Boost Email Engagement: Get People in the Habit of Reading Your Emails

boost email engagement

Your emails deserve to get more attention, and leveraging a habit-formation approach might be just what you need to boost email engagement.

The goal here is to get your subscribers accustomed to opening and engaging with your emails. This in turn will lead to improved engagement and better results all around. That means higher conversion rates, sales and a better bottom line.

With that said, let’s look at some practical ways to achieve this starting today.

Strike While the Iron is Hot

Your very first welcome email is always going to have the highest engagement rates, no matter what you do. So it is especially important to leverage it to start subscribers on a habit-formation path. Wasting this opportunity is something that simply makes no sense if you want to get the most out of email marketing.

With that said, there are several things you can do to make the most out of this “golden opportunity”. 

– Kick-start the relationship-building process by setting the right tone

– Building up anticipation for the the next emails in the welcome series so that they look forward to those emails

– Making sure to provide a ton of value throughout the welcome series

– Finding ways to get people to act on your emails

If you can find ways to provide massive value in the very first email, that’s a nice bonus, but you don’t have to do that. It’s generally enough to set the right tone and get people looking forward to all of the value you will provide in the emails that follow. 

Ideally, you could work-in some sort of a call-to-action in your very first email. This is a great start to the habit-formation process, where you want to get people accustomed to clicking links or taking action off of your emails. 

However, the most important thing with the welcome email is just introducing yourself, welcoming them to the list and setting expectations. You don’t have to obsess about “initiating habit formation” in the very first email. That is your goal for the “welcome series” as a whole. The primary job of the very first welcome email is just getting people to look forward to the rest of the welcome series.

Focus on building a relationship with your audience

The trick here is to set the right tone: be human and personable. And if that sounds a bit vague, I have the perfect mind trick for you. This will also help you deliver more value to your audience in general as well.

boost email engagementJust imagine that you are a knowledgeable and caring mentor who is further down the same path as the reader. This is a caring mentor who genuinely wants to help them achieve their goals in a faster and more efficient way. 

In addition to that, you are really genuinely interested in finding out how you can get better at helping your audience. You want to become a better solution-provider and always striving to get better at helping them achieve their goals.

The other “mind trick” is to simply shift your objectives in terms of your email marketing. You don’t want to look at it as a way to “sell stuff”, even though it is. Whilst email marketing is amazing at producing sales, it only achieves this feat indirectly.

Subscribers buy a ton of stuff thanks to email marketing, because the emails give them a sense of building a “relationship” of trust and respect for the email sender. 

Is that it, just change my mindset?

Well, the trick is that those two mind-tricks will get you doing a lot of things correctly almost on autopilot. For example, giving tons of value is at the core of building a relationship, and we’ll discuss that separately. However, just by adopting the right mindset, you’ll find that giving lots of value is just a logical byproduct.

Another thing that’s crucial to building a relationship is showing that you care about their feedback and opinions. You can use every opportunity to ask for feedback, manually respond to the people who are replying to your emails, and find ways to take their feedback seriously.

And again, if you adopt the mindset we discussed above, this should come quite naturally and just makes sense.

Overdeliver with quality, reader-focused emails

There’s a question I love to ask people who call themselves marketers. “Can you tell me what is the number one core principle in marketing?”. Most cannot answer this question because there are hundreds of things we see discussed as part of marketing. However, there is one psychological principle which if followed, results in doing a lot of other things right.

This is the so-called WIIFM principle. It stands for “what’s in it for me”, which is what each and every subscriber or potential customer is thinking at all times. In order to do marketing right, you will want to put any marketing technique or effort through that filter.

boost email engagementIt’s not about what your customer or lead can do for you or for your brand. It always comes to what’s in it for them. So if you want to boost email engagement, always try to put all email production efforts through that filter.

Just think: what’s in it for the subscriber to open your email? And what do they get out of reading it? What’s the benefit to them in clicking on your link? The emails need to be reader-focused, not acme-corp focused. Obviously substitute “acme-corp” with the name of your business here.

This is one of the most common errors we see with amateur marketers

Some amateurs even go so far as to think of marketing as just a form of “bragging”. They might even think that it’s about impressing potential customers by going “we at acme-corp are so impressive, we’re so amazing, we’re so successful and so great at things… impressed yet?”.

And it’s easy to see why you might get this false impression when looking at corporations and successful businesses. It might seem like they’re bragging about their latest product or feature and how great it is. But you’re missing the nuance. They only do so in the context of what’s in it for the customer.

It’s not about bragging that you have a great new feature to show how amazing you are. It’s all about how you came up with this great new feature or product that’s going to make your customer’s life even better. 

Always have this principle in mind whenever you’re producing content of any kind, and especially when you’re crafting emails. Remember that you’re trying to build a relationship coming from the angle of “caring mentor that wants what’s best for them”.

Make it personally relevant and valuable

This is a continuation of the previous point, or rather taking it one step further. Simply changing to a customer-centric viewpoint already achieves a lot, but there might be an issue here. Your audience isn’t a bunch of identical clones that have identical desires or needs.

We know for a fact that personalization increases engagement rates. That in turn means if you keep it up, you are getting people in the habit of opening and acting on your emails. This isn’t a “maybe”, it is a well-established fact. So, you generally don’t want to be the list owner who sends an identical sequence to all subscribers.

boost email engagementFortunately, you don’t have to go to the other extreme and think that you have to hyper-personalize to the point of treating every single person as an audience of one. Whilst that is possible with super-advanced levels of personalization, it’s not necessary to get started. 

To start off, it is enough to simply segment your email subscribers into broader categories. This is roughly similar to the concept of personas in general marketing theory. However, segments are the practical way in which you apply that principle within an email marketing context. 

To learn more you can check out our super popular guide: How To Utilize Market Segmentation for Maximum Profitability

Don’t be afraid to use engagement boosting tactics

Remember that we’re trying to get people in the habit of opening and engaging with your emails. Whatever we do in order to achieve those opens and clicks in the early stages of the relationship will help form that habit. 

boost email engagementWhat I find is that a lot of marketers are afraid of using effective engagement-boosting techniques in fear of looking spammy. And let me say that this is a legitimate fear. You don’t want to go overboard and send super-dramatic emails that scream for attention. This will back-fire.

With that said, you shouldn’t go to the other extreme and become boring and predictable. It is ok to utilize tactics such as creating a sense of anticipation, suspense, curiosity and even a little intrigue. 

The best way to understand this is to study effective subject lines. Fortunately for you, we have just the right thing to get you started. Just check out our popular guide called Subject Lines To Grow Your Business.

Your consistency is key

Consistently sending emails helps to reinforce the subscriber’s habit of expecting your emails, which in turn ties in with a habit of opening and engaging with your emails. 

And I think this one is my favorite on the list because it ties so closely to our goal. I think it is quite symbolic that we as email senders need to develop a habit (consistency), if we want to see habit-formation on the side of the receiver.

boost email engagementNow let me warn you that consistency isn’t easy. I’m not here to sugar coat things or pretend like applying all the advice on here will happen with no effort on your part. That’s not my deal here, I want to actually set you up for success. And a part of that means being real with you.

With that said I find that consistency tends to be one of the most common issues in the marketers and clients that I consult with or coach. Fortunately, the solution is easier than you might think. All you have to do is set lower expectations of yourself and your team.

The fact is that consistency beats intensity. If you consistently send one email every three weeks you will do much better than if you bombard subscribers with emails for a short while, then burn out and go missing for a couple of weeks or even months. That guarantees some really bad things happening, including destroying your reputation.

So decide to set a schedule, and make it super modest to begin with. You can always increase the frequency later on if you find you can easily stick to that initial modest frequency.

Find what times work best for your audience

If we’re going to talk about people’s habits, we have to talk about timing. The fact is that people are generally habituated in terms of when they open emails, and when they read them. That can even go further in terms of for example opening professional emails at one time, and personal emails at another. But more on that later.

The fact is that sending emails at the right time can make a huge difference in whether or not your audience actually opens and engages with your content. So, how do you figure out what times work best for your subscribers?

One way to start is by looking at your email open rates at different times of the day and days of the week. This is something that we make exceptionally easy at Emercury with our reporting functionality. In fact a lot of people that move their lists to Emercury say this is their favorite feature.

Back to engagement: Studying your reports can give you a sense of when your audience is most likely to be checking their inbox and engaging with your content. Another huge factor is whether you’re targeting in a B2B or a B2C setting. If you’re targeting decision-makers, you’ll want to send emails during working hours.

If on the other hand you’re targeting a more B2C consumer audience, you will probably want to email them out of office hours. Though I am generalizing here a bit. The key thing is to experiment and see what works.

Test, optimize, experiment and repeat

Some of the tips in this guide you will apply and find immediate success. Others you may attempt to apply and see “no results”. This is normal, and it means you need to apply an iterative approach.

Let’s take “giving value” for example. You might attempt to write more value-driven emails, and see no improvement. This might lead you to falsely assume that “giving more value doesn’t work”. The correct thing to do is to say “Maybe this isn’t valuable to this kind of list, let me keep experimenting until I see what they deem valuable”. 

Now, it doesn’t have to be the content itself that is the main culprit. Maybe the content is valuable enough, but your subject lines fail to communicate this, and the emails never get opened. That is to say, if people had opened your emails, they would have found them useful and valuable, they just never did because the subject lines failed. 

Alternatively, you might be sending valuable emails to the wrong segment of the list. So you might need to work on building out your segments and seeing how that changes things.

Get A Strategic Partner On Your Side

There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.

If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.

I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about email marketing strategies. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.

Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.

Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Note that we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.


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