How to Re-engage Inactive Email Subscribers

There is an old maxim in marketing: It’s less expensive to generate business from existing customers than it is to land new ones.

This has certainly proven itself in education subscription businesses such as magazines and software licensing, where renewals are far more profitable than new subscribers. And if you know your acquisition cost per customer, reactivating dormant customers is likely to be more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

This infographic from Reach Mail offers tips for re-engaging with the dormant subscribers on your email list. Among some of its most eye-opening insights:

  • 60 percent of the subscribers on an average email list are inactive, or haven’t opened, clicked or engaged with emails in six or more months.
  • The longer a subscriber has been on your list, the less responsive they become.
  • 69 percent of email users unsubscribe from a list because they receive emails too frequently.
  • More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile, you’ll likely have a higher percentage of dormant subscribers.

Keep Your Email List Healthy

The first line of defense against email dormancy is to not lose subscribers’ interest in the first place. One way you can keep them engaged is by segmenting your list and tailoring information and offers to smaller groups or individuals. Delivering exactly the kind of information each subscriber is interested in can help ensure that your emails get opened and read. A regular review of response metrics will help you focus your messages on the information that matters most to different audience members.

Another smart strategy is to scrub your list periodically. List hygiene is important to the health of your business. It may seem counterproductive to reduce your list size, but there are benefits to doing so. No matter how much effort you make to engage subscribers, there will be those that never engage due to inactive email addresses or other circumstances. Removing these subscribers will help improve response rates and spam scores, demonstrating your compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. Decreasing the size of your list or list segments also can help you reward your most loyal customers and prospects with tightly focused information or offers based on their unique needs.

Re-engagement Tactics

If you do see engagement starting to fall, often the simplest request can reactivate a subscriber’s interest. Send a request to update their email information or preferences, or send a short survey to determine why they’ve stopped responding and what you can do to better serve them.

Some companies that sell directly to end-users have had good luck with “miss you” or “come back” messages. When you see that someone has been ignoring your messages, acknowledge it and offer an incentive to stay, such as a discount on a product or program.

Just be sure your messages aren’t purely promotional. Also be cautious about frequency. Almost two-thirds of email subscribers leave a list because they receive too many messages. Strike a balance. A good rule of thumb is to make your emails 90 percent informational and less than 10 percent promotional. Demonstrating that your purpose is to share helpful information with respected colleagues is important to building subscriber loyalty. Give your subscribers what they want when they want it, and they’ll reward you with lasting engagement.

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