Over the course of my career I have been the custodian of many opt-in email lists. There are numerous experts that say you should be cleaning your list and removing your unengaged subscribers; I mean why send an email to someone who is not interested right? But this is a very hard pill for us marketers to swallow. We do tend to cling to our subscribers whether they’re responding or not.
I personally find it very hard to press delete on inactive subscribers, so of course I am a believer in taking the time to attempt to re-engage subscribers if you have the resources. But first you need to define what ‘unengaged’ means to you and how you will identify these inactive subscribers. This will differ from organisation to organisation so be sure to spend time uncovering what it truly means to you before moving anything forward.
I recently received a series of emails that really made me think about that Marketing Executive sitting in front of their computer with a decision to make. They had to decide whether I was a worthwhile subscriber for their list, or if they should cut their losses and say goodbye to me.
Back in 2005 while living in the United States I signed up for emails from the fashion store Bergdorf Goodman. It had been many years since I’d opened their emails (so long that I can’t remember the last time I had opened one). However I was well aware that I was receiving these emails as I saw them in my inbox and skimmed over the subject lines when they arrived.
In January I received my first email in the series with the subject line ‘Please Confirm Your Subscription to BG Email’. This was the start of Bergdorf Goodman trying to determine whether I was still interested in their emails and on this occasion it worked.
The subject line got my attention first and foremost as they were specifically asking me to confirm my subscription which piqued my curiosity (although not enough to make me open it).
Email 1 – sent 18 Jan 2012
A week later I received another email with the same subject line ‘Please Confirm Your Subscription to BG Email‘. Receiving this second email with the same subject line prompted me to open it this time. I wanted to know why they wanted to confirm my subscription. Although I opened the email I procrastinated, it wasn’t enough to get me to update my preferences yet, but those sunglasses are fabulous!
Email 2 – sent 26 Jan 2012
Jump forward another 3 weeks and they tried again. There was another email prompting me to again confirm my subscription to BG email. And yet again I procrastinated.
Email 3 – sent 18 Feb 2012
My last chance came at the beginning of March with the subject line ‘Last Chance: Please Confirm Your Subscription to BG Email‘. These two extra words ‘last chance’ were the tipping point, I had to stop procrastinating and make a decision. The time sensitivity of this email combined with the three previous emails all of which had highly aspirational images, which represented what BG was all about (world renowned fashion) was enough to re-spark the passion. I still wanted to be part of this so I clicked through and confirmed my subscription.
Email 4 – sent 2 March 2012
Although I don’t open every email, I am at least aware of them and one day might just open one and maybe even purchase something.
When considering your options think about this – your subscribers must have been interested in your product or services at some point in time – can you reignite this interest? Sometimes the answer is no and it will make sense to rid your list of the unengaged subscribers. But sometimes you just may be able to light that spark again.