How do I drive engagement in my e-mail programs?

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“Engagement” is fast becoming the most-used word among e-mail experts, rivaling utterances of “relevance.” Engagement has jumped to the forefront due to recent announcements by major ISPs that they will begin using engagement metrics as a method for determining inbox placement. This doesn't minimize relevance; it actually makes it even more important.

While most b-to-b marketers don't work with the major ISPs directly, most spamware programs used by IT organizations eventually adopt the algorithms that the ISPs use. You may as well get in front of it now.

The term “engagement” means different things to different people, and definitions can span from simple open and click-through rates to revenue-per-customer or even a subscriber's overall engagement with the brand. For our purposes here, we're going to focus on engagement as it's defined by the four major ISPs: getting subscribers to open and click on your e-mails on a regular basis.

Here are just a few tactics you can leverage to drive increased and consistent engagement with your e-mail communications:

Encourage recipients to reply to your e-mail message. Novel, right? Most e-mail marketing messages deter recipients from responding with blatant “do not reply” language. Remove it, and let the recipient respond to your e-mail as they naturally would, by clicking “reply.”

Drive relevance and engagement through timely communications. If there is any seasonality to the purchase cycle in your business, use it as a means to really talk to your recipients at a point in time when they just might accept higher volumes of relevant, targeted e-mail from your organization.

Create a sense of urgency in your messaging. Send those “last chance” e-mails to light a fire on engagement. It is an effective way to motivate opens and clicks. The warning here is that if you are going to send the message, it better be the last chance. You will lose credibility if you send another “last chance” e-mail out two days later.

Happy engaging!

Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services for StrongMail Systems, a provider of online marketing solutions for e-mail and social media.

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