When you have an email list of thousands, you’ll experience a growing number of inactive users over time. That means, you have a growing number of subscribers who no longer open your emails. It may have been marked as junk or connected to an inbox rule that drops your email into some folder no longer reviewed. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see 25% of your list go inactive each year. This is one of the primary reasons why we need to continually add new subscribers to our email lists. How do you address the challenge of weeding out inactives when advertisers expect to be sending to a list of the size it’s always been? You’ll likely get a lot of resistance from advertisers if you say you’re suddenly sending to far fewer names, even if the total opens may be the same.
If you don’t weed out the inactives and continue to send emails to this group, over several years you’ll end up with a bad situation in many ways. (See the links below, as I’ve previously discussed this topic in more depth.) It’s likely you also can’t promote your open rates because the high number of inactives are negatively affecting them as well. So now you really have 2 problems: too many inactives and a low open rate. And, to tell advertisers you suddenly have a list of 50,000 instead of 100,000 probably won’t go over too well.
Let’s assume you take the obvious tack of trying to re-engage the inactive users, and you essentially have no opportunity to convert any more inactives. If you just remove them, which is the right thing to do, you can’t tell your advertisers that you’re sending to the same big number any more. That’s a big challenge for your sales group.
One of the ways you can deal with this problem is to develop a powerful new subscriber signup campaign. You’ll need to bring in all the strategies to make this happen in a big way. Then, as the new subscribers start to flow in, start removing the inactives at the same rate. You’ll also notice that your open rate goes up because: 1) you have fewer inactives and 2) new subscribers tend to open at a higher rate.
Once your open rate reaches a great number for your market (and compared to the competition), start promoting your incredible open rate to advertisers. Believe me, they’ll care about that even more than the big number of subscribers who never saw their ad in the first place. Then, moving forward, be sure to weed out those inactives every month so you never face this dilemma again in the future.