How you can best engage your website visitors with email

For some, that may seem like an odd question. After all, isn’t the function of a website to tell the world who you are, brag about the wonders of your product or service, and promote your sales and special offers?

Web sites started as one way broadcast communication but as the technology became more sophisticated, we started to realize that the communication of our web presence could go two ways.

We realized that we could collect names and addresses from our prospective customers and initiate conversations with them. We could chat live with them in order to answer their questions and perhaps sell them our wares. We could encourage them to share our products or information on their social media channels. All of this has become basically plug and play easy. You just have to start with a strategy for this engagement.

Surprisingly, one way communication persists today even in larger sites from companies that should know better. We still see sophisticated billboards brimming with business-speak and chest beating. At best there is a small form at the bottom of the page begging for an email address “so we can send you our newsletter”.

Let’s consider one element of engagement which is collecting names/email and communicating to that group.

First, begin by collecting names and email addresses, but offer people something in exchange. No one is looking for more email in their inbox, but we are all looking for things to make our lives better. So create something that offers a fair value for being allowed into someone’s inbox.

Notice as you leave this site, I offer you a free eBook on Self-Discipline. I think there is something in this eBook that can benefit anyone, so it seems like a fair trade for an email.

What can you trade the people coming on to your site? Send them something of value. Maybe a discount coupon. Maybe a link to a recent article. Maybe a notice of a sale, but be careful of treating your list like just another advertising channel. What motivates you to unsubscribe? Probably the realization that all you are being sent are notices of promotions for products you’re not all that interested in.

Yes, you are always promoting yourself but think value first instead of purely telling people how to give you their money.

People will unsubscribe, but that is actually a good thing. You could have 100,000 people on your list, but if only a tiny percentage of those people are opening your email, your ‘reputation score’ suffers. 

As the world becomes more resistant to spam, internet service providers (ISPs) know and regulate email based on how engaged your audience is. It’s called your deliverability reputation score. Are they opening your email? Are they clicking? Are they declaring you to be spam (very bad). 

Your ISP uses that deliverability score to determine how to deliver the email you send. With a lower score, the ISP may send messages to recipients’ spam folders or even reject them outright.

Keep your reputation score high by sending value to your list, not just the deal of the week every week.

Your email service provider (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign, etc) provides you with very sophisticated back-end tracking so that you can measure your deliverability and engagement.

You may be thinking, “I use Facebook for my engagement with my audience. I don’t need to create my own list. Yes, social channels do provide a certain level of engagement but you don’t own that list. You are renting that space. 

You post something on Facebook or Tweet something and there will be a certain number of people who get notified and see that, but why not augment that communication by directly going to the inbox of the people who have given you that permission?

Your website can be so much more than a passive billboard. You just need to be creative and spend some time figuring out how to invite people in for an occasional chat.

Michael Lake

Michael Lake

Marketer, musician, teacher, author, and Dad hopelessly curious about the world and determined to remedy its ills.


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