16 April 2019 - Sharon Beilis

Dormant subscribers, also known as ‘unengaged’ or ‘inactive’, are those members of your email mailing lists who you deem as no longer engaging with your email communications, over a period of time that you define.  Dormant users may hurt your deliverability, and ultimately your ROI if not handled correctly.

 

Avoiding disengagement

You can avoid subscribers lapsing from your communications or becoming unengaged, by ensuring your email marketing campaigns’ proposition is continuously value-adding, as well as useful for your recipients.

Using a preference center within your email marketing strategy will encourage your recipients to tell you what they want to hear about in their emails from you. Not only will this power-up your segmentation approach, but it will help to stop your recipients becoming fatigued with your emails if they’re managing what they get to receive.

 

Remember, it’s about quality over quantity

In some cases some organisations choose to hold on to inactive subscribers due to the numbers they add to their mailing lists. However, it’s really key that you avoid this. Dormant subscribers are bad for your delivery rates, will contribute to a poor email sender reputation and can often skew your email results. So don’t be tempted to hold on to this audience just to keep your mailing list number artificially high - ensure you recognize and remove your inactives to maintain a healthy, quality email list.

 

How to handle dormant subscribers

Battling dormant subscribers is a common issue across the email marketing industry, and it’s not one that will ever go away completely. Depending on your brand’s offering and the different stages within your customer’s lifecycle, some subscribers may come in and out of interacting with your marketing communications a number of times within their lifetime.

Because this will always be an audience you have to deal with, it’s important to ensure you’re handling dormant subscribers in the right way.

 

Our top tips

 

Tip 1: Start by defining who your inactive subscribers are

Before you think about how to approach dormancy, you need to identify what it looks like for your brand.

You can gauge this by looking for any subscriber who’s not opened, clicked or engaged with your email communications within a set period of time. It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong answer here. The time period is specific to your brand and the product you’re offering but, as a starting point, most brands look somewhere between the 6 and 12 month point. The volume of emails you send will also have an impact on this timeframe.

Once this audience is defined, you can further split the group between the ‘inactivity’ type you’ve identified; not-opening, not-clicking and not-engaging, as these three groups should each receive different messaging.

 

Tip 2: Design your campaign

Before cutting your list of this ‘dead weight’, it’s important to try to reconnect with the new inactive audience you’ve identified. Not all of these subscribers are a lost cause, so give yourself the chance to reconnect with the small percentage who may just need an extra trigger from you, to start engaging with your emails once again.

Use strong creative and stand-out messaging to send a re-engagement email to your groups. Segment the data you’re working with by how many times they’ve engaged in the past, trying different messaging with each appropriate group, even sending the more-engaged data an extra message if you feel it’s appropriate.

Once you’ve tried this method and you have your percentage of re-opted in recipients, you can then suppress the other data permanently from your lists.

 

Tip 3: Automate your re-engagement campaign

For ongoing data management success, automating this re-engagement campaign once it’s established will ensure you keep on top of your data management.

This is a campaign you can build and set-up to run automatically, sending based on a pre-set filter of your choosing such as ‘hasn’t opened in 6 months’, to always capture this audience and send the campaign without you having to lift a finger.

You can edit and update your content as often as you see fit, just as with your other automated email campaigns, but setting it up in this way will help you to maintain healthy email data lists and a great sender reputation.

 

To conclude

Managing your dormant subscribers doesn’t have to be a huge task. Simply identify your parameters, set-up your campaign and automate for guaranteed future success!

To read up on how to manage the segments we’ve identified within the Ongage platform, read more here.

For more email marketing insights, tips and advice, read the Ongage blog.