To keep emailing those individuals now being labelled ’emotionally unsubscribed’ may be enticing on the basis that one day they may be in the buying window… but it may also be very dangerous.

I have been interested in this new label and the discussion that has grown up in the last few weeks around the significant number of customers that do not open or click on the emails that are sent over certain periods.

RedEye has done specific research on this subject, because it is obvious that more engaged customers will lead to more orders. Our research shows that an average of 61% of email customer databases are ‘inactive’. Interesting, the range of results spread from 54% to 65%, and across a number of industry sectors.

But the two issues for me are (1) define an ‘inactive’ customer and (2) what you should do about them.

Defining inactives is fraught with difficulties, such as the technical issue of image blocking and the knock on effect this will have on registering ‘opens’, which in turn may skew the number of customers that register as ‘active’.

But my main issue is that it is no longer good enough to accept that because a customer has become ‘emotionally unsubscribed’ you should keep emailing them in the vain hope that they will one day be in the buying window again.

The silver lining of the war against spam is that it is forcing legitimate marketers and the biggest brands to segment and be relevant in order to avoid ISP blocks.

‘Never Nevers’ (as we refer to them at RedEye – never open, never click) are the first front in this battle (extending the metaphor perhaps a stage too far!). These are clearly people for whom your creatives, offers and information are no longer meeting the expectations set when they gave over their permission to mail them.

In my view these individuals deserve some effort on the part of the marketer to find out why they are not interacting (ask or survey them) and a different approach, stemming from a programme of reactivation.

After all, a more active database should be a more ‘profitable’ one providing more conversions… depending of course on how you define conversion.

But on the flip side ‘emotionally unsubscribed’ (aka bored?) customersmay just take the easy route and register your email as a complaint or junk… and that way leads to disaster.

Matthew Kelleher is commercial director at