Written by James Scherer
Get James Scherer to personally send you his new posts.

5 Ways to Engage Email Subscribers that Won't Be Ignored

Creating a solid list of blog subscribers is a crucial component of many businesses marketing strategy (including ours).

Provided you’re creating blog content relevant to your business, blog subscribers are, by definition, relevant to your business as well. They’re your target market.

But how do you keep them engaged? How do you reduce unsubscribe rates, increase open and click-throughs and develop a real relationship with them?

This article will give five of the best strategies you can use to engage (or re-engage) email subscribers.


Engage Email Subscribers with Exclusive Content


Your blog subscribers expect to receive all of the articles you publish, that’s why they subscribed in the first place.

What they don’t suspect, and will be excited by, is content created exclusively for them.

Why this works:

Exclusivity is a chief component of desire. It’s what drives the entire luxury goods market as well as high-end restaurants, nightclubs, and, really, every club since you built a tree fort with a “no girls allowed” sign on the front.

Exclusivity is also a balance: too much exclusivity and you’re investing without a reasonable expected return, too little exclusivity and you lose the “wow” factor.

Here’s how I recommend you engage email subscribers with exclusive content:

  • To maintain a reasonable ROI, re-use existing content in a new way. Turn articles into an ebook, an ebook into a checklist, a Slideshare into a PDF resource, etc.
  • Segment your email list into sectors (this is relatively straightforward if you do it in the lead-generation stage through a form) and deliver both subscriber-exclusive and sector-exclusive content. Re-purpose existing content into sector-based content by giving sector-based examples and images.
  • Place a timeframe on the exclusivity of your content. Give subscribers a deadline, after which the content will be available to the public. Urgency is a great influencer on action.

For more on the effect of exclusivity and urgency on buying behavior, check out my free Guide to the Psychology of Conversion Optimization


Engage Email Subscribers with Early Entrance or Access

Conference, webinar, ebook, update, feature.

No matter the offer, giving it early to subscribers is a great way to deliver value. Alongside exclusivity, early-access increases the subjective value of the offer.

Let’s say you’re a diehard Android user, but the new iPhone 8S is coming out next month. Even though you’re not a fan, would you be interested in seeing it a week before it’s released?

Of course you would.

engage blog subscribers

Why this works:

Early-access is a marketing strategy utilized most prominently by the indie game platform Steam, which releases the beta versions of games to interested gamers prior to their actual release.

The model is a win-win: the company creates a buzz around their content, grows its user-base (and sales) and generates feedback from people who are most passionate about the content.

The model can work just as well for your business. Are you considering a major shift to your content strategy or blog content? Test it first with your email subscribers by giving them early-access to a blog article. Wordpress actually has a password-protected publishing option, allowing you to give your subscribers a secret password for them to access a page or article early. I recommend doing this, as secret passwords are awesome.


Engage Email Subscribers by Asking for Feedback


Engagement Case Study:

Dean DeLisle’s agency, Forward Progress, sends out over a billion emails per month for clients and himself. This means a clean list is essential to success.

“Recently, we were working with a mortgage company on re-engaging their list. The bank side had a large database, but they didn’t have a relationship with that data.

The first thing you need to understand is where the relationship status stands If the answer is nowhere, you need to reinvigorate.

In this case, we did a survey to find out the relationship. In return, we gave a $5 Starbucks card. The investment paid off, because the relationships came back.

For this survey, 3268 total participants were invited, and 322 total participated. That is about 10%. We’re happy at a 3% level with some re-engagement campaigns, so this was a success.”

Why this works:

What the case study refers to as a “clean list” really is crucial to your marketing strategy. A “dirty list” means your analytics can be skewed (particularly open, click-through, unsubscribe and reply rates) - not to mention the fact that you’re likely wasting money paying to communicate with people unlikely to ever engage with your business.

So the incentivized feedback strategy (above) is a great idea for any business with more than 10,000 contacts for two reasons: A) You get a better idea of your list’s preferences, meaning you can deliver more effective email marketing and B) They feel heard, valued, and get something of value from you (even if it’s a 10% discount or $5 Starbucks card).

And here’s the email template I’d send to subscribers…”

Subject: $5 Starbucks giftcard for 5 minutes of your time

Hi [first name merge tag],

Hope this finds you well.

In the interest of science, I’d like to take five minutes out of your busy schedule to find out a bit more about you: what you do, what your marketing challenges are, how often you’d like to receive email, etc.

In the interest of coffee, I’d like to give you a $5 Starbucks giftcard for your time. Complete the 15-question questionnaire and I’ll email you a coupon code.

Deal?


Engage Email Subscribers by Running a Subscriber-only Webinar


Webinars are a fantastic way to develop a relationship between your leads and your business. They put leads face-to-face with your representative and (if done professionally) increase your reputation as a business who knows its stuff.

And here’s the email template I’d send to subscribers to let them know…

Subject: Exclusive to subscribers: New webinar on creating optimized sales funnels

Hey there,

Twice a month, [your business] runs subscriber-only webinars, devoted to giving you information you need about a subject you care about.

The next subscriber-exclusive webinar is on [date] and will be focused on [subject related to your content].

Our special guest will be [industry expert] from [recognizable industry business]. Webinars are run twice, once at 11am EST and then again at 11am PST.

To register for the webinar which works best for you, click . And remember to stick around for the Q&A afterward to talk to our guest and ask any questions you might have!

Why this works:

  • Subscriber-exclusive webinars are an awesome way to connect with leads who need that extra little push to put them on the road to a paid conversion. It’s very easy to work your own sales points into an educational webinar (ideally at the end), and the Q&A allows you to answer sales-specific questions in front of a group of people.

Top, ballsy tip: Consider planting a colleague into your webinar to anonymously ask a simple sales-based question in the Q&A session. Something like “So what makes you guys better than [competitor]?” or “That’s all cool, but I want to be able to [unique selling point your service can do, but that hasn’t been mentioned].”


Engage Email Subscribers by Asking Them to Update Their Information


The preferences and bios of your email subscribers are an important element of your marketing campaign:

  • The subject they want to receive information about is going to be very closely related to what element of your service or tool you want to promote.
  • Knowing the time they want to receive information allows you to increase open and click-through rates - increasing the chance they’ll read your lead-nurturing content and convert to a paid conversion down the line.
  • Knowing their job title allows you to change their lead-nurturing path or upsell.
  • Knowing their sector informs your content-creating strategy.
  • Etc, etc

For more on creating a lead-nurturing drip campaign, check out my article How to Create Email Drip Campaigns to Nurture Leads

And here’s the email template I’d send to subscribers…

We want to deliver content you want, when you want it. We want to be a resource for education and marketing enlightenment, not that annoying daily email you delete without looking at it.

Because of this, we’re asking all our email subscribers to update their mailing preferences and information. Are you interested in only one specific subject of what we send out? Let us know? Are you comfortable with receiving daily updates or would you rather a weekly breakdown?

Let us know, and we’ll try our best to meet your needs!

And, as always, don’t hesitate to email us with any questions, concerns or requests for info!

Why this works:

This kind of email isn’t just about getting crucial information about the preferences of your subscribers, in fact, that’s only half of it.

This email shows your subscribers you care about them. It says “If you’re unhappy about what we’ve been sending, let’s work on it together.”

Of course, it does increase the efficacy of your email marketing strategy pretty fantastically...


Wrapping it Up

Hopefully these five email strategies will improve your relationship and engagement with your email subscribers, as well as put them on the track to conversion.

Remember the tone of your emails is entirely dependent on your business’ tests and common sense. In a couple of the templates above I’ve recommended a very casual, personal tone, and that may not work for you. It’s simply what I prefer and what’s worked for our (very young, very startup) business.

Related Reading:

Written by James Scherer

James Scherer is the content editor at Wishpond. When he's not writing or designing for Wishpond he's risking his life biking around the city. Reach out to him on Twitter @JDScherer.