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Bringing inactive subscribers back from the dead

This sounds like a task possibly long overdue, but managing your email list may be just as important as attracting new leads. It can be as easy as reminding your existing subscribers why they subscribed in the first place. Sparking the old flame, so to speak. But it might as well be an excellent opportunity to show your subscribers why your brand, product or service (still) stands out from the competition...

Denying it is useless. A vast amount of your subscribers have stopped caring and have stopped reading your emails for one reason or another. Which is absolutely normal. It’s a direct result of your email practices on your subscribers list.

But the real challenge is what you can do about it. If you play your cards right, you might just be able to give an additional boost to your open and click rates. And ultimately, to your conversion rate.

There is no ideal way to do this. Databases are so vastly different that some marketing efforts would have no effect and others would excel in its results. But there are a few basics which can help you start off.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Identify inactive subscribers
Define what an inactive subscriber is for you and how you would identify him/her? If you set the bar right, it facilitates the next steps along the reactivation process.

2. Segmentation
Based on different parameters, just like you do with all your subscribers. You can use that data to offer them a more personal experience and a more tailored approach. Those inactive subscribers might have something in common. Use that to your advantage.

3. Strategy
After having segmented your database, it’s time to think about what to do with them:
  • Why not cut them off while you are at it? Seems like a drastic measure, but might make sense. Quantity is not the same as quality.
  • Ask them why they are not reading your emails anymore. It’s the most honest and direct way to engage with your subscriber. It’s your ultimate shot at convincing them why they should reconsider opening and reading your emails.
  • Offer them something special. It could be a variety of things. Based on their interests, their location or past behavior on previous offers. The goal is to get them excited about your brand again.
4. Analyze
Analyze what you discovered through your efforts. Try to look for a pattern, a clue as to why they in fact did engage or did not. But most important is to listen to what your subscribers had to say. And cherish those who actually did make the effort to send you feedback.

5. Change / Test / Adjust / Monitor…
A process of adapting, testing and monitoring. It will take some time to offer you the answers you seek. Not everybody interacts or reacts in the same way. It’s a learning curve and sometimes your efforts might not result in a higher opened rate. Sometimes inactive users, remain inactive. You can then still decide on keeping them or removing them from your database.


There are a few important elements that make reactivation such an important topic. Inactive subscribers are not only a wasted cost but are also a cause of spam complaints. They have a tremendous impact on your metrics and are a big source of frustration. So taking the time to address this issue. It might result in a more cost-efficient approach for the short and mid-long-term.

Posted on
Aug 14, 2015