They’re just not that into you: Inactive subscribers

It may be a little early to think about spring cleaning, but I figure that a new year is a good time to clean up your email list and focus on your active subscribers. To combat list fatigue, when subscribers ignore and don’t open your e-mail, here are some suggestions to try to re-engage those list members.  Think of it as Operation Re-engagement.  At best, a re-engagement campaign will energize and strengthen the relationship with your subscribers. At worst, you will remove some subscribers from your list, which will lower your deployment costs, but will help increase your ROI per campaign.

Let’s get started:

Step 1: Define inactive. This will vary based upon the desired activity you want your list members to perform. It could be anything from not opening messages to not making a purchase.

Step 2: Filter or segment out this inactive group from your master list.

Step 3: Communicate with care. The desired goal is to engage subscribers to the point of clicking, reading, or at the very least opening the email. Any activity is better than none and reinforces that the subscriber is still interested.

Here’s a three-step process to consider following:

1. Reach Out With a Special Offer
The first attempt to contact inactive subscribers could include a special offer such as a contest, survey, coupon or free whitepaper. If they take the bait, mark them as an active list member and remove them from the mailing list for the remainder of Operation Re-engage.

2. Attempt a Second Contact
If the special offer is unopened, then follow-up with a message that their subscriptions will expire soon and a link to confirm that they wish to remain on your list. If you keep the message brief, it might trigger formerly unresponsive subscribers. At the very least, include the benefits of subscribing and mention what they’ll miss out on by not receiving future messages. Just as with the above, be sure to remove anyone who expresses an interest in remaining on your from Operation Re-engage.

3. Send a Final Notice
If subscribers still do not respond, give them one more chance to remain on your list. In this e-mail’s subject line use language that announces it is the last copy of your newsletter or special notices, as well as creative that highlights what they’ll be missing out on in future e-mails.

Within each message, I’d recommend keeping a friendly tone and avoiding any mention of their behavior being tracked, i.e. nothing saying they haven’t opened, clicked, or otherwise responded in a long time (even though that may be the case). By mentioning this, you appear like Big Brother.

Each email should include a call to action for subscribers to demonstrate that they want to remain your list. This could just be a link to a landing page with a form for them to re-opt in to your list – or opt-out, since it’s also a good practice to give your subscribers a way to remove themselves from your list as well.

Step 4: Say Goodbye. It’s time to remove those subscribers who did not respond to your re-engagement campaigns from your e-mail list. Send a farewell message letting them know their accounts have been suspended and, for the last time, include a link to reactivate their accounts. Don’t unsubscribe the recipients from your database completely, but segment your data to prevent this group from receiving future messages. Use your other channels wisely, to keep your brand in front of these subscribers, and they’ll potentially reactivate their e-mail addresses in the future.

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