Firm Offers Innovative Solution for Inactives
By Ken Magill
One of the most nagging issues in email marketing is how to handle previously opted-in email addresses that don’t bounce but have become dormant.
At the risk of oversimplification: Some experts recommend doing nothing. The addresses aren’t bouncing, after all.
Some experts recommend removing inactive addresses after a certain period of time and one or more unsuccessful attempts to reengage them.
The reasons: They could be abandoned addresses that have been repurposed into spam traps and/or may have a higher propensity to draw spam complaints from the disengaged address holders. Dormant addresses can result in deliverability problems.
Marketers who exercise option one risk hitting spam traps and drawing complaints. Marketers who exercise option two risk removing addresses from their files that, while currently inactive, may have a potential for revenue.
A company called 4Cite has developed a solution called On-Target that its executives claim can identify when the holder of an inactive email address in a client’s file is in their inbox opening other marketers’ messages on a PC or tablet—and not on a mobile device.
On-Target can then direct the client’s email service provider to deploy a message to the inactive address on behalf of that client while the address holder is in their email inbox opening other messages.
The company claims to have lifted clients’ open rates as much as 40 percent.
“We have clients that approach this in different ways,” said Jack Sturn, senior vice president, 4Cite. “For example, a client may say ‘I send five emails a week, so over the course of two weeks I’ve sent10 emails. If Jane or John Doe hasn’t opened any of those 10, I’m starting to get a little itchy because that may be a telltale sign right up front that they’re disengaging with my brand.’
“So what they do is engage us to find Jane or John when they’re reading their email and send the client’s email to them immediately,” he said. “They use that short window to make sure people don’t disengage.”
To find out when people are checking their email but not opening a particular client’s messages, 4Cite uses what Sturn calls a “pixel-call co-op” where each client allows 4Cite to monitor email address opens on their lists for the benefit of themselves and every other client.
4Cite currently works with more than 150 brands, according to Sturn. Each brand contributes its email data to the co-op.
“In the case where client A has my email address and client Z has the same email address, what they’re doing is helping each other out,” said Sturn. “Maybe client Z sent an email to [JohnDoe@verizon.net]. When that email gets opened, our pixel call fires. Based on that pixel call firing, we’re able to discern the device they’re using.”
As a result of the pixel call triggered by an open in one client’s campaign, 4Cite can direct that a message be sent instantaneously to the same email address behalf of the client for whom the address has been dormant, according to Sturn.
On-Target typically delivers double-digit open rates and significant revenue per email delivered, according to Sturn.
“For practical purposes, the open rate [of email addresses On-Target is directing massages to be sent to] is zero,” said Sturn. “We’re restoring these records. They’re engaging again. They’re entering back into the more active email flow.
“But not only are we going from zero to 15 [percent] or from zero to 20 [percent] open rates, what we’re seeing on an average email-delivered basis 51 cents,” he said. “We’re really introducing significant ROI.”
Sturn said 4Cite can also determine if an address is just plain dead.
“In the cooperative spirit, we have a service that we refer to as hygienics,” he said. “Our clients provide us with data: email address, date of last activity and what was the last activity. This information goes into a repository.
“If client A has Jack’s email address and client Z has Jack’s email address … if client A is going to send Jack an email tomorrow and client Z sent Jack an email two days ago and it recorded a hard bounce, I will alert client A that another client recorded a hard bounce with that address two days ago and they may not want to send it.”
On-Target also allows marketers to set cadence rules to avoid over-messaging.
For example, marketers can direct that On-Target messages be sent only to people who haven’t opened any of the marketer’s messages in, say, the previous 20 days. They can exclude people who have made purchases or set up shopping carts within the previous seven days. They can also ensure customers will not receive more than one On-Target email in a given period of time.
4Cite works on a flat-fee basis, according to Sturn.