Newsletter subscriber engagement

Newsletter subscriber engagement
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Subscriber engagement is a key metric for any newsletter. For one, it can give you a strong sense of your readers’ loyalty and satisfaction. On top of that, engagement statistics like open rate and click rate can be significant factors in setting your advertising prices. Unfortunately, engaging subscribers can be a difficult task.

In this article, we’ll go through 8 strategies you can implement to pique your readers’ interest and boost everything from forwards to conversion rates.

1. Use A/B testing

A/B testing is a popular user testing strategy for businesses of all kinds. Through this process, you can compare two versions of a product to see which one users prefer.

In order to run the test, you’ll want to randomly divide your subscribers into two groups. Then, you can give each group a slightly different version of the same newsletter. Later on, you can compare the metrics from each group to see which one performed best.

You can use A/B testing in designing a variety of features in your newsletter. For example, many publishers will use it to compare subject lines to see which one yields a better open rate. Others may implement A/B testing to tweak their formatting, writing style and send times.

Although the concept of A/B testing is relatively straightforward, it can be difficult to pull off logistically, especially when it comes to long subscriber lists. Therefore, it can be useful to research email service providers (ESPs) with built-in A/B testing features to make it easier on you.

2. Find the best send times

Your send times may be a key factor in your newsletter open rates. If you send your emails too early, they could get buried under piles of mail throughout the day. On the other hand, if you send them too late, your subscribers might be too busy or tired to read them.

At the start, many newsletters adhere by a few basic rules of thumb:

· Send emails in the morning, not at night

· Don’t send emails on Mondays, unless it’s a daily newsletter

· Avoid sending emails over the weekend

However, what works best for your newsletter will depend on your subscribers. Once you’ve built up a sizable audience, you’ll want to figure out what times they prefer. You can achieve this through A/B testing. Otherwise, some email delivery platforms, including Mailgun, will even perform send time optimization for you.

3. Poll your readers

One way to find content that engages your audience is to ask them directly. Send out a survey, either in your regular newsletter or a separate email, to gather ideas for what content they’d like to see.

If your mailing list is small enough, you can send out free response questions to collect your readers’ thoughts. Otherwise, you can send a poll with predefined answers so you can easily evaluate and analyze the responses.

In your survey, you can suggest some added features purely for boosting engagement. A few options may include quizzes, puzzles or fun facts related to your niche. You can also use the poll to guide your main content.

If you’re thinking about launching a new series, you can ask your readers to help narrow down the options. For example, you can give them a choice of industry expert interviews, guest blog content and book recommendations. That way, you won’t have to spend weeks preparing content for a series that won’t end up paying off.

4. Launch curated campaigns

From social media advertisements to video recommendations, targeted content has grown rapidly over the past few years. Although this trend may seem unsettling at times, it’s definitely paid off with many users.

When readers see content that’s more relevant to their personal experience, they’re more likely to engage. In fact, MailChimp found that segmented campaigns yield 23% higher open rates and 49% higher click through rates than unsegmented campaigns.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an AI expert to pull off customization for your newsletter. You can send out curated content relatively easily by dividing your subscribers into segments. These groups can be based on a number of factors, including age, geography or language.

You can even create segments based on your subscribers’ level of engagement. If you want to reward power readers for their loyalty and engagement, you can send them special perks like exclusive content or community access. At the same time, you can try to re-engage readers who you think might be at risk of unsubscribing.

5. Send trigger-based emails

Trigger-based emails are a great way to customize your newsletter’s user experience by sending an email based on an action performed by a reader.

For example, many newsletters will send out a welcome when a reader first subscribes. This email may include a personal letter from the CEO, an introduction to the brand or an overview of what to expect. Other potential triggers include holidays, birthdays or subscriber anniversaries.

Retail companies will commonly use trigger-based emails to boost sales. They’ll often send order confirmations, coupons and abandoned cart emails to follow up on a customer’s activity on their website.

As a publisher, you can emulate this behavior to increase engagement. Even if your subscribers aren’t purchasing anything, you can still follow up on their actions.

If you prompted readers to download an eBook or sign up for an event in your newsletter, send out another email to those who participated to check in. Similarly, if several readers clicked an article link embedded in your email, you can reach out with a list of more articles they might like.

6. Optimize design

Creating a user-friendly design is a crucial step in engaging readers. In general, you’ll want to opt for a clean and simplistic page. However, it can be hard to figure out how to pack your newsletter with valuable content without overwhelming your readers.

When laying out your newsletter, aim to prioritize readability. Stick to web-safe fonts like Times New Roman and Arial, and be cognizant of white space. If you ever feel like your copy is overcrowding the page, try breaking it up with pictures or lines.

Another aspect of newsletter design is making your content accessible to all users. Although many web pages are optimized for desktop views, it’s important to consider phone users as well. According to data by SuperOffice, 81% of all emails are read on mobile devices. Therefore, it’s important to test your newsletter on a phone or mobile emulator before scheduling it for release.

7. Add multimedia elements

As we established earlier, too much text can get boring. Try to mix it up by adding in fun extras. There are so many possibilities to choose from. If you want to keep your readers plugged in, you can include interesting tweets or social media posts from relevant figures in your field.

You can also use your newsletter as your personal ad space by including testimonials from your subscribers. By lifting up readers’ voices, you can start to increase their involvement while building a sense of community. On the other hand, if you want to weave engaging elements into your content, you can also add in GIFs, memes and infographics throughout the email.

8. Delete unengaged subscribers

When trying to grow your newsletter, it may seem counterintuitive to remove subscribers. In addition to naturally lowering your engagement rates, inactive subscribers can also end up hurting you in the long run.

Email platforms and internet service providers (ISPs) score publishers using a metric called sender reputation. This rating is based on a variety of factors, including engagement rates. Your score will determine how often your emails will reach your subscribers. Having a low score may result in your emails ending up in spam or being rejected altogether.

In order to protect your sender reputation, you’ll want to periodically clean up your subscriber list. Setting guidelines for which emails to remove can help streamline the process. For example, Morning Brew revealed that it places readers into its churn flow if they fall into either of the following categories:

1. Signed up 18 days ago and has not opened or clicked at all

2. Has not opened or click in 90 days, regardless of the signup date

Feel free to determine your own criteria for removing subscribers, as it may vary depending on target demographics or email frequency. If you’d like to monitor your sender reputation, you can check out websites like or

Final thoughts

Engaging your readers isn’t always easy, but it’s critical to your newsletter’s success. Hopefully these strategies will help you strengthen your subscriber base and boost your audience engagement! If you’d like to get paid for your newsletter, consider joining the Paved community of publishers. Not only will you get paid the same day you send, but you can set your own rates and make it easy for advertisers to find you.