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Non-Responders: They too follow the science of motion!

Email Marketing budgets are soaring for 2013. While most marketers are strategizing on the email content, deliverability and calls to action, let’s not forget to study the email marketing’s law of motion – the subscribers which are active today are bound to be inactive tomorrow like what goes up, comes down.

An ExactTarget survey found that 67% of subscribers do typically click “unsubscribe” when they no longer want to receive a company’s email. Another 8%  mark the email as spam. The other 17% just delete the emails, 6% ignore the emails, and 2% set up a filter to get rid of them. So, around 25% of the people who don’t want to receive your emails give you no feedback at all. They just quietly stop engaging.

The goal of any email campaign is to reduce the inactive subscribers from the list and increase the engagement and click-through rate. However, ironically most companies are battling out  the inactivity with a substantial portion of their list being non-responders. So, how would you treat the non-responders

Forget not, the way you treat your inactive responders affect your email campaign’s performance rate directly. In fact the major ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL etc. filter the spam messages after considering the engagement metrics for an email campaign.

So, what can be an ideal treatment given to inactive subscribers (Non-Responders)?

– Distinct Treatment

The most common trap marketers get caught into is assuming all the inactive subscribers to be same. An inactive subscriber who has stopped engaging from one month should necessarily be treated different than a year long non-responder. In addition to the length of inactivity, other factors required to craft a non-responder strategy is the email acquisition source, first time purchaser vs. non-purchaser vs. repeat purchaser, engagement level on various channels etc. Profile an individual non responder and group them into type A, type B, type C etc.

Once you classify them into several groups, treat each group separately. Devise a custom re-engagement strategy for each group of inactive subscribers so to ensure effective communication and appropriate re-engagement.

– Message and Frequency

Ideally, testing both the campaign frequency and message type is imperative. Once you ingroup your non-responders, try to test  both promotional and informational messages. Measure the response rate for each campaign. Apart, also test the campaign frequency. It might happen that your subscribers like your content but just because it’s hitting their Inbox a too often, they fail to engage and eventually turn out to be inactive.

The best way to beat this conundrum is to have a double opt in sign up policy in place. Having a preference center helps in many ways and especially in regulating your email frequency to a particular subscriber. Treating your non-responders through a different email frequency might wake up the dead men out of the grave.

– Move them

Move the non-responders to altogether a different message stream like mark them for the triggered emails. Send them email only when they take an action. While you do so, also request them to update their preference center, promote other email offerings to them, offer a purchase and reference incentive etc. However, to be treating them to be in this category you might still need to segment and test on these groups of subscribers / non-responders.

These few strategies will ensure that the email list is hygienic and evolving at a regular point of time and also that every inactive subscriber is not treated same but differently based on their past behavior, purchase pattern, opt-in source etc. enabling a better domain reputation, cost cutting and re-engagement. The science of motion from Newton can not be challenged. The earlier you know your subscriber staying back period with you, the better.

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Kevin George
Kevin is the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks, one of the fastest growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices at EmailMonks Blog.

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