Most of what we find in the inbox are pointers, excerpts and other highlights designed to pull us through the message and onto a website. In this way, email works more like the trailer to a TV show that is on later tonight, where the objective is less to reward the audience immediately than it is to drive some action that will reward the audience later.

But email need not work that way. You have the attention of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people right in the inbox. To balance out all the asks in your email program, work in some content directly into the message that is useful, engaging and complete even without a click. The more value you contain in your message, the more likely you are to build anticipation for the next one. Here’s how:

1. Begin with the idea that email is a distribution channel as well as direct response. It is easy to get wrapped up in email click and conversion rates, and focus all our energy on nosing them upward. But email is also an engaging content distribution channel – entertaining, educating and edifying subscribers even without driving them to points beyond the inbox. In order for your email program to remain vibrant, it is important to balance out the calls to action with content that is useful and interesting even without clicks.

2. Identify and integrate effective content from other channels. Maybe you’ve posted a picture on Facebook that pulled in a hundred comments and likes, or an article on your blog got picked up by some other sites and rang up an uncommonly high number of page views. Did someone give a presentation recently with a particularly pithy point that was immediately passed around on Twitter by conference attendees? Maybe someone in sales put together a compelling graphic for a client presentation. Your organization has content everywhere. Work the most engaging and brand-enhancing examples into your emails – not as pointers directing your audience to your blog or Facebook page, but as the content of the email itself.

3. Be mindful of email engagement metrics. An email message with an irresistible article but nothing to click may be a huge win in the inbox if it drives significant readership. But opens are not as useful to your engagement metrics (and their impact on deliverability) as actual clicks. So be sure to include something in each message that allows your audience to give some indication of their engagement – such as sharing the content on their social channels, clicking to read similar articles or see additional pictures. It would be a cruel irony if boosting your inbox engagement resulted in fewer people receiving your messages.

Come back next Monday for another email tip of the week, or see all previous tips here.