Having a large email database is a focus for a lot of companies but constantly chasing higher numbers often misses the most important goal in email marketing – interaction. The reason we email subscribers is because we expect some kind of interaction from them, if they are not interacting is it really worth keeping them on your list? Of course, not every subscriber will interact with every email but there comes a point when if they haven’t interacted within a set period of time, then they will likely not again – they have become inactive.
How you define your inactive subscribers is up to you and will depend on your business and how often you send email campaigns. It may be people who have not opened an email in the past year, or have not clicked, or have not transacted. However you define them, these “lost” email addresses are costing you money for every send, hurting your ROI and open and click through rates which affects your deliverability scores in email platforms such as Hotmail and Gmail. There are a number of reasons why subscribers become inactive; their situation may have changed and your brand doesn’t fit their life anymore, they may have changed their email address and not told you, your emails may be ending up in their spam folder so they are not seeing them, or they are busy and have stopped opening your emails.
Before you remove or archive these inactive subscribers, it is a good idea to give them one more shot through a reactivation email. A reactivation campaign is one which attempts to get these inactive subscribers opening your emails again. This can be one, or a series of emails, to grab their attention, determining whether they are in fact “lost” subscribers.
Reactivation campaigns can take many forms:
- A really great offer – this offer should be better or different to anything you have sent them before, as this is the real test on whether they are interested in what you are offering. If they are actually seeing the emails before deleting them a good offer is likely to get them reactivated.
- A survey – finding out more about what your subscribers want to receive emails on will make your campaigns more relevant for them.
- An opt in email – You could tell them they need to confirm whether they do still want to be on your list or else they will be opted out.
- A competition – People struggle to resist a subject line with ‘WIN’ or ‘FREE’ in it so this can be a great way to get people to reactivate.
With each type of campaign it is important to reiterate the benefits of doing business with you, and remind them why they signed up in the first place (for the latest news, sale offers etc). Perhaps email doesn’t suit them anymore so you should include links to your social media pages for them to keep in touch with you in a different way.
You should only send this email to the inactive subscribers as defined by you, so segment them out from your “active” subscribers. Remember to take into account people who have only recently subscribed, and exclude them as they may not have had a chance to open an email yet. If you can, also check the list against any bookings / purchases via other sources, for example online or in store, as they may still be a valued customer and you don’t want to send them a message saying you miss them if they in fact are still buying from you regularly through other channels.
The subject line of your reactivation email is key – if this doesn’t grab their attention then they won’t even make it into the body of your email to see what you are offering so make sure it is compelling. Test several over a period of time to find out what works best. If you are including an offer make sure it is irrestible, and put a time limit on it so they are forced to take action if they are to be reactivated.
After you have sent your reactivation campaign, it is a good idea to separate, or archive these email addresses rather than removing them completely. You don’t want to be sending to them all the time, but you can keep working on them on the side – perhaps try sending to them from a different email service provider in case yours is getting stuck in their spam and they haven’t even been receiving your campaigns.
Having a large database is great, but in order to increase your ROI you should have quality, interested subscribers, otherwise you are just wasting your money and time.