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Subscriber Engagement and Deliverability

Samantha Orr

Favorite Email
The terms “engaging” and “engagement” are thrown around often in email marketing. It is a tactic—“Send engaging emails”—as well as an outcome—“Increase subscriber engagement.” Email marketers must work at both of these pursuits as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) continue to refine their own definitions of engagement to keep subscriber inboxes filled with the right emails.


Tactic: Send engaging emails

You’re sending emails to people with real desires and needs. Emails have to look great and have relevant content. Subscriber retention undoubtedly increases when emails contain content that matches preferences.

Engaging tactics

  • Special deals
  • Limited time offers
  • Sneak-peak/behind the scenes videos
  • Did you know?

Other important engaging tactics

  • Keep text to a minimum (provide links and buttons for more info)
  • Make calls to action (CTAs) clear and easy to find
  • Bold, on-brand images
  • Personalization when/where appropriate
  • Include a Forward to a Friend dynamic link for sharing

Our favorite engaging emails

Our WordFly community is creating some top-notch engaging emails. We share some of our favorite email designs here on our blog each month under Email of the Month. Our January 2016 selection from Australian Centre for the Moving Image is the perfect example of exciting design with easy to follow CTAs and digestible content. See the full email design in our blog post.


Of course, this email received excellent reporting results! The WordFly campaign engagement rate on this was 6.03%*.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 4.24.47 PM

*WordFly’s campaign engagement formula: Clicks divided by Opens

Check out all WordFly’s Email of the Month picks on our blog!


Outcome: Increase subscriber engagement

Subscriber engagement is defined differently by ISPs, ESPs and email marketers. Generally speaking, we can separate engagement into two camps: positive and negative engagement. Positive usually includes opens and clicks; these actions move subscribers toward your brand. Negative usually includes opt-outs and spam complaints; these actions move subscribers away from your brand.

ISPs calculate subscriber engagement with an advantage of seeing activity that goes unreported to ESPs and email marketers. Activity such as manually forwarding the email to a group of friends, marking the message as important, moving the message to a folder, or deleting it without ever opening are all part of the unreported metrics that carry heavy weight for ISP filters. Positive interactions increase your inbox deliverability; negative interactions gradually change ISP filters to greylist or block your emails from arriving in the inbox.

In WordFly we calculate campaign engagement with opens and clicks, and subscriber engagement with a special formula that looks at a subscriber’s overall interaction with your emails from opens, clicks, bounces and opt-outs. The higher your opens and clicks, the higher your campaign engagement. Likewise, the higher positive reported interactions from your subscribers, the higher star rating.

So, how do you increase subscriber engagement? Send engaging emails, of course! Your engagement goals will vary but should always focus on positive engagement. Your brand reputation is built on what you invest in learning about your subscribers and creating unique content. Every email marketer must be engaged in the pursuit of finding what attracts, involves and benefits each subscriber to have a meaningful email program.

Subscriber Profile WordFly’s Subscriber Profile page with engagement score


Learn more

Take a deep dive into engagement with these articles from our blog and knowledge base.