How To Reengage Non-Openers

Identify and contact inactive email subscribers to encourage them to re-engage with your email campaigns and business.
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Subscribers who open your emails can be your business’s strongest source of revenue, but what about the inevitable flock of inactive email subscribers who never open your mailings? These inactive subscribers (called non-openers) may have initially subscribed for a one-time coupon, or they may have lost interest in your product or service, or changed their email address since signing up.

Whatever their reason for not opening your email campaigns, having their email addresses on your list can hurt your deliverability, skew your campaign data, and inflate your monthly fees from your email service provider.

Although it can be tempting to simply delete the non-openers and move on, it is important to know that not all lack of opens indicate a lack of interest. Some subscribers may have tracking pixels blocked, so the fact they opened or previewed your mail doesn’t register. For others, the sight of your email in their inbox may spur them to visit your website without ever opening the email itself.  

Before You Delete Subscribers, Do This

It’s best, then, to organize a reengagement campaign before you take the permanent step of deleting inactive email subscribers from your list. The Harvard Business Review reports that it cost 5 to 25 times more to gain a new customer than to retain an existing customer. Thus, every effort should be made to reengage non-opening subscribers. There are a number of ways to reengage your inactive list segment, but the best approach will depend on your industry and the types of emails that you already send to your mailing list. Here are 5 things you can do to catch the attention of non-openers and get them to re-engage with your mailings, products and services.

Analyze your email campaigns

Pay particular attention to the subject lines of your mailings. Most people get so many emails that they scan the subject lines to determine which emails to open. The incoming messages with the most compelling headlines are the ones most likely to get their attention. If your subject line is something routine (and boring) like This Week’s Update, it is likely to get passed over or saved to read at a later time, which never comes. Changing your subject line to give your subscribers a reason to open the email can get those inactive accounts to start opening and reading your emails.

Resend mailings to non-openers

Most people get a lot of email. So much, that some of it simply scrolls out of view in the inbox and gets forgotten. One way to increase your open rate and get the attention of people who didn’t open an email promotion is to resend the promotion to everyone who didn’t open it the first time. In most cases, you’ll get more people opening and acting on your email. Depending on your offer, resending the same mailing to all who didn’t open the first or second send, is likely to reclaim even more customers.

Offer a high-value coupon

If you rarely send coupons, or conversely, send frequent low-value coupons, a high-value, time-sensitive offer that can be applied to any of your products or services may be the best way to gain the attention of your non-openers. If they’re interested in what you sell but think your prices are too expensive, they’re likely to respond to a significant dollar-off or percentage-off coupon. If they do, t`his gives you important data about your customer base and the types of buyers that populate at least a portion of your list. If they don’t respond, you may want to eliminate them from your list. Just be sure that you offer it only to your non-openers to preserve your profit margins and to avoid muddying your response data.

Run an exclusive giveaway for inactive subscribers

Very few people can resist the lure of free. Thus, offering an exclusive giveaway to your non-openers, particularly if your offering carries a high price tag or a significant perceived value can get them to re-engage with you. Coffee shops could offer a free drink once a week for a year. Consultants could offer a free multi-hour coaching package. Just be certain that what you’re giving away for free doesn’t exceed the periodic or lifetime value of the customer–after all, your purpose is to reengage paying clients to increase revenue. The key to success in reengagement giveaways is to make the entry process as easy as possible. Auto-fill their entry forms from information in their email or use a one-click entry method. Removing friction from the process is the best way to gauge the real interest of your non-openers. Subscribers who don’t respond to this sort of giveaway, even when it’s streamlined to be as easy as possible, most likely won’t respond to a more involved sales process.

Ask them directly

If you don’t want to coupon or run a giveaway, you can simply ask your non-openers if they want to remain subscribed. Perhaps they see your emails but they don’t need your service at the moment. Perhaps they are reading your emails but their opens aren’t registering with your provider’s analytics. A simple, direct message asking if they’re interested in continuing to receive messages can work wonders to reengage your inactive subscribers, especially if they have had good experiences with your company in the past or have some sort of personal connection to the product.

A strong, catchy subject line is crucial to this approach–it must be interesting or intriguing enough to cause an inactive subscriber to click on the message. Some companies use humor to good effect, but the approach will depend on your industry and the overall tone of your regular messaging.

Regardless of which approach you use, a reengagement campaign is well worth your effort. In most cases, you’ll reactivate a portion of subscribers who had been ignoring your messages. As for the rest, you’ll be able to confirm that they are indeed permanently inactive and cull them from your list without concern, strengthening the overall performance of your mailing list and preserving your company’s deliverability record.

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