5 reasons to kick subscribers off your email list

crossing people off your email listWhen you need to engage your target market and boost sales, there’s one route that 63% of consumers prefer for promotional messages – email. For this one reason alone, it’s no wonder marketers and business owners take the stance of “more is more” for email lists. However, the truth is much more nuanced…

While social proof is a big driver for conversions – think headlines like “Over 10,000 sign-ups every week! Join here!” – it’s important to maintain the quality of your email subscribers to make sure your email marketing efforts are both profitable and well-received.

Spring Cleaning? How about Quarterly Email Cleaning?

While exact scheduling depends on the amount of emails you send, aim for quarterly email engagement assessments to trim inactive subscribers.

  1. Improve Deliverability

The benefits of reclaiming your email list start immediately. If you have a high-quality email service provider (ESP) you can rest assured that hard bounces are removed from your email list almost immediately. But “soft” bounces from inactive users who don’t check their mailboxes very often can still put you at risk of having your emails blocked.

Removing these users reduces the negative statistics that would incorrectly flag you as a spammer.

  1. Reduce Costs

According to the Direct Marketing Association, promotional emails sent in recent years have a potential ROI of $40 for every dollar spent.

To make the most of those returns it takes good list hygiene. Many email service providers charge more as your list grows. Trimming inactive leads keeps costs down in a practical way that leaves room to add more engaged subscribers which in turn can increase your email ROI month after month.

  1. Deeper Insights on Engaged Users

A newly cleaned list provides you with better engagement stats, as you see the types of topics and messaging that get your best subscribers to act.

These hyper-targeted reports can be used to glean deeper knowledge of your target audience as a whole, which in turn informs your messaging in other areas such as social media, landing pages, and search advertising.

  1. Increase Engagement

With a highly-responsive list, optimization tactics become that much more effective.

Segmentation will be more meaningful as you are now highlighting differences between active groups on your list.

Personalization also becomes more relevant as you gain insights that let you step beyond the “Hi, {firstname|there}” tactics that everyone else is using.

  1. Provide Room for Additional Growth

While we’ve already mentioned that trimming inactive users leaves more room for your email list to grow, there are some specific types of email campaigns that work much better when your list is highly engaged:

  • Referral campaigns – it is easier to grow your list organically by encouraging active subscribers to forward your emails to friends and colleagues
  • VIP campaigns – segmenting out your most valuable subscribers for special offers is easier, faster and more likely to get a positive response when you have already removed subscribers that are unlikely to take action

Is there ever a reason NOT to trim your email list?

If a substantial portion of your list is inactive, you may be hesitant (and rightly so) of trimming everyone who hasn’t engaged recently.

Another common scenario is when an email list has not been mailed for some time and has grown “cold” – which means all the users are inactive at this point, and it does not make sense to start over.

Fortunately, there are ways to reactivate and warm up a cold list (or just a cold segment) to conserve previously engaged subscribers.

If you need an action plan to revive previously valuable subscribers, follow these five steps:

How to run a reengagement campaign and warm up your cold list

  1. Create a list for all non-engaged subscribers

Don’t remove them from their current list(s) as this new list is specifically for your reengagement campaign and once your subscribers start to engage again, you’ll likely want them to remain on any previous lists.

Within this list, segment your subscribers in the same manner as the main list, whether through demographics, interests, or some other relevant differentiator. If you haven’t segmented your list to date, now is the time to begin.

  1. Develop an appealing offer

If you are targeting a B2B audience this may take the form of reports, whitepapers or case studies.

If you are targeting a B2C audience, the most common reengagement campaign is through a special sale or discount. To stand out from other companies using this tactic (and avoid rewarding subscribers who deliberately hold back on making a purchase just to receive a discount) you may also consider personalized offers based on past purchase history or a value-added offer such as free/expedited shipping with a paid subscription.

No matter the type of audience you are targeting, is highly important that whatever offer you provide is of significant value to your subscribers and is not self-promotional in nature. Reengagement campaigns work best when it is something your audience wants and/or needs.

  1. Optimize your subject line and from:

Keep your subject line short, clear, and relevant. You may also want to consider changing the “From:” portion of your email messaging as these subscribers have gotten used to bypassing emails with your usual sender name.

Be prepared to test multiple subject lines in order to see which gets the best response. If your list is large enough, test portions of your messaging as well to see what garners the most clicks.

  1. Set up a testing protocol

A typical reengagement campaign is scheduled in this way:

  • Send initial offer email
  • Wait one week
  • Send second offer email to those who did not respond (same offer or additional content, new wording)
  • Wait one week
  • Send third and final email to those who did not respond to the first two emails (same offer or additional content, new wording)
  1. Assess your results

While you may not have retained everyone, there are insights to be had based on the messaging and offers that worked to engage your previously inactive subscribers.

Use these insights to further engage your active list, as well as to come up with a game plan for regularly reaching out to subscribers that stop responding to your messaging.

One last option…

If you want to make one last bid for retention at the end of your email reengagement campaign, try this:

Send an email notice informing subscribers that they will be removed from your list if they do not reconfirm by clicking a link. This can work well when paired with scarcity messaging about valuable upcoming content or offers they will miss alongside an incentive to confirm.

Track email clicks and remove anyone who has not clicked within 1-2 weeks’ time.

After the deadline has passed, change the page the link points to so that it is a sign-up page to rejoin your list. Anyone who clicks the link after the deadline can then easily return to the fold, and you maintain the validity of the scarcity in your previous messaging.

Have you ever run a reengagement campaign before trimming your list? Are your metrics telling you it’s time for one now? Drop me a line in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help.