How to re-engage inactive e-mail recipients

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You might have a list of thousands of e-mail addresses, but if you’re like most marketers, between one-third and one-half of that list is inactive. In other words, those recipients haven’t clicked through in more than a few months for monthly newsletters or weeks for weekly newsletters. Because it’s easier to keep existing prospects than it is to find new ones, Loren McDonald, VP-marketing with EmailLabs, provides these tips to move more of your customers off the inactive list.
  • Send them what they like. Your prospects have profiles. You can see exactly what they are interested in by looking at the links they’ve previously clicked. This information allows you to send recipients information that’s relevant to them. “If you know someone clicked on a product review, you know they may be interested in that product,” McDonald said. “The reverse of that is if the person isn’t clicking on certain topics, they probably aren’t applicable to their needs.”
  • Ask them to update their profile. Sometimes, even your careful detective work isn’t enough. After all, your prospect’s or customer’s interests can change. Using some type of incentive, ask them to tell you their preferred format as well as demographic information and interests. Make sure you use the right carrot, though. If you know your customer originally opted in so they could see a white paper, for example, or attend a webinar, use a similar incentive to get them to take action again.
  • Create a best-of message. Remind readers of your mission by creating a newsletter that contains your most-read stories of the previous year—and highlighting it in your subject line. “You want people to go, ‘Wow, this is a great resource,’” McDonald said.
  • Get them into the cycle immediately. If you have a monthly newsletter and someone signs up the day after your issue goes out, they will go an entire month without hearing from you. If this happens, they may forget they signed up to begin with and simply delete your messages. Avoid this fate by creating a trigger that will mail out the last newsletter as soon as someone signs up. Once they see your messaging once, they will be more likely—as long as it’s relevant—to open it the next time.
  • Go offline. Your problem may have nothing to do with your customer. It’s possible your messages aren’t getting through because of deliverability issues. That said, ask salespeople or customer service agents to call and confirm receipt or offer to update relevant information. A simple mailed postcard can do the same.
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