- ISPs are now using engagement as a key metric in determining if your email makes it to the inbox or lands in the spam folder.
- Engagement is measured by factors such as open rates, click-through rates, and visits to your website.
- SharpSpring provides a contact engagement score that designates whether contacts are engaged, at risk, or unengaged.
- SharpSpring provides numerous ways for your contacts to engage with you and continue to receive your emails .
- You’ll increase your chances of hitting the inbox by only sending to engaged recipients, and we have the data to prove it.
Engagement is Key
As discussed in our blog, Nobody Complains About Spam Anymore...Or Even Bothers to Unsubscribe, mailbox ISPs (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) are relying more and more on engagement as a metric to decide whether or not to deliver messages to the inbox.
It's no longer good enough to base your email marketing strategy on sending a high volume of email to a generic audience, hoping to simply avoid the spam box. Instead, marketers need to focus on delivering valuable messaging to an audience that has historically engaged with your content. Are they opening your message? Are they clicking your calls-to-action?
Sending to unengaged recipients puts your domain reputation at risk, and impacts your ability to consistently reach the inbox even for recipients who are engaged. It is to your benefit to only send to engaged recipients. To help with this, SharpSpring provides a host of tools to see how your leads are engaging with you. Not only do these tools ensure the quality of your domain reputation, they have also been seen to improve overall opens and clicks as you can see in our blog 5,000 Businesses. 30 Million Fewer Emails Sent. More Opens, More Clicks.
Initial Engagement Score
Each contact is given an initial engagement score upon creation. The value of the score depends on the way the contact was created in the system. The initial engagement score for each method of contact creation is:
- 16 points when the contact is created through a form submission
- 9 points when the contact is created manually in the Contact Manager
- A maximum of 9 points when the contact is an imported via list or API connection
- 9 points when the contact is created through a CRM sync or migration
Contacts created through the import of a list using the list import tool will be scored based on overall list quality and individual email address quality. See Evaluation of Lists Imports and Contacts Created Through the API for additional details.
The engagement score for a contact can be viewed in the Email History section of the Memberships tab of their Contact Manager page.
Engagement Score Changes
The engagement score determines the number of emails a contact can be sent—without any sign of engagement by the contact—before they are considered unengaged and sending to that contact is suppressed.
What does any sign of engagement mean? It means that the contact has interacted with your emails or your site in any way:
- The contact has opened an email
- The contact has clicked a link in an email
- The contact has filled out a form
- The contact has visited a tracked site and has opened at least one email
- The contact has clicked a Media Center link
- The contact has sent an email to an IMAP-synced user mailbox
- The contact has replied to an email sent from an IMAP-synced user mailbox
Each time a contact is sent an email and does not take one of the engagement actions their score is decreased by one point. If 16 consecutive emails are sent and the recipient does none of the engagement interactions above, then the score becomes zero, they are deemed unengaged and no further emails can be sent to them.
There are many ways a score can be reset to the maximum score of 16. If they open or click on any email, regardless of the current value of their engagement score, the contact’s score is immediately increased to 16. Additionally, If the contact fills out a form, their score will be increased to 16. Or if they send an email to an IMAP-synced inbox or reply to an email from an IMAP-synced inbox, their score will be increased to 16.
Interacting with emails and forms is not the only way a contact’s engagement score can be increased. Due to the nature of our marketing automation platform, we are able to provide more ways to measure a recipient's engagement than a standard email service provider could offer to provide insight on a contact's engagement. If a contact with tracking established has a score of 0 (unengaged) and visits a tracked site, their score will be increased to 6 points. If a contact with tracking established has a score of 0 (unengaged) and clicks a Media Center link, their score will be increased to 6 points.
Now let’s look at this in practice. We will start with a contact that has been added to your Contact Manager by filling out a form. They will start with an engagement score of 16. Here is an exemplary scenario and how their score will change:
- Contact added to Contact Manager by filling out a form on your website. They are now tracked and their engagement score is 16.
- The contact receives an email that was part of a send to a list but does not open it. Their engagement score is now 15.
- The contact receives 5 more emails from your company but does not open them. Their engagement score is now 10.
- The contact replies to an email sent from a sales person's IMAP synced email account. Their engagement score is now 16.
- The contact is sent 10 more emails by your company through the SharpSpring platform but does not open any of them. Their engagement score is now 6.
- The contact fills out one of your forms. Their engagement score is now 16.
- The contact is sent 16 more emails by your company through the SharpSpring platform but does not open or interact with any of them. Their engagement score is now 0.
- The contact (tracked as they filled out a form) visits a page on your tracked site. Their engagement score is now 6.
As you can see there are many ways a contact can engage with you and increase their engagement score. Although this example begins with the contact being created through a form fill, it exemplifies all contacts created in the platform. SharpSpring provides comprehensive measures to ensure any contact that is engaging with you, your emails, your Media Center assets, or your sites will still be able to receive email from you.
Important: If a contact opens an email, clicks a link in an email, fills out a form, replies to an IMAP-synced account in the SharpSpring CRM, or sends an email to an IMAP-synced account in the SharpSpring CRM then their score is immediately reset to 16, the maximum score.
Engagement Score Categories
The engagement score for a contact is characterized by the platform in one of three ways:
- At Risk
The criteria of these categorizations are defined below:
Any contact with an engagement score between 5 and 16 is considered engaged. Users can send email to these contacts as normal.
Contacts with an engagement score between 1 and 4 are considered at risk. On initial import or creation, contacts are also considered at risk after 9 months of not opening an email, filling out a form, replying to an email sent from an IMAP-synced mailbox, or sending to an IMAP-synced mailbox. (However, if they have opened an email, this timeframe increases from 9 out of 13 months to 20 out of 24 months.) Contacts with scores in this range are added to the dynamic list titled "At Risk Contacts."
Users can send email to these contacts as normal, but should consider sending highly engaging content in an attempt to drive clicks/opens.
The At Risk status is included in the automation engine, as well as for list segmentation. You can add this attribute as a filter to any of your existing lists or automations to exclude/include all contacts with the At Risk status.
When scheduling an email send to a list, there is a checkbox option titled "Suppress recipients at risk of unengagement." When clicked, the at risk contacts will not be included in the send for the email job.
Contacts with an engagement score of 0 are considered unengaged. Contacts are also considered as unengaged after 13 months of not opening an email, filling out a form, replying to an email sent from an IMAP-synced mailbox, or sending to an IMAP-synced mailbox. Contacts with this score are added to a dynamic list titled Unengaged Contacts. These contacts cannot receive email from the platform.
The Unengaged status will be included in the automation engine as well as for list segmentation. You can add this attribute as a filter to any of your existing lists or automations to exclude/include all contacts with this status.
Engagement Status and Automation
Currently, when you attempt to schedule an action group (that contains an email) to a list that has scored poorly, then the action group will not fire. This is because the list has scored poorly and is at high risk of being suppressed. SharpSpring recommends cleaning this list of unengaged or at risk contacts before scheduling an email send.
To help ensure you are only sending to engaged contacts, Engagement Status can be added as a filter to any list or automation in SharpSpring. Emails scheduled to unengaged contacts are automatically suppressed by the platform. However, they do count towards your monthly email limits.
Because of this, we have provided a method to exclude At Risk and Unengaged contacts. You can prevent accidentally scheduling an email to these recipients by following the steps below.
When Sending to a List
For any list, to exclude unengaged or at risk contacts, do the following:
- In the top toolbar of SharpSpring, click Automation > Lists.
- Create a new list, or edit any existing Rules-Based list.
- Click the Settings icon.
- Select Change List Settings.
- In the Triggers & Filters section, set the Rule Group conditions to when all.
- Add either of the following filters:
• is at risk of becoming unengaged
• is unengaged
- Click Save Changes.
When Setting up Automations
For any automation, follow the steps below to exclude unengaged or at risk contacts.
- In the top toolbar of SharpSpring, click Automation > Visual Workflows.
- Create a new visual workflow, or edit an existing one.
- Beneath your initial trigger, add a trigger.
- Add either of the following trigger types:
• is at risk of becoming unengaged
• is unengaged
- Click OK.
Evaluation of Lists Imports and Contacts Created Through the API
Because we are uncertain about the age or engagement of lists that are new to the system, or contacts that are created through the API, we use several systems to scan the contacts to determine the quality of each contact.
Each contact created through the import tool will be scored based on the overall list quality—as determined by a number of third party list scoring tools—as well as the presence of the individual contact's email address on a list of invalid or known purchased email addresses from one of these tools.
Contacts created through the API are evaluated in a similar manner, where all contact created through the API within a 24-hour time period are grouped and scored through the third-party list scoring tools, based on the overall score of the group as well as the presence of the contact’s email on a list of invalid or known purchased email addresses.
The engagement score for contacts created through the import of a list or through the API will vary per contact, scored with a maximum value of 9 and a minimum value of 0.
Important: If a contact imported with a list or created through the API is given a reduced initial score (less than 9), it is because that specific contact is on a list of invalid or known purchased emails from one of our third-party tools.
Lists Rejected Due to Very Low Quality
If 45% or more of the contacts on your imported list are present on a list of invalid or known purchased email addresses from our third-party verification tools, your list be rejected and thus not imported. We have determined these lists would fall into the lowest 2.5% of list quality, and have a high risk of damaging your sender reputation should an email send be attempted.
In the rare case that a list is rejected due to low quality, SharpSpring's compliance team will be notified. Please contact email@example.com if you need further clarification.
By preventing sends to unengaged recipients, SharpSpring is helping to protect your domain reputation and ensure engaged recipients continue receiving your content. Our engagement tools ensure that you are given the opportunity to send emails to any contact that is engaging with you through email—form fills, IMAP-synced mailboxes, Media Center links, and tracked site visits—and we encourage you to read how these tools have already improved overall opens and clicks in our blog 5,000 Businesses. 30 Million Fewer Emails Sent. More Opens, More Clicks.