What to Do About Inactive Email Subscribers

June 2, 2014 Rieva Lesonsky

email marketing

Do you have hundreds or even thousands of email subscribers on your list who you know are receiving your emails, and maybe even opening them, but never take action on your offers? How can your email marketing campaign re-engage these inactive subscribers and inspire them to click on your marketing emails, visit your website or business location and, hopefully, buy something from you?

A recent study analyzed nearly 300 million real-world marketing emails to assess which tactics are most effective for rejuvenating inactive email subscribers. Here’s some of what the report found:

Cold, hard cash works best. Reactivation emails that offer a fixed dollar amount off (such as $10, $20 or $50 off) were the most effective; these were opened by 21 percent of recipients. By comparison, percentage-off emails were opened by just 11 percent of recipients.

Appeal to their emotions. If money doesn’t work, guilt might. Somewhere in the middle in terms of effectiveness are reactivation emails whose subject lines include the words “come back” or “miss you.” These were read by about 13 percent of recipients.

Don’t bother asking for permission again. Emails in which senders ask long-inactive recipients if they still want to receive emails from the business are widely ineffective. Just 1.8 percent of recipients bother to read these “re-permission” emails.

Clearly, reactivation emails in general were not that effective. While 92 percent of the messages got to consumers’ inboxes, just 12 percent of recipients actually bothered to read them.

However, just because recipients don’t read your reactivation email doesn’t mean they want to stop getting your emails altogether. Nearly half (45 percent) of recipients who got a reactivation email engaged with later emails from the same business. In other words, even if someone doesn’t bother to open and read your reactivation email, he or she might well be amenable to reading later emails.

Overall, the report concludes, you shouldn’t be in a hurry to dump inactive email subscribers from your list. The average time between receiving a reactivation email and reading a later email from the brand was nearly 60 days. In fact, some recipients still opened emails from brands nearly a year after receiving and ignoring a reactivation email.

While you may want to segment inactive users so you can try different tactics with them and/or email to them less often, if it’s not hurting you to keep emailing them, it’s worth continuing the practice. You never know when an email message might actually have an effect—and lead to a sale.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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