Reengage Your Inactive Subscribers by Improving Your Deliverability


According to a new study from the CMO Council, 48% of respondents view ‘acquisition of new accounts and opportunities’ as a top priority for marketers. While we agree that it’s important to invest in new business development, it’s worth considering what you might be able to do to re-engage with inactive subscribers.

The definition of what a sender considers “inactive” varies. Different senders may use different measures. For example, a marketer might consider a subscriber inactive when there has been no open or click activity over the last 8 or 9 campaigns. Activity can also be measured if the sender is unable to get the subscriber to respond within a certain timeframe, for example more than 3 months (or 6 or 9). For other senders, the measure of activity will be based purely on transactions.

But, however you define it, reactivating subscribers is a good idea for two reasons:
1. Reactivating is less costly than acquiring new clients.
2. Because client interaction is becoming more important in the filtering decisions at the ISPs, inactive clients can eventually harm your deliverability.

Which is why we are very excited to learn that one of our clients here in France recently used the Return Path Certification program to re-engage 20% of their inactive subscribers. I repeat, 20% of their list was re-activated. The company is called igwis and if you are fluent in French you can read about their success here. But the bottom line is that they were able to re-activate 6,000 email addresses that had neither opened nor clicked on any emails over a 6 month period. That spells money in any language!

Here in the Return Path Paris office we like to say: “An email that is not delivered to the inbox cannot be opened and will therefore result in zero ROI.” I would further add that the additional effect is that it will also increase the number of inactive subscribers.

Clearly not all inactive subscribers are a result of poor deliverability. In fact, throughout the years I have seen all sorts of reactivation strategies and I have read great articles with lots of useful tips. But before investing time and money in reactivation campaigns think about your subscribers that have never received your email in their inbox. Your reactivation campaigns will most likely not be landing in their inbox as well.

I urge all marketers and publishers to check to see if there are subscribers on your list who simply don’t react and could be considered inactive. But I would also advise you ensure that you have no deliverability issues before going into reactivation mode because, ironically, poor deliverability can result in more inactive subscribers, too many inactive addresses can cause poor deliverability, and poor deliverability can result in even more inactive subscribers. Imagine a picture of a cat chasing it’s own tail, it’s just like that!

Source: CMO Council, “State of Marketing Outlook, Intentions and Investments for 2010” commissioned by Deloitte Consulting LLP and ExactTarget, April 19, 2010.

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