You’ve got SPAM: how inactive subscribers affect deliverability

You’ve got SPAM: how inactive subscribers affect deliverability Billy McNair is the Director of CRM Technology at BKV, a partner.

As email marketers, we all send a variety of email streams based on various frequency schedules. We are often pushed to continue to grow reach.

Many organizations find themselves sending emails to all opted-in subscribers regardless of their engagement in a misguided effort to keep pushing forward. It’s so easy for organizations to think that more emails + more sends = more revenue.

But is that right?

Many fail to realize that more emails can begin to have an inverse relationship with revenue.

The role of ISPs

Everyone knows what it is like to see our inboxes constantly bombarded by endless special offers, discounts, new product launches, asks for donations and a myriad of other topics.

The average email address receives approximately 121 emails per day.

Most subscribers have learned to scan their inboxes by sender and subject line before deciding which emails they actually have time to read or even care about. The ones that don’t pass this quick litmus test become part of subscriber’s mass delete.

the average email address receives approximately 121 emails per day

Someone else is paying close attention to this: ISPs. They know that the moment their customers feel overwhelmed with unwanted emails, they will move to a new provider.

ISPs have a huge vested interest in protecting customers from torrents of irrelevant emails. Each time your subscriber doesn’t engage with one of your emails, the ISP dings your sending reputation.

Over time, those ISPs will start to route your emails directly to the dreaded SPAM folder and then all of your campaign stakeholders are going to be banging on your office door with pitchforks and torches wanting to know how this happened.

The ‘honeymoon’

Take a moment right now to log into your personal email account. Look at your SPAM/Junk folder.

What do you see?

There are the obvious SPAM emails you probably don’t recall ever subscribing to, but look a little deeper and you will probably see a few that make you stop and say, “Oh, I signed up for emails from X that one time I needed Y.” How did that end up in your junk folder?

Here’s how – they stopped engaging with you.

there was some initial reason we signed up to receive email notifications

Take a step back and remember that “honeymoon” phase a retail brand or non-profit had with us right after we initially signed up to receive emails. Maybe we liked certain products, maybe we needed a gift for a friend, maybe we just wanted a promo discount or maybe that non-profit is dear to our hearts.

There was some initial reason we signed up to receive email notifications, but did the organization continue to listen to what we were telling them from our engagement metrics?

How far after our “honeymoon” phase should the brand have sought counseling when we stopped engaging? The answer is not so clear.

Preventing inactivity

Most marketing departments look at email subscribe date and last engagement date without accounting for the frequency of engagement.

One year of inactive subscriber data is very different for a brand that sends out 12 monthly emails in a year versus one that sends out three emails a week.

the goal is to identify date ranges where subscribers are most susceptible to fall off

Frequency of sends and the inactively by subscriber based on frequency of sends needs to be understood if you want emails to keep getting routed to inboxes.

Email marketers should be analyzing current engagement metrics to establish open baselines for 30, 60, 90, 120, 180, 270 and 360 days.

The goal is to identify date ranges where subscribers are most susceptible to fall off. Identify those subscribers at risk for becoming unengaged and test various content strategies based on all available data that will re-engage subscribers.

Failing to create relevant content that engages inactive subscribers can create a self-fulfilling prophecy for a brand: As more subscribers become unengaged with the brand, many of the popular email clients such as GMAIL, Yahoo and AOL will begin routing those emails into SPAM folders.

create relevant content that resonates with your subscribers

This can result in email clients labeling you as a SPAM sender and that means your emails will go straight to SPAM folders across their entire subscriber base.

Once this happens, you are toast. You have difficulty reaching any Inbox, even among your newest subscribers that are just entering the “honeymoon” phase.

The best practice to avoid this is to create relevant content that resonates with your subscribers. Make sure each subscriber is stratified into the most appropriate segment and work toward creating one-to-one customer journeys.

Take a step back and look at your overall communication process. Analyze the data. Test into new segments and treat segments differently and you will be rewarded with subscriber engagement.

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