Inactive subscribers are those that have not opened or clicked on an email over a certain period of time. There may be a number of reasons for this; disinterest, spam filters, poor subject lines and more.

With some inactive subscribers, the best approach may be to remove them from your list as they can be most likely to report emails as spam. However, it can be useful to try and reel a few back in.

Here are some tips on dealing with inactive subscribers...

Analyse your list

The first step is to take a look at your list to determine what percentage of subscribers are inactive i.e. they haven't opened or clicked on your emails for some time.

The threshold for this will be different for each company, but many will consider subscribers as inactive if they have ignored ten successive emails.

Try to re-engage subscribers before it is too late

The last thing you want to do is to keep sending emails to recipients who are uninterested in them, so you should identify these subscribers as early as possible, before it gets to the point where they will hit the 'report spam' button.  

Special offers

Offering free delivery, discounts etc may be enough to tempt some inactive subscribers to start clicking on your emails again.

Alter frequency

Email frequency is a key factor; send emails too often and people may be put off, while not sending often enough can make them forget why they signed up in the first place.

Experimenting with frequency can help to re-activate some lapsed subscribers.

Send on different days / times

Open and click rates can vary depending on the day and time they are sent out. For instance, many surveys find that sending emails earlier in the week generates the best response.

Make emails more relevant

If subscribers aren't responding to your emails, perhaps this is because they aren't relevant to their interests. If you have obtained information on interests and preferences when they subscribed, use this to target your emails more effectively.

Survey subscribers

Try asking inactive subscribers why they are not opening your emails. Of course, many may not respond, but the information gained from those that do could be valuable.

Try out different subject lines

Perhaps your subject lines aren't doing enough to make recipients click on your emails. Consider including the brand/company name in the subject line, make them shorter if they are too long, and track which are most effective.

Related research:
Email Marketing Industry Census 2008
Email Marketing Roundtable Briefing - March 2008

Related articles:
Three authentication systems that can help boost email delivery rates
Firms failing to send welcome emails 

Graham Charlton

Published 17 July, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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