We all know everyone’s email inboxes are overflowing these days. Every day, millions of emails go unnoticed, unopened, straight into the trash-folder. And just like every other business, this is something you want to avoid. Not only is it a waste of your time and efforts, it may also lead to your emails disappearing in junk folders or your emails being blocked altogether. It’s up to you to optimise your email campaigns, encouraging your audience to engage with the content. Because this is easier said than done, we’ve provided 5 ways to improve email engagement in this post.
What is email engagement?
Firstly, let’s clarify what email engagement actually is. Email engagement is a measure of how subscribers interact with your email marketing campaigns. There are several metrics for email engagement – we’ve outlined the most important ones here:
NOTE: Before we go into the open rate, it’s important to note that this metric is nowhere near as important and accurate as it was years ago. The open rate is becoming increasingly inaccurate due to technology and privacy changes (e.g. the iOS 15 update) – check out this HubSpot article for some more information about the recent unreliability of open rates.
The open rate is the total number of times your email was opened, including multiple opens by the same contact. You should therefore also always check your ‘unique open rate’. This reflects the amount of subscribers that opened your email, as a percentage from the total number delivered.
There is no definite answer as to what a ‘good’ or ‘average’ open rate is. It depends on the type of email you are sending, and what industry you are in. For the real estate industry, the average open rate is around 20%. If your open rate is significantly lower than this percentage, you should investigate this and start processes to improve your open rate. Keep in mind however that the open rate can be quite inaccurate these days, so our recommendation would be to focus more on the below metrics.
Bounced emails are messages that couldn’t be delivered. This does not include emails that went to spam – bounced emails never made it to any mailbox. There can be various reasons for this. There are 2 types of bounces:
Soft bounce: soft bounces are caused by subscriber errors, such as full inboxes or too large file sizes.
Hard bounce: a hard bounce means the email address you’re trying to send to is incorrect. This could mean the email address is either fake or misspelled.
If you have hard bounces, double-check the email addresses. There may be simple misspellings that you can fix from your end, such as misspelled domain names or ‘.con’.
The click-through rate measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on your call to action, or any other clickable link in your email. This is one of the most important measures – it says a lot more than the open rate alone. If a lot of people clicked through in your email, it indicates your content is engaging.
According to Mailchimp’s survey, the average click-through rate for all industries is 2.62%. The real estate industry sits below that, averaging 1.77%.
The click map is a visualisation tool that shows you exactly where in your email your subscribers clicked. This is a great way of finding out what kind of content engages your recipients the most, and where they’re most inclined to click.
The unsubscribe rate is an important rate to keep an eye on. It indicates the number of recipients who unsubscribed from the total number of delivered emails.
An unsubscribe rate of around 0.05% is considered healthy. You simply can’t satisfy everyone with your emails, so it’s likely some contacts will unsubscribe every now and then. They may have moved to a new area or are no longer interested.
If your unsubscribe rate is higher than 0.05% or increasing over time, you should have a look into what is causing these people to unsubscribe. Maybe you’re sending too many emails, or your emails contain irrelevant information. Poorly formatted content is another main reason why many people unsubscribe to emails, so make you check this.
The complaint rate is one you’d like to keep as low as possible. It represents the number of recipients who reported your email as spam, divided by the total number of emails you’ve sent.
A complaint rate of 0,01% (1 complaint for every 1,000 emails sent) is considered acceptable. Similar to the unsubscribe rate, you simply can’t satisfy everyone. If your complaint rate is above 0.01%, this is considered high and can negatively affect your deliverability rate. Make sure to keep an eye on your complaint rate.
An important key rule for keeping this number low is to only send emails to recipients who have consented to receiving your emails.
Why is it important?
Your email engagement rate is not only important because it indicates your audience is interested in your content. It actually affects your email deliverability rate – if your audience isn’t engaging with your content, mailboxes may start to see your emails as spam.
Email service providers (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook) gather and analyse all of the above metrics to calculate your email engagement. If your readers are opening your emails and they have a healthy click-through rate, they’ll see you as a credible email provider. This means your emails will (normally) continue to be delivered to your recipients.
If your engagement rate is however lower than it should be, your reputation will drop and it’s likely your email deliverability will decrease. You may end up in spam, or your emails won’t deliver at all if the provider blocks you from sending any further emails.
How to improve your email engagement
Now you have a better understanding of what email engagement actually means and how to track it, it’s time to look into how you can improve your engagement rate. We’ve outlined 5 simple ways to help you improve your email engagement.
1. Spend extra time on your subject line (and don’t neglect the preview text!)
We’ve covered this particular item in one of our recent blog posts. One of the most important aspects of getting your audience to engage with your email campaign is the subject line. The reasoning behind this is simple: if the subject isn’t interesting enough to your audience, they simply won’t open it.
There are a few elements that make for a good subject line – you want to keep it short and concise, create a sense of urgency and curiosity, and perhaps ask a question. For a complete breakdown of how to write catchy subject lines, make sure you read our recent post here.
An important step of optimising your subject lines is to conduct tests. A/B testing is perfect for testing subject lines. It allows you to test multiple subject lines against each other and see which ones perform best. If you have a large audience, you could opt to test 2 different subject lines on a small percentage of the email list, followed by sending the winning variant to the rest of your audience.
When crafting your subject line, don’t forget to spend some time on your preview text as well (the little snippet of text that follows the subject, giving recipients a preview of your email content). Using this text effectively can help you increase your open rates.
2. Personalise your emails for each recipient
Personalisation is key in making direct marketing such as email work. There are not many channels that allow you to personalise content as well as email marketing does, so take advantage of this!
On top of using personalisation in your subject lines, you can use dynamic content in your emails. Dynamic content is any content in your email that changes based on your contact’s data, preferences and behaviours. This way, you can create one bulk email that goes out to your entire list, and it automatically changes the content within to personalise it for each recipient.
As a bare minimum, you should include your recipient’s first name in the greeting. If you’re sending a bulk email to all of your contacts, you can simply insert a merge field where the recipient’s first name will appear.
When it comes to personalisation in your email marketing, merge fields are your best friends.
3. Focus on the CTA
Within your email content, the CTA should always be the main focus. So before you write your content, you need to decide what your objective is. Do you want people to fill out a free appraisal form, do you want them to read a blog post on your website, or do you want them to call you?
Once you have decided what your objective and CTA is, you should write your content around this. Following this method will help you to really keep the focus of your content on the CTA.
Make sure your CTA is clear, obvious and easy to follow. A stand-out, coloured button is often a good way to go as it catches the attention of readers.
4. Segment your lists
As a real estate agent, ideally your CRM will automatically segment your lists between buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants etc., based on the type of enquiry you receive. This will help you tailor your content to specific groups – you don’t want to send your tenants a guide on how to prepare a house for a sale.
Segmenting your lists allows you to get the right message to the right people, at the right time. It’s worth spending some time in your database to ensure your leads end up in the right lists, as well as manually segmenting your contacts even further. This could for example be specifying whether someone is a current seller, or a prospective seller.
When you tailor your content to the specific segments, you minimise the risk of annoying people with content that’s irrelevant to them, which is likely to lead to a higher unsubscribe rate. On the other hand, you’re likely to improve your engagement rate as you send out highly relevant and tailored content to your contacts.
5. Find the best frequency and timing to send your emails
Another important factor that can affect the engagement rate of your emails, is the time you send them. There is no one-time-fits-all that works for every audience – you will need to test and analyse when your audience is most likely to open and interact with your emails. Maybe they can only check emails in their lunch break or after work, or perhaps you’re best off reaching out to them early in the morning.
The majority of email marketing platforms allow you to track open times and other relevant information. This is useful in determining what the most effective time for emails is – test out different times and days, and see if there is a significant change in open rates and at what time your audience is most active. Do you get a higher open rate on weekdays, or during the weekend?
Again, A/B testing is the most effective way here of finding out the ideal timing to send out your emails. Do you not use A/B testing, but simply send out different campaigns at different times? If that’s the case, you should keep in mind the open rate may be heavily affected by other factors. One example of this is the subject line, rather than just the timing of the email.
In addition to timing, it’s important to find out the ideal frequency for your audience. How often do they want to receive an email from you? You don’t want to send too many emails, as you may run the risk of annoying your contacts and a high unsubscribe rate. On the other hand, you also don’t want to send out too few emails, as your audience may forget you. Monitor the unsubscribes rates and open rates closely, and amend the frequency of your email marketing accordingly.
Need help with your email marketing?
Hopefully these tips gave you some idea on how to improve your email engagement rate. If you’re interested in learning more about email marketing, make sure you check out our other articles:
If you need help with your direct marketing, do not hesitate to book in a free, no-obligation consultation with our expert team. We’d love to help you nurture the relationship with your contact database through our email & SMS marketing services, which includes assistance with setting up your automated email & SMS workflows!