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A Four-Step Plan to Re-Engage Inactive Subscribers

October 6, 2010  

"Your email database might show big numbers," writes Loren McDonald at Silverpop, "but 25 percent to 40 percent of your subscribers, or more, could be inactive without showing any obvious symptoms."

Described by Dela Quist as "unemotionally subscribed," such recipients have active email accounts, but don't open your messages, click through, unsubscribe or report your messages as spam. They do... nothing.

And while it's nice to keep subscriber numbers up, the presence of inactive accounts can have a negative impact on your:

  • Deliverability rates. "ISPs are beginning to factor activity into the algorithms they use to determine whether to deliver or block email messages," notes McDonald.
  • Performance measurements. "Including nonresponders in your metrics analysis depresses your email engagement and response rates and leads to muddied assessments of your email program's performance."
  • Resource allocation. Email campaigns have a relatively low cost, but there's no sense in spending any money on subscribers who will never open a message. "These resources will deliver a better ROI when focused on the actively engaged," he explains.

To help resolve the situation, McDonald recommends a four-step action plan:

  1. Segment your inactive subscribers into customers who have made a purchase and prospects who have done nothing more than open a message.
  2. Create reactivation campaigns that give recipients clear opportunities to re-engage or unsubscribe.
  3. Manage nonresponders, for instance by sending less frequent, more aggressive offers. If you become confident they're unlikely to re-engage, remove them from your active database.
  4. Monitor and optimize your reactivation campaigns based on the results you see.

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