Email Engagement

Segmenting for High and Low Engagement

Minute read
Segmenting for High and Low Engagement

The needs of supporters at opposite ends of the engagement spectrum are very different. So are the opportunities. If you are tracking your email broadcasts, you should have an idea who’s opening your emails, who’s clicking, who’s donating, who’s taking action, and importantly—who isn’t.

The larger your list grows, the more supporters you’ll have sitting at the top and bottom ends of this spectrum. The chunkier these segments, the more it pays to have a few tailored strategies up your sleeve just for them.

What to send your most engaged supporters

Little to gain and much to lose. These are the model citizens of your email list. Cherish them.

The needs:

  • Help them feel connected. Rapport goes a long way with this group. Be intentional about personalizing your communication to build connection and loyalty.
  • Keep them informed. Not everyone will be hanging for an update, but this group will be. Report back. Point out how their latest contribution made a difference.
  • Share your vision. These supporters might stay for the long-haul; so nurture that. Find opportunities to tell your ‘movement story‘ .
  • Respect their attention. They’ve shown that they’re willing to give you their attention. But it’s not yours to keep. You still need to earn it. Resist the urge to send ‘dull’ things their way when you think nobody else on your list will act. Invest as much (if not more) effort in being clear, concise, and compelling with this audience.
  • Don’t over-extend them. It’s tempting to lean on this group, but you risk exceeding their email frequency tolerance if you do. Share the load across your list. In fact, use every supporter fatigue mitigation strategy you possibly can.

The opportunities:

  • Testing. A highly-responsive segment will give you strong and fast results for split tests, even nuanced ones. Learn what you can from this group!
  • Long form. Not all parts of your list will be up for long-form communication, but it’s possible this group might be. Try it sparingly and test the waters first.
  • Deeper engagement. These people are showing that they’re ready to commit. Maybe you have a star activist or a committed donor in the making. Feed them into high-value pipelines that will align their interests with the mission of your organization.

What to send your least engaged supporters

Little to lose and much to gain. Whatever you’ve been doing hasn’t been working for these people. Time to switch it up.

The needs:

  • Limit the volume you send. Tread lightly. These people have one foot out the door already. Maybe skip the mid-campaign update!
  • Accept their attention span is short. For whatever reason, these people have little time for you right now. Work with that. Use email structures that are optimized for short-attention spans.
  • Only send your highest-performing content. If you segment most of your comms, great. Look out for high-performing content and send that more broadly. Prioritize content that will remind your supporter why they subscribed in the first place.
  • Remind them what they’re missing. There’s no need to pretend you haven’t noticed; level with your subscriber about their disinterest before removing them from your list. Give it one last shot (EveryAction does this nicely). Entice them back with links to some of the most engaging content they’ve missed. And don’t forget to turn those links into click magnets.

The opportunities:

  • Re-engage, if you can. Clearly the biggest opportunity for this group is re-engagement. Do what you can to meet their needs within reason. If you need to draw a line, don’t hesitate to prioritize focus on your engaged supporters.
  • Get their feedback. These people may have valuable insights for you. See if you can entice them to complete a short survey about their experience on your list. Their feedback might save you from losing more people. But be mindful that they don’t speak for everyone.
  • Run riskier tests. When you’ve got little to lose, creative experiments pose smaller risks. If you want to know whether a crazy idea will sink or swim, see if you can sell it to this group first.

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And the rest?

Anyone ‘in between’ could slide either way. Be proactive about fatigue-mitigation to save them from the dark side!

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Karen Nilsen

Hi there! I’m Karen. I’m on a mission to reach my former self. Had I known 10 years ago what I know today, I could have achieved more good, made fewer mistakes, and had more weekends. Every time we share what works, we win faster. Let’s create digital experiences that move people — that grow our base and fuel our movements. Are you with me? Please share this with someone you know who wants to up their digital game!

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