What to do with inactive subscribers?

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Have you ever looked into how many of your email list ‘never’ open your emails? From our experience it can be anything from 40% to 70% of your list that do not open any of your emails, in many cases for 6 months.
So what can you do with this massive potential goldmine? Here are the options:

Do nothing

It takes time and effort to alter your strategy so even if these people are inactive and costing you money it might cost you more money to change your strategy.

And what if they come back to you in the future? Perhaps now is just not the right time for them.

Bin them

An alternative approach is to take them out of your list. It costs money to send to these people and out of all of your subscribers these are the most likely to report your email as spam.

There is a chance that these inactive subscribers will start responding, so it might be appropriate to keep them on the list, and perhaps just send to them less frequently.

My rule of thumb is this – if your emails are for frequent purchases, take the subscriber out – they are clearly not engaged. If however your offering is a seasonal purchase (Holidays, insurance or even tied to annual events such as Christmas or Valentines) then it is a different scenario, so keep sending but introduce triggered messages around key dates associated with the purchase (anniversary of purchase, renewal, welcome home from holiday) rather than focussing on generic one size fits all newsletters every week of the year.

Change approach

Just changing your style will reactivate people.

Instead of sending a long newsletter, try a simple ‘sorry we missed you’ message, discount voucher or even just change the ‘from’ name.

No matter what you change only a small amount of inactive subscribers will open your message – it’s always difficult to get subscribers back once they have disengaged from your email.

But if disengaged subscribers make up 50% of your list then the numbers should stack up to make your efforts worthwhile.

Of course prevention is better than cure. Perhaps a more important question should be what do we do to stop subscribers disengaging in the first place, but that is a topic for a different blog post.

About Craig Loynes

Marketing Manager at Emailcenter, the UK's largest independent ESP. Connect with +Craig Loynes on Google+ or follow on for more email marketing insights.