- 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
- You’ll increase your chances of hitting the inbox by only sending to engaged recipients
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.
Our engagement tools use all aspects of our platform to signify that a contact still wants to hear from you, including:
- When a contact opens an email
- When a contact clicks a link in an email
- When a contact visits a tracked site
- When a contact clicks a Media Center link
- When a contact sends an email to an IMAP synced user mailbox
- When a contact replies to an email sent from an IMAP synced user mailbox
Due to the nature of our marketing automation platform, we go above and beyond what a standard email service provider could offer to provide insight on a contacts' engagement. Email service providers are limited to form fills and email opens to determine whether a contact is engaged.
As you can see, 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.
Contact Engagement Score
Each contact is given a contact engagement score upon creation. This score has a maximum value of 16 and a minimum value of 0. Contacts added from a form submission will be given an initial contact engagement score of 16. Contacts created manually, or through the API, will be given an initial contact engagement score of 9. A contact added by a manner other than a form fill will have a contact engagement score of 9 minus the number of emails they have been sent. This means if someone has been sent 7 unopened emails and was not added by a form fill, then their initial contact engagement score will now be 2, as it will be 9 minus 7.
Contacts created through the import tool will be scored based on overall list quality and individual email address quality. See Evaluation of Lists on Import for additional details.
Contact engagement score is a fluid metric and can change over time based on how a contact engages with you. These changes are covered in detail in the section Changes to Contact Engagement Score.
Contact Engagement Score Categories
Contact engagement score is divided into three categorizations: Engaged, At Risk and Unengaged. The criteria of these categorizations are defined below.
Contact Engagement scores of 5 or greater (with a maximum value of 16). Users can send email to these contacts as normal.
Contact engagement scores of 4 or less (not including 0), or after 20 months of not opening an email. Contacts with scores in this range are added to the dynamic list, "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 will be included in the automation engine as well as for list segmentation. You can easily add this attribute as a filter to any of your existing lists or automations to exclude / include all contacts with this status.
When scheduling an email send to a list, there is a checkbox option to "Suppress recipients at risk of unengagement". When clicked, the at risk contacts will not be included in the send for the email job.
Contact engagement score equal to 0. Contacts with this score are added to a dynamic list, "Unengaged Contacts". These contacts cannot receive email.
The Unengaged status will be included in the automation engine as well as for list segmentation. You can easily add this attribute as a filter to any of your existing lists or automations to exclude / include all contacts with this status.
Changes to Contact Engagement Score
Contact engagement score changes based on the following activity:
- For every email the contact is sent and does not open the score will decrease by 1 point.
- If the contact sends an email to an IMAP synced inbox or replies to an email from IMAP synced inbox the score will reset to 16.
- If the contact opens any email, the score will reset to 16.
- If the contact fills out a form, the score will reset to 16.
- If a contact with tracking established is unengaged (score of 0) and visits a tracked site, the score will increase by 6 points.
- If a contact with tracking established is unengaged (score of 0) and clicks a media center link, the score will increase by 6 points.
In addition to the above, if a contact has not opened or clicked any email in 24 months the contact engagement score will immediately set to 0.
Preview emails can be sent to role addresses (sales@, info@, support@). Emails sent via smart email, bulk sends, or notifications are unable to be sent to role addresses.
Evaluation of Lists on Import
Contacts created through the import tool will be scored based on the overall list quality and the presence of individual contact's email address on a third party verification service. These contact engagement scores will vary per contact, scored with a maximum value of 9 and a minimum value of 0.
Why didn't my list import?
If equal to or greater than 45% of your list contacts are present on a third party verification service, your list will not import. 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 does fail to import, SharpSpring's compliance team will be notified. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further clarification.
Engagement Status and Automation
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 easily 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, follow the steps below to exclude unengaged or at risk contacts.
- On the toolbar, hover on Automation, then on the drop-down, click Lists.
- Create a new list, or edit any existing Rules Based list. To edit your existing lists, click the options cog and select Change List Settings.
- In the Triggers & Filters section, add the filter when a contact has the engagement status and then choose Unengaged or At Risk.
- Make sure that your Rule Group is set to when all of the following conditions are met.
When Setting up Automations
For any automation, follow the steps below to exclude unengaged or at risk contacts.
- On the toolbar, hover on Automation, then on the drop-down, click Visual Workflows.
- Create a new visual workflow, or edit an existing one.
- Beneath your initial trigger, add the filter when a contact has the engagement status and then choose Unengaged or At Risk.
By preventing sends to unengaged recipients SharpSpring is helping to protect your domain reputation and ensure engaged recipients continue receiving your content. Sending to unengaged recipients puts your sender domain at risk of hitting a spam trap, or having ISPs classify your sender domain as a spammer.