Get into the Inbox - The Importance of Subscriber Engagement

14 May, 2019 by Paul Jarczynski

A good email marketer will get the importance of knowing and understanding their customer, but far too many don’t know and understand the gatekeepers to that customer, the inbox provider.

Last December we were stunned to read, that even as 2020 fast approaches, an alarming number of marketers were either neutral or disagreed with the following statement: “Mailbox providers use subscriber engagement to determine where to filter (e.g. inbox, spam, blocked) the email you send.”

The must read report, put out by Demand Metric and Return Path and titled “The State of Email Engagement”, highlights a lack of understanding or appreciation within the marketing industry of the simple fact that subscriber engagement in email campaigns, opens and clicks, is a key metric used by inbox providers when deciding where your message ends up. 

If you send out an email or series of emails that people don’t open, or click links in, you shouldn’t expect future campaigns to be delivered in such a willing fashion by inbox providers. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple et al. all have a job to do in keeping their users inboxes clear of email these users have no interest in reading. If they don’t do this then users have no shortage of alternative providers who do a good job of this, and so are an attractive alternative. As a result inbox providers are very proactive in doing their best to filter out unwanted email. What better way to understand what constitutes good or great email then by engagement in those emails of their users.

Having worked with Email Service Providers for a number of years, I have seen first hand how campaigns are affected across the board. Some campaigns that initially were delivered to inbox are later, after poor engagement across a campaign, been moved to less desirable folders in those users who had yet to sign into their accounts (this behaviour is certainly prevalent in one of the big three providers). 

Also from the years of bearing witness to the results of thousands of client campaigns, time and again the people with the most repeated success are those who steer their campaigns to highly engaged audiences. You should never be afraid to stop sending to those that are not opening and engaging, and you should always view and treat engagement metrics with the up-most of respect.

As an email marketer you need to remember to not only put yourself in the shoes of your subscriber, but also to take into consideration the inbox provider. Inbox providers want to deliver the best experience possible for their users, and this means delivering email their users, and your subscribers, actually want. What better metric is there for this task than user engagement?