Your Email List Is 80% Dead!

Your Email List Is 80% Dead!Well, if you’re not proactively managing your email list, you might find that 80% or more of the names may not have opened or clicked on any email in 6 months or longer. We’ve seen this frequently with new clients.

How does this happen?
Clients ask how this happens. The biggest reason is that a list typically loses 25% of its subscribers due to bounces, unsubscribes, spam complaints, and those people who simply are not interested in your emails any longer. Most of that 25% never unsubscribe. They simply stop opening your emails. That’s what we call inactive users or “bacn.”

How do you fix your inactive email user (“bacn”) problem?
So, what do you do if you’re in this situation? You do your best to reengage those active users. See my previous post for a 5-step process for reengaging your email list. In effect, you really want to rattle their cage—meaning give them an offer they can’t refuse, or give a link to a deal or white paper that reminds them of the original reason they joined your list.

The challenge is that many of your subscribers have simply lost interest in your emails, typically many months ago. And, many subscribers may have marked your emails as junk in their email client (e.g., Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, Comcast, Hotmail). That means no matter what you send to them, these subscribers won’t see it because your emails are going straight to their junk folder.

As a result, reengagement campaigns often will see only a small percentage of the inactives respond. Certainly, reengaging can be a very frustrating endeavor, but that’s exactly why you need to do it regularly. Figure out a way that you can tell when someone begins to go inactive. For example, if someone doesn’t open three emails in a row, perhaps you know from experience that there’s an 80% chance that he or she will never open another email after that. So, initiate a reengagement to someone who doesn’t open three times in a row. That may not be the exact metric in your case, but hopefully you get the idea.

Be sure to reengage regularly to keep your list in good shape.

Should you purge your inactive subscribers?
There’s always a question about whether you should purge those inactive names. First, removing inactives will help with your deliverability, as an increasing number of Internet service providers (ISPs) are measuring engagement and using that to folder or block unwanted email.

But there is some research out there that suggests that purging all inactives may not always be appropriate. The argument goes that many subscribers who don’t register as openers may still be noticing your emails. Perhaps they may notice your from name and/or subject line. And the fact that they are noticing them may support your branding or get them thinking that they should buy from you. So, I’d suggest you look at the correlation between sales and the timing of your emails to determine if there is such a correlation for you. If so, you should consider that with respect to purging or reducing email frequency to those subscribers.

Let us know about any great examples of how you’ve successfully reengaged your subscribers. And if you ever need help improving the quality of your list and increasing the number of active, engaged subscribers, give us a call.

1 Comment

  1. Reply Susan O'Neil
    Posted

    Great to read your post Mitch. I wanted to mention 2 other contributors to those inactive users is change of email address and spam-challenge messages received from inbound replies, that marketers aren’t aware of. Those users are often inactive (not opening) because they’re actually not receiving the message in the first place. And those users often won’t show up in standard deliverability statistics in the form of bounces etc.

    The same applies for people who unsubscribe via replies. They never get removed from the list and it often results in them clicking the SPAM button or negative brand impression when they continue to receive messages.

    Also, many users reply to emails rather than clicking (despite many companies indicating a do-not-reply address – not the most customer service friendly way of inviting customer communication, as we know!) Companies wishing to engage with customers invite them to reply as it is a natural 2-way communication method and eliminates the need for clients to click to other places, fill out often lengthy contact forms etc.

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