlight specific products
c. Create responsive, mobile-optimized emails with content blocks
- Create dynamic content based on subscriber data:
Simplify email personalization and make it more effective with marketing automation and third party integrations.
#3. Use strong subject lines and clear CTA
Emails with subject lines that are personalized are 26% more likely to be opened.
While people receive hundreds of emails every day, they don’t have the time (or inclination) to read every message that arrives in their inbox. That’s why a strong, compelling subject line is vital.
To encourage reader engagement, craft a unique, interesting, and personalized subject line. Infuse it with emotion or humor. Communicate value to the reader immediately and avoid common or spammy words like IMPORTANT!!! or Sale!
Don’t be afraid to add emojis – but use them strategically.
Limit it to 70 characters or less.
Other good best practices to improve engagement with subject lines:
- Use a friendly and conversational tone
- Experiment with different styles: informational, clever, funny, how-to, mysterious, etc.
- Avoid using all caps
- Do not use more than 3 punctuation marks, never overuse exclamation points
- Add incentives where relevant
Also pre-set the preview text to encourage opens and engagement.
To improve your subject lines, analyze the text with SFMC Einstein Copy Insights. This will help you uncover language insights related to originality, character count, and emotional tone, and pen subject lines that your audience responds to and engages with.
It’s impossible to improve user engagement if emails are rambling and don’t have clear CTAs. Boost engagement with short, concise emails that clearly tell the reader what they’re getting, and what they should do next. Include at least one clear, easy-to-spot CTA. Keep it brief – limit it to 2-3 words.
Also follow these best practices to leverage CTAs for improved engagement:
- Add alt text to CTA images so readers understand what they’re reading even if the HTML doesn’t render properly
- Place CTAs above the fold
- Leverage SFMC to A/B test different CTA versions
- To create a sense of urgency, use words like “Shop Now” or “Get Started Today”
- Use white space and contrasting colors so the links or buttons stand out
- Link CTAs to specific landing pages, e.g. a store page with the products listed in the email
#4. Nurture connections and increase lifetime value
Following up is one of the most powerful ways to boost engagement via email marketing. Don’t stop at welcome, transactional, promotional, or “sales-y” emails. Stay connected with audiences with regular communications.
Even after they make a purchase from your website, email them to let them know that you value their support and loyalty. Send feedback forms or surveys to involve them in your brand-building process.
Share your brand’s story with new subscribers:
- How did you start?
- What is your mission?
- What are your social values?
- How do you do good in your community?
- Why should they support you?
Build a personal connection so they can see the human heart of your brand.
Show your appreciation for existing customers by sending special offers or promotions. But go beyond “salesy” promotions. Encourage them to reconnect; do not put an immediate CTA to purchase. Send occasional emails with the sole purpose of surprising or delighting them.
Also aim for nurtures, not just conversions. Remind them how much you love your customers (and how much they love you) by sharing user-generated content, reviews, or social media handles.
If you haven’t heard from them in a while, ask if they have any questions or concerns. Be transparent, bold, and clear. Ask them how you can help them to meet their goals or solve a problem.
When you collect subscriber data, let them know how you use it and which emails you will send and why.
Some more ways to encourage long-term engagement with SFMC Email Studio and Content Builder:
- Send out weekly blog updates
- Share free “gated content” like eBooks, white papers, and product demos
- Invite them to free webinars
- Run contests
- Acknowledge birthdays and special occasions
- Update them on new products, events, or developments
Audience engagement is a crucial element for email marketing success. By trying to engage with them, you can generate interest in your offerings, build brand awareness, and encourage loyalty and brand advocacy.
Think about how you can engage with them from the moment they connect with your brand, regardless of whether they make a purchase. Then create email marketing campaigns to engage with them at multiple stages of their journey. You’ll soon have a captive, hyper-engaged audience that eagerly welcomes your emails.