Are you giving up on your subscribers too soon? A new study shows how win-back campaigns are re-engaging subscribers long after many of us have given up hope.
Return Path just released a new study on the effectiveness of win-back campaigns—well beyond the point where many marketers would typically relegate the subscriber’s name to the archive directory. Also known as re-engagement, lapsed-customer or reactivation campaigns, this staple of your automated drip campaign is designed to nudge dormant subscribers back into the buying funnel. While Spider Trainers believes you should Celebrate Unsubscribes (opens as a pdf), this new study shows we shouldn’t be too hasty.
In another study, Strong View found that 50 percent of marketers say they plan to include a win-back campaign in their marketing, and yet our informal surveys have found less than 5 percent of our clients have considered such a campaign.
One challenge marketers face is updating our understanding of the point at which we can consider a recipient disinterested, and it’s important to note marketers label inactive differently than email applications, mostly because we have different data points.
Email applications may define an inactive subscriber as a mailbox holder who has not logged in for a year, but depending upon your business model, you might not consider a recipient inactive unless they have not engaged with your brand for the past two years. Gmail now also cordons off marketing emails to the promotion tab, and thus, the time lapsed before the email is read has extended—according to some studies, by as much as seven days (or more). If your Yahoo!, Gmail or Outlook subscriber does not engage with your campaign, it’s more likely the email application will treat future messages as spam, and less likely your subscriber will see future messages, win-back or otherwise.
The disparity between what we consider inactive and what email applications consider inactive, and the extended time it is taking for our recipients to read and engage, both can contribute to a deteriorating sender reputation. With such high-stake risks, we must carefully balance the long-term negative effects of continuing to email to the disengaged against the potential gain of the small few who reactivate on their own.
A better solution is: Consider win-back campaigns as not just a message to throw at our list every now and again, but rather critical components (yes, we think you should send more than one) to each drip and nurture campaign we build and the type of messages we deploy before we celebrate unsubscribes.
Win-back campaigns with subject lines such as, “Gosh, We’ve Missed You!” were found to have increased open rates.
According to Return Path, on average (across email applications) 12 percent of subscribers read a win-back campaign email and 45 percent of those read subsequent messages within the next 57 days. If you haven’t deployed a win-back campaign, perhaps it’s time you did—but, before you consider the success or failure of your campaign, remember to give it ample time. Like so many other things, re-engagement seems to improve with time.