The key mistake marketers make with data is clinging onto every email address they have for dear life… forever. Holding onto data is only useful if you’re getting something out of it. But how do you tell where to draw the line between a useful and cold contact?
Step 1: Check your data
Filtering is your friend here. There are a number of ways you can filter but the main three are:
How have your customers interacted in terms of opens and clicks over time? You could also consider using factors such as onsite behaviour and purchase behaviour but for starters, opens and clicks are a good way to go.
You may want to consider longer or shorter timeframes for inactivity. For example, this could be based on your sending frequency. If you’re a brand that sends daily deals, you might determine an inactive subscriber as someone who has not opened or clicked on an email within 90 days, whereas a brand sending monthly newsletters would probably need to consider a longer time frame (e.g. 6-12 months).
If your customer lifecycle is longer than average, you might want to consider a longer time frame within which to measure inactivity.
A good starting point is to filter your data based on anyone who hasn’t opened an email in a certain amount of time. Recommended timeframes for this are the last three months, six months, the last year and the last 18 months. Segregate these customers from the rest of your list, and keep an eye on them over the next few sends. You might find that your three to six monthers end up opening once in a while, at which point you could re-enter them into your regular list.
The idea of keeping these people separate is to monitor their behaviour and work out if they are worth having in your list. But how do we get these people involved with your campaigns again?
Step 2: Try running re-engagement campaigns
This is a popular tactic – mainly because it works. Re-engagement campaigns can take many forms. I’m going to show you a few of my favourites.
If free froyo doesn’t say ‘don’t leave us’, I don’t know what does. This is an email which perfectly
demonstrates an excellent re-engagement campaign. This incentive will… well… incentivise your audience to come back to your brand.
The other really great component to this campaign is the expiry date. Not only is it offering something enticing, it’s also putting some time pressure on the action.
This is an interesting tactic from Habitat. In this email, they acknowledge the (in)activity of their users and recommend another channel (social media). They may have got to a point with their cold list testing where they concluded that these users are not receptive to email marketing.
Suggesting a social media alternative means they can keep their communication lines open, in a way that better suits the user.
Here they are, with the good old guilt trip. But it’s not just any guilt trip, it’s a guilt trip where the customer feels like they lose out if they don’t interact with the brand.
Smart Starbucks, very smart. Not only is it a guilt email, they also offer a reward with it! The other great thing about this email is that it keeps it short and sweet.
Step 3: Test, test, test
A key part of running a successful re-activation campaign is identifying why your customers may have become disengaged with your emails and then trying to resolve this. One way you can approach this is by mixing up your content. If you send offer-based emails, why not try something editorial. Or vice versa.
For example, personalised promotional codes go down really well for brands who primarily do editorial content. The point of this is to show your subscribers that they may have underestimated what you, the brand, can offer them. It’s especially important to test which content works. A/B split testing is very effective for this, and will enable you to roll out your most successful campaigns to the largest group of people.
You can also test the overall style of your emails. For example, if you often send your emails from your brand name, why not switch it up and send a more personalised email. Even going from full blown HTML emails to plainer emails can work really well from a personalised perspective. It all comes back to giving something new. This email from WeddingWire is a great example of this – their Senior Customer Satisfaction Manager has used a simple email to promote a survey, intended to collect feedback from active subscribers.
Step 4: Know when to call it quits
You’re not going to be able to re-engage everyone. Even with strong re-engagement campaigns, you may well find that most of your inactive subscribers stay that way. After you’ve used all your charm on them, it’s probably best to send them an email to let them know you’re parting ways. Make sure this email includes a CTA, so if they realise they have made a terrible mistake, there is still a way in.
Step 5: Measure your success
It’s all very well deciding to take the step to try to re-engage active subscribers and clean your list, however it’s also important to be able to measure how successful you’ve been. A few key success measurements are:
Percentage of active users
Is this increasing? You can find this out by dividing the number of active users over total users. Make sure you keep monitoring this number as you go. If it is increasing, great. If not, re-examine your strategy.
Spam reporting rate
Is this decreasing? I’d hope this was happening; subscribers who regularly interact with your emails rarely mark you as spam. As you clean your data and only send regularly to people who interact with your emails, your spam and unsubscribe rates should decrease.
Are these increasing? Since you’re aiming for a healthier amount of active subscribers, your deliverability rates should increase. It might take some time before you can see a difference but it’s definitely something to monitor.
For the customers who are reliably interacting with your campaigns, make sure you keep sending them relevant, engaging content. No matter what strategy you end up using for retention campaigns, ensure you stay true to your brand and keep reinforcing the value of your offer. Customers who are a good fit for you will appreciate this and are more likely to keep interacting with campaigns.
So there you have it – follow these five simple steps for retention. Let us know how these worked for you and please do get in touch if you have any queries about Enabler software or our email consultancy services.