Boosting email deliverability and email engagement is pivotal for small businesses to succeed online in our modern world. One particular strategy to improve your email marketing results is communicating to your engaged and unengaged contacts differently. This proven strategy has seen business increase their open rates by over 30% and we want to share with you how you can improve yours as well.
In this article, we’ll cover:
Email engagement has become incredibly important in getting your emails delivered. You may recall back in the day; it was all about the size of someone’s list. Then we moved to it all being about the relationship with your list. Well the game is changing again…
It’s all about “how engaged your list is”.
It’s now about the importance of email engagement.
Yes, having a relationship with your list is still key, but it’s all about if individual contacts are engaging with your content.
How is Email Engagement Defined
Email engagement (according to Infusionsoft/Keap) is measured based on a contact completing any or all of the following activities:
- Completing a webform
- Opening an email
- Clicking an email
- Purchasing a product (if you’re using Ecommerce within the platform)
If a contact hasn’t completed any of those actions within typically a 4 month period, a contact moves from Engaged to Unengaged (unless they have opted out or had their email bounced).
Email engagement is measured differently between your contacts recipient’s server e.g. gmail/outlook etc and what your email marketing platform defines – so that’s something to keep in mind. We’ve kept it simple here by focusing on one system as an example Infusionsoft/Keap as we can actually see and use this data to influence our future email broadcasts.
Why Email Engagement is Important
So why is email engagement important?
Emailing your unengaged contacts can dramatically reduce your email deliverability. In fact, it can negatively impact your sender reputation and affect your engaged contacts from receiving your emails as well. Instead emails may go to spam/junk or not get delivered at all L Plus, let’s be honest, we’ve all been on the receiving end of this, it can be really annoying continuing to be sent emails that you just don’t care about or want!
As an inbox has become increasingly competitive to get attention, you need to focus on the contacts that are engaging with you. In fact, it’s about sending more frequently to contacts that are engaging and sending less or after some time and trying to re-engage, completely stopping to send to the contacts that are unengaged.
The big takeaway of this strategy is – ADJUST YOUR COMMUNICATION!
Adjust the frequency and adjust the messaging to cater for your engaged and unengaged groups.
This will help contribute to a healthy sender reputation and also assist in boosting your email deliverability and engagement.
IMPORTANT – please note, this strategy is only one of MANY that can be used to improve your email deliverability (cleaning your list, re-engaging your cold audience, unsubscribing people, setting up your authentication etc etc.). Should you have specific issues with deliverability that you wish to discuss, feel free to reach out here.
To see this concept in action, we wanted to share some of our specific results that we achieved in 2019 and 2020. Both examples showcase major differences between the open rates of the engaged list vs the unengaged list. Both using the same principle, but as you can see the results have improved by following this strategy for over a year now.
Ok, let’s take a look at the two examples one year apart.
Engagement Example - 2019
In April 2019 we tested this approach of splitting our communications to our engaged vs unengaged audiences. We targeted a particular segment of our database with a free membership offer. The emails were sent via Campaign Builder in Infusionsoft by Keap and were sent at different times for each group. I wanted to see if the Engaged group responded to the offer first. If they didn’t respond, there was no way I was sending it to the unengaged group.
Here are the results:
As you can see on the right in the image above, our engaged portion of our list had a 52% open rate, we had a 17% click through rate, plus out of that a high response rate to this particular free offer.
This was enough justification that the email and offer was good enough to see if the unengaged group would respond as well and test this theory of splitting sending to these two audience.
As you can see above, our unengaged list had a 5% open rate on the first email and jumped up on the second send to the unengaged group.
Overall as you can see the results were initially surprising with the engaged group getting a 47% higher open rate in comparison to the unengaged group for the first email. Then a difference of 34% on the second email.
These results were incredibly powerful to provide evidence that this strategy was worth continuing. We now always split out our broadcast sends, so we know exactly which group we are talking too. We track all these stats in a spreadsheet so we can continue to monitor and not all communications go to both groups. Our engaged audience receive more emails from us, in comparison to our unengaged group.
Ok, so let’s fast forward twelve months… what does this look like now…
Engagement Example - 2020
In April 2020 we emailed our list, particularly to address the Coronavirus and that we were still open for business. These emails were sent to the two different groups via the Email Broadcast feature in Infusionsoft by Keap.
Here are the results:
As you can see above, our engaged portion of our list had a 53% open rate, in comparison to our unengaged list had a 20% open rate. That was an increase of 33% between the two audiences.
As mentioned in the video above, I was surprised that we got a 20% open rate on our unengaged audience.
My assumption on why we achieved the higher open rate for our unengaged contacts, comes down to three factors:
- We have been communicating with them differently for a year
- Most of the world is home at the time of sending this email in isolation with COVID-19, so perhaps people have more time to look at emails
- It could have been a great subject line! ;-)
We will continue to monitor this to see if these results are consistent and not just a one-off success, but we’ll take it as a win that we’re doing the right things!
With the boost in the open rate as well, a number of our unengaged contacts, then got moved to our engaged list as well, growing the number of people on our main list who we communicate with.
How Can You Apply This In Your Business?
I hope from sharing our business examples, you see that by implementing this strategy in your business you can dramatically improve your deliverability and engagement. But it’s not just about improving your stats. It’s about having a better relationship with your list and as flagged adjusting your communication to what they actually want. And always, it’s about adding value first. Don’t forget that!
If you’re applying these principles already, please keep going! As you can see from our results a year after starting, we’re still improving on our results. If you’re not doing this yet, please take action today – whether you schedule it in your diary or follow the instructions below now (or if you’re using another system – their instructions) on how you can identify today about your engaged vs unengaged contacts.
This can and is be a game changer for many small businesses to achieve greater success with their email marketing and we hope that can be the case for you too.
Remember, this is only one strategy, there is still many other factors that impact your deliverability and engagement, but this is critical for every business to adopt right now.
Ok, so let’s get stuck into how you can identify these contacts if you use Infusionsoft or Keap, plus there will be a bonus tip below too.
Infusionsoft User Instructions
For Infusionsoft users, here’s how you can identify your engaged and unengaged contacts that you can still email (plus some other tips too):
Go to My Navigation / CRM / Contacts / New Search and use the following criteria
- Engaged – select Email Status contains ANY – “Unconfirmed, Confirmed (Legacy), Confirmed”
Save as a saved search
- Unengaged – select Email Status contains “Unengaged Marketable”
Save as a saved search
(If you want to create the additional searches)
- Can Email – select Email Status contains ANY – “Unconfirmed, Confirmed (Legacy), Confirmed, Unengaged Marketable”
Save as a saved search
- Can’t Email – select Email Status DOESN’T contain ANY – “Unconfirmed, Confirmed (Legacy), Confirmed, Unengaged Marketable”
Keap User Instructions
For Keap users, here’s how you can identify your engaged and unengaged contacts that you can still email (plus some other tips too):
Go to Reports / Email Engagement Tracker (it will open up to Email Status Search) and use the following criteria
- Engaged – select “Unconfirmed, Confirmed (Legacy), Confirmed”
- Save as a saved search
- Unengaged – select “Unengaged Marketable”
- Save as a saved search
Email status data is dynamic, that means the data is updated all the time. To record your current trends, I strongly recommend you download the entire Email Status/Email Engagement reports above TODAY! Before you start implementing this approach. That way you have something to measure against to see how you’re tracking. Also suggest you continue to download this data on at least a monthly basis (depending on how frequently you send emails – we actually do ours weekly). That way you can monitor to check if your engaged list is growing and how you’re improving.
I hope you’ve found this article and videos helpful to boost your email engagement!
Feel free to share this link with others and if you need further assistance on your email deliverability, cleaning your database, re-engaging your list, segmenting your database or something else, feel free to reach out here.