How many of these 5 practical and easy-to-use engagement tools are you already using?
One of the main questions I get asked is about how to more effectively engage in email marketing. The inbox is a very competitive place so you need to stand out, be interesting and be relevant but, although we all know this in theory, the execution often seems to get lost somewhere along the way.
In fact, I still see the majority of campaigns get sent out with very little, or no tailoring of content and I can still sign up to a retail outlet, for example, and give my age, gender and preferences and not see any evidence of this information being used in the campaigns received. This happens in companies big and small and across all industries so, I ask myself, is this because people just don’t know the engagement tools available to them? Do they just think they’re too long and difficult to set up maybe?
The truth is that these tools are actually very easy to use and setup can be mostly done in just a few clicks, although you’d be wise to do a little planning before diving in. Fortunately, your email marketing platform should already provide a variety of engagement tools included in your plan so there’s no need to go off and hunt for numerous new tools either. Below you’ll find 5 of my favourite engagement tools for email marketing. Use them and combine them to start seeing real results.
Additionally, just in case I haven't convinced you yet, if a campaign is engaging, you’ll see better click-through rates, better open rates, lower unsubscribe rates and this, in turn, will improve your deliverability. ISPs will learn that you’re someone that sends emails that people are interested in and they’ll be more likely to place your emails in the inbox as a result. You’ve got nothing to lose and lots to gain.
1. A/B testing
Optimising and testing is essential in the world of online marketing. If you don’t test, learn from the tests and put this knowledge into practice, things stagnate. Putting into practice what we learn helps us improve and optimise our campaigns.
How does it work? A/B testing in email lets you send different versions of the same campaign to a random, small sample of your database. Maybe you don’t know whether people will react best to the word “free” or the word “complimentary” in the subject line? You can test that. Maybe you’re not sure whether to send in the morning or evening? You can test that too. The contacts in the sample will have their responses monitored for a period of time and the winning version is sent out automatically to those that didn’t receive the test.
How does this help? It gives you the opportunity to improve a campaign before you’ve sent it out to the entire database. You can test things like the subject line, from name, send time/day and email content. Optimising these elements with an A/B test before the campaign gets sent to everyone will give you a higher open and click through rate and, best of all, they are extremely quick and easy to set up and run.
You can create groups of subscribers by segmenting your list using any of the information that you have on your clients.
How does it work? Let’s say that you run a restaurant and you know your subscribers’ favourite type of food and we have a group that we know loves pizza. Well, using this information, we can send news and promotions focused on that particular preference.
How does this help? This segmentation of your list means that campaigns are more relevant to that particular segment and more likely to be of interest than one general, less specific email sent out to everyone. This relevance and increased likelihood of being of interest means that it’s more likely that people engage.
3. Targeted emailing
Targeted emails target subscribers based on their open and click behaviour.
How does it work? Targeted emailing allows you to create lists of subscribers based on their behaviour over a certain period of time or, even for a specific email campaign. Did this customer open all your emails in the last 10 campaigns? Did this one not open any in the last 6 months?
In the case of the former, we might want to target them differently, these are our most loyal subscribers and we might want to send them campaigns showing how we value their loyalty. In the case of the latter, these are our most disengaged subscribers and we should design a campaign to try to reengage them. Targeted emailing can also be used to create lists based on links clicked/not clicked. Also, if you want to go further and save even more time in the long run, you can automate what happens as a result of these actions.
How does this help? Similarly to segmenting. Targeted emails are relevant as they are based on what an individual has actually done or not done.
When you read about segmenting above, you might have been asking yourself “And how should I know whether they prefer pasta or pizza?!”. This is where surveys and polls come in.
How does it work? Request your subscribers to answer surveys and polls by email or on social media and their answers will give you a wealth of information to work with on future campaigns. Just make sure you think carefully and strategically before sending them out. You don’t want to tire people but you do want obtain the most relevant and interesting info with your subscriber making the least effort possible.
How does this help? Your signup form probably only asked them for their name and email address and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, you’ll want to learn more about them for segmentation purposes by studying their behaviour, studying your reports (we’ll touch on this next) and running surveys and polls.
5. Reports and click heat maps
There’s a lot more that you can do with reports than just check your email stats. If your email marketing software has the feature, you can also use the click heat maps to see exactly where your subscribers are clicking. You can use these insights to boost engagement in many ways but here are a few examples:
Your email marketing success depends on your ability to gauge your subscribers’ preferences and engage them with relevant, personalised campaigns.
Engage and stay relevant by combining and optimising your use of the following tools:
Sally Beers is a Customer Engagement Specialist at Benchmark Email in Spain. She is fluent in both English and Spanish, passionate about languages and digital, and started her career in a Spanish start-up. You can connect with Sally on LinkedIn.
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