User engagement is often desired but also overlooked more than I feel it should be. We know there are hidden algorithms delivering the right advert to us, the most engaging Instagram posts, the most controversial news stories, etc. I think a lot of businesses see this trend as a negative experience for their customers because all too often, these mechanisms are used in intrusive ways. However, I believe you can build very engaging experiences if you are careful to select the right triggers to fire events and user segments to target.
If a user signs up to your newsletter after being your customer for 2 years, they might prefer a more personal initial email than a user who has just stumbled across your site. Identify behavioral segments within your audience and create targeted campaigns designed to make them feel content.
Once you've identified some segments, you can go further and identify behavioral patterns. Maybe you've noticed that 60% of segment A who sign up to the newsletter will later visit your social media sites. Identifying these trends will allow you to create campaigns with multiple paths. There are already tools out there to help build data-driven marketing campaigns, for example Drip
These behavioral triggers are the first step in creating engaging experiences. You can experiment a bit here through AB testing and customer feedback. Ideally you want every email to be engaging, but realistically, that's unlikely for every customer. Your job is to identify which customers will gain value from specific emails and then create marketing triggers for each user segment. If you spam your users too often you'll not only hurt your brand, you will cause inbox blindness,
i.e. your users will stop reading your emails even if they contain useful information. While you might think that's unlikely, check your own inbox and see how many brands you've stopped clicking on!
Examples of Good Triggers
Each business is going to have different challenges so there's no one size fits all here - that's what makes this hard. However, there are some common emails that are useful for many different services.
Getting Started Emails
These emails have the potential for creating a great first impression. If you can figure out what type of customer you are talking to, then that’s even better. These emails should aim to not overwhelm, but give clear and useful information to get the user started as quickly as possible. This will help you retain that customer. The last thing you want is for a user to sign up and then disappear because they didn't have all the answers right there when they needed them.Superhuman
values onboarding so much they did 30 minute 1-on-1 onboarding calls for every single new user! This gives them an opportunity to collect research while also building a human connection with their customers. This in turn helps with their viral growth.
Rewarding Valuable Users
Everyone loves unexpected rewards. If you can identify users that are highly valuable to your company, you should reward them. Make them feel special and they are more likely to stick around. This might even go beyond automated emails. If they are really valuable, you might want to build a personal relationship with them. Regardless, there's room to build a good experience for those users that stand out.
These don’t need to be monetary rewards either. It could be as simple as an email recognizing them as a loyal customer so they feel valued.
Special Occasion Emails
The obvious one here is the Birthday email. However, that's not the only special occasion you can use. If you're running a high-churn business, you could send out rewards to customers that reach predetermined anniversaries, e.g. “You've been with us for 6 months, here's a month on us as a thank-you.”
You can also leverage special events within your company to give back to your customers. Maybe you just made it through your first decade or you've just released a massive new update.
Nurturing Your Leads
The important thing to remember is that your customers are receiving huge amounts of emails everyday. You can't just spam them. Think about your emails as votes. Each email that delivers value will be a vote towards that user engaging more, and each email that wastes their time will be a vote towards them losing interest.