Email deliverability is one of the most complex marketing topics. There are a lot of factors that make or break email campaigns every day. To help you understand email deliverability better, we will cover one of its chief components – audience engagement.
In this post, you will find out what engagement is, how it impacts email deliverability, and which simple tips will help you connect with readers more efficiently.
How Audience Engagement Improves Deliverability
Improving email deliverability is a vicious cycle – in order to make sure more people are opening your emails you need to make sure the people in your email list engage with every letter well.
When you send a batch of emails, the hosting provider (Gmail, Outlook, or a different email client provider) tracks the way a reader interacts with the emails received via IMAP vs POP3. If people don’t read your emails for a long time or send them to spam, the provider will automatically reroute all future emails to the spam folder.
There are 4 factors that determine audience engagement – let’s take an in-depth look at them.
1. Email opens
Your email open rate gets ticking when a reader opens an email, right?
As straightforward as the concept of the open rate may sound, it is far more complicated. Even if a person opened your email, the action will be tracked by the client only in one of two cases:
- The user enables viewing images in the side panel of the email tab.
- The reader clicks on at least one in-mail link.
To calculate the email open rate, ESPs use the formula below:
Number of people who opened the email / Number of letters that didn’t bounce
Most emails have an average open rate of 22% – if yours is below that threshold, the brand’s sender reputation will likely take a hit.
Email clicks are powerful proof that the campaign audience is interested in the contents of the email and doesn’t mind getting more letters from the sender. The higher your campaign’s CTR is, the easier it will be to promote your website, and the better the brand’s reputation will be.
Email clicks is another essential part of audience engagement that influences deliverability rates. Since people are extremely careful about clicking on third-party links and overloaded with emails these days, the average CTR of a campaign is about 10%.
Here’s how you can calculate the click-through rate of your emails:
Number of clicks / Number of all delivered messages
3. Spam complaints
When it comes to email deliverability, spam complaints definitely take the lead.
ISPs use two approaches to identify spam complaints:
- One-click spam report – in which a user reports an email by choosing Report/Spam in the email client tab
- Process-driven spam alerts a rarer one in which a user directly contacts an ISP regarding an unwanted email. These complaints are disastrous for deliverability
To calculate your campaign’s spam rate marketing metrics, use the following formula:
Total number of spam complaints / Total number of sent emails
To avoid spam complaints, make sure to message only those who subscribed to your emails and make sure every email of the campaign lives up to the expectations readers may have after filling in the subscription form. Read on the comprehensive guide on how to stop your emails from going to spam.
4. Time spent reading the email
Other than getting people to open your email, making sure they engage with the content for a longer duration should be one of your priorities. The good news is, increasing the average time a person spends to read emails might now be easier than ever.
According to statistics, the amount of time we spend looking at each email is steadily increasing – right now, 44.4% of readers read emails for over 18 seconds.
How to make sure people are interested in the letter enough to interact with it longer? For one thing, make sure to optimize your email design for smartphones – mobile users spend more time reading emails. Other than that, using storytelling when writing a copy is an efficient way to keep readers engaged – use personal examples and attention-catching narratives to keep people glued to your content.
Type of Audiences by Engagement
To get full control over audience engagement and improve email deliverability, it’s helpful to know how exactly your subscribers interact with all emails they receive.
To understand engagement, marketers observed the way readers react to subject lines of the emails they received. Based on that, the contact engagement cycle was created with the 5 following stages:
- Actively engaged subscribers – these readers are loyal to the brand and happy to hear from you. They interact with every letter without fail and are actively waiting for more content. To keep the interest of actively engaged readers growing, add them to a separate list, and send new content more frequently.
- Recently engaged. Although these readers are generally happy to hear from you, their excitement is not as evident as it used to be. Perhaps, they can only relate to the content partly and don’t interact with some emails as frequently than with others. To re-engage these subscribers, introduce additional perks in future campaigns – be it a coupon, a giveaway contest, or a special offer.
- Re-engagement needed. These people were once your loyal followers – yet, they may have moved on or outgrown your content and no longer care about what you are doing. If that’s the case, consider finding out what these subscribers are interested in and personalize the content to meet their current interests, demands, and expectations.
- Unengaged – although these people open emails coming from you, they don’t interact with them in any way. Since such readers might start reporting the campaign as spam when they fully lose interest in it, make sure to send emails with moderate frequency, exclude transactional offers from the campaign, and build engagement up gradually by creating valuable “how-to” emails, trend reviews, or aggregating latest industry news.
- Inactive – to avoid reputation losses, remove people who don’t open or interact with emails in any way for a couple of weeks from the list.
To make sure you don’t lump engaged and inactive users together, separating readers into different email lists based on the way they interact with emails is a sensible practice.
4 Practices For Improving Audience Engagement
As you can tell by now, audience engagement is crucial for stellar sender reputation and ultimately, email deliverability. As such, marketers should do their best to keep readers interested in the content and eager to get more.
These 4 email marketing practices will help you build strong and long-lasting bonds with your audience.
1. Implement segmentation
If you have thousands of emails on the email list, finding a topic that would be equally interesting to every reader is next to impossible. That’s why marketers use segmentation – grouping people into smaller, more refined lists based on clear criteria. Based on the results of segmentation, you can later test the relevance of website content, implement dynamic pricing, etc.
Here are some ideas you can use for audience segmentation:
- Demographic segmentation – grouping subscribers by location, age, gender, etc.
- Interest-based segmentation – find out who among your readers is interested in sports, politics, pop culture, and other fields and group people with matching hobbies in one base.
- History of interactions with the brands – new, returning, and loyal customers should be on separate email lists.
- Source – you can group readers based on how they found your email – via social media, thanks to Facebook marketing tools, after visiting the website, after hearing you speak at an event, etc.
- Device – group mobile, desktop, and tablet users separately.
- Behavioral – group subscribers based on their interactions with the brand – website visitors, social media subscribers, those with abandoned carts, etc.
2. Test the design
Improving the design of your email is a powerful way to make the audience’s reading experience more enjoyable and fulfilling. You need to know how to create a good email template. Here’s how you can find out if the look of your template is engaging enough:
- Use testing tools to find out how the email looks on desktop, mobile, and tablet interfaces.
- Open the same letter via different browsers to make sure the look of the content doesn’t change.
- View the email across different email clients to make sure the font is displayed accurately and all graphic elements are well-aligned.
Overall, readability should be the cornerstone you build the email’s design upon. Make sure the font is large enough for people with visual impairments to read it, all infographics are readable and all links are easy to tap on for mobile users, and the style of the typography doesn’t distract users from the message.
3. Create relevant content
It goes without saying that relevance is the chief factor determining whether or not an email will resonate with a reader. However, email marketers and business owners are often confused trying to figure out if the copy hits straight into the audience’s expectations.
The good news is, establishing whether or not the content you share is relevant isn’t as challenging as it seems. Here are some practices to use as a starting point.
- Create customer personas and make sure the content matches the interests of each reader type.
- Define the key intent of the copy.
- Use the Keyword Planner to find the most searched for words and phrases and make sure your content addresses the pressing issues and questions of the field.
- Be to-the-point. The email content shouldn’t be long – if 3-4 paragraphs are enough to relay the main message, don’t bloat the copy out of habit.
4. Track and react to spam complaints
Spam complaints are extremely harmful – they tank sender reputation and email deliverability. That’s why you need to determine why people report your content and be one step ahead of the game.
To prevent and react to spam complaints promptly, offering good customer service, implement best tracking practices, such as:
- Joining the feedback loop. Most email clients allow business owners to get alerts whenever a reader reports an email as spam. The application process varies depending on the client – generally, you need to fill in a sign-up form, specifying your contact information and IP.
- Start user onboarding slowly. All new subscribers added to your list should be “quarantined” – isolated from the rest of the list and added to a separate database. Send these readers a couple of introductory emails with a low frequency, increasing the number of letters procedurally. This way, people will get used to hearing from you and will not report new emails from the brand.
- Watch inactive users closely. Tracking engagement is a part of spam protection since inactive users are more likely to get fed up with your emails and start flagging them. Pinpoint those who haven’t opened or interacted with the message for 1-2 weeks and remove them from the list to reduce the risks of being reported.
- Find out which words or images are more likely to get an email reported. The list of stop-words email clients see as red flags for spam varies – rather than putting complete trust into whatever you find online, run tests for yourself, and document your observations.
Audience engagement is a crucial part of email deliverability – if your subscribers aren’t interested in the content you share, eventually, email client providers pick up on it and send every letter you create to spam automatically.
Being aware of the audience engagement cycle and following best sending practices is a way to connect with your readers and keep a high email deliverability level.
Latest posts by Andriy Zapisotskyi (see all)
SSJS vs AMPscript - Which language should be preferred in SFMC?
Why Should you Automate your Email Marketing with Marketo