Are dead email addresses haunting your open and click-through rates? If once-active recipients have stopped opening your emails, are no longer actively reading your messages, or aren't clicking on email links, those recipients are no longer in the land of the living.

In other words, if you're seeing low activity from recipients, it's time to determine whether the addresses can be saved or should be given the axe. In the spirit of Halloween, I offer some advice to determine whether your dying email list can be saved.

Are They Really Dead?

Many recipients have images turned off by default, so some recipients who are in fact reading your emails may only appear dead because the opens are not registered. To identify these recipients, start with a simple "reactivate yourself" message.

Select a group that has not opened a message in six months and send an email with this message: "To ensure you continue to receive our mailings, click here." The click verifies both the address and the recipients' interest. The click-through can take them to a special offer, or to a page where you might gather more information.

Saving the Undead

Try to revive dead email addresses. The first step is to identify the percentage of inactivity that is acceptable in terms of your marketing goals. Depending on your business model, someone who responds once a quarter may be good news. For other businesses, three months without an action could be the kiss of death.

Determine your average range of activity, and from there identify your low responders and non-responders. Your email service provider should be able to guide you on how to find these recipients in your list.

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Jordan Ayan is the CEO of SubscriberMail (, an email marketing services and technology provider.