/ Email

A Case for Re-Engagement Campaigns: Because Subscriber Numbers Aren’t Everything

Kevin McKernan

Welcome back on a post it on a corkboardEvery brand likes watching their subscriber list grow. Why? Well, that’s a great question that not many stop to ask. Really, the only reason we get excited when we see our subscriber numbers climb day-to-day and month-to-month is because, in marketing, bigger numbers are better. Except when they’re not…

Yes, you ideally want to see your subscriber numbers steadily increase. But what’s more important than subscriber growth is the number of engaged subscribers. These are the subscribers who are opening, clicking, and converting from your email; these are the subscribers who are truly invested in your email campaigns.

Unfortunately, these subscribers likely make up less of your list than you thought.

According to research from Silverpop, nearly 60% of subscribers on any given list are considered inactive, meaning they haven’t opened or clicked any email in at least 12 months. In some cases, they may have never interacted with a single email you’ve ever sent them, which was exactly the case for a popular Consumer Package Goods (CPG) brand we recently worked with.

With a subscriber list of more than 1.2 million, the open rates on their monthly newsletter barely made it above 10% on any given month. Why? Nearly 800,000, or 68%, of their subscribers never engaged with a single email sent. And because this client had never executed a re-engagement campaign before, there’s no wonder why the percentage of unengaged subscribers was so high.

What is a Re-Engagement Campaign?

Just as the name suggests, a re-engagement campaign is meant to help re-engage your subscribers. It works by sending a tailored message specific to those subscribers you have deemed inactive, with a goal of getting them to interact with your campaign in a way that encourages them to be active with your emails again.

While strategies will vary, you generally want to include the following in your re-engagement campaigns:

• A special offer or promotion
• The option to re-subscribe or unsubscribe
• The ability for subscribers to update email preferences
• A glimpse at what subscribers have been missing by not opening your messages

As a best practice, we recommend sending a series of 2-3 re-engagement messages over the period of a month. Each message should have a slightly different subject line as different messaging will appeal to different subscribers.

If a user does not engage with any of the messages in this series, or does not follow the steps required to consider them active, remove them from your subscriber list. Keep in mind, you don’t have to completely delete them. Just move them to a list with other inactive subscribers. You may find a reason to email them again in the future. (Note: Inactive is very different than unsubscribed. Anyone who actively unsubscribes from your list should never be sent additional messages.)

Making the Case for a Re-Engagement Campaign

Needless to say, our CPG client was hesitant to think that their total subscriber numbers could be cut in half as a result of the re-engagement campaign’s performance (and this is generally the reception you’ll receive when recommending a re-engagement campaign). So we focused on the benefits that come from this type of series:

1. You’ll have a more accurate view of your subscribers. Active subscribers are active for a reason. There’s something you’re delivering to them that resonates and gets them to keep coming back. By focusing on those active subscribers and how they’re engaging, you’ll better understand your audience and their needs.

2. You’ll gain a better understanding of when subscribers disengage. Regularly performing a re-engagement campaign forces you to continue to look at things like the subscriber lifecycles. When are your subscribers initially disengaging? Is it after one email, two emails, five emails? Discovering trends among your inactive subscribers can lead to a lot more questions around why those trends are occurring.

3. You’ll vastly improve your ROI. Every individual email you send comes with a cost. By no longer paying to send to subscribers who are disengaged, you’ll see a truer picture of your ROI.

And keep in mind, you should make re-engagement campaigns a regular part of your email marketing strategy, particularly if you notice that while your subscriber numbers are quickly increasing, your open rates are falling. We often recommend clients examine their inactive users twice a year, and to run a re-engagement campaign at least once per year.

Remember, Not All Inactive Subscribers Remain Inactive.

The point of a re-engagement campaign isn’t just about clearing away those inactive subscribers. While that’s a big, important part of it, these types of campaigns should also work to move subscribers from inactive to active.

In the case of our CPG client, nearly 80,000 subscribers became re-engaged as a result of their first re-engagement campaign. And remember, these are subscribers who never opened a single email from them since initially subscribing. In addition, our client generated $1,000 in revenue based on the call to action from these subscribers that had once been completely disengaged.

The Final Results

Following the re-engagement campaign, our CPG client saw their unengaged subscriber list decrease from around 800,000 to 730,000. And this decrease lead to some impressive increases elsewhere. In just one month, their open rate increased by 100%, taking them to a nearly 20% open rate.

Of course, the loss in subscriber numbers is a bitter pill to swallow. After all, we want all of our subscribers to be actively engaged with each message we send. But in reality, we learn more from the engagement of active subscribers than we ever will from the number dictating our total number of opt-ins.

/ Pierry Gives Back

Pierry Gives Back: Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Kevin McKernan

helping hand
For many, Alzheimer’s is known as a disease that comes with many shocking statistics. It’s the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. It’s is diagnosed every 66 seconds. It affects more than 5 million Americans. But for me, Alzheimer’s is much more than facts and figures—it’s a disease that has changed the person I love most in this world, my mother.

Lucille Barisonek has always had a strong spirit. She raised five children; she worked as a nurse, a magazine editor, and trained to become a pilot. Even as she aged, she didn’t really see the need to slow down. She went on to get her diving certificate and — even in her late seventies –took up kayaking.

But my mother, who lived her life as an unstoppable force, has been no match against Alzheimer’s Disease.

I wish I could say that this chapter in my mother’s life was different, or that she was beating the odds and winning the fight. Instead, I’ve watched her decline over the years. I’ve watched my father care for his wife of sixty years while searching for a treatment or remedy that could slow the progression of this terrible degenerative disease. I’ve watched my mother go from a woman who would try anything, to someone who couldn’t remember where she was going or why.

Today my mother requires around-the-clock care. The only thing Alzheimer’s hasn’t taken away from her is her wide, beaming smile.

Which is why I’m walking to end Alzheimer’s.

On Saturday, October 1, 2016, I’ll join my team, Senior Care of Sacramento, in a walk to raise money that will support the Alzheimer’s Association and their goal to end Alzheimer’s. Held in more than 600 communities across the country, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the largest event for raising awareness and funds towards Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

Every dollar counts in the fight against Alzheimer’s. I hope you can join me in supporting the fight. Please visit my donations page for more information.

Donate Now

/ Email

Why Live Data is the Gift that Keeps on Giving this Holiday Season

Kevin McKernan

online holiday shopper
It’s no secret that the holiday season is a big time for retailers. And with all the noise around holiday shopping, it’s important that marketers stand out—not just by providing the best deals and promotions they can, but by providing the best customer experience they can, one that helps make the shopping process easier.

With nearly 50% of consumers planning to do the majority of their holiday shopping online, and with 54% of holiday shoppers planning to do most of that online shopping on their smartphone during spare moments throughout the day, being able to create effective micro-moments for consumers is key for retailers.

The days of the one-day shopping spree are coming to an end, making your “batch-and-blast” email approach less and less effective.

On all fronts of digital marketing, but email in particular, consumers are looking for something more. They want a 1:1 personalized experience—one that helps them get the products they need and helps them uncover new products they didn’t even know they wanted.

Email marketers already know a lot about their consumers—from first name, to gender, to purchase history, etc. But what if you could take that a step further by collecting data such as browse history and abandon cart history? And what if that could be used to create a truly personalized email experience for every subscriber?

Incorporating live data into your emails can lead to higher engagement, as well as an increase in revenue per click. In other words, live data isn’t just useful to your consumers, but to your bottom line as well.

Want to see more on how live data can bring your customers a completely new experience this holiday season? See use cases, tips for shaping your customer journey, as well as how to get buy-in internally in this recent webinar, Delivering a Better Holiday Email Experience with Live Data, hosted by Pierry and Movable Ink.

Learn More and Watch the Webinar Now

/ Email

Why You Want Unsubscribes

Kevin McKernan

person holding phone while using tabletThe moment of truth has arrived. Your deployment went smoothly, the artwork was enticing, and now you are ready to see your results. You have followed all the email best practices and so your metrics should all be good. You scan the results and see successful open rates. Your click-throughs are double digits and your deliverability is as close to 100% as it gets. Then you see it—the unsubscribes. The number isn’t significantly high, but your heart sinks. After all your time and effort, people still do not want to receive your communications. And while understandably disheartening, unsubscribe requests are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, there are multiple reasons you actually want people to unsubscribe.

The Silver Lining of Unsubscribes

They can warn you of bigger email issues.

If you see a steady spike in unsubscribe requests, it is probably an indication that something in your email program needs to change. What are you promising subscribers when they initially sign up? Are you living up to that promise? Have the types of content in your emails changed significantly? Or has your audience changed in some way?

An upward trend in unsubscribes could be a sign that you should test new content. Or perhaps begin to experiment with segmenting your audience based on additional data you have on them.

They save you money.

If someone doesn’t want your email, then you shouldn’t spend money sending it to them. With many ESPs charging by subscriber or number of sends, the unsubscribes will lower your overall cost for sends. This savings could be directed towards other efforts such as social media advertising or another channel where your customers can be found.

They can help support marketing decisions.

Every marketer can agree—the more data you have, the better. After all, data is the best way to back-up any beliefs you have about your customers. High spikes in unsubscribes can give you insights into what your audience doesn’t want from your brand. It could also signal a shift in who makes-up your actual audience. Either way, these types of insights can help inform not only your email marketing strategy, but your digital strategies as a whole.

Getting More Out of Unsubscribes

While there is plenty of info you can infer by examining unsubscribes, there are also measures you can put in place for them to volunteer more information. Exit surveys are a great way to measure more information about why subscribers are opting out. Questions to consider on your exit surveys include:

  • Send frequency questions, i.e. do they receive too many emails from you?
  • Content relevancy, i.e. are they getting value from your emails?
  • Confusion over opting-in, i.e. they don’t even remember signing up for these emails
  • Other reasons, i.e. a spot for a soon-to-be unsubscribe to give you additional information; Often times, brands get some of their most honest customer feedback here

Preventing Unsubscribes

While unsubscribes can teach you a lot, you also don’t want to see customers unsubscribing from your email marketing program simply because they are signed up for the wrong thing. To prevent this, consider using a Custom Profile Center instead of a one-click unsubscribe. This gives subscribers the opportunity to choose what type of emails they do or do not want to receive. Custom Profile Centers can include things like:

  • A listing of interests or preferences specific to your brand
  • Send frequency options
  • Demographic information which can help for better segmentation in the future

While this won’t stop all unsubscribes, it will help steer many customers towards more relevant content.