Due to the nature of SharpSpring's marketing automation platform, SharpSpring is able to provide many ways to measure a recipient's engagement. SharpSpring provides more insight on recipient engagement than a standard email service provider could offer to provide. This article will detail the many engagement tools available through the SharpSpring platform.
The following users can create and send emails:
- Company Managers
- Marketing Managers
Email, list, and automation features are accessed through the toolbar.
- 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, have low engagement, or unengaged.
- SharpSpring provides numerous ways for your contacts to engage with you and continue to receive your emails.
- You will increase your chances of hitting the inbox by only sending to engaged recipients, and the data proves it.
Engagement is Key
As discussed in SharpSpring's 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 is 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. When determining engagement, consider if your audience is opening your messages or clicking your calls-to-action.
For more information, refer to the following SharpSpring blog: 5,000 Businesses. 30 Million Fewer Emails Sent. More Opens, More Clicks.
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.
For example, reconfirming a list, which is asking a group of contacts if they want to continue to receive your emails, is a quick and easy way to ensure that your list is composed of active and valid leads. With recent privacy and consent updates as a result of the GDPR, it is essential for you to keep track of whether your leads consent to receive your emails. If you do not know or do not have that data collected, then reconfirming a list is important for your future marketing sends.
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.
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.
Any sign of engagement, in this context, 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 not interact in any of the above ways, then the score becomes 0, 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 the contact opens or clicks 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. 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.
As an example, start with a contact that has been added to your Contact Manager by filling out a form. This contact will start with an engagement score of 16. The following scenario will show how their score will change:
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.
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.
Engagement Score Categories
The engagement score for a contact is characterized by the platform in one of three ways:
- Low Engagement
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 to have low engagement. Additionally, contacts are considered to have low engagement after 20 months of inactivity. This inactivity includes 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 scores in this range are added to the dynamic list titled Contacts with Low Engagement.
Users can send email to these contacts as normal, but should consider sending highly engaging content in an attempt to drive clicks/opens.
The Low Engagement 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 Low Engagement status.
When scheduling an email send to a list, there is a checkbox option titled Suppress recipients at risk of unengagement. When clicked, contacts with low engagement 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 24 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 bulk emails or emails sent by automation from the platform. Smart mails can still be sent to these contacts. If you have a Healthy or At Risk email sender status, then you are able to turn on or off engagement-based suppression.
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 Score Timeframes
Setting a contact as unengaged after 24 months without interaction is not a random choice. The decision was made based on company research. This research was focused on how engagement comes into play for inboxing while taking into consideration how customers' sales cycles may operate. Data was gathered on how many contacts are suppressed at different time periods. As a result, SharpSpring settled on 24 months for engagement metrics.
The reasoning for these engagement timelines is as follows:
- If there has been little-to-no verifiable interaction with an email address within that span of time, it is likely that it has either been deactivated in some capacity. If the address interacts within 24 months, it can be reasonably assured that the email is at least active—or has no information to state otherwise.
- If the lead owning the email address has filled out a SharpSpring form or otherwise opened or clicked on a link inside of the email sent to that email address over the course of 24 months, it can be reasonably assured that the email address is active.
This is reflective of industry movement. Letting go of old, unengaged contacts—also known as sunsetting—to boost inboxing for engaged and potentially engaged contacts is the current state of marketing automation. That said, other companies recommend a shorter time period for sunsetting unengaged contacts. SharpSpring has taken a more lenient approach to allow senders the ability to do what they feel is best for their mailings while also placing a limit that protects senders and the SharpSpring platform from the risk that comes with emailing unengaged addresses.
Engagement Status and Automation
For accounts with a Limited or Unhealthy sender status, when you attempt to schedule an action group (that contains an email) to a list that has scored poorly, 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 contacts with low engagement 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.
Accessing System-Generated Engagement Lists
By default, SharpSpring provides system-generated lists of contacts that have low engagement or are otherwise unengaged. By using these lists, you can prevent accidentally scheduling an email to these recipients. As they are system-generated lists, they cannot be modified. To access these lists, do the following:
Contacts that are members of the lists will be displayed in the Members tab. Contacts that are excluded from this list will be displayed in the Exclusions tab.
Excluding Contacts with Lists
Though SharpSpring provides system-generated lists of contacts that have low engagement or are unengaged, you may need to create your own exclusion lists to use in tandem with other automation. You can create your own lists to exclude these contacts. For any list, to exclude unengaged or contacts with low engagement, do the following:
Important: For these exclusion lists to function properly as dynamic lists, the list must have at least on trigger. Static lists only have filters.
Creating Contact Exclusion Automation
SharpSpring provides a method to exclude unengaged contacts or contacts with low engagement. You can prevent accidentally scheduling an email to these recipients. For any automation, to exclude unengaged contacts or contacts with low engagement, do the following:
Evaluation of Imported or Created Contacts
Because SharpSpring is uncertain about the age or engagement of lists that are new to the system—or contacts that are created through the API—SharpSpring uses 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 contacts created through the API within a 24-hour time period are grouped and scored through the third-party list scoring tools. These scores are 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 SharpSpring's 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 SharpSpring's third-party verification tools, your list be rejected and thus not imported. SharpSpring has determined these lists would fall into the lowest 2.5% of list quality, and they 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. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further clarification.
SharpSpring's engagement tools ensure that you are given the opportunity to send emails to any contact that is engaging with you through email. These tools include form fills, IMAP-synced mailboxes, Media Center links, and tracked site visits. By preventing sends to unengaged recipients, SharpSpring is helping to protect your domain reputation and ensure engaged recipients continue receiving your content.