5 Ways to Boost Email Engagement

January 24, 2017 | Chris Caputo


In 1996, Hotmail became the first web-based email service.  That means that email has been around for more than 20 years, giving marketers and advertisers plenty of time to fine-tune how we use this popular communications channel to deliver messages and generate leads for businesses.

What that also means, though, is that email users are onto us. They’re savvy. They can spot a bad subject line sales pitch from a mile away, and they won’t hesitate to hit “unsubscribe” when we clutter up their inboxes with irrelevant messages. What can you do? Well, you have a few options: 1) stop marketing via email, or 2) get better at marketing via email. We recommend the latter. Read on for five of our agency’s top email marketing tips to boost your open rates and drive engagement.

1. Personalize your messages. A client of ours had been sending successful email campaigns for more than two years, consistently hitting lead goals and experiencing steady subscriber growth. But as the number of contacts in their HubSpot system grew, open rates tapered. Then, we watched in horror as the open rates dropped, and even worse: contacts began hitting that dreaded unsubscribe button. What was happening? After running a few A/B tests, we discovered the problem: as our client’s database grew (and diversified), emails that may have worked on a smaller group became generic or completely irrelevant. Creating segmented smart lists in HubSpot and tweaking subject lines accordingly resolved the performance issue within a few days.

2. Don’t gate everything. One of the oldest tricks in the inbound marketing playbook is to gate premium content. In other words, digital marketers are requiring prospects to fork over valuable contact information in exchange for a high-value whitepaper or infographic. It’s a tried-and-true tactic that still works, but we’ve seen a lot of recent success giving content away in the body of the email itself instead of always requiring a click-through or form submission to access the content in full. Our clients who have utilized this tactic are experiencing higher open rates than our clients who only send marketing emails promoting a piece of gated, premium content.

3. Send emails when your recipients are most likely to read them. This may seem obvious, but so many marketers are consistently getting it wrong. There is a ton of information out there about the ideal day and time to send a marketing email (especially in the B2B space), but if we’re all reading the same recommendations and sending marketing emails on the same day and at the same time as everybody else... are we really getting through to our targets? Unlikely. Instead, use actual data to determine when your recipients are most engaged. Test different days and times. Try early mornings, try weekend afternoons, Sunday evenings. Seriously, test it all out, and pick the one that works best for your brand and your targeted recipients.

4. Give them what they want when they want it. We live in an “instant gratification” culture, so don’t make your subscribers wait. Set up a workflow to deliver a welcome email immediately upon a new user subscribing for the first time, and make sure that subsequent form submissions on your website are confirmed and acknowledged via email as well. These first impressions of your brand are critical; if you wait a week or two to deliver an email to a brand new subscriber, it’s possible they won’t even remember who you are.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your email subscribers know better than anybody what types of emails they want to receive. They know better than you, or me, or anyone else, what will pique their interest enough to open and click. When all else fails, try sending a simple re-engagement campaign to users who haven’t shown much interest in your email marketing. Ask them, straight up, what kinds of emails they’d like to receive from you. Then, this is the most important part: listen to what they say!

If you need a little help getting your email engagement metrics back on track, don’t hesitate to contact the experts here at Falls Digital. We live for this stuff.

Topics: Inbound Marketing Marketing Automation

About the Author
Chris Caputo

Chris Caputo is a strategic marketing technologist with over 20 years of BtoB, BtoC and agency experience. An accomplished strategic marketing leader, Chris has extensive experience architecting marketing communication plans, digital marketing roadmaps, user experience planning, and developing digital customer acquisition, conversion and retention strategies. Having led BtoB marketing departments for a variety of companies and digital agencies, Chris has developed a rounded set of skills that include a depth of multiple marketing disciplines (PR, Advertising & Direct Marketing) overlapped with Digital, Print and Broadcast channels.

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