How to reduce spend & succeed by targeting inactive subscribers

Here's the truth, as much as half your database is inactive - many will have been inactive for a long time. They're unlikely to be causing any obvious problems for your business but they're also unlikely to be adding value. But don't panic, it's not too late to turn your inactive subscribers into active customers.

Why should you target inactive subscribers?

They aren't helping you reach your goals - It's unlikely the sole goal for your email marketing is to grow your subscriber list to as many subscribers as possible, regardless of whether they interact with you or not. If it is, we'd recommend revising your goals and focusing on opens, clicks, conversions, opt-out rates and proactive list growth. Your goals should be focused on activity, so your inactive subscribers won't be adding any value.

Campaign performance is affected by them - One of the most important things you can do as an email marketer is monitor the performance of your campaigns. We normally do this through reporting of open, click-through, opt-out and conversion rates. The issue is that your inactive subscribers will only serve to dilute your reporting. If 50% of your database is inactive you're immediately fighting a losing battle. The best open rate you'll ever achieve will be 50%, which taking the inactive subscribers into account would actually be 100%.

Tracking activity of high value customers becomes difficult - Similar to the last point discussed, if you leave your inactive subscribers in the same group as your active subscribers you may find it difficult to identify shifts in customer behaviour. Spotting this can help you react to changes before they cause issues for your business. Having a greater focus on your subscriber groupings will help you achieve your goals.

They may be affecting your deliverability - It's now widely accepted that email providers are monitoring the activity around emails delivered into the inbox. If your emails are not being opened, clicked and kept for later reference it's quite likely your deliverability will be affected. You must focus on delivering messages to those that wish to receive them and those that will interact with you. Remember, email isn't a passive medium and you should be looking to engage activity.

They're costing you money - Each of the points discussed has a direct impact on costs. It's simple, inactive subscribers cost you money and are unlikely to contribute to your bottom line.

What should you do with inactive subscribers?
Here are our top three tips for dealing with inactive subscribers:
  1. Define how you'll classify an inactive subscriber - One of the biggest barriers to success in this area is your ability to identify who is inactive and who isn't. The first thing to do is set a benchmark for activity. This could be an active, trackable open once in every six emails. For some businesses this might not be tough enough. We've seen some definitions of "active" based purely on clickthroughs. If the recipient hasn't clicked an email in a certain period they're moved to an inactive list segment. Your business needs to define what you will use as your classification. 
  2. Move inactive subscribers to a separate group - Once you've defined what "active" means to your business you can start analysing your database and segmenting based on activity. Take your inactive subscribers and move them to a separate group. You should develop a strategy to re-engage these subscribers with the aim of moving them out of the inactive group or removing them from your database. Don't just keep sending them the same message as you send your active subscribers. It's important you develop a specific strategy just for inactive subscribers and ensure you implement this strategy.
  3. Review your inactive subscribers to find patterns - It's advisable to review your inactive subscribers to try and spot patterns. Is there something they have in common? Were they all collected via the same mechanism? For example, they may have been collected at trade shows. This could suggest the trade shows you're attending are not returning on your investment. The most important thing is to analyse and learn from your inactive subscribers. Your aim should be to reduce your percentage of inactive subscribers in your total database. 
In conclusion
Activity management is one of the most time consuming tasks for any email marketer. The truth is there's nothing stopping you from carrying on as you are and leaving your active and inactive subscribers all in one big group. However, the truth is you'll never achieve your full potential without segmenting your list based on activity. This is not the only variable you should use for segmentation but it's one of the most important, and in our opinion, it's one the most efficient and effective ways to increase your chances of email marketing success.

Email marketing is not dead - here’s 4 reasons why

People often debate whether or not email marketing is still an effective form of marketing in this day and age. Isn't social media cooler? Isn't it better to have a highly optimised website to drive traffic? All promotional emails are spam and get deleted anyway, right? While there may be some truth to these objections, email marketing is certainly not dead – here’s why.

Everybody reads their emails
You read your emails don’t you? If email was well and truly “dying” we’d have an alternative and main method of communication by now for everyday personal and business communication. But that hasn't yet happened and email remains as the strongest form of digital business communication.

You will generate more income from promotional emails than other digital advertising
Research has shown that email generates more revenue per email than other forms of digital marketing.  In fact, more than half of businesses generate 10% of their sales through email. That is far greater revenue than other digital marketing platforms are likely to get you for the same cost.

You can easily trace the statistics and performance of emails
Working with email doesn't have to be a chore. It’s just as engaging as any social media platform and you can monitor the engagement rates and statistics using tools like NewZapp’s LIVE! Reports. No more hit and hope, you can track exactly how good your efforts are and improve on them using detailed data.

You have more creative freedom using email
Your tweets and Facebook posts are great, they can be written in a certain style and include pictures and videos. Nonetheless you never really have full control over the layout of your posts, whereas with email you have a blank canvas, you can use html to make the email look just how you want.

How to organically grow your email list

By far the best open rates we see are from companies with their own data which they have grown organically as opposed to purchased lists. So, how do you grow your list with engaged subscribers who actually want to hear from your business?

Relevant content
This is the main reason a subscriber will open your email. Without any relevance the subscriber may become bored of your emails and do one of three things – unsubscribe, ignore your email altogether or worst of all, mark it as spam.

If your email has relevant content your subscribers will also be more inclined to share it via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or use the forward to a friend option.

Make sure your subscribe box is simple. Potential subscribers should only have to enter their name and email address to subscribe, anything more could be a deterrent. It is also important to make sure your signup form is available on every page of your website.

Prepare for landing
Create landing pages on your website that not only contain your sign up form but also testimonials and links to your previous email campaigns. Potential new subscribers can then see the type of content they will receive which should help sway them into signing up.

Offer an incentive
Most companies will do this to help grow their subscriber numbers. Some offer a downloadable guide like an ebook or PDF that is targeted directly for their business sector. Others will create a discount code and provide this in a welcome email.

Promote your signup form wherever you can. Link to it in your email signature, on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and any other social media accounts you have.

Writing blogs or best practice articles about your business sector can help generate more interest in your products and services. It also helps you to interact with your readers and shows you're an expert in your field.

Someone told me you're the best in the business

Get a quote and win more business, it's that simple. Referrals and word of mouth have always been fantastic marketing tools. However, they can be hard to predict and even more difficult to control. That's where customer quotes can help.

There's nothing better than someone saying how great you are. It's fairly simple to ask your customer to provide a quote. They're extremely useful and with permission you can include them on your site, in your email campaigns, in press releases, and social networking.

Customer quotes will:
  • Bring credibility to your business
  • Showcase who uses you and why
  • Add user generated content to your marketing mix
The third point is especially important in the modern marketing environment. People are becoming increasingly interested in user generated content. Just look at the number of blogs, forums and communities now online. We suggest adding a customer quotes page to your site and ensure the quotes are easily found by prospective customers who are researching your products and services online.

Here are our top five tips for collecting customer quotes

Get 'em while they're hot. 
Don't wait too long before you ask for a quote. If you're talking to a customer and they say something that would make a great quote, ask if you can use it. The same goes for snippets in an email or letter.

Add asking for a quote to your sales process. 
If you don't you'll only forget to do it. Ensure you ask everyone you can for a comment. You may need to automate this process. If you deal with a high volume of customers you can create a form online that they can fill in. You could drive them to this form using a thank you email with a link to provide a comment.

Consider offering an incentive to encourage your customer to provide a quote. 
This could be a voucher or additional services, or even just pointing out how their own profile will be promoted by appearing in your marketing.

Don't be afraid to guide them. 
It's inevitable that your customers will say very similar things about you, so you're likely to get a repetition of comment along the lines of "I'd recommend company X to anyone looking for widgets". So it's important to guide your customers by asking for examples e.g. how they found your delivery service, or what it was that made you different to the competition?

Always get permission. 
It's important to get permission to use the quote. Never quote someone without their knowledge. A simple approval form or email will help avoid any unwanted repercussions. Even if you need to make a small adjustment to the quote originally given (to correct the grammar, or to be able to fit the quote into a piece of marketing material for example) always check again that you have approval for the final version.

Setting CSS breakpoints in your responsive email

CSS breakpoints help your email display clearly at all device sizes ...
In our glamorous work here at NewZapp Towers, the Design Team have developed an ever-evolving process to keep getting the best results in all readers. This means staying aware of changes to the way email readers work so we can update our coding practices as necessary (I'm looking at you, Windows Phone and Yahoo! - and you can stop smirking, Gmail).

Our core HTML email coding practice has remained fairly consistent over time: in the first instance we build emails so they look good in the typical 'desktop' email readers - Outlook 2007-2013, Gmail,, Mail for Mac and the like.

These tend to ignore, disable or even strip out CSS found anywhere other than in an inline style, so we use this in HTML table cells so that they have a direct influence on their content e.g.

  <td style="font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:22px;   
  color:#FF9900;" >Sign up to our mailing list!</td>


Reaching your email's 'breakpoint'

With the rise in mobile device usage (48% of us now open our emails on the move according to these latest statistics from Litmus) there is a need for an email's layout and content to re-organise itself for best effect on narrower screens. Thankfully, since the latest generation of mobile devices do support CSS stylesheets within the email itself (with 'desktop' email reader layouts remaining blissfully unaffected) we can now use things like @media queries to define specific 'breakpoints' that tell an email's layout and styling to change at specified screen widths e.g.

  table td {width:600px;} //default
  @media screen and (max-device-width: 479px), screen and (max-width: 479px)
    table td {width:100%;} //mobile


Read our article here for more on this very subject.

As a general rule, we don't tend to set email layouts to change until the screen is really narrow, typically at a standard smartphone width of around 320px or less. Most standard tablets have a screen width comparable to a small 'Desktop' monitor (around 768px x 1024px portrait) and so will normally show the standard 600px - 650px wide email layout with no problem.

Typical screen widths for different devices

There can be more than one

There are odd occasions, however, when we have designed emails that do require an additional breakpoint - generally when the default 'desktop' version of the email is quite a bit wider than 650px. This way you can show the full-width email in all its glory, have a certain amount of re-organising for the 'tablet' version, then full-on stacking and hiding of elements on the 'mobile' version.

use 2 or more breakpoints for more email layout alternatives

In a similar vein, the recent advent of mobile devices with higher pixel densities (such as those using Apple's Retina display) where the screen width has been effectively doubled (or more!) careful thought will also need to be given to accommodate not only normal desktop screen widths but HD tablet, normal tablet and mobile device screen widths too. Phew!


As ever, the team here at NewZapp are here to help if you have any more questions on this or any other email marketing topic - just give us a call or contact us.