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Conventional marketing wisdom tells us removing inactive subscribers from your mailing list is good practice - but is it? Here, we turn that wisdom on its head. I'll show why inactive subscribers are still valuable to your business and explore how you can reactivate them. First, I'm going to tell a story of how I was recently shunned for all the wrong reasons and then give some ideas on a structured approach to make the most from inactive subscribers.
It's simple really, I was recently removed from Dell's mailing list despite spending around $40,000 a year with them online for the past few years.
In Dell's eyes however, I was inactive. I hadn't opened any of their emails for some time and so their marketing department had purged me from the list.
But the fact a customer hasn't opened your emails doesn't mean they're not engaged with your brand. In my case, I simply hadn't needed to open my email to buy any new computer equipment for a while.
Even unread, those emails were still a nudge towards the Dell brand. They were still performing a valuable marketing function whether it was in the form of an engaging subject line with the latest offers, or keeping the brand at the front of Dela's mind. And in my case, they were working.
Our research has shown that customers often buy a product or service through another channel within 24 hours of receiving an email. Here's an example:
That's why we provide clients with reports where we overlay the timing of emails sent with the timing of sales from other channels such as in-store, online, through call centers, pay per click and affiliates. Marrying together these data sets is crucial if you want to get a true impression of your recipients' buying patterns. And it's even more important when deciding whether to bump them off your subscriber list.
Email marketing can create a powerful stimulus which prompts purchases even if the emails themselves aren't being read.
Inactive subscribers are still valuable to your brand and can generate a significant amount of revenue.
It makes perfect sense to stop emailing someone you know would never buy your products again or who actively dislikes receiving your emails. But long-term inactivity isn't a good indicator of whether someone falls into that category. There are 5 reasons why your subscribers may be - or appear to be - inactive:
By far the largest group is the first one - we call these people the unemotionally subscribed. They will happily ignore your emails until they're ready to buy, because it's easier than unsubscribing and having to remember your URL or Google you later.
We've gathered plenty of evidence on this group and demonstrated that while they might not read an email, they're still a very important customer base. For example:
Common marketing advice would have been to delete those subscribers after a year's inactivity. But by retaining unemotionally subscribed addresses, the client brought in a significant amount of additional revenue.
We have developed a simple strategy to help you decide if, and when, to remove an email address from your list.
I recommend these 4 steps to establish which addresses are truly inactive, and which fall into the unemotionally subscribed group.
So that's the way we see it. What's your view?
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