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The Top 10 Ways to Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

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Seth Godin believes that “marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” Unfortunately, it is a contest that most email marketers are not winning. While many email marketers set up permission-based email lists, an average of 60% of the lists are “dead” email subscribers.

This is not acceptable, and it’s something that must be fixed. Below are the top ten strategies email marketing experts are using to curb this disturbing trend.

1. Make Sure Your Emails Are Relevant

Brad Dixon from CC Studio has a traditional approach to engaging email leads.

“I use current news and points of interest to provide my list with relevant information. If all they ever get are sales emails from me, they stop engaging because they know what is coming. Provide great content your readers want to see, and occasionally say, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a solution for that.’”

Consumers are overwhelmed with email these days. Consider a recent study by Email Stats Center that states the average subscriber receives 11 commercial messages each day via email, 9 via Facebook, and 8 via Twitter.

Yet, when done right, the results are tremendous. McKinsey & Companydiscovered that email returns $44 for every $1 spent. Providing relevant information, based on the interests and specifics your subscribers provided when they signed up, makes a difference in your success rate.

2. Define Inactives

Before we do anything to re-engage inactive leads, we must define an inactive lead on our list. The majority of marketers will gauge Inactives as anyone who has not responded, opened, clicked, or acted on any email sent in the past 6-12 months.

This is a huge issue in email marketing because the average list’s inactive rate is around 60%. This means that a list of 10,000 has only 4,000 true subscribers reading the posts. Considering the huge amount of time online marketers spend building their lists, having 60% of the list not responding after signing up is a huge loss in terms of engagement and revenue.

3. Trim Your Email List

Carol Tice, from the Freelance Writers Den, is a superb email marketer. As a member in her Den, I see the great emails she sends out on a regular basis. However, not all of her subscribers are as interested in her program.

That means she is wasting a lot of money and resources on people who will never convert. For those who do not engage, she removes them from her list.

“I recently cut deadwood from my email list - about 500 names. I sent them an email first that said, “Do I bore you?” and asked if they wanted to stay subscribed. 20 people responded to us...and we deleted the rest of that list.

I loved cutting them...now I have better open rates. I give a lot of free stuff out to my list, so I didn’t want to give free stuff to people who don’t care.”

4. Find out What Your List Thinks of You

Dean DeLisle’s company, Forward Progress, sends out over a billion emails per month for clients and himself. This means a clean list is essential to success.

“Recently, we were working with a mortgage company on re-engaging their list. The bank side had a large database, but they didn’t have a relationship with that data.

The question is how are we going to jump start this data? We look at things that will benefit people in the database. The first thing you need to understand is where the relationship status stands. If the answer is nowhere, you need to reinvigorate.

In this case, we did a survey to find out the relationship. In return, we gave a $5 Starbucks card. The investment paid off, because the relationships came back.

For this survey, 3268 total participants were invited, and 322 total participated. That is about 10%. We’re happy at a 3% level with some re-engagement campaigns, so this was a success.”

These stats belie a significant factor in re-engaging dead leads. You will not recapture all of your prospects, but this is a good thing. The ones who do not respond are not worth your effort. Instead, the bank can now focus on the 10% who care.

5. Re-Build the Relationship

The Top 10 Ways to Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

Sotiris Bassakaropoulos has a similar philosophy as Dean DeLisle for his internet marketing business. With multiple lists for different businesses, he is constantly re-engaging different lists.

Recently, he re-engaged his email subscribers for his new site, World Internet School. The three lists that he re-engaged have 4,000, 3,000, and 3,700 subscribers, respectively.

“Instead of sending them a sales pitch saying buy this or that, I send them useful information to a Hangout about how to increase their business.

At the end of the Hangout, I pitch my business. 90% of the Hangout is content, and then at the end they can join my business.”

On average, Bassakaropoulos has around 20-30 people attend the webinar, and 100 watch in the next 3 days, with an average 5% conversion rate for the products and/or services he pitches.

6. Include Calls to Action

AWeber’s CMO, Erik Harbison, explained how to get disengaged subscribers back on board.

“Isolate subscribers that have not opened your emails, or clicked on links, in the last three to six months. Send them a series of re-engagement emails.

There are a number of tactics you can employ here. You can send out emails that allow them to change their email preferences or that force them to click a link to continue receiving emails. It’s always important to have a call to action in your emails, but for re-engagement emails, it’s especially critical because you want to ensure that you can separate those who are still interested from those who have checked out.”

Use a simple, clear, and effective call to action like KISSmetrics uses.

The Top 10 Ways to Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

7. Give Subscribers Options

Diana Primeau, Director, Member Services, CNET, discussed at Email Summit 2013 how to re-engage inactive email subscribers.

“Give them two options. One option is do not miss out on breaking news that people get delivered to their email inbox every day. The second is for tech reviews and new products coming out to the market. That part of the email got most of the clicks.”

8. Use Facebook Custom Audiences

The Top 10 Ways to Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

With the new Facebook custom ad structure on the Power Editor, you now can upload your entire list to Facebook and have a campaign specifically targeted to your email list. This is a great way to reach out to a retail audience that is active on Facebook, but not on your list.

9. Slow Down, Tiger

Sometimes, as email marketers, we attack email so hard, with so much content, that people just go numb like prey in the jungle being hunted by a tiger. Afraid of being snatched up, they freeze and do not respond to your marketing. You might want to slow down on emails if that is the case.

Most SaaS companies have an email series at the beginning, along with regular webinars that they hold about their services. It sometimes can be too much. Give them a break from your emails, and start back fresh at a later date.

10. Ask Customers to Update Their Email Information

The Top 10 Ways to Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

Rich Fleck from Responsys had this brilliantly humble insight.

“Simply asking customers to update their email information can have surprising engagement results. This tactic gives the customer an opportunity to enter a new email address if hers has changed, customize her email settings, and sign up for mobile or social media updates, if it turns out that’s how she prefers to engage.”

Putting It All Together

The sad truth is that too many of the email marketers I spoke with did not even have a plan to re-engage their subscriber base. The simple steps mentioned above can have a huge influence on your business because most subscribers are interested in how your services will help them. They simply need to be reminded of your business from time to time.

Take that opportunity by dropping them a line, inviting them to fill out a survey, or providing a free webinar so they can connect with your business again. Find out what they would be interested in, and then provide the necessary resources they need in order to help them.

While not all of your subscribers will re-engage with you, it is easier to re-engage dead leads than to market for new ones. Start looking through your list today to find out which of your leads have not opened any of your emails over the past 6 months. Send them a specific email to find out if they are still interested in your services. If they are, give them a reason to stay on your list. If not, remove them. It will save you time and energy over the long term to not have these subscribers on your list.

With that being said, how do you re-engage your dead email leads? Let us know in the comment area below.