Archive for November, 2011
Have you considered winning back your valuable lapsed customers?
Abandoned, dormant or unresponsive email addresses hurt your numbers and can play havoc with your deliverability. Advice you will often hear is that you need to get people interacting with your emails, opening,
clicking and most importantly not marking it as Junk or Spam. The reason for this is that ISP’s (Google, Hotmail and Yahoo etc) are taking this interaction into account when deciding whether your emails should go to the inbox or the spam folder in future sends.
A large number of unresponsive recipients tell the ISP’s that your emails are not worth sending to the inbox and are more likely junk. The importance of this interaction brings the associated risk with it as inactive subscriber numbers naturally grow. We tend to think of inactive data as a group of people who ignore our campaigns and are blind to our emails and if we send a gentle reminder they will be back on board as reactivated subscribers but this is not the case. The right reactivation strategy depends on your ability to identify the true causes of inactivity.
Has the recipient ever seen your email? If you are unsure of your domain or IP reputation or are aware of a low rate of inbox delivery your welcome email or the first campaign that is sent to a newly registered user may end up in their junk folder. Best case scenario the user will move this from Junk into their Inbox which is great for your engagement stats (especially with the Gmail Monster). As we know there are incentivised campaigns to get users signing up to receive emails from brands and these are more than often competitions or sweepstakes that are entered into by ‘Compers’ (Professional competition players). This leads to a false sense of overall success, interest and engagement. Most compers will have multiple unused email or social media accounts that are only used for entering competitions online and sending emails or posts to these addresses is a bit like burning money.
Why and where did they sign up in the first place? We need to identify what type of inactive we are dealing with before we can send them engaging or meaningful reactivation campaigns. Again this is down to the truth behind the sign up. If users have searched for your product and clicked on a search result which then led them to your website where they signed up to receive your marketing messages and gave you their permission; this makes them a very different inactive user to a comper that may have just signed up to be entered into a prize draw.
This example is based on the opposite far ends of the spectrum but if you knew where the inactive users have signed up for your communications in the first place this should enable you to further segment your inactive data and use different more meaningful tones when trying to reactivate them. You may even decide that it’s not worth bothering to reactivate some users at all.
The right reactivation strategy depends on your ability to identify the true causes of inactivity.
Did they expect something else when they initially signed up? In some cases users can expect one email per month or possibly an email every 3 months depending on the type of business they are signing up to. In other cases users expect an email per day and if they don’t see it in their inbox they are surprised by that. Here we need to make sure that the user knows what they should be receiving in future. A great way to do this is by using a welcome email or a welcome programme that sets the expectation of what frequency or content they should expect (i.e. deals, vouchers, product info, etc) from the beginning of their engagement with your marketing communications or brand.
A first-class example of this is Groupon. Who would have thought that simply signing up to Groupon could mean that they will send you up to 4 emails per day, 28 emails per week or more than 100 emails per month? As some users may indulge this frequency just think of how many users unsubscribe within only a few hours or days of signing up. Set the expectation at sign up or by using a welcome series and users won’t be surprised when you start to mail them. Many users become inactive when they have not received what they thought they were going to receive within the first few mailings so make these count because first impressions definitely do last.
Are they really dormant customers or is there a channel shift in place? Are users now engaging or converting through search or social media leaving your specific marketing channel or communications which are no longer getting fairly credited as the influencer?
With the birth and rapid growth of social media, the up and coming mobile channel and not to forget search and the more traditional direct marketing methods, we find ourselves using multiple channels to communicate to our customers or prospects.
Some users may now be engaging with your brand via Facebook, Twitter or even YouTube and it’s not that they are inactive, they have simply channel shifted. It is a worthwhile exercise to try and match back your inactive email data to your active social media, direct or traditional marketing data before sending a ‘We’ve missed you’ or ‘Here’s 80% OFF your next purchase’ type of communication.
Are they calling into purchase or gather further info instead of replying/converting through your email and social pages? Unfortunately some users are more than happy to receive your emails or social media messages but choose to never open or click on them.
They may however choose to call in their purchases or head into “brick and mortar” stores to make the enquiries or purchases. It’s again worth matching back your inactive data to users who may have called into a call centre or may have purchased in store before sending a reactivation message. We wouldn’t want to offend an existing engaged (money spending) client now would we?
Right, so we have covered some of the ground work which should allow for informed decisions on the segmentation, personalisation and what tone the reactivation messages could contain. I would suggest at least three variations of the reactivation messages to allow for more relevant communications to be sent to each individual recipient. As it is my firm belief that relevance and rich demographic data drives the success of any marketing campaigns further segmentation can be achieved by finding answers and solutions to the following.
What amount of data would like to reactivate? Think about your inbox deliverability and domain reputation and ensure that you broadcast the inactive data at reasonably sized flow rated segments. Sending a colossal amount of inactive data all-in-one broadcast could damage your inbox delivery for some time and in future broadcasts.
How old is the data? Spam traps and Honey pots are created by ISP’s (Google, Hotmail and Yahoo etc) using dormant/inactive email accounts. They do this to sniff out algorithmic spam sends or outdated data lists which may have been previously stolen or sold. Your ESP should be able to feedback if you have hit spam traps as hitting these are not a good sign of data hygiene. There is also a question around ‘dead’ data, and this could literally mean that the recipient has passed away. Nobody likes to talk about it but in very large data files it is worth while taking this fact of life into account.
What demographic info do you hold per email address? How can the data be segmented? Rich data will help the cause, if you don’t have anything to work with besides an email address the reactivation process will be rather plain and have a low relevance so the amount of reactivated users from these campaigns may be a lot lower than it could have been. If you hold any additional demographic information about the currently inactive recipients you should find a way to use this to your advantage. A simple sign-up date, birth date or gender can hugely influence the message type and tone when trying to re-engage the inactive users.
Relevance and the use of rich demographic data drives the success of any marketing campaign
What we should have at this point is a segmented data file of your inactive users, for example:
Received at least 5 messages in past 3 months but have not opened
Received messages in past but have only opened once in the past 5 messages
Received messages in the past but have not ever opened
Age 18 – 25
Age 26 – 30
Age 31 – 40
I recommend at least 3 variations of messages and contents for the different inactive data segments but the reality is that the more segments and variations the better as this can only mean that the campaigns are created to be as relevant as possible. You might choose to set up the reactivation campaigns as recurring emails or choose to do occasional reactivation projects. This will depend on the churn rates relating to your marketing activity and data lists.
Test, test, test and when you think you have tested enough keep on testing the campaign contents, personalisation, time of send etc and make small changes to measure what works and what doesn’t. Trust in the science of A/B Split tests and keep on improving on what you are sending out.
Lastly but not at all least make an effort to find out why these users have stopped interacting with your emails or engaging with your brand and if the reactivation campaigns do re-engage a client or prospect; what will you do differently to keep them engaged this time around?
Abandoned, dormant or unresponsive email addresses hurt your numbers and can play havoc with your deliverability.