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Why Email Engagement Is Key to Deliverability

Learn how taking steps to boost engagement can help you keep your marketing emails out of customers’ spam folders.

When growing a business, you want to focus on creating resources—like email campaigns, for instance—that will scale your impact on your customers. And if you’re spending valuable time drafting the perfect emails, it’s crucial that your customers receive them. But what if they don’t? There are a number of factors that could prevent your email from landing in your loyal customers' inboxes and, instead, getting sent directly to spam. One of the most common is email engagement.

Every time someone interacts with your email campaign, their activity becomes a metric that’s used to measure positive or negative email engagement—like opening and clicking through every link versus moving an email to the spam folder or deleting it without reading, for example. And that positive engagement is important because it will ultimately help you improve your deliverability and get your email into more inboxes.

How email engagement and deliverability work together

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email clients like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook are the gatekeepers of your customers' inboxes as they determine whether your email campaign reaches their inbox or lands in the spam folder. Years ago, they primarily relied on spam complaints, bounces, and the presence of spam trigger words (you know the ones) to determine whether an email was spam—and if they should deliver it to your customers’ primary inboxes. But as technology advanced and spammers found new ways to evade spam filters, the ISPs and email clients needed to evolve, too. Over time, their algorithms have gotten smarter; they’ve started looking at additional factors, including email opens, click-through rates, and overall email content.

That's where email engagement and deliverability overlap. For example, let's say you started with a contact list of more than 20,000 email addresses. In this scenario, only one-third of those contacts regularly open your emails and engage with the content—perhaps because some of the addresses have gone stale, while other folks have chosen to ignore your messages (or even mark them as spam) instead of unsubscribing. Whatever the reason, an email client like Gmail may start viewing your emails as spam since your engagement levels are very low, which can then affect how and where your email campaign gets delivered.

If you have high email engagement, however, the email clients are more likely to see you as a trusted sender and boost your deliverability into primary inboxes. High engagement rates tell spam filters that your contacts are real people and your content is relevant and valid—and it likely means your emails are resulting in better business outcomes, too, which is the goal for any email marketer.

How to improve your email engagement

Maintaining a well-curated contact list and applying best practices to generate positive email engagement can help you nurture your customer relationships and land additional sales for your business. Here are 3 tips that can help you increase your engagement.

Tip 1: Use a double opt-in process 

While a single opt-in subscription method offers a simpler, more streamlined way to build your audience, a double opt-in process confirms the validity of an email address, reducing the number of fake signups from spambots

When double opt-in is enabled, every customer who fills out your Mailchimp form receives an opt-in email so they can confirm their email address. This extra step verifies that there's a person behind that email and helps you satisfy regulations and play nice with those email algorithms, increasing your deliverability. It also confirms that the subscriber wants to receive your messages, so higher engagement is built in. 

Tip 2: Practice good contact list hygiene

Your contact list is dynamic. It's ever evolving, even if all your email addresses were confirmed. Mailchimp's CRM and reporting tools are great ways to monitor your subscribers' engagement and help you clean your contact list every so often to remove outdated addresses. Remember, each bounced email or inactive subscriber can affect your deliverability in the long run.

This is when segmenting your audience comes in handy. Good segmentation will help you effectively target your most loyal customers and archive those that opted out, directly increasing your engagement and deliverability. Segment contacts by loyalty, last engaged, or last product purchased, for example, to clean up your mailing lists and help you understand who to email and why.

And while it may be tempting to simply delete your inactive contacts, consider archiving their email addresses and tagging them accordingly for later segmentation instead. It costs more to acquire a new customer than to retrieve an old contact and try to re-engage them in the future with a new campaign. It's all about quality versus quantity.

Tip 3: Send relevant and engaging content

Knowing your customers is vital to getting them to open your email campaigns, keeping them engaged with your business, and ultimately bringing them back to purchase your products or services. Your contact list is more than just faceless email addresses—it's made up of people who found value in your business and want to stay in touch. Make a point to familiarize yourself with their preferences and tendencies—for instance, by reviewing and creating segments with their contact profile data or purchase history—so you can create more relevant and effective emails going forward.

And as you're building your emails, be sure to take advantage of tools designed to help you maximize engagement. Mailchimp's Content Optimizer uses millions of top-performing campaigns in your industry as a benchmark to offer data-driven suggestions that can help you improve your results, while our Creative Assistant studies your brand elements and then creates instant designs that can help boost engagement with your brand. Mailchimp even offers a subject line helper that analyzes length, punctuation, and even emojis to help you create subject lines that pack a punch and encourage folks to engage with your email the moment it hits their inbox. 

If your email engagement needs a boost, apply these tips to your marketing efforts. Remember, increased engagement not only leads to better deliverability, it can lead to stronger customer relationships and more sales, too.

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