When you notice your email metrics start to slide, it can be tempting to delete inactive subscribers as a quick fire way to boost your open and click rates. This common knee jerk reaction, however, puts you at risk of losing potential customers. Everyone on your list either once wanted to hear your news or has bought from you in the past, so rather than just press delete, try and re-engage inactive subscribers by implementing a sunset strategy.
Sunset strategy: deciding how long inactive subscribers stay on your mailing list before removal and sending re-engagement emails to maintain a mailing list of engaged recipients
This will vary depending on your sector, but generally, we consider inactive subscribers to be opted-in contacts who haven’t opened an email or clicked through for six months. If you send emails more frequently than once a month, you may want to shorten this timeframe.
Identify your unengaged recipients and segment them into two groups: those subscribers who have never opened an email or bought from you, and those who have bought from you, but not in the last 12 months.
You can read our tips on email segmentation here.
Create and send a goodbye email to the first segment, i.e. those subscribers who have never opened an email. Give them a final chance to reconnect, and if they still don’t engage, go ahead and remove them from your list.
This email from haircare brand Paul Mitchell reminds subscribers of what their newsletters contain (style inspiration, product announcements and upcoming events) and gives them the chance to continue receiving emails with the fun message Keep them coming. The copy is casual and includes an emotional pull, and there’s a great graphic to showcase the products. The large social buttons encourage recipients to keep in touch in other ways, even if they don’t want to receive emails. Recipients don’t even need to unsubscribe – it’s clear this is the final communication, unless people opt in.
Subscribers who have previously shopped with you warrant a little more TLC. Before sending them a farewell email with an opportunity to reconnect, try to win them back with a reengagement email. This should include a good incentive to click (e.g. an exclusive promo code) and relevant content, based on browsing and buying history.
This email from British fashion brand Boden is a great example. It keeps its emotional appeal light-hearted with a good fashion-based pun, and includes two very obvious buttons. Subscribers can either stay updated with I miss you too or can unsubscribe by clicking I need space. The social icons are nice and clear, encouraging subscribers to stay in touch in other ways. Boden also flag up their referral programme and 60% sale with a clear ‘Shop now’ call to action. Frankly, if subscribers don’t click now, they probably never will, and can safely be removed.
Building and maintaining an engaged customer list is crucial for effective email marketing. It’s far better to have fewer people who engage with you than a long list of inactive subscribers.