Engage Subscribers: 6 Fun Email Ideas

It’s time for the annual post-holiday tightening of the purse strings. Consumers are holding tight to their cash, assessing the damage to their wallets and making New Year’s resolutions to save. So now may not be the best time for sales-focused email marketing. Keeping your readers engaged is important, though. Making them happy is even better. And what better way to do that then with fun activities that keep them looking forward to your emails? Here are 6 ways different companies are doing just that.

6 Fun Email Ideas To Engage SubscribersIt’s time for the annual post-holiday tightening of the purse strings. Consumers are holding tight to their cash, assessing the damage to their wallets and making New Year’s resolutions to save.

So now may not be the best time for sales-focused email marketing. Keeping your readers engaged is important, though. Making them happy is even better.

And what better way to do that then with fun activities that keep them looking forward to your emails?

Here are 6 ways different companies are doing just that.

Give Them a Chance to Shine

REI, an outdoor outfitter, asked their subscribers to send in action shots they were proud of to possibly be featured in future ads.


Not only does this keep their readers responding to their emails (improving their sender reputation), it also tells them how important they are to REI.

An added bonus: those whose pictures are chosen become part of the company’s marketing, strengthening their sense of involvement.

Flaunt Some Freebies

Few can resist the allure of free money, and playing a game to win it is even more fun.

Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus’ Butterfly Game is another double whammy. It gets hopeful readers in the habit of clicking through to the store’s site. Then, since the game requires visiting a series of sales pages, it likely leads to unplanned purchases (despite those solemn resolutions…)

Entertain With (Relevant) Videos

Retailer Urban Outfitters linked to a music video by a band popular with their customer base. The email’s only other content was a free shipping offer at the very bottom.

Urban Outfitters

Although watching a video is fairly passive, it is still a fun experience you can offer. And since people like to pass videos along, your message could get forwarded far beyond your email list. So make sure to link back to a sign-up form!

Send A Simple Survey

Surveys keep your readers clicking, show you care about their preferences, and collect valuable feedback for you. Here, Hungry Girl, a food and nutrition blogger, asks her readers to answer an 8-question multiple-choice poll. Kept short and infrequent, surveys are an all-around winner.

Hungry Girl

Surveys are easy to create with tools like Survey Monkey, which lets you design your own form and tracks the results. And their basic account is free to create and use!

Google-DocsAnother free tool is the Google Docs survey builder. Follow these steps to create a form that your subscribers can fill out directly in their email accounts. A related spreadsheet will automatically tally their responses for you.

Make It a Metaphor

Subscribers often appreciate being provided with valuable information that’s relevant to your email campaign. Use imagery to draw them in, and you may bump up their interest even more.

Beauty Blitz

Beauty Blitz, an online beauty magazine, uses metaphor to invite its readers to a conversation. By presenting their advice page as a counter to sit at and chat with experts, readers are prompted to view the experience as a trip to an actual makeup counter or hair salon.

Not only will they recall past beauty treatments, which tend to be pleasant, but the association lends a sense of authority to the virtual advice counter. What metaphors might work for your campaign?

Show Some Personality

Letting your hair down a bit might get your subscribers’ attention.

Six Degrees Digital

Employees at Six Degrees Digital, a design and multimedia studio, came up with a series of “dares” that they could record on video and invited subscribers to vote for the one they wanted to see.

This sort of email can not only get subscribers involved, but keep them checking their inboxes for the winner.

Let’s Talk About Your Subscribers

So think about what works for your readers. Are they kick-boxers? Wine aficionados? Grassroots musicians? What activities might they enjoy?

Your readers may enjoy a chance to share a little about themselves. You could ask them to:

Send in personal photos

Rate your emails

Ask any questions they may have

Share their personal stories

Your readers will appreciate the thoughtfulness of an activity focused on them. Plus, if they are in the habit of responding to your messages, they’ll be ready when your sales offer goes out and it’s time to spend again.

How do you engage your subscribers? Let us know your ideas!

Want to Learn More?

For more information on email marketing for wineries, view our complete Email Marketing for Wineries Guide.


  1. jim cockrum

    1/13/2010 9:21 pm

    I’ve put up creative items for auction on eBay several times and then invited my aweber list to watch the auction and bid. By leveraging the power of your email list you can create quite a stir and generate good free publicity. Here’s a link to my most recent "stunt" that wound up being the MOST WATCHED auction on eBay (showing up prominently on the eBay "Pulse" page) just before Christmas ’09:


    (I hope it’s ok to post my youtube video here. If not just delete this post. I think it’s useful for the conversation though)

  2. Maurice

    1/14/2010 2:29 am

    I think Aweber must create such themes based on the post above for member’s use. Creating and making available such a mix of visually stunning themes will allow a campaign to be the fundamental draw for a visitor to engage alongside content offered.

  3. Janice

    1/14/2010 8:51 am

    Great post! Thanks for sharing these amazing tips. They gave me some some ideas and I like that 🙂

    All the best!

  4. Yee Shun Jian

    1/14/2010 8:58 am

    I sent an email to my personal development list asking them about their new year resolutions so that I can write more targeted posts to help them achieve their goals.

    The replies came flooding in and it was quite to get personal with my readers and subscribers…

    Emails asking subscribers to respond really help you to bond with them… I even got quite a number of unsolicited testimonials from that single email… My readers wrote in to thank me for all the emails I sent them last year.

    Always great to receive thank you’s =)

  5. Rees

    1/14/2010 10:36 am

    Good stuff. Very creative. Thanks. Keep posting.

  6. Sean Breslin

    1/14/2010 10:45 am

    Those were good ideas to engage with subscribers, plenty of food for thought!

    Thank You.

  7. Paul Taubman

    1/14/2010 11:02 am

    I agree with the post by Yee Shun Jian – I asked a simple question in a daily email that goes out to my subscribers. I was not expecting such a response. As such, I had a tremendous amount of emails that needed to to be replied to.

    Lesson Learned: Ask a question, but have the replies entered as a comment on your blog. Easier to answer and helps develop social proof!

  8. Sharon Foutch

    1/14/2010 11:15 am

    Love these ideas! I can’t wait to try some of them out. Thank you for keeping us inspired and thinking outside of the box!

  9. Doug

    1/14/2010 6:41 pm

    I just upgraded my auto responders last week and had great fun doing it. The ideas were just flowing!

    I resurrected and old April Fools joke I did two years with a "blank book" entitled "What the Critics Know…" I get at least a couple e-mails a day with "There’s nothing past the first chapter, help!"

    I write back with a quick, "I’ll follow up on that tomorrow." and have an explanation in the next days training that it’s suppose to have "nothing", that’s the idea!

    I also explain that I get question about it all the time with people that don’t get it. (Not that I’m going to mention any names…{!firstname_fix}!)

    They’ve all taken it with great fun and it’s the most popular responder of the entire series.

    Of course it helps that I poke fun at myself the day before and while the training is loaded with great information and documents responses have been from "easy read" to "extremely entertaining".

    Best of all, the newsletter is going viral and I see open rates that exceed the send rate because of my request to have their teams subscribe.

  10. MillyAnn Aire

    1/15/2010 9:21 am

    Thanks, Amanda, for your great tips. Your guys posts are always helpful! I will put them into effect immediately.

  11. Amanda Gagnon

    1/15/2010 11:38 am

    Jim – That was quite a stunt! Congratulations on the results.

    MillyAnn Aire – You’re welcome, and your name is fantastic.

    Yee Shun and Paul – Isn’t it amazing what a simple question can do?

    Doug – Now THAT is a fun idea!

  12. Corrina Gordon-Barnes

    1/15/2010 5:38 pm

    What great examples, thank you. Perfect for getting the creative juices flowing…

    How do you include those icons, like the star for ‘rate my email’ or the question mark for ‘ask any questions’?

  13. Linda Randall

    1/16/2010 2:30 pm

    I started making videos with photos and music (celebrity, tv shows, movies) and posting them on my idea girl consulting youtube channel to promote my blogs on Squidoo – Linda Randall, Idea Girl Consulting WordPress and The Idea Girl Says. I often twitter tweets the idea girl about my blogs and posts. That has worked to drive traffic to my websites, without costing anything but many hours of work 🙂

    my daily blog is:


    where I share what I learn about writing, fashion, marketing, sales and entertainment , celebrity photos, music and interviews.

  14. Elizabeth Bennett

    1/19/2010 11:53 am

    Great info! Thanks for sharing. I have been using photos in my blogs and looking to move to videos. I appreciate you sharing this with us. Have a good week…..

  15. Tina Whetzel

    1/19/2010 4:15 pm

    Great post! Thank you for sharing and the great tips!

  16. Jonathan Gunson

    1/19/2010 5:42 pm

    I have found that talking with other business owners by phone, then blogging about what I discovered during that chat (there’s always something interesting) is a great list building opportunity:

    1. I e-mail my existing AWeber list and tell them to check out the blog post. It generates valuable feedback and builds the relationship.

    2. But it also attracts people who are on the OTHER business owner’s mailing list – especially if I ask the owner to notify their own list about it too. The new visitors coming from that mail out then see my opt-in offer and sign up to MY list.

    Hope this is useful


  17. Ishmael

    1/20/2010 4:42 pm

    Still trying to get it together, so I am thankful for these awesome ideas!

  18. Derek O'Dwyer

    1/24/2010 6:17 pm

    Great ideas here for all – Thanks for posting them.

    It will be good to put some into action.


  19. Sarah

    1/26/2010 4:08 pm

    Another great post, I especially liked the survey option.

    Some really good New Year ideas year I think.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing

  20. Janet Huey

    1/26/2010 5:29 pm

    I buy and sell new and used pet supplies.
    Anyone taking a picture of their pet in an item(usually a dog crate) they purchased from
    Pet Stuff Resale and emailing it to me will get posted on my blog.

  21. Michael

    1/26/2010 7:39 pm

    Kudos on the well presented information. I particularly like the idea of using graphic imaging. I have heard nothing but good things about your service so I plan to sign up. Again, nice job on the blog post.

  22. Gordon

    1/27/2010 6:14 pm

    Thats a great piece of information from Jonathon Gunson, I’m going to use it myself, Thanks.

  23. Ishmael

    1/29/2010 5:27 pm

    Thanks for these great tips.

  24. Eda

    2/3/2010 5:17 pm

    These tips are awesome. Can’t wait to implement a few.

  25. Amanda Gagnon

    2/4/2010 9:25 am

    Corrina ~ The icons would have to be built and attached to an appropriate form.
    Jonathan ~ That’s a great way to attract a whole new crowd!
    Linda ~ Your videos look awesome.
    Janet ~ What a fantastic way to build community!
    MIchael ~ Looking forward to having you here.

  26. Gordon

    2/4/2010 9:50 am

    Fantastic it’s good to have people like you around with constructive ideas like these.

    More power to your elbow.

  27. Lewis

    2/19/2010 11:03 am

    Oh my god so many ideas here. You guys rock!

  28. Jen Cook

    2/23/2010 11:18 am

    Hey guys, thank you for all the great ideas. Cant wait to experiment and put things into action.

  29. Kim

    2/23/2010 11:34 am

    You have so many ideas I can implement — Thank you!

  30. Elie

    2/23/2010 4:32 pm

    Good day,

    I have been a part of Aweber family for almost two years.
    It is always a pleasure to receive such a great help and advices.

    Thank you!

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  33. Lani

    4/1/2010 3:41 pm

    Aloha… always wondered if there were more to just text information. Sharing some updates of innovative images is awesome. That’ll be my next project.

  34. Adelina

    10/14/2010 7:28 am

    Thanks for the helpful tips guys!

  35. Jo

    12/16/2010 5:27 pm

    Great post and great email marketing ideas as always.

    You’ve inspired me yet again

    Much appreciated 🙂

  36. Jayden

    7/2/2011 12:03 pm

    I’ve created a survey using aweber web form but I can’t see how to display the full information collected. In the subscriber list or if I export it, and even in the email notification, the text boxes are cut off at the end … is there a report you can generate or export to get the full survey data? Or is the problem on the front end when filling it out, it’s not saving the full data (I couldn’t see a max. characters or anything to guide me/users). Thanks for any help.

  37. Justin Premick

    7/6/2011 12:49 pm

    Hi Jayden,

    A member of our team will get in touch with you directly to get more details and help you. Thanks for commenting!

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  39. A

    9/17/2011 8:43 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions you reveal through your blog.

  40. Eddie Gear

    9/30/2011 3:54 am

    Now that is some super awesome tips that I will implement. I cant believe that I did not think of that in the first place. Thanks for sharing your ideas Amanda.

  41. Margie

    1/27/2012 3:39 pm

    Can you further explain exactly how to use aweber to create a form with a star rating system? Would it be an opt-in form template?

    Ohhhhhh, hey, that would be good for aweber to create these kinds of forms and make them available :)))