Return Path weighed in on how suppression of inactives improves email deliverability, and Dela Quist explained how these best practices may cost email marketers significant revenue. Every conference we attend has a packed house in any session with “inactive” in the title.
Still, the questions remain for email marketers. What do we do with inactive subscribers? Do we give up on non-openers? In short, suppress or send?
The heart of the problem is that it’s difficult to risk deliverability issues from low engagement and to risk not sending to a large segment of your list. Both can have a big impact on revenue.
As a stand-alone email ad exchange, we sympathize. We constantly work to keep engagement rates high by targeting email advertising to the right subscribers so that we maintain high inbox placement rates.
A prospective client of ours was recently grappling with their inactive segment and asked what we thought. We thought that while it’s important to follow deliverability best practices, some inactives want to be engaged, either by your brand or through email advertising. You just have to approach them the right way.
We use behavioral cues to understand the person behind the inbox. So, we started by breaking out the subscriber experience and identifying the ideal outcome and how we could get there.
Subscriber Experience 1: “What email?”
If specific segments of your list are inactive, you could have a deliverability issue. Nothing shuts down open and click rates like not showing up in the inbox.
Subscriber Experience 2: “I’m underwhelmed or it’s just not the right time.”
It may not be what you want to hear, but sometimes subscribers just aren’t that interested in what you’re doing. They may feel that your emails have become less relevant or they don’t need your product right now.
Subscriber Experience 3: “I don’t want this.”
It’s difficult to imagine that someone who doesn’t want your emails wouldn’t just unsubscribe, given that I’m sure you make it easy to unsubscribe.
An ExactTarget survey found that 67% of subscribers do typically click “unsubscribe” when they no longer want to receive a company’s email. Another 8% break an email marketer’s heart and mark the email as spam.
The other 25%? 17% just delete the emails, 6% ignore the emails, and 2% set up a filter to get rid of them. So potentially a full 25% of the people who don’t want to receive your emails give you no feedback at all. They just disengage.
Since we can’t know which of those groups each record falls into until we see how they behave, we developed a re-engagement campaign for our prospective client that would take into account how each of those subscriber types might respond:
At the end of our campaign, the client will return the email records that re-activated to their master list, with additional information about the types of offers that subscribers opened or clicked. ividence will monetize the remaining subscribers by sending email advertising that’s targeted to them based on their behavior.
This way, our client removes a chunk of their list that isn’t engaged with their brand, but can still drive revenue from their list. The perfect compromise to the question of: Suppress or send?
Have you tried a re-engagement program? How did you handle subscribers who didn’t re-activate?
Image courtesy of VectorPortal.com
Mary Byrne leads ividence’s sales and marketing team in the U.S. as SVP, Americas. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the technology sector, with special emphasis on advertising technology and email deliverability. Previously, Mary led the sales, marketing, and client services efforts at DoubleClick, Microsoft and Level 3 Communications. She can be reached at email@example.com.