3 Ways to Re-engage Inactive Email Subscribers

May 31, 2016 Karen Axelton

inactive email subscribers

How many of your business’s email subscribers are no longer engaging with your emails? If you have too many dormant email subscribers, you’re not only losing potential sales, but could also be hurting your overall email deliverability, according to data from ReachMail.

As many as 60 percent of email subscribers on the average brand’s email list are inactive — that is, do not open, click on or respond to the emails at all — the report states. Inactive subscribers can have a negative effect on your email deliverability because ISPs filter spam based more on engagement levels than on the content of the emails. Of course, you already know that when customers mark your email as spam/junk or, worse, report it as phishing, it hurts your deliverability. But customers who simply delete your messages without bothering to open them will also have a negative effect.

Of course, the best way to deal with inactive subscribers is to prevent them from going dormant in the first place. To do that, follow these best practices:

  • Don’t send emails too frequently. Some 7 out of 10 email recipients say they have unsubscribed from a brand’s email list because they got emails too often. Allowing customers to set their email preferences, both when they first sign up as subscribers and by including a link to adjust preferences in every email, lets subscribers customize their delivery and helps keep them engaged.
  • Segment your email list. The larger your email list is, the more likely your emails are to be ignored, deleted or reported as spam. Segmenting your list and creating targeted emails for different customer segments will improve engagement and deliverability.
  • Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly. Since most emails are now opened on mobile devices, emails that aren’t mobile-friendly will automatically drive down engagement rates. This ultimately leads to a growing number of inactive subscribers.

Of course, despite your best efforts, every business will have some inactive email subscribers. Here are three ways to re-engage them:

  1. Get feedback. Send out a survey to both active and inactive email subscribers regarding your email campaigns. Offer some type of incentive for taking the survey, and be patient; it often takes a month or more to get a response.
  2. Ask customers to update their email preferences. Surprisingly, this was found to be more effective at re-engaging subscribers than asking for permission to continue sending emails.
  3. Develop a re-engagement program. Define exactly what “inactive” means in your business. Use your email analytics data to pinpoint the average time it takes for subscribers to become inactive, and create a re-engagement program that reaches out to subscribers before they reach that point. A strong call to action can revitalize subscribers and even bring dormant ones back to the fold.

Want more assistance growing your business online? Join the Web.com Small Business Forum for free access to our library of ebooks, the latest industry news and support from other business owners, entrepreneurs and working professionals. Join a Group to ask questions, share your opinions and grow your network! Visit Web.com to learn about our full range of affordable website design and online marketing services.


Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.


Previous Article
For Successful Email Marketing,Think Mobile First
For Successful Email Marketing,Think Mobile First

You know your business website needs to be mobile-friendly. But do you ever think about how important it is...

Next Article
How to Use Welcome Emails to Grow Your Business
How to Use Welcome Emails to Grow Your Business

What do you do when new customers subscribe to your email newsletter or purchase products from your ecommer...

Increase your credibility with a business email address

Get Started