Why your email subscriber experience should be a priority

Often, we email marketers get so focused on strategy, sends, and stats that we tend to forget that there are folks on the receiving end of our messages who actually read what we write. How much thought have you recently given to them, in terms of what they want to read and what kind of experience they’d like to have?

While it’s important to focus on the aspects of email marketing listed above, it’s important to keep the subscriber experience in the front of our minds as well. Read on to learn why, before we write a word, we should decide what kind of experience we want our readers to have.

In a recent Email Insider blog post, Mike May made the argument for delighting your subscribers by cultivating anticipation, selflessness, surprise and personality in your email content.

We couldn’t agree more.

The first step in this process is to ask yourself, “Why?” Why should the reader bother to open and read your message? What’s in it for them? It’s easy to focus on the message you want to send, or giving them information you want them to know, but if you’re not keeping your subscribers’ best interests at heart, your messages are going to be ineffective. Make your emails informative, helpful, worthwhile, and memorable – remarkable, even. And, of course, make sure there’s something in them that compels the reader to take action.

Let’s take a closer look at the four characteristics listed above:


As you might have guessed, this is about anticipating the needs of your subscribers, rather than waiting for them to tell you what they want. Getting to know and understand your audience must be a top priority. For example, instead of sending a “Black Friday Discount” email the week before Thanksgiving like everyone else, do your research well in advance, find out what your subscribers really want, and then give it to them before they ask for it.


Instead of keeping the focus on you, your business, and your products and services, every communication should be focused on your audience and their needs. To use Mike’s example, sending a 20% off coupon to a subscriber on their birthday isn’t really being selfless. Your business is going to get something out of that deal. Think about what you can do in your email communication program to make your audience happy, without expecting an immediate return on your efforts. If you want to grow your following, through email and otherwise, you need to concentrate on the long game of building trust and solid relationships with your audience. This will help your business more than almost anything else you can do.


The element of surprise is all too rare in email marketing, where almost everyone is doing the same thing, and subscribers have become jaded and indifferent. Your surprise doesn’t have to be the virtual equivalent of a parade down Main Street, complete with cymbals clashing and trombones blaring. It can be subtle and quiet, too. As long as it delivers something unexpected and delightful to your readers, it’s done its job.


Cultivating personality in your messages extends beyond email marketing to all your content, including your website copy, social media and blog posts, and marketing materials. Some organizations go so far as to create a persona for their communications, in order to keep all their content in a consistent “voice” that resonates with their audience. That approach might not work for all businesses, but the more personality you can infuse into your content, the more engaging it will be, and the more your readers will connect with it.

How do you engage and delight your subscribers? Is there anything you’d add to the list above? Feel free to share in the comments!



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