Digital marketing

How to improve email engagement.


According to Statista, more than 300 billion emails were sent and received every day in 2020, while Constant Contact reported average open and click-through rates of 16.06% and 9.22% respectively. This means 80% of emails probably won’t be read – and it’s no wonder. With so many emails being thrown around, inboxes are cluttered with streams of promotions and marketing materials, blinding potential customers to the services or products you offer. Here, we discuss how you can improve your odds in the open rates race with expert advice on creating engaging emails that beg to be read.

Pick your moments
Timing is everything when it comes to getting someone’s attention. For example, emails that are sent on Monday morning or Friday afternoon will likely get ignored or forgotten. Show some email empathy and consider when your audience will be attentive and responsive and cater to them. Increasing engagement is all about testing, analysing and reacting to what works well and what doesn’t.

If your emails aren’t being opened and read, try something new – a different time, day, or subject line. If it doesn’t improve open and click-through rates, you’re in the same boat as you were before. Trial and error is key to improving any process; sometimes, to stumble upon what works, you need to eliminate everything that doesn’t.

Become familiar
Frequently communicating with consumers via email or social media will inspire trust in your brand – but that doesn’t mean you should bombard them. Generally, you should only be getting in touch with your customers if there’s an issue that concerns them or you have something new to offer.

A simple way to stay in a customer’s mind without giving them a headache is through a useful, monthly newsletter. Providing the recipients have opted in to marketing communications, you can highlight new offerings, content and/or projects using your brand’s tone of voice to increase awareness and familiarity.

Change the subject
We know from insights gleaned from the psychology of marketing that people form first impressions and make decisions almost instantly. When a recipient gets your email notification, or is scrolling through their inbox, you have one sentence to convince them to read – your subject line.

Whilst being relevant to the body of your email, your subject line needs to offer something to entice the reader – a question, an answer, an offer or a service, for example. You need to show that your email contains something of value for the recipient.

Imagine this blog being promoted via email, consider the following examples, and ask yourself – ‘which would I open?’

  • We’ve written a blog about email engagement. Read now.
  • 80% of your emails aren’t being read! Find out why…

Incentives grab attention
If you have an exclusive or time-sensitive offer you hope will entice new customers, emails are a cheap and quick way of spreading the word. However, promotions can often be seen as pests when it comes a person’s inbox.

As a result, your offer needs to be clearly communicated in the email’s subject line, with further detail in the body, and a strong call-to-action that links straight through to the offer. To increase trust and reduce unsubscribe rates, try not to ‘spam’ your mailing list.

Consider the following format when sending emails with incentives:

  • Your first email teases the recipient with your upcoming offer and includes enough information to make them remember or pay attention to your follow-up email.
  • Your second email announces the offer is now available and contains all the information the recipient needs to purchase and research the incentive.
  • Your final email will remind the recipient the offer will soon expire and encourage them not to ‘miss out’.

Looks are everything
The average user spends only a few seconds looking at a website before they form an opinion of it – and the same goes for your emails. Digital mediums don’t lend themselves to strenuous focus or long bodies of text. Most people flick between tasks and apps too quickly to read a thousand-word email.

Instead, focus on the design and layout of your email, utilising well-crafted content that communicates the purpose of your email in as few words as possible. Include prominent messages in on-brand banners that demand attention and use assets to accompany text wherever possible – it’s always better to show than describe.

Do you need help or advice to enhance your email engagement? Get in touch and take advantage of our decades of digital marketing experience.


Written by Mike Hargreaves
Creative writer Mike strengthens our growing content offering. He’s focused on raising clients’ profiles via great-quality content.