Eliminating Unengaged Newsletter Recipients
Some colleagues and I were discussing ways of driving better engagement with our readers of a specific newsletter and I suggested eliminating people who haven't opened the email in a certain amount of time. Obviously this would remove unengaged readers and improve our open rates.
My plan was to search for non-openers within 365 days, 200 days, 100 days, and 30 days. Once we knew what those numbers looked like we could make a decision. I figured each narrowing of time would result in fewer unengaged readers.
These are the numbers I got:
365 days: 6,101 non-openers
200 days: 3,891 non-openers
100 days: 4,575 non-openers
30 days: 5,761 non-openers
That wasn't what I expected at all so I reached out to our email platform support and they replied:
The numbers will be different as some people have still not opened an email in 200 days, but they have in 365 and so on. I exported a 30, 100, 200, and 365 day list and compared a handful of the emails and the ones on the 30 day list, do not appear on the 365 day list. I verified with a colleague that this data is correct.
I'm still having some trouble wrapping my head around this but I can't really argue otherwise.
So it's left me wondering what the best approach for this situation might be. I considered exporting the email addresses for all four queries and comparing them to find out who is consistent within them all. That should give a true list of unengaged recipients, right?
Does anyone have any suggestions?
Rather than looking for non-openers over a variety of different timescales, it's often easier to define a non-opener as someone who hasn't opened in one set of timescales, and then target them separately.
Typically an unengaged/non-opener is often defined as someone who hasn't opened an email in the last 6 months. It sounds like a short time frame, but if you really want to target the super engaged and highly valued customers, I think the 6 month mark is a good mark. Any older than that and you are likely to have email addresses that are old and not in use.
You could try re-engaging the non-openers with a separate campaign, which can often work with the right email content/incentive.
It depends a lot on your goals and your audience and there's usually no 'silver bullet' formula but there are a few ways to look at it. Do you want to exclude someone who hasn't opened anything in the past year, or do you want to remove someone who's opened fewer than X percent in the past year? So rather than basing your exclusion on number of days since last engagement it may be useful to look at how many opens your most-engaged subscribers are giving you and then start an exclusion from there. Say if your top 5% of subscribers open 35% of your email then take people who open less than 25% of the mail you send them over the last year and exclude them from your list. This gives you a little flexibility in creating segments and also might help you create segments and targets for re-engagement campaigns.
Thanks - this is helpful.
Another approach you might find useful is by splitting your list and segmenting your most valuable customers and focus on them first.
I've done lots of 30/60/90 day period inactive campaigns because that's what I was previously told to do, but now, mapping out how long on average that segment stays with you before going inactive and including a specific value prop or benefit reminder in a three part win-back series, the comparison is unbelievable. I also use that timeframe to produce a trigger that happens a couple of weeks previous so I can email recipients before they hit that inactive period and target them. Keeps retention high and I’m a firm believer in looking after existing customers rather than always trying to prospect.
If you’ve got a large section of your list which have never purchased and they’ve been on your list for years, why spend the effort and resource to try and keep them when they’re actually costing you money?
Hi there Mike,
Recently I discovered just how significant the amount 'not unsubscribers' can be, after the introduction of a new feature from our ESP. If your ESP offers a way to implement a rating for engagement, this would help your judgement as a whole. Engagement is hard to measure, and generally avoid looking only at a single factor for cause. If your ESP has no such option, see if your main KPIs can be used to calculate it for the contacts based on mailing results. As fellow Litmus users pointed out: there is no set bar on parting contacts, but change in behavior is usually not sudden but gradual.
My view of Rut Dawson's point would be to indeed focus on segmenting your prime readers (using your rating for contact engagement if possible). Make sure their behavior is being measured at least to the point where you would get alarm signs if someone's engagement decreases.
In regard to your current situation and non-openers, it is always worth a shot to send them an e-mail with options for the contacts to indicate a possible reason for them to stop reading. Sometimes e-mail is a great way for two-way communication too. Reader knows best! Good luck.
This is how I did it:
It depends on the type of the newsletter as well, of course, but basically I first tried to reactivate them and only then removed the non-openers from the last 6 months.