Email ROI and best practices for subscriber re-engagement

Email marketing is a valuable tool in developing brand loyalty and increasing sales. However, with the vast number of emails people receive every day–not to mention the other digital content they are consuming–it’s important that your content stands out from the crowd. And it’s important that it meets your audience’s unique needs.

In this article, we review four strategies to improve your subscribers engagement and overall success of your email campaigns. We also discuss email fatigue, how to identify it within your audiences, and discuss simple steps you can take to improve your subscribers experience.

What is deliverability?

There can be confusion between the terms delivery and deliverability. Deliverability is a measure of success for email campaigns; whether they are delivered to the subscriber’s inbox, junk folder, or blocked by the ISP. If we were to look at it as an equation, it would be the action of sending an email + the ability to land in the inbox + the capacity to do it continuously.

How well is your organization tracking the deliverability of your email campaigns and do you know where your emails are ending up?

Spam filtering

Before diving into strategy, it’s important to be aware of the most common spam filter issues that could affect your campaign results. If you continue sending emails to inactive subscribers that are not opening your emails, for over a year, here are some things you may be running into:

  • Blocklists and allowlists
  • Content filters
  • IP and domain reputation
  • Authentication
  • Complaints
  • User actions

Maximize your email ROI

Did you know in just one minute on the internet, there are over one million video views, two million Google search queries, six million Facebook views, and 200 million emails sent? With so much going on, it’s important to make sure that your content doesn’t get lost in the noise. Particularly if you are creating a campaign during a holiday season, it’s even more challenging to get your emails in front of prospective and returning customers.

From November through early January, the volume of marketing emails being sent increases significantly. Mailbox providers (ISPs) will have much more traffic coming to their servers than during the rest of the year and, as a result, will be even more vigilant about protecting their customers (your subscribers).

Here are four key strategies to maximize your ROI:

1. Prepare your content calendar

  • ISPs track your average send from an IP address, so distribute the volume as much as possible to avoid creating a red flag and getting sent to spam

  • Set up your content calendar in advance and prepare your content authors for an increase in sending volume

  • Think about how you schedule your emails and avoid a huge spike in sending volume. Consider a few tactics, such as:

    • Not sending a blast at the same time, but rather over a few days
    • Plan strategically around times of the day when people are receiving email overload, such as 8-10am
    • If you can’t spread it out over days, try for hours

2. Infrastructure

  • Ensure that email authentication is properly set up by doing a test with your own email

  • Familiarize yourself with Bounce handling and check the performance across your ISPs

    • Are there any potential issues or blocks with a specific ISP?
    • Know your issues before you begin sending high volume to avoid unpleasant surprises and poor campaign performance

3. Data

  • Identify all acquisition techniques, especially your sign-up processes and GDPR.

  • Be as transparent as possible with your subscribers when you ask for their email address:

    • What content will you send (newsletter, promotions, events)
    • How many emails will you send (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • Send a welcome email to new subscribers:

    • Welcome emails help ensure that subscribers aren’t blindsided by new content and don’t unsubscribe or mark as spam.
    • Welcome emails are also a good indicator of performance. If they aren’t being successfully delivered or interacted with, you know it’s a sign of poor performance or poor data collection.

4. Email management

  • Segment your subscribers and monitor where they are in your brand lifecycle
  • Use content personalization strategies to improve the relevancy of your emails

How to increase email engagement & solve email fatigue

Email fatigue occurs when your subscribers get tired of receiving your email messages. Email fatigue can happen for a number of reasons; maybe they’ve been on your list for too long and are tired of hearing from you or your latest content is no longer relevant. It is up to you and your team to pinpoint which customers are experiencing email fatigue and why. So, what are the signs to look out for?

Key metrics to monitor include:

  • Lower open rates
  • Lower click rates
  • Higher unsubscribe rates

Unfortunately, most subscribers who experience email fatigue won’t make it easy for you. They won’t unsubscribe themselves, a clear flag that they are unsatisfied with content. Many simply delete your emails or ignore them, so you may still see opens from subscribers who are not engaged. The bottom line is that if you fail to react to your subscribers changing habits, it can harm your sender reputation, which ultimately hurts your overall success.

With that in mind, here are some best practices for keeping your subscribers engaged and anticipating the type of content they want to receive, in order to avoid unsubscribes and inactive audiences.

1. Create a strategy for email frequency

Unfortunately, there is no right answer on how many emails to send per week. To find the right number, factor in the following things:

  • Where is your customer in the customer lifecycle?

  • How engaged are they with your emails?

    • Basket abandonment email vs newsletter
    • Reactivation email vs sale launch
    • Basket abandonment email vs new product launch
  • What is your customer’s capacity for receiving content from your brand?

  • What are your customer’s seasonal preferences?

2. Identify the status of your subscribers

The status of your subscribers (active, lapsed, or inactive) depends on how often you are sending them content. From there, you can determine how engaged they are.

Here is a simple table to help you during your audit:

subscriber status

For example, if you are emailing customers daily, they should have interacted with one of those emails within the last month to be considered active and engaged. Conversely, if you are emailing customers monthly and they have not interacted within 9-14 months, they can be considered inactive.

For lapsed and inactive users, consider looking at the date the user subscribed to help determine their level of engagement. For instance, did they subscribe on the date of a competition or other marketing campaign? Did they sign up from a website pop-up with a discount offer? Once you have identified your lapsed and inactive users, it’s important to change your strategy to try to improve their satisfaction and turn them back into an active subscriber.

3. Implement re-engagement strategies

Break down this process into two areas of focus: a) email sending patterns and b) the creative content of the emails themselves. Here is a look at each of these areas in more detail:

Update your sending patterns and schedules

  • Start slowly - It’s a marathon not a sprint. It’s not a solution you can implement in a day. Consider starting with a small percentage of your audience, 4-5% or so, and carefully monitoring performance.

  • Consider brand reputation - Ensure email traffic to inactive segments is not causing any reputation issues.

  • Automate workflows - Keep your lists clean and tidy.

  • Pressure rules - Exclude subscribers in the re-engagement program from receiving any other emails.

Creative and content

  • Offer a clear OPT-IN / OPT-OUT - Make it easy for users to decide quickly whether they want to hear from you. You may be rewarded with an opt-in for attending to their needs first, rather than focusing on the business needs for engagement.

  • Create a Preference Center - This is a chance to give additional control to your subscribers, allowing them to select from different email content such as newsletters, promotional offers, events, and so on, as well as different regularity. Remember, if you do decide to offer this, be sure you can follow through and properly segment your audience to fulfill those preferences.

  • Strong subject lines - Make sure they stand out from other brand content

  • Test and learn - a good testing plan is important to make sure that your efforts are having the desired effect. Learn what’s working and what isn’t and iterate accordingly.

For a recap of this article and a live demo of implementing re-engagement strategies, watch our webinar.

Learn more about strategy and thought leadership at the Customer Success hub.