Defining—and Engaging—the Unengaged Subscriber

How are you treating your unengaged subscribers? They are still on your list so potentially have value. But they obviously aren’t responding to your email marketing the way you’d like. What can you do?

First off, let’s define an unengaged subscriber, otherwise known as email non-responders. What is an email non-responder? In short, is it a recipient who is not opening your email, or someone who is not clicking any of the links inside the email? Couple that with the factor of time. Over what period of time are they not opening or clicking? For some brands, 12-18 months is the appropriate window of time to measure this.

To me, to do this right, you also have to go back and apply non-responder rules to the context of the source of the subscription, meaning where you received permission from this subscriber in the first place. Was it through past promotions, website promotions, or third-party promotions? It could be that a certain promotion attracted low quality subscribers, and you can take that factor into account when deciding how to try and re-engage them—or engage them in the first place. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t respond to email. As marketers, we can only guess.

Once you’ve defined your non-responder, what should you do? Some rules should apply to flagging non or under-performing segments, but should you suppress them from mailings? That’s the million-dollar question, because the unengaged are potentially dragging you’re your deliverability rate.

Instead, maybe you could try a win-back series to see if they are still interested in hearing from you.