According to Loren McDonald, any email list will include recipients who have unsubscribed “emotionally.” Instead of hitting the unsubscribe button, they delete your messages without reading them, or direct their delivery to a junk folder they rarely check. “Their addresses are valid,” he says, “but their attention is elsewhere. They either never clicked or clicked in the past but not recently.”
Reaching out to inactive subscribers means identifying those who belong in this segment. “Don’t rely [solely] on open rates,” advises McDonald, “because they are notoriously inaccurate. Instead, decide how you want to define inactivity—no clicks in 12 or 18 months, for example—and create segments that fit your definitions.” Once you have a targeted group:
Invite them to create or update a preference page; opt in again; or opt out. A caveat from McDonald: “It is important that when the subscriber clicks through to the preference page that it is pre-populated with their existing preferences enabling quick and easy changes.”
Use surveys to learn what they’d like to see—or not. “For example,” he says, “if you believe that … subscribers are fading away from too many emails, pose questions [about] … frequency options such as weekly, bi-weekly and monthly.”
Send a personalized offer based on past activity or purchases.