Published by Sita Kalluri on May 27, 2014

Part 1 – How to increase your ROI from the sleeping users?

The inactive email subscribers are hard to ignore, at least by their sheer numbers. We see brands having a significant part of email list, almost half to be precise, not responding to your emails. So how does one tackle this inactive subscriber base?

To do or not to do?
Do we give them a miss or are we missing out on something? That’s the big question companies are faced with.

Threat or treasure?
Do you simply dismiss these inactive subscribers as a threat to your reputation (MSPs rate your reputation based on subscriber engagement) or do you look beyond and seek to unfold the value of the hidden treasure? Emails to them may still have value and perhaps you haven’t truly understood this base well enough.

Spending or saving?
Common sense dictates not to spend on these non-responders. However, inactive clients have potential and you would in fact be saving by spending on this base than to find new customers. It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.

Getting started with this inactive base
Now that you see value beyond the challenge and want to manage the inactive base, the next logical question would be – How to get started?

Here is a step-by- step strategy plan to manage your inactive subscribers:

Step 1: What kind of inactive base do you have?
First define what do you mean by inactive. Not responding to emails doesn’t necessarily mean your user is not engaged with your brand. Inactive are those users who have not responded to your emails or transacted with you for a set number of months. Normally brands define this time-frame for inactive as 6 months.

Step 2: Define segments based on their transaction behaviour
Classify your inactive base into 2 segments based on their transaction behaviour:

Segment 1: Transacted and inactive
Segment 2: Non-transacted and inactive

Both the segments defined here have different needs and brands should address each of their unique needs by separately targeting. By correctly segmenting, you clearly define what group is of top priority and concentrate your marketing efforts accordingly. Segment 1 is more critical to the company as they are the serious buyers who have transacted at least once with you. Also you know more about the user from segment 1 (purchase history and behavior) that helps you to direct a highly personalized mail at him.

Step 3: Decide what ideas work
We now have two groups with different buyer personas (one who wants the right offer and one who wants the right emotional connect) and the next step is to decide what to put across to them to attract them.

Some of the ways to re-engage customers:

» Discounts: Show them you care, offer them an additional discount.
» Survey/ Feedback: To get to the root of the problem why they have stopped responding
» Ask for preferences: Maybe it’s not you but the way you are doing. Sending too many or sending the wrong stuff.
» Emotional connect: A ‘miss you’ goes a long way than your traditional run-of-the mill campaigns
» Innovation: Try something new to catch their attention. Get innovative with subject lines (ones that drive curiosity/ catch the reader by surprise), email content (perhaps a gif to make it engaging), anything that’s new and gives the user a unique experience.
Use a combination of these to win back your customers.

Step 4: Wait
Even the best of the strategies takes time to show results. Patience is the keyword here. Don’t be in a hurry to judge your inactive base or the success of your re-engagement strategy. A study by ReturnPath found that email marketers give up on inactive subscribers too soon 1. Re-engagement takes time, roughly 57 days. Don’t expect immediate results. Set your expectations right, so you avoid unnecessary disappointments.
Being more strategic and less random is the secret to win back your inactive subscribers. With such thoughtfully planned re-engagement series, we have helped lot of brands reengage a good amount (as high as 10%) of their inactive base.

In our next blog we will share some innovative examples of reengaging the inactive subscribers.

1: Email Win-Back Programs, Returnpath, 2014