How do I address both engaged and unengaged recipients with my e-mail efforts?

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Marketers that engage in segmentation often rely on recipients' self-reported profile data to determine the appropriate messaging tone. However, considering the engagement level of an individual e-mail recipient—how much they've interacted with your e-mail, offers, content and brand—provides additional insight on when, where and how to reach subscribers.

You will find that some subscribers are more engaged than others, often following the 80/20 rule: 80% of your e-mail activity comes from 20% of your e-mail recipients. So how do you address the vast majority within the content of your e-mail? Before you can answer that, there are three things to consider:

  1. The engagement definition. How you define your audience's engagement is as unique as your business itself. Metrics to consider might include open, click-to-open and conversion rates over a defined period of time—or any combination of those behaviors.
  2. The customer life cycle. Leveraging knowledge about how your recipients interact with your brands and your products is an important part of addressing engagement. If the product or service is complicated and requires a lot of explanation or “value proposition,” length of subscription may play very heavily into the engagement equation versus a more simplified or easy-to-understand offering.
  3. The dynamic capabilities of your e-mail system. The ability to address multiple segments within your e-mail comes down to the functionality of your sending system. Many systems will allow you to define varying segments within the context of an individual message, displaying the specific content for a recipient. If this functionality is not available, don't worry. You can achieve the same effect, though it will require your production team to produce multiple versions of the message. That limits the amount of segmentation you do, but it's still better than not addressing it at all.

Leveraging a client's knowledge of your brand and their engagement with your programs can drive not only when you talk to an individual but what you talk to them about.

Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems (, a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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