Every email marketer’s dream is an email list in which every contact is active, engaged, and a frequent buyer. But unfortunately, that is not how it always works. Subscribers grow and evolve in their customer journey, and a few become inactive over time. An active and highly engaged email list is essential to email marketing. Passive and unengaged subscribers are detrimental to your business, while loyal customers can make all the difference.
The Negative Effect of Unengaged Subscribers on Your Email List
There is a view that an inactive subscriber is better than a non-existent one. But is it right? If you are sending emails to inactive customers, it could hurt your deliverability. If mail providers see that you are sending email after email to people who aren’t opening them, they will start diverting your emails to the promotion and later to the spam folder.
There’s no point in focusing efforts on a contact who doesn’t seem interested in your product or company anymore. If more unengaged subscribers receive constant emails from you, they might mark your emails as spam, and your email could be blacklisted. Moreover, your brand could be negatively affected.
This could lead to your emails getting directed to the spam folder when you email new contacts, and ultimately they may regard your business as less trustworthy. Therefore, keeping these unengaged subscribers on your email list costs you more.
Types of Unengaged Subscribers
1. Ghosts – the subscribers who never open your email
This subscriber is one whose interest in your business was signing up for an email list, possibly for something other than receiving regular emails. These subscribers may have signed up for a promotion but decided they didn’t want your content later. They joined and then suddenly vanished. They have never opened any emails, let alone clicked on links or made a purchase, so what motivation do you have to keep emailing them?
The best action plan is to remove them from your list. While this may seem like a hard step, the pivotal point is that you have already tried to engage these contacts for a long time without a result. They have never shown any interest in your emails, so it’s evident that emailing them is a waste of your time and money.
Continuing to send emails to people who have never engaged with your campaigns, opened an email, or clicked on a link is a fruitless activity. This will also damage your sender’s reputation, as the number of unengaged contacts far outweighs the active references in your email list.
Eventually, inbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail will notice that most of your emails will go unopened, and they will start filtering more emails to the spam folder or block your emails outright! Before this happens, remove those ghosts from your list.
2. Sleepers – open emails but never make purchases
This type of subscriber has opened and interacted with your emails in the past but is not currently active. This kind of inactive subscriber may have the most potential. They might just be on the brink of making a purchase, and with email marketing, you can swing their buying potential your way once again. The best plan is to create a re-engagement plan as soon as possible.
A re-engagement campaign is a series of emails designed to get subscribers interested in your email marketing and business. You can use the help of automation to trigger these emails at the exact time when any subscriber is dropping off in activity. Time is of the essence here. Get a campaign created and sent before these sleepy customers become 100 percent comatose.
3. Lukewarm subscribers – have made purchases in the past
These subscribers open your mail and have made purchases from you in the past but have now become lukewarm and never purchase anything. This group doesn’t have a great chance of engaging with your email because they know all about your brand and yet choose not to buy. How do sleepers and lukewarm subscribers differ? There is still some hope of getting sleepers interested in your brand since they engage with your emails and are on the brink of purchasing, as opposed to lukewarm subscribers who no longer show interest. The best action plan for them is to thoughtfully ramp down your content for lukewarm subscribers over time.
There may be several reasons behind lukewarm subscribers losing interest. Your emails might confuse the customers, or you may be providing unnecessary incentives or inaccurate acting measures. If these subscribers have gone an extreme length of time without engaging with your emails, you will not get them to hop on board magically by sending a coupon code their way. But that also doesn’t mean you should wave goodbye and call it a day.
Like starting your email program, you must ramp up gradually and ramp down inactive recipients over time. If you’re sending emails daily, switch to once a week. If you send emails weekly, change it to once or twice a month. If there’s still no engagement, ask the obvious question after three to six months: “Do you want to continue hearing from us?”. If there’s still no answer, you can say goodbye. But it is good to have patience and keep trying.
A Few Tips to Improve Your Deliverability
- Establish a monitoring plan
Deliverability is a multi-faceted subject and, therefore, can seem complicated. As with any other such thing, having a clear plan allows you to better grasp the overview of your deliverability and see the bottlenecks you need to improve. Implement a deliverability initiative that helps you monitor, manage, and improve existing deliverability.
- Keep an eye on your mailing list
Your deliverability rating always depends on the quality of your subscriber lists. Monitor whether your list consists of genuinely interested subscribers and clean your data accordingly. We emphasize that you should also avoid purchasing mailing lists. With this roulette, it is likely to get a list of recipients who are particularly unsuitable for what your company has to share. By growing your own list and cleaning it from time to time, you will maintain it as well-targeted as possible.
- Don’t forget segmentation
Speaking of targeting, you can target even more precisely within your well-maintained mailing list. Consider a more detailed audience segmentation. According to the distribution within your mailing list, you can send recipients with different interests exactly the content they expect. So, stay relevant – the more targeted your content is, the higher the engagement.
- Give your customers a choice
Launch a preference center for your customers, as your subscribers need a straightforward way to choose the content they want and if needed, to unsubscribe. This will help improve your list quality. It is also a good idea to allow a double opt-in process for your new subscribers. And never forget to add an unsubscribe button to each marketing email you send out.
- Quality over quantity
Avoid overwhelming your subscribers with too many messages. You don’t want to lose their trust or interest by bombarding them with emails that will eventually remind them of the spam folder. The best plan is to send emails consistently but not too often.
- Create relevant, engaging, and personal content
You should also keep your messages clean and provide actual value related to your business. Don’t take advantage of your subscribers’ trust by sending them irrelevant content they haven’t signed up for. If you do so, you will only receive disengagement, unsubscribes, or even spam complaints. And last but not least – sharing exciting content is, of course, the key to keeping people engaged. Get creative and inspired, do background research (you may ask your subscribers directly), and use A/B tests to find out which content is the most exciting for your readership.
Boost Your Sales with Customer Engagement and a Perfect Email List
Build trust between your customers and sales team through consistent, personalized touchpoints on relevant channels. Every email you send should meet the customer’s progress and purchase history and provide helpful content or information that drives their movement through the sales funnel. Supply your sales teams with customer interaction insights, which they can use to develop thoughtful messaging and select contents that support specific outreach goals.
Sales interactions should help customers research and narrow their options, but they shouldn’t feel forced. Be perceptive when interacting with customers, consider what works, and find the best channels and outreaches for your team and buyer. Customer engagement is essential to improve connections and lead handoffs between marketing and sales.
Marketers should deliver timely, personalized content that educates and creates qualified leads. Sales should continue to engage and nurture buyers across various channels to establish business relationships and increase close rates.
Towards an Effective and Dynamic Engagement
Identifying inactive subscribers is essential to keeping your email list hygienic. By following the suggested action plans listed above and segmenting your inactive subscribers, you can focus your efforts on the contacts with the highest likelihood of engagement and ensure you keep your email deliverability rates high.
Always remember that once you have segmented your lists and identified who has gone inactive, you want to guarantee you are correctly re-engaging them through a re-engagement email campaign. It is much more cost-effective to win back your subscribers in the long run than trying to find new ones.
When re-engaging with your subscribers, you want to ensure they can tell you have noticed their absence and encourage them to return. You should also provide incentives and explain the benefits of returning to them. Your unengaged customers need good reasons to buy from you instead of waiting. It’s not enough to say, “We miss you.” They’ll hear, “We miss having you spend your money with us.”
Instead, show them what they’re missing and what you can offer that other brands don’t. These can be store redesigns or new locations and hours, new services, product lines, brands and apps, extended hours, and much more. Maybe you’ve recently improved your customer service or return policies or brought in new payment methods? In any case, use this opportunity and promote your improvements wisely.
Overall, eliminating unengaged contacts is better for keeping your email deliverability intact. For the long-term success of your email campaigns, it’s best to remove passive contacts and build a loyal customer base.
About the co-author
Amrapali is a freelance SEO strategist and content writer who works with brands and SaaS companies to support their SEO and content strategy and blogs about technology and marketing at Bazaar Expert.