Inactive Subscribers – Re-Engage or Remove

The most commonly overlooked part of email marketing is list fatigue. You probably spend time analyzing the email metrics and web analytics generated by opens and clicks, monitor your unsubscribe rate and complaints, and watch for bounces or undelivered messages. But what do you do when nothing happens? If you aren’t paying attention to the subscribers who ignore or delete your messages you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

What is List Fatigue?

List fatigue happens when your subscribers no longer respond to your messages.

The Risk of Mailing to Inactive Subscribers

When you mail to inactive subscribers, your reputation and deliverability are at stake. ISPs routinely turn old email addresses that are no longer in use into spam traps.

What Causes List Fatigue?

There are a number of reasons subscribers ignore or delete your messages. Some are preventable and some aren’t. It is important for you to be able to know how to handle it.

Unpreventable:

  • Subscribers no longer fit demographic
  • Subscriber completes goal

Preventable:

  • Message is not relevant
  • Subscription best practices aren’t followed
  • Email best practices aren’t followed
  • Frequency isn’t satisfactory
  • Email addresses are invalid

Identifying Inactive Subscribers

Identifying inactive subscribers is not a straightforward task. With inactive rates estimated between 30 and 50 percent, it is imperative to periodically purge the inactive subscribers on your list.

Re-Engagement Campaigns

Just like you asked for permission before you added subscribers to your list, you should ask for permission before you remove subscribers as well.

Here are some tips and best practices for your re-engagement campaign strategy:

  • Attempt a second contact
  • Send a final notice
  • Say goodbye

Removing subscribers from your list might seem counterintuitive at first, as marketers are responsible for getting their messages out to the masses. However, as an email marketer, you know how important it is to target the right subscriber with the right message at the right time.

Removing inactive subscribers helps you report more accurately on your campaign results while lowering the cost of each campaign deploy and increasing your ROI.

Finally, just because you are no longer sending emails to these subscribers does not mean you have to cut all ties with them completely. Use your other marketing channels to keep your brand in front of them and when the time comes where they need your products or services again, they’ll reactivate their subscriptions to your email lists.

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Peter "WebDoc" Martin
A digital marketing expert nationally recognized as the “webdoc,” and is the technology correspondent for ABC 7 News and SNN6 where he provides technology advice, website reviews and product news.
Peter "WebDoc" Martin

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he most commonly overlooked part of email marketing is list fatigue. You probably spend time analyzing the email metrics and web analytics generated by opens and clicks, monitor your unsubscribe rate and complaints, and watch for bounces or undelivered messages. But what do you do when nothing happens? If you aren’t paying attention to the subscribers who ignore or delete your messages you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity. What is List Fatigue? List fatigue happens when your subscribers no longer respond to your messages. The Risk of Mailing to Inactive Subscribers When you mail to inactive subscribers, your…

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