Are your Email Marketing Campaigns Engaging?

Email Engagement

Email Engagement


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How To Improve Email Engagement

If you are reading this, you are likely to be an email marketing professional or somebody who wants to learn how to use email for marketing. Regardless of your background one thing is for certain: the job of an email marketer does not end when the email is sent.  Campaign metrics need to be monitored to ensure email engagement.

In this post we will discuss the metrics you need to analyse and how you can improve engagement levels in the future.

Email Engagement Metrics

When analysing an email marketing campaign, it is important to look beyond email delivery and open rates.  Email performance relies on engaging the email recipient and ultimately convincing them to take action based on your content.  You can achieve this in a number of ways which we will look at later in this post.

The metrics which are important for engagement are:  Open Rates, Click Through Rates, Unsubscribe Rates and even Spam Rates.

Open Rates

An email campaign open rate is calculated as:  Total Number of Email Opens/Total Number of Email Sends(-Number of Bounces) x 100.

The email open rate is important as it indicates the percentage of people who have seen the main body of your email containing your message.  Even if an email recipient does not click directly from the email, they may take action based on the information they have read.

Beware, text only emails cannot be tracked in the same way as HTML-emails.  As a result, the engagement levels you see in your analytics may be slightly lower than the true reality.

Click Through Rate

The click through rate is calculated as:  Number of Clicks/Number of Email Opens x 100.

The click through rate indicates that your email recipients consider your content interesting enough to click from the email.  A click through is a show of intent from the user, either to find out more from your website or landing page or to take action.

Unsubscribe Rate

The unsubscribe rate indicates the number of email recipients who have opted out of future email campaigns.  For all email marketers, an unsubscribe rate above 0% is to be expected as subscribers become disinterested or change their preferences or needs over time.  However, keeping the unsubscribe rate to a minimum is important.

A spike in the number of people unsubscribing from your email list may demonstrate the need for a different strategy or further list segmentation.  Whilst a low unsubscribe rate is desirable, if your unsubscribe rate suddenly drops to 0% this may result from issues with email delivery and should be investigated.

Spam Rates

The spam rate of your email campaign needs to be minimised as much as possible.  The spam rate is calculated as:  Number of Spam Complaints/Number of Emails Delivered x 100.

Spam complaints negatively affect your sender score and should be closely monitored.  When a contact becomes disengaged, remove them from your email list.  Disengaged users are the most likely to mark your emails as spam as they no longer want to receive them.

To reduce the number of spam complaints that you receive, follow good email etiquette:

  • Send from a recognised IP address
  • Use a recognised sender name
  • Avoid using common spam word triggers
  • Use a high text to image ratio
  • Perform regular data hygiene checks

A Note About Conversions

Conversions are another metric which can be used to measure email campaign performance.  The number of conversions are the number of email recipients who complete a desired action after receiving an email campaign.  If a campaign receives a high number of clicks but does not convert, this may indicate an issue with the landing page.

The goal of the email campaign is also important to consider.  Email newsletters inform rather than drive conversions.  However, analysing conversions would be relevant for a campaign promoting a discounted item.

The number of conversions given in the email analytics may not be truly reflective of campaign performance.  The halo effect suggests that the presence of an email in the recipient’s inbox may be enough to drive them to complete a desired action.

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How you can improve email engagement

In this section, we outline a number of ways you can improve your email engagement metrics in future email campaigns that you produce.

The Subject Line and Preview Text

The first aspects of an email campaign that you should consider when looking at email engagement metrics are the subject line and preview text.  These are the only elements of the email which a recipient can use to choose whether to open the email campaign, ignore it or delete it from the inbox.  Whilst an email open does not indicate email engagement per se, it is essential if an email recipient is going to engage with the campaign content.

Subject Line Download

Carefully consider the words that you use in the subject line and preview text.  Give your email recipients an incentive to open your email and set expectations for what they can expect to find inside.  If your email contains a special offer, tell the recipient in the subject line and give a hint to how they will benefit in your preview text.

Crafting The Copy To Improve Email Engagement

The email copy is the element of the email send which convinces the reader to take action.  If your email campaigns are going to successfully engage their readers, writing high-quality and error-free copy in the email body is a must.  Outline the most important reasons for the email send and highlight key points.  Remember, the email recipient is unlikely to read every word.

Ease your Reader’s Journey

Structure copy to allow the reader to scan through the email quickly.  The challenge for marketers is to convey their key messages in a shorter format.

To this extent, email marketers could adopt a content structure which reflects the F-shaped reading pattern to improve the reader’s experience.  The F-shaped reading pattern reflects reader behaviour. This pattern presumes readers scans twice horizontally before making one vertical eye movement down the left edge of the page.

Build anticipation throughout your email.  Using the inverted pyramid structure positions the call to action in your email beneath suspense-building copy and a striking headline.  This structure gives your content a logical flow from the main headline to the call to action.

Give Value to the Recipient

Marketers need to create each email campaign to give value to the recipient.  Purely promotional emails which do not give value or a reason to take action are likely to result in disengagement.  Giving value to your email recipients does not have to cost a company financially; value can be given in the form of knowledge or a free product trial.

Segment Your Email List

Segment your email list to send more targeted email campaigns to parts of your email list which share common characteristics.  Segmenting allows you to send only the most relevant emails to a contact on your list.  As email recipients are faced with more emails than ever in their inbox, increasing the relevance of your email sends helps you cut through the noise.  You can use basic data fields such as gender or more complex segmentation to target emails.

Discover how you can implement segmentation on Wired Plus here:

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Use Preference Centres

Give your recipients the option to tell you exactly what they want to receive and when.  By including a preference centre in your email campaigns you can ensure that your email campaigns meet the recipient’s needs.

A well designed preference centre gives the email recipient the opportunity to give valuable feedback about what they want to receive.  Subscribers can specify desired topics and how often they expect to receive emails.

Automate Email Sends

Using marketing automation is a good way to improve email engagement as it gives marketers the opportunity to respond to customer behaviours instantaneously and without an extra human workload. Marketers use automation to respond to customer behaviours but can also be used to guide and influence future actions.


Engagement with email campaigns is essential for successful email marketing campaigns.  When looking at your campaign metrics, take a broad perspective of your open rates, click through rates, unsubscribe rates and spam rates.  Although no single metric is truly reflective of email engagement, taking together these metrics give a good indication of campaign performance.

If you have enjoyed reading this article on engaging email campaigns, download your free copy of The Complete Email Marketing Guide.

Complete Email Marketing Guide

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