Email marketing is likely your most profitable marketing channel, considering for every dollar spent, you’ll see a return of $44.

That’s not all. Email marketing is so valuable for many reasons, including:

  • Your reach isn’t controlled by algorithms, as it is on social media.
  • You aren’t competing against ads.
  • You can personalize emails for more personable interactions.

While email is effective, it’s not a guarantee. You’re still competing against a variety of factors like email fatigue and an overflowing inbox. Not to mention, you still have to find the right time to send your emails and the determine what content your customer wants to receive from you.

These details affect whether or not your subscribers engage with your emails, from reading a blog post to clicking through to buy something. As you head into the holiday season, use the following ideas to keep your subscribers engaged, making your email marketing more effective.

Send a Mix of Content

There are 111.1 billion emails sent to consumers each day, according to Campaign Monitor. This can affect how engaged your subscribers are—if they’re getting 100 emails each day, they’re going to be picky about which ones they choose to read and which ones go right into the trash.

The best way to stand out and keep them engaged is to provide value by sending a mix of content. If you only ever ask your subscribers to buy, your request becomes easy to ignore because it’s just another sales email in their overflowing inbox.

If you can provide value with free content, however, you’re more likely to get through to them. In the guide, How to Promote a Product in 10 Different Ways, author Kristen Runvik suggests that this mix of content makes your subscribers more receptive when you send a promotional email: “When your customers are used to receiving valuable content from you, an email about your latest release is more likely to be effective and result in sales.” This also keeps your subscribers engaged because you’ve already shown your value.

For example, a children’s clothing business sends an email in mid-November about how to remove stains from kid’s clothes after Thanksgiving dinner. That’s helpful information that the subscriber will likely use. Now, this clothing business’ brand is valuable to them, before ever making a purchase. Therefore, the next email that comes through has a higher likelihood of being opened because the perceived value and relevance of that brand’s emails is much higher.

Keep subscribers engaged: Include both promotional and value-based, educational content in your holiday email plan. Make sure the educational content is timely to make the most significant impact and then set up automation flows so you can focus on the business, while your emails do their work.

Play With All Email Formats

There are many kinds of emails you can send to your subscribers, and each one has a different value—and different open and conversion rates. Remarkety found that between five different email types, order follow-up emails, sent after a purchase is made, and abandoned cart emails, used to encourage consumers to complete their purchase, have the highest conversion rate, 5 percent, along with the highest click-through rates.

Newsletters, also referred to as content-based emails, on the other hand, only had a 1 percent conversion rate, member follow-ups, used to engage new subscribers, had a 2.7 percent conversion rate and inactive customer emails, sent to customers who haven’t purchased recently, converted at 2.6 percent.

To make the most of these opportunities, set up automated email funnels for after the customer purchases or abandons their cart. Not only are these emails engaging because they’re personal to that customer, but they convert at rates that you can’t ignore.

Keep subscribers engaged: Don’t stop the funnel after one email. Mix in different types of content to provide value and engage customers.

Put Your Subscribers in the Driver’s Seat

If you’re sending content that your subscribers don’t care about, how do you expect them to engage? Instead of blindly sending generic emails, put your subscribers in the driver’s seat by letting them choose which content they want from you. Add your various email types to the sign-up page, so subscribers are automatically funneled into the right segment or list.

One way to segment is by email types. Types of emails for a retailer might include: Deals and Discounts, New Product Announcements and Expert Style Tips. You can also allow them to choose based on the frequency of emails, rather than specific types of emails. See an example from Hubspot’s Marketing Blog sign up below.

How to keep email subscribers engaged email preference center

Finally, you can combine the two, so that the three types from the previous example might be: Daily Deals and Discounts, Monthly Product Announcements and Weekly Expert Style Tips.

Not only does this allow you to provide relevant content, which likely increases engagement rates, but you may also reduce unsubscribe rates while providing better quality service overall, according to, “Pros and Cons of Email Preference Centers.”

Keep subscribers engaged: If you already have a large list of subscribers, send them a preference email, asking subscribers to choose their preferences in the preference center before the holiday season starts. This shows customers that you want to communicate timely information that they care about, while allowing you to boost engagement.

Focus on Timing

Sending emails when your subscribers are more likely to open them is the key to keeping them engaged for the holiday season. There are a few ways to determine the best time to send your emails. If you have your own data, start there. Your subscribers are unique, and their specific patterns will be the best way to identify times for sending.

Nearly all email platforms offer analytics. Use this to determine what time and day of the week return the highest open rates, the percentage of subscribers who opened the email, and click through rates, the percentage of people who clicked a link in the email. Then test. Track emails sent on a weekly basis to home in on what’s working and what’s not.

If you haven’t sent many emails yet, and have minimal data of your own, turn to best practices based on industry insights. For example, the New Age of Email Marketing benchmark report found that marketing emails had the highest engagement when sent on Friday and Saturday, and Saturday emails had the highest conversion rates, at 3.6 percent.

Keep subscribers engaged: If you have multiple email lists or segments, focus on data specific to those subsets of subscribers. Those who purchased may have different engagement rates and preferences than those who are new to your brand.

Keep Your Email Subscribers Engaged

Use these ideas to keep your subscribers engaged and making purchases all season long. When the holidays are over, assess the impact of your email campaigns and apply some of these tactics to your regular marketing plan. Email can be your most effective marketing platform, you just have to home in on what gets your subscribers to engage.

Jessica Thiefels ShopKeep Contributing Writer

Jessica Thiefels

Author Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer, content marketing consultant, and business owner. She’s been featured in Forbes and Business Insider and has written for Manta, Virgin, Constant Contact, and more. Follower her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect with her on LinkedIn.