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The email inbox is a competitive place where only the strongest emails survive.
The average open rate of marketing emails is 21.33%, meaning recipients delete most marketing messages without opening them. And some emails don’t even make it to the inbox (but that’s a deliverability issue for another post).
Don’t get us wrong—email continues to be the number one way for businesses to engage with customers. But with the high volume of emails that businesses send, it’s more important than ever to try different email strategies that’ll help drive engagement with recipients.
This post will cover the top email marketing strategies to compete in the inbox and increase engagement rates, from writing captivating subject lines to sending personalized content.
But first, how do you measure email engagement?
Before we dive into how to increase email engagement, let’s get on the same page about what this means. Email engagement refers to how your recipients interact with your email marketing campaigns.
There’s no single metric that determines email engagement rates—instead, you use various metrics that, put together, give you an idea of the percentage of your truly engaged recipients. These metrics include:
Now that we’re clear on what it means, let’s explore 9 ways to improve email engagement.
When you sift through an inbox flooded with personal, professional, and promotional emails, what makes you stop and click? Most often, it’s the subject line.
The subject line is your opportunity to make a good first impression on recipients and help your email stand out in a crowded inbox. When it’s well-crafted, the subject line can lead to higher open rates.
So what makes a good subject line? The best ones are short, clear, and give just enough information to leave your reader wanting more. Our full guide on subject lines dives into the best practices, but here are the Cliffs Notes:
This short blurb can be easy to overlook, but when used strategically, the preview text is another opportunity to give recipients a taste of the email contents. Use this element to tell readers what deals or information they’ll find inside. And even if they only scan the text, it can nudge them toward opening the email instead of moving on to the next.
When it comes to email, what you say is equally as important as how you say it. If the information in your email is difficult to consume, chances are your subscribers will stop engaging with your message.
Simple, eye-catching email design is crucial for customer engagement and will encourage subscribers to read through your entire email. By keeping the text short and scannable (like Clear does in the example below) and making sure the template is optimized for mobile, you’ll ensure it’s easy to read on any device or screen size. After all, recipients open more than half of emails on mobile devices.
Want a head start on your email design? Check out our free email templates.
Most recipients don’t have the time to sift through a text-heavy email, especially when a picture could do a better job of conveying the message. So don’t just rely on email copy—include eye-catching images to make your content more engaging.
For example, while this email from Jeni’s goes on to tell the story behind the pumpkin cake roll ice cream for those who want to read it, the hero image is enough to entice readers to try this new flavor.
Interactive elements such as videos, GIFs, games, polls, and quizzes can complement your email design and keep readers engaged for longer. Not only do these elements entertain your audience, but these can also increase CTR and drive conversions.
Try including interactive elements, like the animated GIF in this Instacart email, to see how these impact engagement with your audience.
The call to action (CTA) is one of the most important elements to help you achieve your email marketing goals, including increasing engagement. Follow these CTA best practices to increase your chances of clicks and conversions:
In the example below, The Real Real places the CTA button front and center, so readers can go straight to the website to shop as soon as they read “90% off.”
Now that you’ve crafted an enticing subject line and designed a creative, interactive email, it’s time to press Send. But who should be on the recipient list?
Remember, your recipients are more likely to engage with emails tailored to their interests and current stage in the customer journey. So instead of sending mass emails to your entire subscriber list, you should segment your target audiences to ensure you send them relevant content.
The categories you can use to segment recipients include:
Email service providers, like Twilio SendGrid, provide email metrics and engagement analytics that can help you determine how to segment your email lists to send more personalized emails, which we’ll discuss next.
We already discussed addressing the customer by name in the subject line, but that’s just the beginning of email personalization. Using first-party customer data to send more targeted emails will also help increase engagement.
For example, using dynamic content in your marketing emails to promote products based on the customer’s previous purchases or browsing history (along with a discount code for good measure) will increase the chances that they’ll convert.
Not to mention, segmentation and personalization go hand in hand, as your audience segments will help ensure you send the right message and facilitate automation. For example, when you add new subscribers to your new customer segment, you can automatically send them your welcome email series, which aligns with their stage in the customer journey.
And don’t forget about transactional emails! These are the most personalized emails you’ll send, as these directly tie to the recipient’s actions. Learn more about the most important elements to include in transactional emails.
There’s no silver bullet for email marketing—it’s all about trial and error. And A/B testing different elements of your campaigns will help you determine what drives engagement.
Some of the elements you can A/B test include subject line length, emojis, preview text copy, sender name, CTA placement and copy, and message length. Additionally, you can test the day of the week and time of day when you send your emails. Learn how in our guide to A/B testing.
Now that you know how to craft irresistible subject lines, design engaging email content, and segment your email lists, you’re well on your way to increasing customer engagement.
But these strategies are easier said than done when you don’t have the right tools to implement them. Twilio SendGrid is here to help. With our email marketing templates, drag-and-drop and HTML editors, automation, and list management capabilities, Marketing Campaigns equips you with the necessary tools to make your emails more engaging.
Give SendGrid a try for free today and start implementing these strategies to drive engagement.