Engagement — it’s no longer just about your website or social media

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Engagement in email


Time was we put up a website, some good content and keywords and the search engine robots rewarded us with higher rankings.  SEO (search engine optimization) experts got rich tweaking sites for optimal rankings.

Then the-king-of-all-search engines Google® start penalizing for too many keywords and too thin content and rewarding for things like:

  • relevant content — “relevant” meaning you stick to your topic and
  • engagement — not only does your site need to attract traffic, they need to do something, whether leave a comment, invest in something, view several pages, etc.

Well times continue to change.  Now the “big 3” in personal email accounts (gmail, hotmail/Outlook.com and Yahoo) are rewarding email senders who have proven engagement and potentially penalizing those who don’t.

What this means

  • The email services are using “engagement metrics” to determine whether emails actually make it to your inbox — for example, if you never open emails from “Aunt Judy”, the system will assume you don’t want to see them or if you simply delete emails without opening, again, the system will assume you don’t want to see them, giving them a lower priority and possibly not showing them at all.
  • Those who use gmail are familiar with its “filtering” abilities.  If you always open emails from your assistant, their emails are given a higher priority and can show at the top of your list or you can view only by these “priority” senders
  • If your emails tend to NOT be opened more often than not, the system assumes you don’t send relevant/valuable information and moves you down the list in terms of delivery.

Note that “Engagement” here is about more than simply opening your emails (just as engagement is about more than simply visiting your website).  What are your readers doing:

  • Do they save your emails for future reference?
  • Do they click through to your website or other link?
  • Do they invest with you?
  • Do they hit “reply” and communicate with you?
  • Are they engaged with you?

What can you do?

  • Look at your email list and consider removing those who never open your emails — they’re hurting your open rate, especially if a large group of them belongs to the same ISP (Internet Service Provider) like gmail, hotmail/Outlook.com or Yahoo and segmenting other communications
    • You can do this by segmenting your list and, for those who haven’t opened in a period of 60 days (any timeframe you select, just remember to take into consideration how often you connect with them), offer them a gift and see if that entices them to re-engage with you.  Personally, I’d recommend sending up to 3 solo e-mails to this group and if they don’t open/take action, remove them from their list.  You don’t need either the lack of engagement or energetic drain.
  • Remove “hard” bounces from your email list — these are email addresses which are bad/no longer in existence and hurt your deliverability rate.  Note this is different from a “soft” bounce which can happen with out of office replies or full mail boxes
  • Engage your subscribers — send relevant, informative, helpful information
  • Include a relevant call to action with your communications
  • Be consistent — consistent in your communication, consistent in the value you provide

Entry into our subscribers’ email inboxes is no longer a given, no longer a right passed to us when an email address and name are given.

What are you doing to earn the privilege?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below. . .