Beginners Guide

Lesson 9, User Engagement

This can be defined as an assessment of an individuals response for some type of offering. For the instance of email marketing, a user may open or click through an email, they would therefore be engaging with your email campaign.

Commonly this term is referred to as User Engagement rate, whereby these interactions are measured. Each ISP may measure these in different ways, each action may have a different rating; this is something important to consider.

What does it consist of?

There are many ways in which a user can engage with an email, to name a few they are:

– Open an email
– Click within the email
– Mark as spam
– Complain
– Delete without reading
– Reply to the email
– Unsubscribe
– Forward to a friend..etc


Each of the above can be classified as an engagement, which works to build your reputation in the eyes of the ISPs that are counting this.
For the moment, gmail is heavily based on user engagement, but other major ESPs are following in their footsteps.

Speaking of gmail, they have many features based upon user engagement, to name a couple they are:

gmail priority inbox

tabbed inbox

See here for a good article based upon a meeting with gmail’s anti spam team, primarily focused on User Engagement.

How do i ensure i have a good User Engagement?

There is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution for your whole user base, by experience this consists of a number of things. In order to build or maintain a good user engagement rate this starts with the sign up process, how did your members sign up? what are your members expectations?

First and foremost you must keep your users engaged, how do you do this?

– Ensure the content is relevant to them (is your member getting what they signed up for)
– Learn when your user likes to receive emails
– Analyse the frequency and consistancy of your email campaigns
– Engage with your members, eg: use an incentive inside the subject line to convert your member to open the email.

How is User Engagement measured?

User engagment rate refers to a measurement by in which ISPs and ESPs can judge how engaged your members are to your marketing campaings.
Do your users really want your email, is your content relevant, in a nutshell are you engaging your members. This can help build a picture in regards if you are a legitimit sender or not.

A general way in which to see how engaged your database in the industry is to see when was the last time your member opened their email from you? This can be achieved by simply creating selections/segments in query form to see for example what percentage of your database for said ISP opened an email in the last 3 months?

If for example your user engagement rate is 15% based upon the above scenario, should you really expect open rates superior to this? This statistics can also be used as a benchmark in order to set your expectations on the results and to define goals in order to increase your engagement rates.

As with all email marketing the more targetting and granular you go the better the results, those that click an email are probably more likely to buy something, this type of
selection would be more engaging and potentially click through your email. There is only one way to find out.

Want to find some other examples of User engagement measures? click here.

How important is User Engagement?

Having a good user engagement rate can be the difference between the Inbox and the spam folder, or even worse not being delivered at all (we’ve all seen that smtp response:
‘Too many unsoliciated emails originating from this source..’) this can result in a hard block.
Typically you can get away with a low user engagement rate to webmails and smaller ISPs, however when dealing with the big players, eg: Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc
it’s a different ball game. In short of it, why should ESPs do you a favour by ensuring your emails go to the Inbox if even the users dont want your emails, they shouldnt; and don’t expect any favours.

The future of User Engagement

Most ISPs have features in place in order to measure how users are engaging with said sender from, now we should expect for these statistics to be used and that means
even when dealing with smaller ISPs in the future this will become more of a norm. One thing is for sure, you shouldnt only worry about user engagement rates when your emails are going to gmail spam folder.
The good thing about this added line of defence if you will, is that you will need to spice up your email campaigns in order keep your audience engaged.
Before we targetted a whole audience with 1) same launch time 2) same content 3) in general the same criteria, with execption of the members first name.

Now we have already ventured to the point, we know for sure Brian the 66 year old retired school teacher doesnt want to engage with your email the same as Pete the 22 year old student,
everyone has needs and different at that, so its our responsibility to step up and deliver via email more of what the user wants; if not we face low engagement rates, a low reputation and a low ROI.

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement.

Now its time for the final lesson in the series – Lesson 10, Future of Email

By Anthony Mitchell

Anthony Mitchell is a Deliverability Consultant with ten years of experience in all areas of E-Mail Deliverability & Abuse Management.
A Blogger & Youtuber, discussing all things email

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