You've probably heard the term emotionally unsubscribed to describe those who never seem to open your email messages, but continue to receive your campaigns because they never ask to be taken off your list.

In a post at the UK DMA Email Marketing blog, however, Dela Quist argues for an alternative term that relocates the negative prefix—unemotionally subscribed. In other words, these recipients remain interested in your product or service, but they just don't need it right now. "They would prefer to ignore your messages until they are ready to buy," he says, "because it is easier than unsubscribing and having to remember your URL, or Google you at a later date."

To make his point, Quist cites some interesting client results: 

  • Ten percent of one company's revenue in 2008 came from subscribers who opened not a single email in 2007.
  • An outstanding offer from another company generated £70,000 (approximately $113,000) in sales from subscribers who had not opened the previous 25 to 40 email messages.

"With very few exceptions," Quist says, "when it comes to sales and marketing, long-term inactivity is perfectly normal. After all, how often do you actively interact with marketing communications of any kind from a car dealer, insurance company, estate agent, bank, consumer electronics retailer, hotel chain, etc.?"

The Po!nt: Let them take their time. Some of your inactives may well have checked out, but Quist suggests that many more linger for a reason: "[T]hey don't need you—yet!"

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