The role of engagement in email success

Subscribers who open your emails and click through are the ones you absolutely need to keep track of during your email campaigns. They are of course responsible for your ROI, but also contribute to your sender reputation.

ISPs and engagement

Over the last few years, ISPs have relied more heavily on the engagement of email recipients as a key factor for whether or not to deliver emails to the inbox. Each provider determines what they consider “engagement,” but most include at least the open and click-through rates (CTR) of your campaigns.

If you can aim for a healthy open rate, you’re more likely to see your emails delivered. Good open rates differ by not just the type of email but also by the type of industry.

Hubspot, for example, found in a recent study that a good average open rate is 20.94%, with the electronics industry hitting around 19% and real estate averaging at 26%.
Likewise, click-through rates will vary by email type and industry. Hubspot discovered the average CTR across surveyed industries was 7.8%. Financial services saw the lowest CTR of 6.82%, while manufacturing hit an impressive 9.31%.

Inactive subscribers or non-responders

While you want to pay close attention to who’s opening your emails, you also want to take note of who’s not. That’s because inactive subscribers can be one of the biggest drawbacks to the success of your email deliverability rates.

Subscribers can become unresponsive for a number of reasons. More often than not, your email gets lost in their inboxes. Other times, they’re too busy to read your content, or their interests have changed entirely. At worst, they’re ignoring you because you did something to upend their expectations (e.g. you send more emails than you’d promised when they signed up).

Identify any inactive subscribers like these that you may have in your list, and choose one of two routes: reactivate or remove.Some senders may want to choose the former tactic if they feel the subscriber actually does want to receive their content but were just too busy or missed the emails. If you take this route, consider lowering your email frequency to these subscribers in particular, or send them a message tied to your reactivation campaign asking them if they still want to get your emails.

If your reactivation campaign doesn’t get any positive feedback, your only choice is to stop sending emails to these addresses. Otherwise, you risk hurting your reputation by these addresses turning into spam traps.
You may feel frustrated removing subscribers from your list, but remember: it’s always better to put your overall reputation first and your total subscriber count second.

Evaluate and improve

Evaluating any negative issues that arise from your email campaigns is imperative to building a trusting relationship with both your existing and potential new subscribers.

There are multiple ways you can tell if something is not right: low open rates, too many bounces, lots of unsubscribes, spam complaints, getting blacklisted, etcetera.

Learning from these kinds of issues and dealing with them appropriately will help you avoid similar mistakes in the future, and therefore increase your open rates, ROI, and deliverability.