Best Practices in Email Deliverability: Uncommon Tiers of Engagement

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Laptop and fly envelopesEmail engagement has evolved and expanded over the years to include many different forms and actions, which we call “tiers.” In July, I wrote a post on the common tiers of email engagement, so today I want to go into more detail around the uncommon tiers.

As an email deliverability expert, I am constantly trying to gain a better understanding of the algorithms and filters ISPs use to determine inbox placement. I believe that engagement and relevancy are two of the most important factors that ISPs look at when determining if a message is worthy of being delivered to the inbox. So let’s take a look at some uncommon forms of engagement that many marketers don’t think about when creating their campaigns.

litmus-logo-fullBy the way, there’s  a testing mechanism you might not know about that’s used by many marketers to help identify these uncommon forms: Litmus.  Litmus is a tool that can display how your email will appear across many different devices and providers.  If you have not yet discovered the many ways that Litmus can help you develop your campaigns, you might be missing out on the uncommon forms of engagement, since they’re not as easy to see as the common forms.

In the 3 uncommon tiers of engagement, the recipient has…

  1. Opened and skimmed the message
  2. Opened and glanced through the message
  3. Opened and deleted the message

An interesting factor in all of these tiers is that in order to count as an uncommon form of engagement, the recipient has to at least open the message.  As with the common tiers, these levels can easily designate the level of engagement, from highest to lowest, number one being the highest and number three being the lowest. Since they all include the action of opening email, overall engagement is there.

1.     Opened and skimmed the message

The highest level of engagement from this group is “opened and skimmed the message.”  This means the recipient spent 2 to 8 seconds on the email.  Litmus has also stated that if someone spends more than 8 seconds on an email, the recipient has thoroughly read it and probably taken another action, such as clicked through.  This information is great to have, because it has a direct correlation to the relevancy of the content and demonstrates what your recipients want to be getting from you.

2.     Opened and glanced through the message

For recipients that fall into the “opened and glanced through the message,” category, it means something is triggering interest in them, but they might not want it right now.  According to Litmus, a glance means that someone has spent less than 2 seconds on your email.  This could provide you a lot of insight into why they are not spending more time.  Is your strategy right for these people?  Are you possibly mailing them at the wrong time of day?  Is the content not relevant to them?  If you find that many of your recipients are in this category, you should start looking into the “why” factor.  Look at the data and see if the person comes back at any time after the initial open. This is arguably the most important group to review.

3.     Opened and deleted the message

Another group to monitor is the “opened and deleted the message” group.  This will give you a lot of information about relevancy, but it can also indicate reputation issues.  ISPs are looking at several forms of engagement, and if someone takes the action of opening, then deleting, your message, it could negatively affect your deliverability. Your overall goal is to keep the recipient on the message as long as possible so they can take action and drive more ROI and conversions. If people delete your messages, I would recommend looking at the relevancy of the content, further segmenting your lists, and finding similar offenders.  If they are the same people every time, you might want to isolate the group, send less frequently to them, or develop a campaign where they can manage their email preferences.

These levels of engagement should be continuously monitored by all marketers.  Litmus is one tool that I recommend to clients as they build their campaigns and test new strategies.  It should be part of any marketers’ tool set when it comes to driving smarter email communications and strategies.

Going into 2015, inbox real estate is going to become harder and harder to acquire, so making sure you have as much information on your customers and prospects, and also knowing as much as you possibly can about their preferences and habits, is going to be key to success.

If you have questions or you’d like help making your campaigns more effective, please reach out to our email Deliverability Insight team. We also have a Professional Services team that can help with long-term strategy building.

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