Careful Cleaning Those Lists -- Inactive Subscribers Are More Useful Than You Think

To spring clean or not spring clean? The end of the year is always a good time to catch up with email experts to get some advice while they take a deep breath after the mayhem of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and prepare for the last days of consumers ordering in time for Christmas delivery.

I caught up with the guys at MailChimp to get their position on what they are finding is working best in email as we transition from Christmas into the New Year. The big surprise for me was a hesitation over the advice we have heard all year long -- decluttering lists and spring cleaning. It has been a constant theme to help with deliverability. The cleaner the list, the better the deliverability, right? Well, yes -- that is still the case, but the warning from MailChimp is cautioning not to throw out the baby with the proverbial bath water. 

Turns out, in their calculations, even lapsed, inactive subscribers are only 32% as likely to convert as active subscribers, and they are still 26% more likely to make a purchase than non-subscribers. So their advice is to be very careful about removing people who have gone quiet on you, particularly in the short term, because they are still much more valuable to you than a non-subscriber. 

Another interesting nugget is there really is not a golden time to send an email outside the 9-5 working day. However, their top advice is that the one piece of timing that brands need to get right are automated messages -- particularly onboarding new customers. Get a welcome message to people soon after they sign up and open rates shoot up 13%, their figures suggest. 

Other than that, the advice is pretty predictable. Emojis appear to be working, short punchy engaging subject lines are more vital than the time of day you send email and getting something for nothing always gets the most traction, as does putting someone's full name in the subject line.

One very useful piece of advice in case these points may seem a little obvious is to resend an email to those who did not open the original. Just sending out the body copy again but with a different subject line gets open rates up from that initial zero to 10%.

So don't sweat it on timings, unless you are onboarding new subscribers -- and give people a little more time being inactive until you write them off. Plus, if people aren't opening those emails, try sending out the same content with a different subject.

These are some top tips to take into the final week before Christmas that just might make that little bit of difference for email marketers as people potentially make a last-minute attempt to make sure those empty spots under the tree are filled with special gifts for loved ones.

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