Did you know that up to 25% of your email list will go cold each year? (Study according to MarketingSherpa)
While I can’t say exactly how accurate this is for your business, I can say from experience that most businesses will struggle to keep all of their email subscribers 100% engaged.
That simply means that overtime some people will stop opening your emails.
So why is this important?
If your email subscribers have gone inactive but you keep emailing them, they could be seriously hurting your email engagement rates (even putting you in danger of being flagged as SPAM). This means sending email to them will damage your sender reputation and your email deliverability will be at risk.
This is determined by Email Service Providers who want to make sure they’re only sending legitimate emails to their customers’ inboxes. And if they see a negative trend in your open rates, they’ll begin to think you’re not a reputable email sender. Learn more here.
In an ideal world, you would be able to keep all of your email subscribers engaged, but because this isn’t the case, we’ll need to figure out what to do with unengaged contacts given the negative consequences of continuing to email them.
Luckily many email marketing tools make it easy to identify unengaged contacts. In this article, we’ll be using Infusionsoft as an example, but others offer very similar functionality.
How To Find Unengaged Contacts
Infusionsoft considers anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked on one of your emails in the last 4 months as unengaged. This means that the email status inside their contact record will read as “Unengaged Marketable”. In other words, you can still market and send email to them, but be aware that they are considered unengaged.
You can also see the total number of unengaged contacts you have in your account, by going to the Email Status Search report and searching for “Unengaged Marketable”.
If you find that a large percentage of your email list is considered unengaged, then it’s probably time to do some cleanup by way of a re-engagement campaign.
What is a Re-engagement Campaign?
A re-engagement campaign is a way to get your unengaged contacts to take action again. Ultimately, we want them opening or clicking on our emails again so this email campaign will be built for that purpose.
We recommend running a re-engagement campaign to your unengaged email list at least once a year. After the re-engagement campaign is complete, you’ll want stop emailing the contacts who don’t engage.
Yes, you read that correctly. I recommend you STOP emailing those contacts and even removing them from your marketing tool. I’ve seen businesses remove up to a third of their huge email lists. It seems painful, but remember that these contacts are dead weight. They’re causing more harm to you than good, especially if you have a larger email list (several thousand or more).
Creating Your Re-engagement Email Campaign
Before you keep reading, I wanted to let you know that we have a templated re-engagement campaign that we install and use with our clients. If you’re interested in getting access to it, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our process for creating a re-engagement campaign is fairly straightforward. Remember, the goal is to get them to open and then click on one of our emails. We want them to begin engaging with our content again. We do this by sending a simple 3-part email series that encourages them to take action.
Our email series looks something like this:
We acknowledge that we haven’t done a good enough job at providing them with content or information that interests them. Depending on your audience, you can even call out the fact that you’ve noticed they haven’t been opening your emails.
Then we provide a summary of our best content over the last 12 months.
We close the email by specifically asking them if they’d like to continue receiving information from us. We include buttons that let them self-segment (yes or no).
Email 2 is similar to email 1. Again, we provide more great content and ask them if they’d like to continue receiving our updates.
In email 3, we include a little urgency by telling them this is the last email they’ll receive from us if we don’t hear back from them. Then we get directly to the point and tell them why this will be the last email from us. We usually don’t give them more content.
At this point we provide one final option to click a link that keeps them on our list.
After the campaign has run its course, we’ll run our reports and then export and delete any contacts that are still unengaged.
Automating Your Re-engagement Campaign
Infusionsoft has some basic automation for tagging unengaged contacts. This allows you to automatically send a re-engagement campaign as soon as a contact is considered unengaged.
To take this process one step further, there are some additional 3rd party tools out there that will give you even more functionality for dealing with these contacts. I recommend and use the PlusThis email engagement triggers.
Subscriber inactivity is a fact of life. How you handle it makes all the difference. Take this as an opportunity to clean up your database - your open rates will thank me 🙂
Note: Blick Digital has a templated re-engagement campaign that we install and use with our clients. If you’re interested in learning more or want access to it, send us an email to email@example.com.
Bonus: My good friend Greg at Monkeypod Marketing ran a re-engagement campaign recently and the results are fascinating. He lays it all out in his blog post here. What I love about this post is that he shares all the info, including the numbers.