It’s a cardinal rule in email marketing to work from a clean list. How quickly should you clean it, though, and which names should be removed? One recent large email marketing study suggests the answer to those questions may be different than marketers once believed.
Data scientists recently analyzed and released figures from more than 6 billion business-related email sends. After analyzing opens, response rates, and purchasing figures, the researchers found that both active and inactive subscribers were equally likely to make a purchase. That’s a revolutionary finding, and it highlights the importance of considering every lead valuable – even when that lead has apparently grown dormant or inactive.
The Persistence of Memory
Customers buy on their own timetables, and those don’t always match up with marketing campaign schedules. Just because they aren’t active doesn’t mean they have forgotten the company that had taken care of their needs and been attentive in the past. It’s critical, then, to be that company by developing email marketing nurture programs that stay with recipients for the long term. Even after they appear to have gone silent, some potential buyers may still be making buying decisions, so reminder emails timed for a month or three after last contact can help reconnect with them after some time away.
For their overview of email response rates, researchers defined inactive mailing list subscribers as those who had shown no activity for six months or longer. While the analysts found no appreciable difference in purchase rates between active and inactive subscribers, the difference between subscribers and non-subscribers was substantial, with subscribers of both types being 26 percent likelier to buy than non-subscribers.
That’s a cue to marketers to make email subscriptions a high priority. Give email recipients ample reason to subscribe and share their data with you by offering newsletters, special offers for subscribers, or loyalty program perks. Even without strong or immediate buying signals, subscribers are invested in making a future purchase from you. Honor that commitment by continuing to communicate with them and being receptive to interest signals they may send later.
Opting Down, not Out
Email marketers must provide an unsubscribe option on all email communication, but don’t assume that means you have to offer your subscribers an all-or-nothing choice. There’s a third possibility: opting down. Opt-down preference pages let leads control the degree of contact they have with you, and when they control the volume of email they receive, they’re more likely to stay subscribed. Subscriptions are so important to future sales that you want to retain every subscriber you can, even if that means paring away content that particular subscriber considers inessential.
The demographic and firmographic details you gather about your email recipients are your keys to greater relevance, and relevance correlates directly to response rates. Here’s where marketing automation is a huge asset; as leads’ information changes over time, the system regularly updates and automatically records new information in account files so you don’t lose track of inactive subscribers or become less relevant to them.
List hygiene is still essential to email marketing success, but inactive files now appear to be far more valuable than marketers once believed. Reconnecting with subscribers and staying in touch with them even if they go quiet lets you make the most of every valuable lead.