Optimizing Your Email Customer Lifecycle: Questions & Answers Part 1

In our previous post, we reviewed the results of a set of questions that we posed to our webinar attendees around their approaches to email customer lifecycle marketing. We learned that while most of them are doing it, they don’t all have access to suitable technology to do so effectively, and the majority struggle to quantify customer lifetime value.

One constant was that they all want to make their email lifecycles perform better, and we got a really great selection of questions around how to achieve this. We’ve curated have curated 10 of the best, and along with my colleague Guy Hanson, we’ll combine our years of email expertise to provide some answers. In this post we’ll consider the impact acquisition practices have on future performance:

1. How important is the bounce rate in the customer lifecycle email/journey?

[GH] A typical email program churns 25 percent to 30 percent of subscribers each year. This represents a major opportunity cost, and also has a direct impact on program performance providing an email address is often a “grudge” concession, and subscribers will often supply a secondary address, or even a fake address. This degrades the sender’s reputation metrics, which are influenced by poor data quality, meaning reduced deliverability.

[SK] A poor hard bounce rate may also indicate a sender’s level of emphasis on data acquisition processes. When the goal is to grow a list fast, address validation practices may be bypassed, making it faster and easier to sign up. However, address validation at subscription is the best way to avoid hard bounces up front.

2. How can we get better at getting new subscribers to give us a primary email address?

[GH] A large part of this is to do trust (see next point for specific tactics) and trust begins with how consumers view the brand. In the UK, we have seen that most trusted brands (BBC, John Lewis, Sony, for example) have far higher levels of primary addresses in their email lists. Also be aware that around 1/6 of spam complaints are caused by external factors such as bad publicity in the press, or a negative in-store experience, and where the email is then the next touch point with that brand.

[SK] Focusing on organic list growth through the sender’s own website or platform means a higher probability of getting primary email addresses. This environment shapes the initial subscriber experience, meaning a great opportunity to create a best first impression and communicate value. This, in turn, maximises the likelihood of getting primary email addresses. Read our blog post “10 Examples for Organic List Growth” for additional inspiration.

3. Do you have recommended actions/ activities to increase subscription trust?

[GH] This was a major theme as GDPR arrived. Research showed that the biggest single driver to provide personal data was trust in the sender. Trust in turn is a function of: 1) transparency about how the data will be used; 2) clear statement of how the new subscriber will benefit, and; 3) a privacy policy that is easily accessible/understandable. The arrival of BIMI is also helping to build stronger trust by ensuring easy recognition of genuine senders.

[SK] The more you are straight to the point, and avoid complex legal terms or language, the better the understanding by potential new subscribers.

4. The reasons offered for high unsubscribe rates during on-boarding were based on assumptions. Do you have any results from asking readers why they are unsubscribing?

[GH] A key issue here is the failure on the part of senders to establish a value proposition. Around half of consumers are data pragmatists, who will “who will make trade-offs on a case-by-case basis as to whether the service or enhancement of service offered is worth the information requested.” This means lifetime value is a two-sided coin, and subscribers will remain with an email program if they are convinced they will benefit from a fair exchange of value by doing so.

5. Is the behaviour the same for B2B vs B2C campaigns the same?

[GH & SK] We can’t say for sure because we are still building up our knowledge-base, and we’ll need to see more real-life examples to know for sure. However, B2B email marketing remains a big development area for many companies, and for this reason, almost certainly performs worse during the acquire stage. Reasons for this include: 1) lower data quality; 2) less robust consent standards, and; 3) weaker relationships between senders and recipients. We also know that B2B data decays faster – up to 70 percent in some cases!

In our next post, we’ll review more questions around lifecycle optimisation opportunities further into the email customer journey. If you can’t wait until then, watch a recording of the webinar here, and also make sure you’ve read our great Lifecycle Metrics Benchmark report. If you want to learn more about how we can help you optimize your lifecycle, contact your Return Path account manager or submit an enquiry right now!

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