Posts Tagged ‘ISP’s’

inactivesubscribersShould you re-engage inactive subscribers or remove them?

There is much discussion around about re-engaging inactive subscribers, but I wonder should it be more about keeping your subscribers engaged in the first place? As I have been taught many times in the past, work to keep you current customers first and look after them instead of always hunting for new ones and forgetting about the old ones – that only creates churn and a huge list attrition rate.

In a world where everyone is always talking about list growth, it’s not a pleasant concept to have to think about removing people off your list. Most of the time marketers just leave old emails and unengaged subscribers on their list and keep emailing them even if they have never opened the last 63 emails they received or clicked any links.

After that amount of time I think it would be fair to say that they would be considered an ‘inactive subscriber’ don’t you. So what’s the best way to deal with these unengaged subscribers?

The thing is engaged subscribers mean higher engagement rates and better reputation and better deliverability.  But the flow on effect runs much deeper than just ensuring you are capturing everyone, as engagement is one of the factors that influence your reputation, and therefore your deliverability.

The ISP’s do watch engagement levels, however the effects vary depending on your list size and how often you email. If just a few subscribers aren’t engaging and you have a large list and send frequently it’s unlikely that would affect your reputation. However if you have a smaller list you will probably want to look a bit closer.

The best course of action is to analyse your reporting, identify the inactive subscribers, and send a re-engagement campaign – and we have some good advice on how to do that.

One great example of a client who is doing that is Muchmore, who send re-engagement emails to individuals who have been inactive for just three emails. For many of you it may be fair to say you analyse inactive subscribers once a month or perhaps every six months. Have you ever analysed the reports for inactive or unengaged subscribers after just 3 sends? Perhaps it’s time you started.

Want to take an even more proactive approach? Send such effective emails you keep your subscribers engaged before they start wandering down that inactive cul-de-sac in the first place.

If you follow the email marketing industry, you know that engagement is quite the buzzword lately.  But Engagement isn’t new at all. It has been a part of the filtering mix for quite a while. ISPs including Yahoo! (Xtra) Hotmail and Gmail are adding clicks, opens and other measures of user engagement to the long list of other engagement metrics that have been in use for a while. All these metrics try to do the same thing — figure out which messages are truly wanted by subscribers.

ISPs are measuring engagement and using it to decide who gets to the inbox, and who goes to the junk folder. In simple terms, the ISP is basically looking at whether or not your subscribers open, click, and in general, “interact” with you. If you send an email that mistakenly goes to the junk folder, then the subscriber moves it back out, you scored some engagement points. If your subscriber clicks your links or hits “reply” to send you a message, you get some engagement points.

Returnpath’s George Bilbrey says to senders:

“Treat inactive subscribers differently: This is probably the biggest change that most marketers need to think about. Mailing to a lot of inactive accounts may actually make your reputation look worse at some ISPs. Segment out inactive users and run a win-back campaign. If you cannot win back these subscribers, you may simply want to stop mailing them altogether.”

Over at Clickz, Jeanne Jennings had this to say about inactive members of your list:

“If these folks really aren’t that into you, they may take the next step and report you as spam. It’s like that shunned suitor who just won’t go away; eventually the victim will consider him a stalker and get a restraining order. Keeping inactive names on your list can open you up to blacklisting and deliverability issues.”

There is an art to deciding who is engaged and who is not.  This will depend on your buying cycle and the types of emails you send. It is good to use an email expert to help you make a matrix for your own business but there are some things you can consider:

Do you have strong calls to action in your emails – so that there is something to click?

Do you have a genuinely relevant and  interesting email stream, sent at least bi-monthly (6 per year)?

If you have a frequent email (weekly or more) do you allow people to control the frequency and type of emails they get using a Preference Centre?

  • From time to time you should dissect your email list to identify who have never opened, clicked or bought something from you. We call them ‘zombies’.  They bring all your metrics down, they impact your engagement measures and they don’t pay their way.  Try to get them to wake up – or kill them off.
  • Next look for who is in a coma – used to engage and now don’t.  Talk to them differently too.
  • Who is on their way out?
  • Who are you best responders?  Make them feel special, use them to spread your word, and keep up the good work!

There is much to this and a good agency can help you do this and come out the other side with a more profitable program.

And worst case is you get to kill a few zombies!




Most organisations don’t have the resources in-house to entirely manage the dynamic complexities of email marketing. These marketers will outsource their email to professional email service providers that can deliver an on-demand, easy-to-use email solution to communicate to customers individually with relevant, trackable emails while staying compliant with current regulations.

Considering how important email marketing is in driving revenue in most organisations, it is usually chronically under resourced.

Increasingly marketers prefer to work with experts to help turn their brand strategy into an e-marketing plan. Email is also a peerless tactical tool for marketers with real-life budgets and few options for fast turnaround targeted comms.

A great e-marketing plan allows for calendar planning, resource and budget allocation, whilst leaving room for opportunities as they present themselves. Quick-witted marketers with an e-marketing Partner can target offers and info using demographic and behavioral info collected from every campaign. Relevant and targeted marketing will put distance between their competitors.

These questions are some of the ones that come from an article published in Clickz: they are a good place to start when considering outsourcing:

  • Do we have people on staff who can create strategic email programs that drive results, improve customer relationships, and integrate with other marketing/communications efforts?
  • Can we access industry-specific and vertical-market-specific benchmarks?
  • Do we have a process to set our own benchmarks?
  • Do we have email-specific design and copy capabilities?
  • Do we have strong knowledge of the complexities involved with coding email or how creative renders across ISPs and Web-based email providers?
  • Do we have project managers and analysts with experience in the email channel who can set up, execute, and analyse our email initiatives, from start to finish?
  • Can our email platform assemble, deliver, and track high volumes of email in proper formats? Can we tap into our other databases and automate email communications?
  • Does our reporting tool provide the information we need?
  • Who supports the email system, and how?
  • What’s the process for resolving issues arising from our email communication efforts: data quality, bounce backs, delivery, replies, customer questions, and so on?
  • How easily can the technology adapt to changing delivery requirements from ISPs and Web-based email providers?
  • How does the current system optimise delivery?
  • Is there support for multiple sends for soft bounces?
  • Can these be controlled by set parameters?

The list of tasks that we take care of is much much longer than this.  There is simply no way that a non-specialist agency can be an expert at the whole lot, and even less likely your own over worked and multi-tasking team could.

If you’d like to chat through any areas you think you might be lacking, we can offer a friendly ear and the most experienced team in the region.

Opportunity is very strong for high quality considered email marketing programs.  We’d love to help you stand out more whether you are a current client or a future one!

attritionEmail attrition is where a proportion of a list is no longer usable due to the subscriber addresses being invalid. Addresses can become invalid for a number of reasons, such as the subscriber changes jobs, or when a webmail address has been inactive for a long time.

The attrition rates we see vary from list to list. We would expect the attrition on average to be about 15% per annum, but can be higher. For example we’d expect to see a higher bounce rate for first time deployment to a list that had no confirm or double opt in email.

The reasons why emails are junked is a huge subject and is always changing. There are three main categories in understanding deliverability. We briefly look at these three categories, and the key points of each:

  1. Infrastructure
    o The set-up of your sender domain and IP address has an impact on delivery. Any issues are usually easily resolved and is part of our normal service.
    o Infrastructure includes (but not limited to) SPF records and domain keys, IP isolation and whitelisting.
  2. Content filtering
    o Content may be filtered at several points along the path of an email – by a firewall or spam appliance, by the mail server or at the local inbox.
    o Content filtering varies between ISP’s, corporate mail servers and even individuals.
    o Testing eliminates most content filtering issues and should never be overlooked.
  3. Reputation
    o Includes block lists which you can find yourself on if your list contains spam traps or if you exceed a threshold of complaints.
    o ISP’s evaluate subscribers behaviour towards a sender including the ratio of emails that are marked as spam, deleted without being read and whether recipients are even opening your email.

So, our advice? Send relevant, timely emails to subscribers who’ve asked to receive it.