The media landscape has never been more competitive. And while email is sometimes thought of as the uncool cousin in marketing compared to trendier options like social media, someone forgot to tell your subscribers.

Because, over the last few years,  the number of people using email for everything from shopping to staying up-to-date with breaking news is skyrocketing. Unfortunately, this boom also means increased competition for attention in overflowing inboxes.

So, what can you do to ensure subscriber emails always get opened and read? Here are five tried-and-tested personalization tricks to keep your audience engaged and consistently coming back for more.

Personalization is the perfect welcome

Any time someone opts in to your emails, signs up for a newsletter, or submits their email to download your content, it’s a signal. That person wants to learn more about your organization. 

But now, it’s a signal for action on your part as well. Because potential subscribers are also giving you the thumbs up to ask more questions and learn a little more about their individual interests, goals, and values.

For personalization-focused marketers, a welcome email series is an ideal way to gather information for future engagement. It’s a smart first step toward forming more meaningful relationships — as long as your ask doesn’t feel intrusive or irrelevant. And, most importantly, as long as the data you collect is used to deliver unique value back to every subscriber.

Get more personal than ever

The more specific the subject line, the better chance your email has of being opened. However, many businesses are missing out on the chance to make their subject lines prove utility as well as personalization. 

One brand doing a standout job of using data to create bespoke experiences for subscribers is Refinery29. After noticing an uptick in Google searches for horoscopes and advice from the heavens, the brand gave its subscribers the content they were already searching for.

keep subscribers engaged

An email featuring the subject line “Your horoscope for the week — this retrograde has more “gifts” in store,” along with a link to a personalized horoscope took the organization’s email to another level. To date, this message boasts some of the company’s highest email open rates ever. 

Read the room

Sometimes, the right message comes at the wrong time. Savvy email marketers know that when it comes to personalized marketing, timing is (almost) everything. 

When National Review wanted to revamp its email marketing program, for example, the business realized it had a high volume of subscribers but a comparatively low level of actual engagement.

In order to increase engagement, the brand began offering curated email content tailored to subscribers’ interests along with personalized subject lines and delivery dates/times when users are most likely to open emails. By serving relevant content at the right time, its messages became less likely to get lost in overwhelmed inboxes. The result was a staggering 142% increase in click-through rate

Are you cross-promoting?

When subscribers like one of your newsletters, it stands to reason that there are probably others they’ll enjoy as well. If you’re not using your newsletters to help readers discover other content they might find useful, you’re missing out on an opportunity to aid in their discovery process. Not to mention keeping your great content in the dark, too.

keep subscribers engaged

Morning Brew is a newsletter that curates news stories in one place for readers that care about the important topics of the day but don’t have time to pursue multiple news outlets. When the company wanted to promote its other verticals such as retail and emerging tech, it added easy-to-use links at the bottom of its massively popular email newsletter, simplifying the signup process and giving audiences greater access to new information. 

Opt-outs aren’t optional 

Nobody likes to see subscribers walk away. But opt-outs aren’t just inevitable, they’re a legal right. The CAN-SPAM Act stipulates that failure to include an unsubscribe link in your emails is illegal. And punishable by a FTC-enforced fine of up to $16,000 per email.

While it’s possible to hide your unsubscribe links in the fine print, why bother making it difficult for subscribers to walk away? Even if they stay on your email list, they’re not likely to open emails. Meaning your open rates and conversion metrics suffer.

Better to let disengaged readers walk away than force them to hang around long after they’ve lost interest. After all, your brand deserves a loyal, supportive audience anyway.