I‘ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: building your email list should be your number one priority if you want to monetize your blog. That’s not just my opinion. Any marketing expert worth his or her salt will give the same advice. Email marketing works by getting your content directly into people’s inboxes, allowing you to sell products and earn money. While there’s loads of advice about collecting emails, there’s not so much about what to do once you’ve got them. Today, I’m going to redress the balance by describing twelve strategies to keep your email subscribers engaged and keep your email marketing strategy on target.

If you haven’t already started building your email list, or you don’t know how to do it, the following posts will tell you everything you need to know:

Twelve Tips to Keep Your Email Subscribers Engaged

Hopefully, most of your subscribers are engaging with your emails, opening them, reading them and clicking through.  However, some of them will not be engaging with your content. How can you spot a disengaged subscriber? A disengaged subscriber is one who:

  • Has never interacted with your emails.
  • Interacted with your emails initially but stopped 6 or more months ago.
  • Opens your emails but does not click through.

It’s inevitable that you’ll have some disengaged subscribers, but if a large percentage of your subscribers are showing some of the above characteristics, you may need to rethink your email marketing strategy. So here are twelve common reasons why your subscribers are disengaged and how to get them back on side.

Why Are Your Subscribers Disengaged?

Before you can design a solution, you must understand the problem. If your email subscribers are not interacting with your emails, it is probably for one of the following twelve reasons.

1. You Are Not Delivering What You Promised

Problem

In your haste to build your email list, you may have promised the world. As a result of you failing to deliver it, your subscribers have discovered your ruse and are voting with their feet.

For example, if you entice subscribers by promising them “weekly tips to monetize your blog”, and in return you send them a monthly list of products you are trying to promote, your subscribers will feel disconnected with your emails and will not engage with them.

Solution

Always be honest with your readers regarding what they will get in return for subscribing to your email list. Don’t try to mislead potential subscribers by promising content you can’t or won’t deliver.

A short email list containing subscribers who are genuinely interested in your content is far better than a long list of disengaged subscribers. If you want to make it clear to your new subscribers exactly what kind of content you will be providing, include a few of your most popular posts in a follow-up email.

A short email list of people who are interested in your content is better than a long list of… Click To Tweet

2. Your Content Is Not Good Enough

Problem

This is too common with beginner bloggers and is completely avoidable. Furthermore, it will hurt your entire blog, not just your email list. The quality of your posts is vital to your success.

Because there are so many blogs out there in every niche you can think of, the competition is too high to get away with bad content. Your subscribers won’t give you a second chance. If they click on a link in your email and it leads them to poor content, you can kiss goodbye to that subscriber engaging with your emails ever again.

Solution

Write top quality content of course! When you are writing new content, you should always concentrate on writing posts that:

  • Are original.
  • Provide value to the reader.
  • Have been proofread and are free of spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Are visually appealing.
  • Have been thoroughly researched.

Too many bloggers think the more words they can include in a post the better. Or publishing as many new posts as possible is the best strategy. Wrong! Publishing well-written, well-researched, original posts is the only strategy for long-term success.

You also need to look at what kind of content does best. Which are your most popular posts? Which posts have generated the most comments? That is the type content that your readers want.

You should also research the top articles in your niche. Use tools such as Ruzzit and Buzzsumo to find the most shared content for your niche. Once you know what the most popular articles in your niche are, make them better! You could write a longer, more detailed post, design an infographic, or create a podcast or video. Add more value for the reader and your subscribers will be more likely to click through to your content.

3. Your Subscribers Just Wanted Your Sign-Up Incentive

Problem

Hands up, who has subscribed to a blog just for the incentive? Yeah, me too. Some blogs giveaway really valuable stuff as a lead magnet (an incentive such as a free ebook designed to entice readers to subscribe).

Offering a valuable lead magnet is a great way to build your email list. But be aware that the better your lead magnet, the more subscribers you will get who just want the free stuff. These subscribers just want the incentive and have no intention of engaging with your emails.

Solution

These sorts of subscribers are inevitable if you offer a quality incentive, but it is incredibly frustrating to go to all that trouble to create your lead magnet, only to get disengaged subscribers.

You should check where you are promoting your lead magnet. Are your Twitter followers genuinely interested in your niche and able benefit from your content? Or are they only vaguely interested in your niche but like the sound of your lead magnet? If the latter, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You should double your efforts  to connect with people who will genuinely benefit from your content. These people are more likely to click through even after they have downloaded your lead magnet.

Remember, the quality of your subscribers is more important than the quantity. A short list of engaged subscribers is better than a long list of disengaged subscribers.

4. Your Content Is Too Broad and Unfocused

Problem

If you blog about multiple topics, it’s only natural that your readers are not going to be interested in all of them. Having a blog covering broad topics is not necessarily a bad thing if the topics are connected, but it is bad news for email marketing. If an email covers ten topics and a subscriber is only interested in two of them, the likelihood of that subscriber clicking through is greatly reduced compared to someone who is interested in 100% of your content.

Solution

Solving this problem is a two-step process:

  1. Find out what topics your subscribers are interested in.
  2. Send them only content that matches their interests.

How do you find out what topics your subscribers are interested in? Well, you could try asking them. Create a survey using Survey Monkey and email it to your subscribers. Tell them it is in their best interests to respond as you are trying to improve the experience for your subscribers. You could even add a little incentive like some Amazon vouchers for one random respondent.

Another method is to check which pages your subscribers are signing up from. Email marketing service providers such as AWeber will give you this kind of information. So if someone signs up on a page related to rock music on your blog about rock, pop and classical music, you know that subscriber is interested in rock.

Once you know what topics your subscribers are interested in, you can use the tags feature in AWeber to compartmentalize your subscribers. So for our example subscriber above, you could give him a ‘rock’ tag and only send him emails that are primarily about rock music.

5. You Are Overwhelming Your Subscribers With Information

Problem

If your blog already has a lot of posts, or you publish multiple posts each week, it’s understandable that you’d want to share all your content with your subscribers. Resist the temptation. Less is more when it comes to email marketing.

If your subscribers receive an email with your latest ten ‘must read’ posts, you’re going to send them running. Reading ten blog posts in a single sitting is overwhelming and a big turn off for your busy subscribers.

Solution

Don’t try to bombard your subscribers with all of your content all in one go. Instead, make a list of your ten best posts and create an email for each one. Schedule emails to be delivered to new subscribers at a rate of 1 to 2 per week over 5 to 10 weeks. This way you are engaging with your subscribers consistently and directing them to your best content without overwhelming them. Make sure the posts you are promoting in this way are as good as they can be.

Often, your readers won’t know where to start when they first visit your blog. I help them out by providing a couple of signposts: in the secondary menu I’ve included a link for beginners to help them start their blogs, and in the footer I’ve listed five recommended posts. On my homepage I also list posts under their category with short descriptions to help readers find the content they want quickly.

start-a-blog-signposts - How to Keep Your Email Subscribers Engaged

The same applies to your emails. You can use them to direct your subscribers to your best content and help them navigate your blog. In the below image, you can see an email I received when I subscribed to Copyblogger. Note the way they turn having confused subscribers into a positive:

copyblogger-email - How to Keep Your Email Subscribers Engaged

6. Your Emails Have Uninteresting Subjects

Problem

The subject is the first thing your email recipients will read. If your subject lines are not grabbing your subscribers by the lapels and shouting, “READ ME!” they aren’t doing their job.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. Which of the following two subjects do you think got the most opens?:

A: The broke girl’s guide to a luxury vacation
B: Cheap holidays suitable for girls

It’s A, right? It has personality, it allows the reader to self-identify (broke girls, you know who you are) and is aspirational (luxury vacation).

Solution

Writing good email subjects is a skill that you’ll get better at the more you do it. But there are some tricks you can use to start hitting the mark right away.

Just remember, your subject line has one job: to get the recipient to open the email. How do you do that? By using one of the following subject templates:

  1. Reason Why (5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Reason Why Subject)
  2. Benefit (Lose Weight While You Sleep)
  3. Question (Do You Think You Can Retire At 65? Think Again!)
  4. Testimonial (Bill Gates Can Afford Any Car; He Drives A Ford (and a Porsche))
  5. Aspirational (The Broke Girl’s Guide to a Luxury Vacation)
  6. How-To (How to Make Money From Your Blog)
  7. News (New Click to Tweet Plugin Announced)
  8. Fascination (Discover the Ultimate Social Media Tips)
  9. Targeted (Attention WordPress Bloggers Who Need More Visitors)
  10. List (10 Win-Win Strategies for Starting a Blog)
  11. Avoid This (My Income went from $10,000 to $0 After One Mistake)
  12. Intriguing Promise (Marketing Secrets The Experts Don’t Want You to Know)
  13. Teaser (Do You Cover Your Webcam With Tape?)
  14. Seasonal (Your New Year’s Resolutions for Earning More)
  15. Announcement (Daily Planet Exclusive: iPhone 8)
  16. Command (Stop Wasting Money on Buying Followers)
  17. Urgency (Last Chance to Send Your $10)
  18. Keyword (You spend a lot of time researching keywords when SEO optimizing your posts. Use them in your email subjects too.)
  19. Personalized – use any of the above templates, but personalize it (John Smith, Happy With Your WordPress Theme?)

Test your subject lines and measure your results. Email marketing services like AWeber give you all the data you need. Compare the click through rates (CTRs) of different subjects and see which ones perform better for you. There’s no one right way to do this. The technique that works best for you is unique to your blog and your subscribers.

7. Your Emails Are Being Treated As Spam

Problem

If your emails are sent straight to the spam bin by the recipient’s email provider, all connection between you and your subscriber is lost. The subscriber may have engaged with your email and may even have bought products, but if they didn’t receive it, the chance has gone.

Solution

Unfortunately, emails sent from email marketing service providers sometimes end up in spam folders. Obviously, this is a major problem for the provider too, so they will do all they can to keep your emails out of the spam folder. Here are some tips you can try to keep your emails landing in the inbox:

1. Don’t send all your emails at once:

Spammers upload a database of email addresses and send emails to thousands of recipients at once. The spam filters in most email providers are designed to detect mass emails and send them to the spam bin. Unfortunately, this sometimes means useful emails are also classed as spam.

This can be avoided by compartmentalizing your subscribers and sending each group separate emails one after the other.

As well as being automatically classed as spam by email providers, your subscribers may also mark your emails as spam. If many people mark your email as spam, it can create another trigger for the spam filter. You could also be penalized by your email marketing service provider if too many of your emails are marked as spam.

The best way to avoid your subscribers from marking your emails as spam is to maintain your email list carefully. Look for hard bounces (usually an invalid email address), and remove them from your list. Remove subscribers consistently marking your emails as spam. Remove invalid email addresses (you should be able to spot bad email addresses (no . or no @ for example) with a quick scan of your email list). Remove inactive subscribers. Yes, I know this post is about how to keep your email subscribers engaged and active, but sometimes you just have to let them go.

2. Use a double opt-in while collecting emails:

When using a double opt-in, every subscriber receives an email asking if they are sure they want to subscribe. You should personalize this message and tell the subscriber exactly what they will get from your emails. You will get few subscribers this way, but they will be more likely to engage with your emails. This process also checks that the subscriber entered a valid email address and keeps your bounce rate down.

3. Don’t use ‘spammy’ words in your subject lines:

Email providers want to give their users the best experience possible, so they try their best to keep their customers inboxes free of spam. One way they do this is to look for a list of trigger words. Here is a list I’ve compiled of words and phrases that are likely to get your emails in trouble with spam filters: list of email spam trigger words. Avoid using these words in your subject lines.

4. Ask subscribers to whitelist your email address:

The simplest way to avoid going to spam is to ask your subscribers to add you to their address book. You’ll find a lot of bloggers do this and it can’t do any harm even if most subscribers will ignore it.

5. Don’t send too many emails in one day:

This is good advice generally. Sending multiple emails to your subscribers, unless you have a very good reason, is just going to annoy them. Also, the more emails you send, the lower your CTR is likely to be. A low CTR is bad news for your marketing strategy and your spam.

8. Your Emails Are Getting Lost in the Crowd

Problem

In their search for good advice, many readers subscribe to multiple blogs. This is fine if they manage their inbox regularly, but who has the time for that? You emails could easily get lost in the deluge of emails landing in your subscribers’ inboxes.

Solution

There’s no way of knowing if this is happening to your emails, but it’s a fair guess that it is. The best way of avoiding it is to make your emails stand out:

  • Use attention grabbing subject lines.
  • Add a profile image for those email providers that display one.
  • Make your emails so good they keep your email subscribers clicking send/receive every five minutes while they wait for your next one!

9. You Are Giving Your Subscribers the Hard Sell

Problem

Send too much promotional material, and your subscribers will disengage with your content. You know the sorts of emails I’m talking about; the ones with large flashy banners saying buy my ebook or multiple affiliate links with no real information about how the product works.

Solution

Your number one priority should be providing value to your subscribers. If you provide them with valuable information, you’ll keep your email subscribers onside, and the sales will come. You need to prime your readers before you can sell to them. The way to prime them is to tell them how you can solve their problems, either by selling them your products or by recommending third party products.

10. You Are Sending Your Emails at the Wrong Time

Problem

Many people think the time you send an email is irrelevant. Surely, emails just sit in the inbox and will be read when the recipient is ready? Wrong! Imagine if you send an email just after the recipient has checked his or her emails. New emails will come in after yours and will push yours to the bottom of the pile. It may still be opened, but by the time they get to the bottom of their email pile, the recipient may be running out of time and energy.

Solution

Your aim should be to send your email just before your recipient checks their email so yours is the first email they see. An impossible task? Maybe, but there’s no harm in trying.

Data from GetResponse shows the most common times for checking emails are 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. so this is a good starting point. Of course, this is complicated by time zones.

1. Compartmentalize your audience based on location:

This will make it easier for you to send out emails at the correct times even for different time zones. It will also help with point 7.1 discussed above regarding avoiding being classed as spam – don’t send all your emails at once.

2. Send your emails based on certain days and time:

Send your emails during different days of the week and at particular times. Experiment to see what works for you and your subscribers.

11. Your Emails Are Not Well Designed

Problem

Long-email - How to Keep Your Email Subscribers Engaged

Ever receive an email like the one in the picture? Did the thought of reading it fill you with dread?

You need to understand that your subscribers are busy people. Perhaps they don’t have ten minutes to read a huge email, no matter how well written it is. Even if your reader does wade through all that text then just deletes it, you have failed.

You should not give away all of your valuable information in the email. Rather, think of your email as a trailer for the main event.

If you send emails like the one in the picture, you are on the wrong track and really need to rethink your email strategy.

Solution

Your emails, like your blog posts, should have a single, clear call to action. This could be visiting your blog, clicking an affiliate link, liking you on Facebook, or replying to the email.

To make it more likely your subscriber will click through, you should send short, well-structured emails. A well-structured email may look something like this:

Greeting: Dear <Name of subscriber>,

Introduction: I hope you are well. Today, I have some great tips to help you optimize your email marketing strategy.

Connect with the reader: Like many of you, I find it very difficult trying to keep my email subscribers engaged.

Introduce the problem: It’s hard enough just building your list.

Expound the problem: But keeping your list engaged is another skill entirely.

Introduce the solution: That’s why I’ve come up with twelve ways to keep your email subscribers engaged.

Expound the solution: My advice is so easy, you can implement it right now!

Describe the benefits: Following these methods, I increased my CTR by 500%!

Call to action: Click here to head over to my blog and learn how you can keep your email subscribers clicking through and coming back for more.

12. Your Subscriber Has Lost Interest or the Industry Has Changed

Problem

Things change and if you don’t change with them, you risk being left behind. If you’re still blogging about a dead technology or last year’s movies, you’re email subscribers are going to disengage with your emails.

Your email subscribers also change. Maybe they have a new job, hobby or a major life event is preventing them from engaging with your emails.

In the latter case, there really isn’t much you can do, but in the former there is.

Solution

Make sure your content is as fresh and current as possible. You ever hear the term evergreen content? Evergreen content is content that will always be relevant. If your content is evergreen, your emails will be also.

If your blog is in a fast moving niche such as technology, a lot of your content will not be evergreen. In this case, you’ll have to stay on top of your niche and publish new content much faster than someone who blogs in a slower moving niche such as fitness. It’s a difficult job, but if you’re passionate about your niche, it will also be a rewarding one.

I hope these tips have given you some ideas to keep your email subscribers engaged. If you have any other tips, please let us know in the comments below.

About The Author

David Borrowdale is the founder and editor of Blog Cogs, a blog about making a living from blogging. Learn more about him here.

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4 Responses

    • David Borrowdale

      Hey, Grant. Thanks for your comment. Yeah, it’s a useful list with some words you might not expect.

  1. Ryan Biddulph

    Hi David,

    Smart tips! Following up with emails that deliver on my promise helped me grow a responsive list. I offer a free blogging eBook every Friday. Done! Easy enough. Since I wrote 126 of ’em 😉 And every Monday I send out my latest blog post via email. Piece of cake. A few lines, pointing to a link and I have the free updates I promise through my opt in form copy. Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  2. Usman Nasir

    Hi David !

    You have literally put it in a beautiful way possible. I’ve faced two of these problems alot.

    1. The blog have not a specific topic to discuss about, its very general.
    2. Sending the email on wrong time.

    The later problem is solvable, but to recover from a general blog to a specific blog is not very easy, I guess.

    Because we’ve to re-do all our strategy and even rebuild the list as well, but I do have learned this lesson that a blog about specific niche/topic should be best choice rather than a general blog.

    Have a good day Dave.
    Regards