As marketers we use performance metrics to define the success of an email campaign, taking a particularly close look at email engagement. The problem is, metrics don’t always tell the full story. Good metrics are not always indicative of strong performance—and vice versa. For this reason, when analyzing email engagement, it’s critical that marketers tie their performance back to the context of their activation.
What is email engagement?
Email engagement is the ways a contact interacts with a piece of email content. Low open and click rates, abandoned submission forms, and contacts who move your emails to the junk or promotions tabs can indicate a lack of email engagement and relevance. When the metrics aren’t meeting expectations, something needs to change, but first, a company must pinpoint the cause for this lower engagement.
Here are 5 factors that drive lower engagement and how to fix it.
1. Poor messaging.
When it comes to low engagement, the wrong messaging can be one of the easiest or the hardest mistakes to fix, depending on how off-track the messaging is and how you approach resolving the issues.
How to fix poor messaging.
The easiest way to see if an email is using the optimal messaging is to A/B test. A/B tests can be as simple as a subject line test or as complex as testing the tone of voice (e.g. technical vs casual) throughout an email. The most important thing when it comes to A/B testing is that the tester takes the time to go back and takes action based on the results. Oftentimes the lack of statistically significant results can indicate a need to get more experimental to generate deeper insights.
2. Dead email list.
Email audiences will change, with people flowing in and out of contact lists, so there needs to be mechanisms and triggers in place to ensure a company does not overmarket. In general, email lists tend to have an attrition rate of 25-30% each year.
How to address a dead email list.
To account for database attrition, marketers should be continually driving demand generation to get fresh blood into the database, but should also be cognizant of dead contacts. Marketers should also regularly clean their database. It’s important to run systematic database cleanses or re-engagement campaigns to remove unengaged contacts to optimize performance rates.
3. Lack of segmentation.
An audience is made up of different groups, with varying characteristics and needs, which a company’s email has to target to satisfy. Messaging often becomes generic and ineffective when companies do not look to segment their audience.
How to effectively segment messaging.
Instead of sending the same marketing message to everyone, a company should practice market segmentation by dividing its list of potential customers into groups, or segments, based on different characteristics. A company wouldn’t want to message a CIO the same way they would an entry-level HR employee, so the message should adapt to each audience. Segmentation allows for a deeper dive into who the target audience is, and to better understand how they interact with the content. By segmenting lists, and sending more targeted messages to the audience, a company can significantly improve the receptiveness of its content.
4. Lack of relevant content.
Not all content is the right content for everyone. People should feel the content they receive is relevant to them. Your audience will come in from a variety of sources. While some people sign up for a specific piece of gated content or register for a webinar, a company may not have their full interests defined and mapped out. This is where a preference center can help.
How to make emails more personalized.
Make sure the content ties back to the audience by adding personalization to each message. Personalization can be as simple as adding someone’s name to an email or as complex as swapping content in and out based on a user’s consumption habits. The more tailored the email is to each consumer, the more effective and influential the messaging becomes.
5. Repeat messaging.
Email fatigue should be a high-ranking concern. If the same messaging is continually sent, an audience will start to tune a company out. Additionally, once someone has consumed an offer, such as a free trial or a downloadable resource, that offer is no longer relevant, and they should be removed from receiving that message.
How to reduce repeat messaging.
Use suppression lists or smart content to ensure that once a person has consumed an offer, they don’t continue to see it. Over inundating an audience with repeat messaging not only decreases the likelihood of them clicking on the offer, but it also increases the chance that they click the deadly unsubscribe button.
The Iron Horse Insight.
The difference between a good email marketing program and an average one is the ability to continually evolve. Businesses need to constantly experiment with content and tactics to refine their email marketing strategies based on the insights collected.