Best Practices to Re-Engage Inactive Email Subscribers

October 14, 2014
By Tom Burke

inactive-email-subscribersEvery email list contains inactive subscribers. But smart marketers do everything they can to win them back to regain lost sales and improve their sender reputations. Add to that the fact the costs associated with acquiring new customers are steep, and it quickly becomes clear investing in a reactivation makes good business sense. Below are a few steps to consider.

Define Inactivity

The interesting thing about inactive email subscribers is that they often look different for every company. What is inactive for your brand may in fact be quite normal for another. Conduct a detailed data audit of all current email subscribers and track this behavior across all stages of the buying cycle. This should help you determine what constitutes “normal” for your company, and consequently, what constitutes inactivity.

As part of this audit, be sure to analyze customer behavior across all channels. What might appear to be inactivity could actually just be a customer who convert or interact via other communication channels.

Identify Causes for Disengagement

Now that you know who is and isn’t inactive, you can take a closer look at the issues that might be frustrating subscribers enough that they ultimately become inactive. In a post on the Responsys blog, Rich Fleck explains, “The ability to spot patterns, and then changes to those patterns, in a customer’s behavior will raise red flags that she is ‘at-risk’ of becoming inactive.”

For example, you might identify that subscribers who don’t engage with your welcome emails are more likely to become inactive over a certain period of time. Fleck asserts that by identifying the most likely moments where a customer may begin to disengage with your brand, marketers can proactively take steps to counteract those tendencies and win back their loyalty.

Create Enticing Messages with Valuable Offers

“Often a customer is inactive because of miscommunication on the marketer’s part,” says Fleck, “and not because she’s lost interest in the company’s products or services.” Dave Walters, digital marketing specialist for Silverpop, agrees that irrelevant content is often the real culprit behind subscriber inactivity. “In fact, most email subscriber pain points are probably related to content,” he states in an article at Direct Mail News.

Instead, use the results of your data audit from the first two steps to develop highly relevant messages and compelling, valuable offers. It may also take more than one email to see results; the Responsys study found recipients of win-back emails were still opening emails from the sender up to 300 days following the initial win-back email. Therefore, plan to develop a series of emails over several weeks or even months, before you remove a name from your list. This allows you to test a variety of offers and calls to action, enabling you to continually hone your messaging to secure the best possible results.

Want a better way to identify which of the emails on your list are actively in use and more likely to respond? TowerData's Email Activity Score will flag addresses that are have recently opened an email across our network or are connected to social media. To score a free sample of your file or try any of TowerData's Email Intelligence services, click here.

deliver the right message to the right person at the right time