It’s the most important moment in your relationship.

“Will you subscribe to my email list?”

Yes, yes, a million times yes!
Congratulations! You did it! Engaged.

email engagementNo no, we meant EMAIL engaged.

Actually, I meant email engagement. There are no rings in this case, but be prepared to offer a lifetime of value.
You mastered the email capture part, you have a list of customers, and you’ve started to build up some email engagement with them.
Cool. They’re getting the content that they signed up for. So the hard part’s over, right? Time to just kick back and let emails flow and they will work like magic.
According to digital marketing firm Lyris, you should expect to lose 30% of your email subscribers
every year.
email unsubscribe
30%. That’s no small number. If you’re not vigilant with engagement efforts, your rates can slump faster than the time it takes to hit send on your next campaign.
So what can you do to make sure that the other 70% stay regularly engaged?
By the end of this post you’ll know:

  • What email engagement is (the definition isn’t truly exact)
  • 7 tips to improve email engagement – plus unforgettable examples
  • How you should measure email engagement metrics (beyond the standard answer of open and click-through rates)

What is email engagement?

Email engagement is a measure of how people interact with your emails. Open rate, click rate, and conversion rate are the most common email engagement metrics.
You can measure email engagement, but how you measure it depends on a different question.
How do you define “success?”

  1. What customer actions will be more valuable to you (and them)?
  2. What metrics (such as opens or clicks) need more improvement?
  3. What are the long-term impacts from each email campaign (and not just each single email)?

Consider these, then try these 7 tips for better email engagement.

7 email engagement tips (with unforgettable examples)

Email engagement statistic: 49% of consumers said that they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis.
Yay, right?
Customers who opted-in to your email list want to hear from you – but they might change their tune if your emails make them wish they were in line at the DMV.
Consumers make buying decisions based on feelings (not logic).
Gary Bencivenga, who has been called the world’s best living copywriter, argues that people buy things based on how they feel:

“The vast majority of products are sold because of the need for love, the fear of shame, the pride of achievement, the drive for recognition, the yearning to feel important, the urge to look attractive, the lust for power, the longing for romance, the need to feel secure, the terror of facing the unknown, the lifelong hunger for self-esteem and so on.

Emotions are the fire of human motivation, the combustible force that secretly drives most decisions to buy. When your marketing harnesses those forces correctly you will generate explosive increases in response.” – Gary Bencivenga

How people feel about your email will determine if they engage (or don’t engage).
Here are 7 ways to boost email engagement by tapping into emotions.

  1. Use social proof
  2. Teach them something useful
  3. Celebrate their achievements
  4. Send targeted recommendations
  5. Make your emails personal
  6. Add movement to your emails
  7. Be helpful, not just promotional

1. Use social proof

What is one thing that always drives decisions (good and bad)?
Knowing that other people have done it first.
Studies show that nearly 70 percent of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchase.
Even more telling – product reviews are 12-times more trusted than product descriptions and sales copy.
That’s social proof.
Social proof is one of Robert Cialdini’s 7 psychological principles of persuasion. In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Cialdini defines social proof as people doing what they see other people doing.

It’s a definition that’s based upon the idea of safety in numbers.

“We can see that social proof is most powerful for those who feel unfamiliar or unsure in a specific situation and who, consequently, must look outside of themselves for evidence of how best to behave there.” – Robert Cialdini, Influence

Seeing what other people have done or what they think about something does a lot. It…

  • Sparks intrigue
  • Gives answers to known problems
  • Presents new, useful information

Have you ever seen an email that name-drops a famous customer? Or includes a testimonial? Both of those are examples of ways to add social proof.
One effective method? Hard and fast numbers.
The language-learning app Duolingo sent this email to their customers.
duolingo email example350,000 teachers use and love their service. Will you be next now that you know? (Source: Hatchbuck)
350,000 teachers use their service. That huge number can make a huge impact on the people you’re trying to reach.
Plus they kick the social proof up a couple of extra notches by including testimonials, which brings those 350,000 faceless users to life.
People feel better doing something if they have proof that:

A) Other people have done it
B) Other people have been successful doing it

Take fashion e-tailer ModCloth (you’ll see that name again, they are a favorite brand of mine).

ModCloth encourages its community to “Be the Buyer” by voting on which styles they think ModCloth should sell in the future.

social proof email example(Source: ModCloth)

The community caught on, because styles with the “Be the Buyer” badge sell at twice the rate of styles without a badge.

2. Teach them something useful (about you or them)

People who signed up for your email list did it to get something like:

  • A free template download
  • Gated content
  • A free gift
  • Entry for a contest
  • A discount code

If you want your email engagement rate to go up after they get what they came for, you need to give them things they value.
Note – this doesn’t have to be a tangible thing. It may not seem as fun as a free gift or discount code, but education can be gold to your customers.
And when you educate them about themselves, their interest will be even more heightened.
Look at this email that Mint sends its users.

customer incentive email example(Source:

This tells a Mint user about their spending and saving habits in real time (and bonus: this is a weekly summary).
Weekly summaries like this are so great because they create a habit for someone to fall into. If you can get people hooked on checking their stats at the same time each week, they’re always going to engage with you.
Spotify created a whole new brand experience for their users when they released Discover Weekly, a feature which curates a playlist of 30 songs for users every Monday based on their preferences and listening habits.

targeted content email(Source: Product Habits)

And it went over like gangbusters.
Discover Weekly attracted 40M new users to the service, and more than 5 billion tracks have been streamed through the playlist feature.
By creating Discover Weekly, Spotify created something that its users not only enjoy, but also look forward to.
And like Mint’s weekly summary email, it teaches the customer something they’ll find useful (whether it’s budgeting info or music they never knew they might like).

3. Celebrate their achievements

Who doesn’t love to be celebrated?
Between birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones, people love to be loved.
More importantly, they love to be recognized.
Pocket does this in the celebratory email they send their users.

milestone email exampleAs a frequent Pocketer myself, I would LOVE to get this email. (Source:

This is a click-worthy email, but it also is a chance for engagement outside of the email. Pocket encouraged social sharing of their accomplishments. This kind of exposure increases the chance for more sign-ups (and therefore, more engagement).

triggered email campaign“50 books worth of blog posts” is great visually descriptive copy.

Not only is this great for the brand and fun for the user, but it’s also a great chance to score some awesome copy – straight from your customers.

4. Send targeted recommendations

You can send targeted emails to people, and this is how:

  • Find out their interests based on link clicks, form fields they submit, or site tracking
  • Target people based on their interests
  • Send emails with content that appeals to those specific interests

Cool, right? But how do you actually do any of that?
Platinum Skin Care used audience segmentation, which helped them convert 17% of their leads into paid customers.
Audience segmentation is just you saying “this specific audience of people have something in common, so I’m going to group them all together.”
For Platinum Skincare, it started with a short quiz on their website to learn more about what someone was looking for in skincare.

audience segmentation email example(For an in-depth view at Platinum Skincare’s audience segmentation success, watch their story Here).

Following that quiz, Platinum Skincare sends out multiple emails targeting interests and pain points based on the quiz responses.

targeted content emailAs you can tell, this customer’s primary inter