10 Ways to Boost Your Email Marketing Engagement

Are your emails not getting a lot of opens and clicks? Read on to discover new ways to improve your emails for your community of subscribers.

Reviewing the performance of your emails (like open rates and click-throughs) can tell you a lot about your subscribers and the type of content that interests them. But if your open rates aren’t as high as they once were, or you’ve noticed a spike in unsubscribes, it’s easy to understand why you might ask yourself, “Why aren’t people engaging with my emails?!”

While email marketing is one of the most effective tools you can use to build relationships with your community and grow your business, there’s a science to keeping subscribers engaged with the messages you send them.

To help you do so, let’s take a look at the top 10 ways to fuel subscriber engagement.

1. Set expectations before people subscribe to your email list.

To set a good foundation for your emails (and help your engagement rates start off on the right foot), you’ll want to make sure subscribers know what they’re signing up for before they give you their email address.

Whether it’s a monthly newsletter, weekly do-it-yourself tips or seasonal exclusive offers, being upfront about the kind of emails readers will receive helps attract the right people to your list. Plus, it sets expectations as to what you’ll be sending them – as a result, there shouldn’t be any unwanted surprises.

On the following sign up form, the apparel company Tailor Stitch clearly explains the kind of offers readers get in each email, when they can expect them, and the benefit that comes with subscribing:


By including this information in the sign up form, Tailor Stitch does a great job of setting expectations for those who subscribe to their email list. 

As you set expectations in your sign up form, however, do note that it’s just as important that the content in your email lives up to the promise you made. Why? Because your emails are more likely to be marked as spam if you say you’ll send one thing and deliver another.

Managing subscribers’ expectations is critical to your campaign’s success, so be specific about the content of your emails from the get-go.

2. Engage subscribers with emails they’ll love.

Not sure what types of emails to send to your subscribers? While the sky’s the limit, there are some standard emails that can easily become the foundation for any strategy:

  • Newsletters. Whether you choose to send on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, you can use this email to convey all kinds of updates, such as upcoming events, industry news, recent blog posts, new ways to use your product or service and more.
  • Product releases and updates. Whenever you update a product or create something brand new, it’s worth announcing to your subscribers. Your email should get your audience excited about it, so be sure to communicate why it’s great, any problem(s) it solves, how people can purchase it, and when it will be available.
  • Limited-time sales and promotions. If you have a product or service to sell, be sure to offer regular promotions and discounts to incentivize people on your list to become customers. To do so effectively, provide a clear timeframe for the promotion, what they’ll get if they act now, and a call-to-action to sign up or make a purchase.

3. Spend extra time crafting a subject line.

Your email could contain the best content ever, but no one will read it if your subject line is weak.

A strong subject line immediately grabs your subscriber’s attention and entices them to open your email. Since many people skim through their inboxes, it’s best to keep your subject line short and catchy; Litmus suggests creating subject lines that are no longer than 50 characters.

With modern inboxes overflowing with promotions, work emails and personal messages, your subject line needs to stand out. Fortunately, there are a several types of subject lines you can use to catch your subscriber’s attention.

Adding a special offer, asking a question, or emphasizing a sense of urgency, for example, can all be effective ways to create a compelling subject line.

Just take a look at this example of a promotional email from our friends at Social Media Examiner:


Here they’ve implemented two best practices for engaging subject lines: including a discount and creating a sense of urgency by referencing the end date for the promotion. They also do a great job using personalization to address me by name!

4. Provide social links.

Allowing your subscribers to share the content in your email can have a big impact on subscriber engagement. In fact, emails that include social sharing links have a 158 percent higher click through rate than those that don’t. 

And best of all? It’s super simple to set up. All you have to do is include social icons with links to your content so people can share it to their social channels. When you do, it can help you get even more eyes on your content, and potentially more subscribers on your email list.

To get the best results, make this step as simple as possible. These buttons should be highly visible and easy for your subscriber to click on. If it’s not the main action you want your subscribers to take, however, adding it to the footer of your email will work as well, like in this example from our blog email newsletter below:


5. Make your email visually appealing.

An email’s design should work together with the copy to delight your subscribers and help convey the message you want to get across. While you don’t have to be the next Rembrandt to create an effective design, you do need to think carefully about your email’s color scheme, layout and the images or videos you include.

To craft a visually engaging email, the copy and design should complement one another. Opt for a clean, intuitive layout that draws attention to your call-to-action (CTA). Make sure it looks great on all devices and screen sizes, and refrain from using too many graphics or pictures.

Let’s look at this email from Uber, which uses a cityscape graphic and short, skimmable copy to draw your eye to its CTA:


By putting white space between the graphic and copy, limiting its color scheme to three shades and building content around the CTA, Uber crafts an email that’s effective and visually appealing. (Plus, who doesn’t love a free ride from Uber?)

Even if you’re not a designer, that’s okay, too. To simplify the process of creating a visually stunning email, try using a pre-made mobile-responsive email template. This way, you get the email design you want without the hassle of hiring a professional or attempting to create one yourself.

6. Personalize your automated email campaigns.

Including a subscriber’s name in an email can make the message feel personal, but building a lasting connection with them requires more work. Personalizing emails according to your audience’s interests, location, activity or occupation can help you engage with them more effectively.

Personalization is the future of marketing; 94 percent of businesses believe it’s critical to their current and future success, according to Econsultancy and Monetate. Fortunately, you can start reaping the benefits of personalization by setting up an automated email campaign.

When you do, you can create a series of autoresponder emails based on specific actions your subscribers take or interests they select in your sign up form.

A professional photography blogger who has multiple email courses, for example, might write content that covers a lot of different aspects of photography. If they wanted to send targeted content to subscribers based on what they were most interested in, they could add custom fields to their sign up form and ask them to choose what they want to learn more about.

The blogger could then create automated email campaigns to trigger based on what people select in the sign up form. Or, he could send broadcast emails based on their interests. In this way, she’s able to send targeted relevant content to those who want it most.

7. Segment subscribers and send targeted messages.

When you segment your email list, you can divide subscribers into groups of like-minded people based on past purchases, geographic location, age, occupation, interests and more. When you do, it can increase the likelihood that they’ll open your messages and click your calls-to-action.

After segmenting, think about the content your subscribers want and use it to craft your next email. Send messages that answer your customers’ questions and address their pain points. The more targeted the content, the more attention it receives, which can increase your engagement and revenue over time.

In the email below, the home goods catalogue retailer Domestications used a voting system to gauge what customers were interested in:


The message lets subscribers choose items they would prefer to see on sale. When readers clicked through, they were directed to the sales page for that product. With the results from the voting system, Domestications could segment subscribers based on the products they chose.

8. Write an irresistible call-to-action.

After subscribers have read your email, do you want them to follow you on Twitter, sign up for a webinar or purchase your product? Whatever the goal is for your email, be sure to identify it before you start writing. Make that objective your call-to-action (CTA), and craft the content of your message around that purpose.

Your CTA should offer something of value to your subscriber — whether it’s an ebook download, a how-to guide, or a discount on your product or service. It should visually stand out and be easy to follow, so make sure you remove any content, images, or links that could distract your reader.

9. Experiment with the frequency and timing of your emails.

Depending on your target audience and the content they prefer, the frequency and timing of your messages could vary greatly.

For most businesses, a weekly email newsletter is a great place to start. Eventually, you can increase the frequency of your emails to promote your product, share content or break your newsletter into smaller chunks. There’s no magic number for how many emails to send, but you can always vary the send time to determine what’s best for your business. Or, ask your subscribers what cadence they prefer.

We also recommend experimenting with time frames to figure out when your audience is most likely to read your email. For example, if business people are your target audience, you may get the best results if you email them during work hours. However, some people only have time to check their emails during lunch or when they first wake up. You can use analytics to determine when people are most likely to open your emails and plan your campaign accordingly.

10. Track your results.

Once you’ve implemented these tactics, check your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not. With this insight, you can look for areas where you can fine tune your email marketing campaign for the best results.

To do so, you’ll want to look at your open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribes, traffic to your site and more.

If the idea of combing through data and using that to tweak your campaign sounds intimidating, no need to worry; understanding your email performance is easier than you think.

If your open rates are low, for example, that might have been the result of an uninteresting subject line. In this case, you can change your approach to writing subject lines (maybe using one of the tips mentioned above), and see if your open rates increase as a result.

Or if you find your click-through rates are high, that means you’re doing something right with your call-to-action. So to continue that success, you’ll want to replicate this in future emails.

Happy subscribers, happy life

If customers don’t respond to your emails like they once did, a few simple tweaks to your campaign can boost engagement and deliver the results you want. These ten email marketing tactics can send engagement through the roof, so be sure to test them out when crafting your next message.

What steps do you plan on taking to boost subscriber engagement? Tell us about it in the comments below!

For more tips on what to write in your emails, be sure to sign up for our free email course, What to Write in Your Emails!

what to write


  1. Ava

    10/14/2016 1:19 pm

    I was looking for an article that covers this topic.Its really tricky navigating email marketing, this article sets out a clear format to follow. Thanks Monica.

  2. Arash Asli

    10/14/2016 5:24 pm

    We really noticed that we started getting a ton more opens and higher engagement when we started to segment our email marketing lists. People naturally love to be spoken directly too, so if you can craft your email to speak to them directly, instead of sending out just a random message tailored to the masses, people interact and favor that more.

  3. Curso de cabeleireiro

    10/17/2016 7:04 am

    great content, thanks for posting … I love this blog because he speaks the actual content and not only what suits you