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Sending opt-in or re-engagement email campaigns to subscribers to verify and keep email permission is not a new idea. And yet, the pertinence of these campaigns is increasing. Over time, a portion of your email list will become unengaged. Disengagement creates several negative impacts for your email marketing. These include lower response rates and wasted marketing dollars.
Re-engagement campaigns allow you to confirm which subscribers want to continue receiving your emails. You can then clean out your lists by removing disengaged subscribers. This refresh not only results in healthier lists and increased ROI, but it also helps keep you on the good side of security and anti-spam laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL). In addition, if you are not properly cleaning your list, you risk harming your deliverability—or even being blacklisted.
Over the years, Trendline has had the opportunity to work with various marketing clients on re-engagement campaigns. Many have conducted tests on different tactics. As a result, we have defined some clear best-practices for these types of campaigns. Here are the highlights:
Email subject lines such as “Verify your subscription to continue receiving [XYZ]” or “Your subscription will end soon” tend to work well. A subject line that simply said “Goodbye” also work remarkably well. Since these campaigns tend to target subscribers who have not responded in a while, break the mold with concise, straightforward, or even provocative subject lines that will prompt people to open the email.
Remind subscribers what your email program offers. A concise restatement of what they can expect reminds them of what your brand is all about––and what they will miss out on if they do not re-confirm their email subscription. In fact, including an effective (i.e., easy to understand) CTA that provides relevant information almost always guarantees a win.
This is huge! The misconception is that if you only offer a “Yes, keep me subscribed” option, more people will react positively by re-opting into the program. However, after testing using a single “Yes” option vs. the “Yes” and “No” options, we have found that the “Yes” and “No” option consistently results in significantly more opt-ins. Whatever the reason, by including the “No” option, you will receive more clicks on “Yes.” Giving both options makes the emails seem more authentic. (P.S., This is also a great example of how optimizing via A/B testing can up-end “conventional wisdom.”)
In addition, this binary approach to email re-engagement campaigns provides you with clear answers and action items. There are three resulting groups. For those who re-engage, you want to keep them in your campaign. For those who opt-out, you want to take them off your list as soon as possible. And for those who did not respond (even if they opened the email), well, this group of non-responders will be your target for a second email asking for opt-ins.
Of course, there are situations where a second request is not appropriate. For example, you are trying to clean a list you suspect contains spam trap addresses. However, if you have used the “Yes” and “No” option we referenced above, the non-responders are a prime target for sending a second email permission request. We find that these second requests consistently receive nearly the same number of opt-ins as the first requests do.
Failing to send out a second request email could have a considerable impact on the success of your campaign. We have also worked with organizations that have tried a third request using the same logic, but the drop off was often substantial. Two seems to be the right number of invitations.
By following these re-engagement email best practices, our clients have been able to significantly cut down on the number of inactive addresses on their email lists. More importantly, we have been able to do so with minimal impact on bottom line results.
A common objection to cleaning a list through a re-engagement campaign is that dormant customers who “might buy or engage at some point in the future” will be forever lost. While this is a valid concern, we have not seen any evidence of these customers becoming active again. Also, in no instance have we seen a perceptible drop in revenue from following these practices. The revenue saved through decreased email volume definitely makes up for any potential minor drop. Therefore, you can proceed in removing inactive addresses with confidence!
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