You already know that email marketing is one of the most profitable marketing channels for all businesses. The reason is quite obvious: it’s a great way to keep in touch with your would-be clients and form a trustworthy business relationship with them.

It’s different from phone numbers in that email gives people more time to educate themselves on your products and make more informed decisions compared to the urgency of phone numbers. 

It’s also quite obvious that email marketing would work only if, and only if, your subscribers are engaged. If you’re wondering what engaged subscribers look like, here are a few of their benefits: 

  • They open your emails the moment they see them in their inboxes and/or bookmark them for future review. 
  • They act on your call-to-actions in your emails, get engaged with your content and convert well. 
  • They are so fond of your emails they even forward them to the people they know and thus help you grow your list. 
  • They find themselves affiliated with your business and would give their honest feedback whenever you ask them.  

Here are three ways you can keep your email subscribers engaged: 

1. Build your list the right way

One of the biggest mistakes people make in email marketing is building an email list at any cost. There’s the wrong assumption that bigger lists are more profitable so the main email marketing goal for many marketers would be growing their list. 

This wrong assumption would inevitably lead to building an unclean list, a list with people who are not interested in your content or your business at all. And they won’t engage with your emails at all. 

Some of the mistakes people make when growing their email list are:

  • Adding contacts to their list without their consent. 
  • Misleading people about what you’re offering in your newsletter. Offering irrelevant but exciting lead magnets to lure people into subscribing to your list. 
  •  Overpromising in your emails to keep people in your list. 

2. Send relevant content 

The number one reason people unsubscribe from email newsletters is receiving irrelevant content. It all goes back to the main reason people have subscribed to your list in the first place. Diverting from the original promises would alienate your subscribers. 

This does not necessarily mean neglecting promotional content. You can send promotional content as long as they’re relevant and would appeal to your subscribers. After all, the main reason you’ve created your newsletter is so that you can promote your services and products to your subscribers. 

A great way to promote your content in your newsletters is what the great email copywriter, Ben Settle, explains as “infotainment”, giving your audience a “great-tasting hot dog” but “nourishes them like broccoli”. The idea is not new in the world of marketing and advertising but is what most commercial emails fall short of in practice — they are either informative but tasteless or amusing but pointless. 

Here are some elements that would make your emails infotainment, that is both amusing and informative (about your product):

  1. Prioritizing your subscribers’ interests: nothing catches our attention more than when people talk about us or what matters to us. It is well-known that a good marketing copy is what captures its audience’s interests the most. Spend time to get to know your audience and use their interests in your emails. Customer experience management softwares or sentiment analysis tools could be a great help here. 
  2. Retaining a unique voice and perspective in your emails: don’t be a copycat — spend some time to discover a unique approach to the topics you write about. Differentiate yourself by using lesser-explored content formats in your emails. Videos have a great potential for increasing engagement. Use a free video marketing platform such as Biteable to make engaging marketing videos. 
  3. Being a good storyteller: we love stories. Our minds are hard-wired to make sense of the patterns in narratives and learn from the ups and downs in them. We are curious to know the fate of the people in the stories. A well-structured story captures our attention, presents some people we identify with (or antagonize), and proposes a lesson for learning (i.e. your marketing message).  

3. Respect your subscribers intelligence:

Using shady and dishonest techniques to get more opens and clicks is the equivalent of disrespecting people’s intelligence in email marketing. The consequences would be dire for your overall business. Claiming anything ridiculous, making up facts, or overpromising will do nothing but risk your entire reputation. 

The most common dishonest practice in email marketing is using clickbait subject lines. This might give you a few more opens or clicks but eventually, it frustrates your subscribers. Send people a few clickbait emails and they’ll doubt whatever claims you make — anytime, anywhere. 

Here are a few examples from my inbox:

  • “Want my website?”  (trying to sell his website’s clumsy theme)
  • “I told you not to do this” (I had no previous communication with them)
  • “Your subscription is expiring” (What subscription?)

The latest revolutionary technique of these people is using “Re:” in their subject lines without having started a conversation with me.

  • “Re: your invite”
  • “[last chance] Re: your offer”
  • “Re: Join . . . in London on October 19th – save your spot now!”

The best strategy for writing a subject line is being truthful to the content in the first place. Being smart comes next. This holds true for any kind of subject lines you’re writing including blog posts and cold emails. Hunter’s guide on cold email subject lines is a great help here. 

Don’t worry about unsubscriptions: 

Question remains: should you worry about losing your subscribers all the time? 

The answer is no. 

As a matter of fact, you need to get rid of your unengaged subscribers from time and time, an act which is referred to as cleansing your list. Having an unclean list (a list that contains so many inactive subscribers) is costly in two ways: 

  1. It’s unnecessarily more expensive because you’re paying for a large, but not engaged, list. 
  2. Poor numbers (including low open rates) will increase your spam score. Your emails will be considered spam after a while and not delivered to people’s primary inbox.  

This does not mean you should not try to engage your subscribers. The three ways to engage your email subscribers explained in this article are quite the standard in successful email marketing.

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