Time to say goodbye to inactive email subscribers

by | Jul 24, 2018

“Every one of our subscribers is active, engaged and makes frequent purchases.”

“We can accurately calculate the £ value per subscriber.”

“We know exactly how much to invest per customer and can set ROI-based budgets to ensure maximum profits.”

This state of Utopia may seem unattainable and – in truth – it is, but that shouldn’t stop us striving to get somewhere close, should it?

For many companies, the biggest – and simplest – single step we can take towards that promised land is to prune the inactive subscribers.

For too long, businesses have welcomed subscribers – all subscribers – equally warmly. The temptation is then to hang on to those subscribers at all costs and for as long as possible. A larger number of subscribers upholds our role as marketers.

Of course, every subscriber is valuable – but not equally valuable. Subscribers who casually sign-up for a one-time incentive may have no intention of ever reading our emails, let alone spending money with our businesses. Other subscribers may simply evolve, becoming inactive over time. Do those subscribers warrant our equal ongoing focus, effort and investment? In most cases, almost certainly not.

Unengaged customers are dangerous

Unengaged customers are a distraction – a serious distraction. They destroy our focus on those engaged customers who deserve our attention. They distort our ROI figures. Worst of all, they almost kill our ability to make strategic, business-focussed eCRM decisions. We end up spending our marketing budget far less effectively.

… and then there’s the “hidden” impact on deliverability. Although we may not see the immediate effects of continuing to send to inactive subscribers, the big ESPs are certainly taking note – and starting to take action too. Some will offer recipients a prominent link or even an overlay inviting them to unsubscribe from this message. Others simply start moving messages to the spam folder. Our “trustworthiness” – and our deliverability to inbox rates are being damaged. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Make sure the unsubscribe option is prominent and simple. It’s never worth putting hurdles in the way of users who wish to unsubscribe. They’ve made up their minds and it’s far, far better that an unengaged user chooses to unsubscribe from our messages than reports us as senders of spam.

How frequently should I remove unengaged customers?

Before deleting inactive subscribers altogether – consider moving them to a different comms track and employing an effective reactivation or re-engagement strategy. However, beyond that, a good rule-of thumb is to prune users after a run of 6-10 unopened emails.

For further information about list management, data cleansing or effective reactivation and re-engagement strategies, please contact us.


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