By Kestrel Lemen et al, Bronto Software

Unengaged subscribers can drag down marketing metrics and negatively impact deliverability. After you’ve acquired and welcomed your new subscribers, it’s crucial to keep them engaged.

It’s critical that new subscribers be immediately engaged so that it’s easier to keep them opening messages, connecting on social and interacting with you on their mobile devices.

So, you want to want to engage your subscribers? You first need to get to know them better by running a “complete your profile” campaign.

How much do you really know about your new subscribers? In many cases, you’ve streamlined your sign-up form so that all they have to enter is name and email address. Now is the time to start getting to know these subscribers by utilising a manage preferences campaign encouraging subscribers to complete their profile.

When creating or optimising your manage preferences form, be sure to ask for more than just an email address update. Think of additional information that you could gather from your contacts that pertains to your business and that you could turn around and use for future personalisation, segmentation or for setting-up automated messages.

For example, consider collecting the following fields on your form:
• First name (for personalisation)
• Postcode (for geo-targeting)
• Product category of interest (for segmentation)
• Birthday (for automated triggers)
• Anniversary (for automated triggers)
• Gender (for segmentation)
• Email preference (online, in-store or online and in-store)

Many companies collect information and never use it. Don’t ask subscribers to give you many personal data points, only to let it sit unused in your database.

Think strategically about the data you wish to collect, how you will use it and how you will ask subscribers to provide it for you. For example, only ask for birthday information if you intend to send out an automated birthday message.

Many times subscribers provide this information and never receive a birthday message. By asking for this data, you are setting the expectation that you will send this personalised message. The same is true with category or brand preference. This is valuable information that could either be gathered from a subscriber’s browsing history or managed preferences campaigns. Once you’ve acquired this information for a subscriber, future campaigns should be more targeted. Forget about “blasting” your general message to subscribers who have raised their hands to only receive certain product or category information.

With this valuable information, you have a great opportunity to meet their expectations and further engage them with relevant, targeted messages.

For example, if a subscriber tells you her favourite category is dresses, she expects to see emails focused on dresses. Suppose you’ve got a line of new dresses coming in stock for spring. Build a segment of all those contacts who love dresses and send them a “Because you love dresses, be the first to view our new line of dresses for spring” message. This will make them feel like you’re really paying attention to what they like and give them a sense that they are receiving an exclusive message that will increase the likelihood that they will convert on the message. You could also send out a message to your general list a few days later about your new dresses, but be sure to suppress those “dress lovers” who have already received the “early access” email.

Not every contact will feel comfortable providing more information, but there will be many who do. The key is to make all the fields optional so that people can choose to share as much or as little information as they’d like. The information they provide you is like gold and should be treated as such.

Do not ignore what your subscribers have told you. Instead, begin to have what will feel like more of a conversation with them by sending more targeted messages based on their preferences.

Engagement has become a more important factor in inbox deliverability, so it has become crucial that commerce marketers send messages that their subscribers find relevant and with which they will choose to interact.

By Kestrel Lemen et al, Bronto Software