How to get more engagement from your emails

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Hello and welcome to the Nurture Copy monthly tutorial for November 2021.

In this month’s tutorial we’re looking at how you can get more engagement from the emails that you send out.

Let’s start by talking about engagement

What is engagement?

Engagement is commonly misunderstood as the number or percentage of people that have opened an email. Sure, this was a simple metric years ago and was a helpful indicator for how many people in your audience that you were reaching. However, in modern times we live in a more privacy focused world – which is a change for the better.

Engagement is more than just how many people have opened your email. It also includes how many people clicked on a link, how many people took an additional action such as completing a form or survey, how many people purchased the offer you promoted, and most importantly, at least for me, how many conversations you started.

You can even include an unsubscribe as engagement. Yes it sounds silly as someone is removing themselves from your email list, however it’s a positive instrument for you. The person who is leaving your list is refining your audience and ensuring that you’re only speaking to people who are interested in and care about what you’re sending.

At the simplest level just track three things – email open rates, link clicks and conversations.

Just in case of any confusion, if someone takes the time to reply to your email, that counts as a conversation!

The benefits of more engagement

Getting more engagement from your email list will bring many benefits to your business.

Firstly, your business will be front of mind in the eyes of your subscribers. Whether your subscribers are existing customers, or made up of people that haven’t yet purchased from you, it’s incredibly value to be memorable to them.

As soon as that person has an issue down the line… whether it’s a week away, a month away or a year away… guess who they’re going to be thinking of as someone that can help them. Yes, it would be you.

More engagement will bring more sales. This is fairly obvious I know, but it’s worth stating. If you have an audience that are looking forward to the regular emails that you send each week and you’re delivering value to them, then they’re perfectly positioned for you to sell to.

So when you send out your great email offer, your audience who are opening your emails, clicking on links and are highly engaged, they’re going to head on through to your sales page. Assuming your offer is relevant and helpful for them, you can rejoice in seeing more sales coming through!

This is my favourite benefit and it’s all about the joy of having more conversations. I love these with our customers and subscribers. It’s a genuine pleasure to have a conversation from an email that we have sent out. Sometimes those conversations are specifically related to the content of the email, sometimes they’re questions about a different area, and occasionally they’re just off in a random direction.

My point here is that having more conversations helps to strengthen and build better relationships. So many of the conversations that I’ve had, led to building a friendship with people. That’s such a valuable and precious thing to have.

Finally, and I touched on it just there – engagement leads to better and stronger relationships.

Who doesn’t want those?

Better and stronger relationships with your clients through email marketing leads to a magical thing that the vast majority of agency owners say is one of their best revenue sources – referrals.

Being seen as helpful and trustworthy means that it’s very easy for someone to refer you to a friend, colleague or fellow business owner who needs help.

How to get more engagement

Now that we’ve talked a bit more about what engagement is and the benefits of getting more engagement, let’s look at what you can specifically do to get more engagement from your emails.

I’m going to run through 9 things here that you can use with your email marketing to get more engagement from your audience.


When you think personalisation, one of the first things you’ll do is use your subscriber’s name in the subject or body of your email. This is a great start, but it’s not a perfect result. You can do a lot more with personalisation.

The main thing that you’ll need to have in place is subscriber data. This will come from asking questions and properly recording that data into your email platform. This is known as segmentation and we’ll be talking a bit more about that shortly.

Once you’ve segmented your audience, you might have data on the type of business they run, their pain points, annual revenue, number of employees, etc.

You can then personalise your email content to talk specifically about these key areas of data.

Most modern email platforms will let you use different content in an email depending on subscriber data.

For example, if I was sending out an email to 1000 different business owners, I might have segments that group them by their marketing pain point.

I could tell the same story at the start of my email, but when I lead on to the conclusion and specifically relate to their pain point – that piece of content would be different depending on the subscriber segment.

Personalisation helps subscribers to better identify with the content that you send them. You’re talking directly to them, using data that they’ve already shared with you.


Human beings love stories. As I’ve said before, they’re all around us and in all of the media that we consume.

Some of the best emails that you send out will be the ones that contain your own personal stories.

They don’t have to be heavily scripted or fancy, it can be the simplest story that has some relation to who you are or what your business does. From a trip to the supermarket to a weekend away – there’s a story there in everything that you do.

Telling stories allows your audience to relate to you. They can put themselves in your shoes and experience the story themselves. The story might even be about a huge pain point that they greatly identify with.

For example, perhaps your audience are people who are struggling with finding more time in their business. You’ve got a proven strategy that not only helps them to generate more clients, but also to win back time.

You can share a story about how you were struggling for time and how you solved that problem.

Your reader, someone that is struggling for time themselves, can put themselves into your shoes. They’ll hear your frustrations and recognise them as the same frustrations that they experience.

This only serves to make your solution all the more interesting. For that person who identifies with your story, the link to your sales page is almost impossible to ignore.

It’s not just about sales though. Stories can deliver value too.

Deliver Value

As we all know, building trust and better relationships is all about delivering value.

Mel and I have a “Value First” philosophy with our business. We always strive to lead with value in everything that we do. It’s why you never see promotion after promotion or constant pitching from us. We would much rather deliver value and help our audience first.

When you’re sending out regular helpful emails, you’re delivering value. You’re giving your subscribers tips and advice that they can action in their businesses.

A great question to ask yourself when you want to deliver value is: What can my subscriber do today, that will make their tomorrow better?

When you’re writing your emails, answer that question. Give someone a tip that will allow them to make their business or life better.

People remember those who help them. When you’re doing this on a regular basis, you’re firmly in the front of someone’s mind.

We still have people reach out about a valuable email that we sent 6 or 12 months ago. The person took that advice or saved it and now they’re seeing benefit from it. It’s awesome to hear how an email has helped someone, and it’s something that you’ll hear on a regular basis from subscribers when you choose to lead with value.


We touched briefly on segmentation earlier in this video.

It’s absolutely crucial that you have some segmentation with your subscriber list. It’s the one thing that helps you to differentiate between all of the people that receive your emails.

The most basic level of segmentation would be to separate out your customers from your general email subscribers. You could go even deeper than this by segmenting your customers by the type of product or service that they purchased from you.

For example web design customers and SEO customers would be different segments. If you offer Care Plans, you’d probably have a segment for those customers too, since that allows you to easily send out updates that affect all customers – such as a plugin vulnerability or service update.

Segmentation works well for all different types of emails. You can use it in your automations to move subscribers to different points based on actions they’ve taken previously or the data that you’ve collected.

You can use segmentation with your email newsletters, sending variations to different segments of your audience. Although, I don’t recommend doing that with completely different emails on a regular basis unless you have large enough segments.

If you’re just looking to tweak a small part of the content to suit different audience segments, use any personalisation features that your email platform offers. This will let you write a section of your email just for people with certain tags or in a specific segment. Then you’ll have a fallback, which is the default option for anyone that isn’t in one of the segments.


Email subjects are something that you’ll either take a really long time agonising over, or you’ll write very quickly and hit send.

Both of these strategies work – with one clearly taking less time than the other.

It’s perfectly okay to search for the best subject line though. Mel and I do this a lot. We want to try and encourage people to read and engage with the emails that we send.

Your subject lines should be kept reasonably short – something around 3-5 words is good, with 7 words at a push.

It needs to be something that is easily read and understood, so try to avoid being super abstract with your subject line unless it makes sense with the email copy that you’ve written.

But what if you can’t decide between two subject lines?

Use one of them in the preview text or pre-header text as some email platforms call it.

It’s a text area that shows up next to the email subject in most email clients, in someone’s inbox view. It’s an extra little tease that can encourage someone to take action and open your email.

If you take a quick look through your own inbox, you’ll likely see someone using this themselves.

The default for email clients normally is to display the first few words of the email itself here, which doesn’t help anyone and is a wasted opportunity.

So make sure you use your preview text. If you have two subject lines, add one in there. If you don’t, give your main subject a little extra description.

You could even choose to throw in an emoji. This is another great way of getting more engagement with your emails.

Adding in an emoji to your subject line or your preview text helps your email to stand out inside someone’s busy inbox. There are so many emoji opportunities available that there’s almost always something suitable for any email newsletter that you send out.


The humble gif can be a blessing in disguise when it comes to emails.

They’re something that when used sparingly, can really share some of your personality with your readers.

Almost every email platform will allow you to send a gif in your email. And most email clients will render and show them.

There’s not much more to say here other than to go ahead and use a gif when it’s appropriate But I will reiterate the point about using them sparingly.

You want the focus of your reader to be on your content itself, not the dancing cat covered in ice cream.


Adding sharing functionality to your emails can result in additional engagement that extends far outside your newsletter itself.

Firstly, you could add a click to tweet option. This would give someone a one-click option to share a pre-defined tweet, normally a quote, from the newsletter that you’ve sent.

Next up, you could include sharing buttons so that people can share your newsletter with others. This would be best as a way of forwarding to other users or by sharing a link to where your newsletter can be read online.

Finally, you move into the world of referrals. For this, you’ve got tools like Sparkloop.

The basic premise of Sparkloop, or a similar tool, is that people can get a unique referral link to share your newsletter. You’ll set up rewards for the number of newsletter referrals that someone generates.

This would typically be set up as tiers, where the unlocked items are of increasing value. So for a handful of referrals someone would get access to something small like a guide or a video. For a lot of referrals they’d get free access to a product, an audit or whatever you choose.

The downside of Sparkloop is that it costs $99/month, which is a pretty steep investment.

In my eyes, it’s best when you’ve got a more general newsletter or you’ve got a genuine need to really grow your audience. It’s hard to qualify the type of referrals that you’ll receive through a system like this, so it needs to be worth your while to invest $1,000+ per year and to offer prizes for the referrals themselves.

It’s still worth talking about here though as it’s a product that exists and will bring in more engagement. But it might not be the right type of engagement for you right now.

Check your timing

Moving on to one of the more obvious things to look at.

Are you sending your emails on the right day or time?

This is something we talked about very early on in Nurture Copy, in two Bonus Tip videos from February 2021.

You might’ve seen these already, but did you do anything to make sure that you’re sending out your emails on the best day or time for your audience? Have you done testing?

If you feel like you’re not getting enough engagement from your existing audience, try sending your emails out at a different day and time.

Most business audiences will have higher open rates during office hours. So typically 9am – 5pm in your subscriber’s time zones. This is fairly standard and to be expected.

However some email marketers swear by the fact that their audience love to open emails at breakfast time before work, or that they get more interaction with their audience after work in the evening – because there is less jostling for attention in someone’s inbox.

Try sending an email out on a different day of the week, but at the same time as you normally do. You could even pick a different day of the week for 5 weeks running and look at the different engagement metrics.

If you can see a clear winner or a few options winning, alternate between those options and look at the data again.

Over time you’ll be able to establish the best sending day that works for your audience.

The exact same process works with the sender time. Although the first thought point there should be where the majority of your audience are located. You may have clients from across your country, which could mean different timezones if you’re in a large country. You may even have clients dotted around the world.

Your best option with the time is to focus on the largest or most important section of your audience. Unfortunately you can’t make things perfect for everyone when sending out a single broadcast to a global audience.

If you really wanted to send at a specific time for each subscriber in their own timezones though, e.g. 2pm for everyone, it would be possible with either some automation or some segmentation.

Clean up your list

The final thing we’re going to be talking about here is cleaning up your email list.

This is something we covered in more detail in a Monthly Tutorial in April 2021. So if you want to learn about this in more detail, I highly recommend checking out that video.

When we’re sending out emails, we want to be sending emails to the users who are most engaged. The are the users who are opening our emails, clicking our links and starting conversations. They’re the ones who care about the content that we send them.

Unfortunately there’s very little benefit in sending emails to someone who doesn’t open them or who deletes them without reading or engaging.

Cleaning up your email list is the process of removing inactive users, spam accounts, fixing typos and checking bounces.

I’ll just focus on the inactive users part for now.

When you want to trim out subscribers that are inactive, you should send a re-engagement campaign. This is a short email campaign, typically around 3-5 emails in length, sent with a 2-3 day delay between each email.

The re-engagement campaign should be sent to users who haven’t opened an email or clicked a link for a specific period of time – for example 90 days.

You’ve got a few different options for the type of content you send out here. Most people will politely acknowledge that the subscriber hasn’t engaged with their emails for a while and ask someone if they still want to receive your emails.

Then you give someone two options.

Firstly there’s a link for them to unsubscribe. You’re making it as easy as possible for someone to opt-out if they really want to. It’s okay if they do, they’re making your job easier as you’re able to continue focusing on engaged subscribers.

The second link click will confirm that someone wants to stay engaged. This would automatically bring them out of the re-engagement campaign and you could apply a tag or update a field to confirm that they’ve re-engaged.

It’s a simple process that you can run via automation once every 3 months or so.

Cleaning up your email list focuses your time and attention on people who care about what you have to say. It can even save you money if you’re paying per thousand subscribers, as you may end up back in a lower tier with your email provider.


Creating more engagement with your email subscribers is an ongoing process. It’s often a process of trial and error to see what is working best with your particular audience.

Just remember that you have the metrics at your fingertips so you can easily see what is working and what isn’t. You can see who is opening your emails (within reason due to privacy laws). You can see who is clicking on links in your emails. And you know who is taking the time to reply to your emails and start conversations.

When you’re making adjustments and working on creating more engagement, don’t ever make a decision based on one email.

Sometimes you can write what you feel is a great email but the engagement just isn’t there for it. I’ve had this happen to me many times and it is a bit of a punch in the gut sometimes.

Remember that you can still use that email again in the future. Maybe it just needs a little tweak so that your particular audience can be more inspired by the content. Maybe you just need to add a story and give them something to identify with.

As you work on creating more engagement, you’ll see your metrics increase. You’ll have more conversations and more opportunities to share a sales message with your subscribers.

And above all else, you’ll be creating better relationships which keeps you at the front of mind with the people that care most about your content.

Thanks for joining me for this month’s monthly tutorial.

Have a great day ahead!

You’re awesome,

Take care.