Want To Win Back Customers? Stop Sending Them Email.

by on February 24, 2014 in Best Practices | Email Marketing | Optimization | Targeting
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best email marketing practices

Even the most successful email lists are loaded with an uncomfortably large percentage of subscribers who simply don’t engage with your brand. 

Who are these subscribers? And why haven’t they unsubscribed? They are the “inactives.” And they want you to stop sending them so much email. (Even if they still want to be your customer in the future)

Growing engagement with active subscribers who engage with your emails routinely is a delicate balance of frequency versus value. For many email marketing campaigns the subject line, pre-header and email content are often based on the assumption that the recipient is actively engaged.

However all of your subscribers and customers are not created equal.  Not all of your subscribers are actively engaging. Those subscribers who are not opening your emails (Zero activity for more than 90 days) are still typically receiving the same emails as your core active customers. The best email marketing practices dictate:

Segmenting the inactives from your active subscribers and you can see substantial lift in open and click rates.

Research from Epsilon presented at the Email Marketing Summit showed that:

Subscribers who have engaged (opened, clicked, purchased etc) in the last 90 days produced 96% of all the clicks and opens in the 4 Billion emails measured for the study.

Those inactive members of your subscriber list who have little to no activity can also harm your sender reputation and therefore your deliverability. The best way to stop these deliverability problems is to stop sending these inactive subscribers email. Practicing good list hygiene is crucial for long-term ISP and sender reputation. That is why it is imperative that you implement intelligent email segmentation and remove the inactives from your active subscribers to improve deliverability as well as open and click rates.

Delivering Value > Delivering Emails

Your email subscribers want you to “justify the send” by delivering value to them in each email message.

Email is unquestionably one of the most effective marketing programs available. It delivers some of the highest returns and the highest engagement at very manageable costs. All too often, we pigeonhole email marketing into a direct response ‘gimme your money now’ weapon. Best email marketing practices can certainly drive impressive direct responses and generate direct revenue actions. However a well executed email marketing strategy is more effective in brand building than browbeating prospects to death with a thousand of calls to action (CTAs).

Dela Quist, CEO of the email agency Alchemy Worx said it well:

Email is a much more powerful branding tool than it is a direct response tool. Direct response makes each email stand on its own as a unique, singular event, with no connection to anything you did before and no connection to anything you’re likely to do afterwards.

The lifetime value of your customers is more than almost any one time sale. Email excels as a branding and demand-generation vehicle with a compelling direct-response component, not the other way round. Email is not a way to fire ammunition into the inbox of the target. It is a way we can connect events with stories to build engagement between our brand and our customers.

Engagement > Frequency

In email marketing frequency and engagement enjoy a tumultuous negative correlation.

More often does not always equal more success.
ESP Mailchimp did a well documented study of the effect of frequency on engagement. Here is one of their scatter graphs from that study showing the negative correlation between frequency and click rate showing best email marketing practices in action.

best email marketing practices

Your active subscribers have shown that they are ready and willing to not only receive your emails but to also act on them. Active subscribers should get your core messaging and offers, on your standard frequency.

Inactive and less active subscribers must be intelligently segmented and receive unique, targeted messaging and/or offers (sent less often).  Yes it’s a difficult, time-consuming process even if you have the right data, but it is essential to your email program’s success. They have proven by their direct action (by NOT taking action) that the normal email program (subject line, pre header, frequency, content, etc.) does not engage them.  If they are not engaging they are not delivering revenue.

To win back your inactive subscribers you should treat them differently than you treat your active subscribers – tailor the message, the delivery, and the frequency.

The results can be remarkably impressive.

best email marketing practices

One of our clients was experiencing a plethora of deliverability problems resulting from a high level of inactive subscribers. They were seeing increasingly high delivery delays from ISPs, increasing sender reputation penalties and SPAM reports.

Using Embarke Intelligent Targeting the marketer was able to quickly and automatically segment out their inactive users from their active users and send their marketing emails to only proven active engagers.

The results:

This customer achieved a 156% improvement in click rates by intelligently targeting only those subscribers who were shown to have actively engaged with their emails in the last 90 days.

And when they also utilized advanced time optimization combined with intelligent targeting to only send to actively engaged subscribers the customer achieved a substantial 443% increase in average click rates from their email campaigns.

Even more important in the long run is that by intelligently targeting only those subscribers who had maintained engagement they cut their active send list down by almost 2/3rds and dramatically improved their sender reputation and eliminated most of their deliverability issues. All while maintaining the number of opens and clicks even with only sending to 1/3rd as many subscribers.


Engagement = Revenue

If inactive subscribers are not opening and clicking your standard emails, then why are you sending to them? Segment, target and optimize to avoid overwhelming your disengaged customers with content they aren’t interested in. When you have something special to send, they will be far more likely to feed the bottom line.

If you would like to see how Embarke’s time optimization and intelligent targeting can help you also see a positive lift in opens and clicks Request a Demo today.

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