5 steps to re-enable your newsletter readers

How could you improve your statistics of opening and reading your email newsletters? This can be improved by researching who is really interested in your mailings and implementing reactivation strategies for readers that are not. In each email database there are ‘inactive subscribers’: readers who never open your newsletter, never mind clicking on links in that newsletter. There are many reasons for this. One of them is that such a reader (or its overly enthusiastic spam filter) once marked your e-mail as spam, so that it never appears in the inbox again. That of itself is a good reason to take a critical look at those ‘sleeping readers’, because it can have a negative effect on your sender reputation in the long run. Apart from that, it’s a waste of money (because email marketing is cheap, but not free) and blurs the view on the return of your email marketing efforts.

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Do the readers of your email newsletter have enough involvement?

A good email marketing means to send interesting, relevant information to people who have made a conscious choice (opt-in) to receive that information from you. The involvement of your readers is measured by the open and click figures over longer periods.

A leading email marketing company recently conducted a survey in which newsletter readers were ‘tweaked’ to levels of involvement. The figures may not be representative for every industry or newsletter, but due to the size of the survey (millions of newsletter recipients were surveyed across thousands of different mailing lists), the result is still very interesting:

Involvement Number of Opens or Clicks Average percentage
Very active More than 2 in last 90 days 3,28%
Active At least 1 in last 30 days 21,24%
Involved At least 1 in last 90 days 11,74%
Not involved None in the last 90 to 180 days 9,77%
Sleeping None in the last 180+ days 3,81%
Zombies None in the last 12+ months / none at all 40,16%

As much as 40% of all subscribers are therefore qualified as ‘zombies’, readers who do not show any activity after receiving e-mail newsletters, possibly because they no longer use the e-mail address in question, have left a company or filter their mail a bit overzealous.

Are you shocked by this?

No. Each marketing effort has ‘waste’, that’s a given (think of the door-to-door brochures that refer you home straight to the waste paper). In e-mail marketing it is very measured (fortunately). And the glass is half full: thanks to this measurability, you can also take specific actions to reduce that waste, increase your return and improve the delivery rates of your e-mails.

More return from your email newsletter

Engagement is clearly linked to value for money. Involved subscribers like to read your newsletter and click on to your website more often, where you can tie them to you or take the next (commercial) step. You can increase that involvement in 5 steps.

Step 1: Enter Zombie Yacht

A good e-mail marketing program gives you a quick insight into the number of readers that have or have not read an e-mail newsletter. In Mailchimp Newsletter Tool, you can also view and compare statistics over longer periods and multiple transmissions, and the segmentation feature easily isolates non-active readers in selections that can be accessed separately by email.

Step 2: Send a reactivation mailing

Think of a mailing that could persuade non-affected readers to still express their interest in your newsletter. This can be a simple mail with the message: “Are you still interested in our newsletter?” You can click on a link to confirm this. But you can also go a step further by making an offer, offering valuable unique content or actively asking for feedback.

Step 3: Analysis of the results

You will see in the statistics of your email marketing program to what extent your reactivation e-mail has had a result. Don’t be disappointed if the number of positive responses is low: these are subscribers who have not read your newsletter anyway. If you get someone on board again, that’s a nice bonus. However, no answer is also an answer, because that is how you can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Step 4: Say goodbye

Now comes the emotional part: remove all subscribers who have not responded in the affirmative from your mailing lists. The fact is that zombies in your mailing lists are more burdensome than lustful. They increase your email marketing costs and have a negative effect on your perception as a sender of large email programs such as Gmail. So say goodbye, cut the line, break off the email relationship… even if you have to tear away at it.

Step 5: Take a critical look at the content of your newsletters.

It is better to prevent than to cure. You keep readers involved by simply sending out very good and interesting newsletters. The first 3 months after registration are particularly important, so pay particular attention to the mailings in that ‘white bread period’. For example, you can use autoresponders for this purpose, so that you can be sure that every new subscriber will quickly become familiar with (and attached to) your mailings.

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