7 Tips to Increase Email Subscriber Engagement

7 Tips to Increase Email Subscriber Engagement

December 20, 2016
6 min read

Who doesn’t want more of a good thing?

It’s the holiday season, and my wife is an amazing baker.

I want more of her gingerbread cookies, and your subscribers want more out of you.

When your subscribers are engaged, that means they want to hear more from you and are more likely to purchase or recommend.

So how do you increase email subscriber engagement?

It’s complicated, yet simple all at the same time.

You’ve heard these engagement sayings…

Write in a conversational style.

Communicate like you’re talking to a friend.

Be engaging.

Connect to your audience.

Ditch the sales pitch.

But exactly how do you accomplish that?

Especially when your email marketing campaign must target thousands or hundreds of thousands of people — all unique individuals?

Good question.

And we’ve got some answers for you.

If you want to get into the ‘friend zone’ and increase email subscriber engagement, expect to put in some time, thought and work. You know … the same stuff it takes to build close relationships.

And you must be consistent.

Here’s why:

Just try taking your significant other for granted. You’re going to suffer the consequences.

The same applies to your subscribers.

If you stop putting in the work to catch their attention, be prepared to watch your open rates plummet and your “unsubscribes” spike.

But we got you.

Here are 7 tips to increase email subscriber engagement and make a meaningful connection with all those contacts.

1. Segment, and segment some more

If you’re still trying to sell your product or services to EVERYBODY, just STOP. Stop right now.

You could be missing out on a whole lot of dollars by trying to spread your marketing message to a ton of people.

Narrow your focus.

Who are you really trying to sell to?

Who are your core people?

What are they like?

What are their personalities?

What problems are they trying to solve?

This is sort of Marketing 101 stuff, but many of us can get so excited about more, more, more that we lose sight of this important lesson.

It bears repeating.

Figure out two or three buyer personas and start building a campaign around them.

By really getting to know these smaller groups, you’ll be better able to make them your friends. Maybe even brand advocates ’cuz they like you that much.

The key message here, as this Forbes article puts it, “Sell More By Selling to Fewer.”

Now that you’ve gotten that nailed down, turn your attention to segmenting through your email marketing strategy.

Email marketing segmentation. What is that exactly? Glad you asked because you should definitely be doing it from here on out.

By segmenting your email marketing list, we mean going beyond geography, birthdays, age, gender,  and that other generic stuff.

To get really personal with your subscribers, you need to be segmenting by a host of other things, including:

  • Subscriber activity
  • Purchase interests
  • Social interaction
  • Content engagement
  • Job function
  • Past purchases
  • Buying frequency
  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Clicks
  • Page views

Now, use all this information to create segmented emails based on your slivers of audiences.

When you create and send emails based on a person’s interests, you make them feel pretty special.

They will feel like you get them. That you really see them as an individual.

Great stuff, isn’t?

2. Bring in the robots

Okay. We know this one may throw you off.

We’re talking about getting personal. Making a friendly connection.

Can robotics help you get there? Quite well, actually.

It’s called marketing automation.

And since it’s nearly humanly impossible to reach all your subscribers with the right message at the right time, this software tool is exactly what you need.

With the right strategic formula (the formula you personally design for each of your segments), marketing automation delivers your messages based on certain cues and behavior. It’s all seamless.

And it lets you keep the conversation going whether your subscribers are interacting with your site and responding to your emails at 3 a.m. or 3 p.m.

You can sleep well knowing that they aren’t being ignored or neglected.

3. PLUNGE into mobile

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ We can hear you saying it right now: ‘I’ve heard all this stuff before. … optimize for mobile. Everybody is on mobile. Get responsive.’

But have you gone all the way in? Like really taken the plunge?

Here’s what we mean:

It’s not enough to just make sure your site and emails are responsive from a technical standpoint.

You need to really get in there. Get in your subscribers’ heads and explore their habits.

BlueHornet “Consumer Views of Email Marketing” (2014)

Think about their experiences on mobile.

Their behaviors. How are they different from a desktop or laptop?

Now that email opens on mobiles have eclipsed those on laptops, you really need to take these questions seriously.

By the mere definition of mobile, you can expect your subscribers to be a bit more … well, mobile, than they would be with a laptop.

It’s sort of like walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Or talking and chewing gum at the same time, which is even worse.

Bottom line, design your emails with that in mind. Keep your design clean and your content and CTAs snack size. Quick and easy to digest.

Your subscribers will enjoy that very much. No one wants to walk into a pole while reading your super long email messages.

4. Watch your tone

This is where things can get really, really, really subjective.

You need to think of the right tone that works for your brand and for your audience and try to be consistent with it.

What works for one audience may not work for another.

Think of all the layers — B2B or B2C? Industry? Your brand — is it funny, witty, serious, quirky, edgy, or a bit bossy?

Create the tone of your content and design after giving it much thought. It should be something you’re comfortable with.

Develop a brand guide so that your staff or vendors can keep it in mind when writing and designing.

Don’t try to imitate the tone of another company just because you think it sounds cool or authoritative or because it makes billions and billions of dollars.

Be genuine. Be you.

As your mom would say, “People will like you for who you are.”

Take a look around at your office, your vibe, your employees and take it from there.

Even your harshest critics will approve if you come across sincere.

5. Flesh it out with videos, visuals

Videos are the big thing going into 2017 and could be your ticket to increase email subscriber engagement.

Check out any list of marketing trends and videos will be right there. Some visionaries are even predicting that videos will go all out viral.

Here are some recent statistics to back up this trend:

  • More than 30% of users’ online activity is spent watching video
  • 75% of business executives report watching work-related videos at least once a week
  • 36% of online consumers say they trust video ads

Now, don’t panic. You don’t need to have a Steven Spielberg-sized budget to launch a video marketing campaign.

Invest in a DSLR camera for $500 to $1,500 and you should be good to go.

Or if your budget is tight, just use that iPad you have on your desk and order a tripod for it.

And remember, being authentic is fine. You don’t need to go for a Golden Globe.

One more thing. Share photos of your staff or the latest things you’ve been up to. It makes you more human. Flesh and blood.

As “they” say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

In 2017, it could be worth even more.

6. Mix it up with social

Remember when Facebook was designed to connect you with friends? People you actually knew or at least hung out with on campus?


We don’t either.

Facebook is a different beast altogether than what it was 10, 12 years ago.

For you, it’s a beast of a marketing tool. The same goes for Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn … or wherever your audience hangs out.

Develop a multi-channel marketing approach to meet your subscribers in a mix of places.

And when you do, be a friend.

Share some good news, good ideas, great tips … think of creative ways to connect on social media.

Don’t always focus on your products and services. People will know what you’re doing. You’re only interested in getting them to buy something.

Good friends don’t do that.

7. Stay creative

Ah, now for the last tip:

You know how it is. You’re human. After awhile, you may lose the stamina to push yourself. But you must.

Try out new and creative ideas.

Regularly keep an eye on those metrics.

Are your subscribers getting bored?

If your open rates, click-through rates, and cart abandonment rates are looking tired, do something about it.

Explore creative ways to get your subscribers’ attention.

That’s what good friends do.

Make some new friends

Well, there you have it. There’s a good chance many of these tips are reminders of things you already new.

Good deal. Make sure you’re doing them.

And if you’re doing them but not getting impressive results (nothing you want to show your boss), it may be time for an upgrade with your email software, upgrade to an automation platform, or your overall email marketing strategy.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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