Engagement can be a source of frustration for marketers. When your email campaigns just aren’t getting the engagement you want, it’s sometimes disheartening.
There are two pillars of engagement: your content itself, and your strategy for handling engagement falloff.
Let’s look at how you can achieve great email campaign engagement, and strategize for when it doesn’t go quite as planned.
Create Engaging Content
It seems obvious, but if you want people to engage with your campaigns, you need to give them something to work with.
That means focusing on them, not you. The most engaging content is intriguing and speaks to each reader specifically, addressing their pain points and hopefully entertaining them a little on the way. That’s not to say you should write comedy, but it is important that they feel like they’re talking to an interesting, empathetic human instead of a marketing robot.
If you’re not sure your content chops are where you’d like them to be, that’s fine – take look at our comprehensive guide to cold email copywriting to take your skills to the next level.
Context is Important
There’s a world of difference between the open rates you’d expect for opted-in email and cold campaigns. It makes sense – cold campaigns often go out to far more contacts than opted-in ones, so you’ll naturally get fewer opens. On top of that, the nature of cold email means that far fewer people will open campaigns to begin with.
Combine those factors and you can see why if you go into cold emailing with the same expectations for engagement as with opt-in, you’ll be disappointed.
Spend Time Crafting Awesome Subject Lines
Too many marketers toss a subject line on as an afterthought. Don’t do that. Your subject line is the very first thing a cold contact sees, not just of your campaign but of your company in general. There’s no second chance at a first impression.
Not only that, but your subject line is what determines whether someone opens your campaign at all or not. In that respect, the success of your campaign first hinges on your subject line.
Consider the sort of subject lines you see all the time, those very “marketing-y” ones. Each of those subject lines might be strong in a vacuum, but when it’s next to fifty other similar ones in an inbox, it becomes one of many.
Try to make your subject lines stand out. You can do this by creating a sense of urgency with careful phrasing, but be careful not to cross the line into spammy-sounding territory.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. One of the best ways you can improve your marketing in general, and subject lines in particular, is to test new ideas. Split your list in half and send the same campaign to each, but with different subject lines, and compare your open rates.
One high-profile example of a very creative approach to subject lines paying off is Barack Obama’s 2012 fundraising email campaign. The most successful subject line in his campaigns wasn’t anything fancy. It was just “Hey.”
Sometimes trying something a little out of left field can pay off, which is why A/B testing is such a valuable tool.
Another powerful tool in your subject line kit is personalization. Try including a first name or company name token in your subject line. This can strongly boost your open rate.
Have a Re-Engagement Plan In Place
Eventually, no matter how good your marketing, engagement is going to lapse. That’s natural. The important thing is how you handle it.
Trying to re-engage people who have fallen off opening your emails is absolutely worthwhile – up to a point. If your re-engagement efforts are met with silence, it’s probably a good idea to accept that sometimes, some contacts just lose interest entirely or fall off for another reason.
As an example, let’s follow a hypothetical contact called Bob. Bob originated from your email lead generation campaigns. He clicked through and ended up subscribing to your newsletter, but didn’t actually make a purchase. At first, he was opening and reading your newsletter and your blogs, but lately he’s stopped opening the emails at all.
This is a prime opportunity for re-engagement. Reach out with a “Hey, we miss you” style email, with some relevant new content that’s in line with the sort of content Bob used to engage with.
Still unsure about how to handle unresponsive contacts? Here’s an in-depth look at how to follow up cold emails that didn’t get a response.