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Immediately Removing Win-Back Non-Responders is a Bad Idea: Return Path

By Ken Magill
Immediately removing the email addresses of people who fail to respond to win-back campaigns will likely result in culling addresses that still have revenue potential, according to a report released today by email intelligence firm Return Path.
[Full disclosure: I was involved in writing this report.]
Win-back, or reactivation email campaigns are those sent by marketers to try and re-engage inactive email addresses—say, those of people who haven’t clicked on anything in a year.
Experts say marketers who send email to large email lists with significant percentages of inactive addresses risk experiencing email deliverability troubles. As a result, most email experts recommend implementing win-back campaigns and removing addresses deemed inactive.
When to declare inactive email addresses to be truly dead and dangerous, however, is not black and white.
In a study of win-back campaigns employed by 33 retailers, Return Path found that 45 percent of email address holders who received win-back emails read subsequent messages. But of that 45 percent, just 24 percent had read win-back emails.
Conversely, of the 45 percent who read subsequent messages after receiving win-back emails, 76 percent had not read any win-back messages.
Moreover, the average length of time between when people received a win-back message and when they read a subsequent email was 57 days, according to Return Path.
“What is unknown is whether or not the win-back emails had any significant effect on recipients’ engagement with future emails,” the report said.
“Immediately removing people from an email list who do not respond to win-back emails is not a good idea,” the report said. “You may be removing people who are still engaged with your brand or who respond to the message by shopping at a bricks-and-mortar location, or who may re-engage in the future.”
Access the full report here.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Bill Kaplan
Date: 2014-05-11 23:35:32
Subject: Managing and Re-engaging with Inactives

Great question and a vexing problem for marketers. Inactives typically comprise 25% to 50+% of a file. Continually messaging these email addresses costs money and hurts overall deliverability. Your first line of defense is a re-engagement campaign, preferably with an attractive offer to get these customers re-engaged. This may or may not be successful, depending upon the percentage of these email addresses that are still active accounts. Of course, as Return Path's study indicates, some individuals might re-engage with you in-store or through your call centers so it's critical to monitor re-engagement through all channels before seeking alternative methods to reconnect with these lost connections. From our experience at FreshAddress working with 25% of the Fortune 100 and many leading marketers and nonprofits, many of the inactives in a marketer's file are the result of sending emails to dormant accounts… like the ones Yahoo purged last summer. Sending emails to these dormant accounts might not cost much but it’s not going to drive engagement or revenues because no one’s reading these emails anymore. If your re-engagement program does not bring specific customers back, marketers should remove these inactives from their files and run them through an ECOA service to re-engage these customers at their current preferred addresses. What’s the benefit of developing great creative, promotions, and campaigns if your emails are not being read? For further details on how leading marketers are reconnecting with customers lost to inactive or bouncing email addresses, see
Posted by: robinteractive
Date: 2014-05-06 17:08:00
Subject: Thanks For The Data

This matches up with my personal experience in email marketing for the past 15 years. That said, it is helpful to have data from an outside, reputable company to back me up when this topic surfaces from time to time.