However fractional it may be, sending emails to your customers costs you money. Obviously there are ESP sending and account fees to factor in, but more importantly, there is the impact to your email list that should be taken into consideration.
All too often customers simply stop opening their emails. Instead of unsubscribing, they just hang out in your list and continue to collect mail. The decline in open rate may seem slow, but often proves to be steady which can affect your business objectives. First, take a look at your email strategy. You’ll need to figure out what is that is causing the lack of interest. Are your emails too long? Is the message content no longer meaningful to the customer? If you’re not sure, try using an engagement list on your next campaign to gauge email interest.
What is an Engagement List?
An engagement list can be built on any number of factors, and is usually easy to create within your ESP. You basically want to create a list of customers who are very likely to open your emails based on previous actions they’ve taken.
Customers who are new to your email list – those who have signed up or joined within the past 60, 90 or 120 days – are fresh and eager to receive your emails. They are more likely to open and click simply because they’ve taken a recent interest in what you have to offer. Customers who have previously opened or clicked an email – in the past 3, 6 or 9 months – should also be included in your list. They have likely seen a value in your emails in the recent past and should continue engaging. Combine new to file customers and those who have recently engaged to create a subsection of your email list that is sure to be more responsive than your full email list.
You might worry that you’ll start to lose contact with some of your customers by only emailing your engagement list. If they haven’t been responsive in the past nine months, they probably won’t notice. But if you’re uncomfortable with this, loop them into your more important messages such as sale events and clearances. Be sure to keep ‘earning’ back your unresponsive customers on your backburner though. A quarterly or bi-annual email campaign to re-engage them can be effective with either moving them into the engagement list or weeding them out.
This re-engagement campaign should be designed to give your customers the option of coming back or getting out. Plan for the campaign to be a series of two or three emails that each have different goals in mind. Depending on the tone you use with your audience, try sending the first email with a ‘we miss you, come back!’ message. Give them two options – either reactivate their account or unsubscribe.
From here, you can divide them up into the appropriate categories. Move those that unsubscribed into your suppression list (if they aren’t already) and those that clicked to reactivate into your engagement list. You will be left with a group of unresponsive customers, who should now receive the second email in your series. In this message, again give the option to reactivate or unsubscribe. In addition, you might consider adding an incentive to get your customer to reactivate. An entry to a sweepstakes, a cash giveaway or a coupon has a nominal cost to a company, but could be money well-spent on regaining an active customer.
After the second email sort your list again into their respective lists. Then, with the remaining customers, send one final email to them. Let them know that if they don’t respond by a certain date, you will stop emailing them. This may seem a bit harsh, but if the customers aren’t responding, they really aren’t adding any value to your email marketing efforts.
Throughout the campaign, be sure to remind your customer the value of being on your email list. Include the same selling points you would use to acquire a brand new customer. You can also offer them the option of following you through social media instead. Refer your customers to your Facebook, Twitter and any other accounts you have so that they may follow you through whatever medium is most convenient to them.
Whatever the outcome of your reactivation campaign may be, don’t be discouraged by the unresponsive customers. By using engagement lists, you’ll ultimately end up with a list of highly active customers who WANT to receive your emails. Not only will you see increases in your business objectives, but your deliverability and IP reputations can benefit as well.