When was the last time you were actually surprised by the contents of an email? Have you recently felt joy in your inbox?

These seem like silly questions, but they matter. According to ReturnPath, the average email subscriber receives 416 commercial emails per month. In addition, email engagement is a metric most ISP’s are looking at to determine your deliverability street cred. Unenthusiastic subscribers can have a huge impact on your email program. This means you must find a way to stand out in the vast sea of email marketing.

Many companies are opting for the Surprise & Delight method to inject some excitement into a sleepy subscriber group. A secret sale for your top customers or the inside scoop on an upcoming event can go a long way for your email engagement. This fun break from your normal email creative can also breathe new life into your design tactics.

Where to start can often be intimidating. Here are a few key pillars to consider when creating a unique experience for your subscribers:

1. Reward Loyalty

Consider creating something special for the MVP’s of your subscriber list. Tell them they are getting something special because they are your most important customers.

2. Time it Right

Combining campaigns with a holiday is a common tactic. What other moments matter to your subscribers? Do you see a lull in activity around a certain time of year?

3. Make it Easy

Be sure to clearly explain what you’d like your subscribers to do. Should they click to see their offer? Tell them! Put yourself in the shoes of your subscriber as you walk through the customer experience of your campaign. Is it easy to understand?

4. Have Some Fun

Witty subject lines, exciting animations, cat memes, oh my! Don’t fake the fun. Push on the outer edges of your brand guidelines and create something unexpected for your community.

Increasing email engagement has a multitude of benefits for your e- mail program. Happier subscribers, positive impacts on deliverability and a general feeling of marketing “goodness” are just a few reasons to put a little surprise & delight into your email program.

Get inspired — check out examples of Surprise & Delight email campaigns on the Marketing Cloud Email Swipe File on Pinterest. Access the Email Swipe File for email marketing ideas you can steal, test and make your own!