Emotionally unsubscribed or unemotionally subscribed?
Dela argues that they may be lurkers simply waiting for the right offer at the right time. So don't undervalue them.
This is one of those articles that forces me to rethink my opinion. I've always believed that a long period of inactivity indicates an email address that is effectively dead.
But I think the truth is a mixture. Some of those inactive addresses really are people who are "emotionally unsubscribed." They never physically opted-out but all your emails end up deleted unread or diverted to their junk folder.
Some will be lurkers...what Dela calls unemotionally subscribed (a beautiful phrase).
And some may appear inactive because your email program doesn't allow you to measure activity properly. For example when you send text emails with no tracking links in them.
This does not mean you should not attempt to clear your list of inactive addresses, a practice recommended by many for reasons outlined here.
No, but it does reinforce the idea that you should give apparently inactive addresses a chance to reconfirm their interest before you delete them from your list. So thoughtful reactivation programs (like the ones described here, here or here) are a must.
A key factor is deciding when to classify an address as inactive. If you sell Christmas trees online, it makes no sense to dismiss an address as inactive because they bought nothing between January and November.
More on list hygiene | Tags: email marketing, list hygiene
I agree with Dela, and while I actively cull my lists of abandoned addresses and similar, I don't give the (email) death penalty for inactivity.
Opt-in, relationship-building e-mail is fundamentally about putting the power in the hands of the recipient -- as oppossed to the marketer, as is normally the case. If a reader wants to lurk (theoretically forever), I'm fine with that; I'm here and ready when they are. The point is that they get to decide not me.
I hired a marketing professional a couple of years back after receiving -- but not opening -- her monthly newsletter for over a year. But one day her email arrived at the right time and I called her up.
And besides, between images being shut off by default, Blackberrys not reporting opens, etc., you don't actually know who's inactive anyway. The way I look at it, I'm happy to "damage" my open rates in exchange for reaching more people.
By Michael Katz | Blue Penguin, on 05 December, 2007
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