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There's Inactive and There's Inactive: Kirby

3/13/12

By Ken Magill

If there’s one concept that has clearly arisen during the industry-wide debate over what or what not to do with inactive email addresses, it’s that not all of them are created equal.

Some are just dormant and may reactivate with the right offer at the right time.

Others are so dead they pose a threat as possible spam traps. And still others may not be spam traps, but if there are enough of them they may negatively affect the marketer’s email reputation.

But how does a list owner tell the stone-cold-dead addresses from the possibly revivable ones? Eric Kirby, CEO of email intelligence firm Connection Engine, has a few suggestions.

The trick is determining which addresses have potential and which don’t.

“Our experience is that most companies have data to help guide that determination,” Kirby said. For example, he said: “The average value of a subscriber tends to vary quite a bit by acquisition source. … If you want to trim inactives, the first ones you should consider trimming are the ones that came from poor-quality-acquisition sources.

“Most companies will have an acquisition source code associated with a subscriber,” Kirby added.

He also said there is a big difference between a subscriber who was never active and one that was active and then went dormant.

“Let’s say you define inactive as someone that hasn’t opened or clicked in six months,” he said. “If you identify inactives who at one point did have engagement activity and now don’t, I guarantee they will be a higher-value group than the inactives who have never recorded an open or click.”

Kirby also recommends analyzing email addresses by domain.

“For example, one client found that subscribers with a mac.com email address was worth several times more than the average subscriber,” he said. “The address indicates someone who is probably a big spender. If you look at average customer engagement or spending by email domain, that too, is often a differentiator.”

Put the three concepts together and suddenly we have a way to identify the worst segment of the inactive part of any file.

“Based upon those three variables, if you look at the email addresses that came from your poorest acquisition sources, never had any engagement and maybe came from a poor-quality possibly disposable email domain, right there you’ve identified some of the worst of the worst,” Kirby said.

Helping differentiate potentially active from truly inactive addresses is one of the capabilities Connection Engine’s platform offers.

Launched two years ago, the idea behind Connection Engine was “making advanced analytics and data much more accessible in the context of email programs,” said Kirby. “We help clients find out who their subscribers are and what they look like, and one of the uses of the data—by far not the only—but one of the uses is understanding the value potential of inactives.”

Connection Engine licenses data from a number of big providers and claims to be able to match clients’ subscribers’ email addresses to more than 50 billion data points.

Using those data points and advanced analytics, Connection Engine claims it can, for example, assign a “Buyer Score” to clients’ subscribers so they can get an idea who their best potential customers are from the day they sign up.

The company also claims it can help marketers target subscribers in their acquisition efforts that have a profile similar to their current best customers.

Connection Engine’s services start at $500 per month, said Kirby. “We work primarily with mid to large enterprise clients across retail, ecommerce, travel, and consumer products.”

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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: Dela
Date: 2012-03-14 12:31:18
Subject: There’s Inactive and there is Bad Data

I don’t disagree with either Eric or Bill and as any avid reader of The Magill report will know; because you were kind enough to publish my thoughts on When/How to Reactivate the Inactive subscribers on your list about a year ago. http://www.magillreport.com/When-How-to-Reactivate-II/ As this debate rages on I am coming to the conclusion that there would be no argument around this issue if we were to stop confusing lack of response caused by bad data with the natural tendency of human beings to ignore marketing messages until they need them. I have never and would never advocate that anyone continue to send mail to bad data. With the exception of addresses that can be restored via services like Fresh Address Bad Addresses should always be removed immediately they are identified, via your bounce reports, feedback loops or the use of companies like Connection Engine. If you do that you will have a clean list; and if you have a clean list then almost every inactive subscriber is a potential customer. In which case the ONLY reason to stop mailing your inactive file is if it does not generate enough revenue to cover the cost of sending which is 0.001 – 0.002 cents per prospect. Now it would seem that Jordan Cohen knows lots of companies with that problem , but I know very few of them and the ones that I do know have one thing in common (a point Eric makes very well) the source of their data and the way it was collected was very poor. It is my view that the No1 cause of deliverability problems (assuming you follow the basics of deliverability best practice on an on-going basis) is at the point of acquisition! In other words where you sourced your data and how it got on your list. So my advice call bad data what it is BAD DATA and subscribers who have not needed you product or services for a while what they are which is PROSPECTS! If you still haven’t had enough I will be giving an hour long presentation on this very issue with 2 very instructive case studies to prove my points Tuesday March 27th between noon and 1pm ET for Marketing Profs University @delaquist @alchemyworx
Posted by: Bill Kaplan (FreshAddress, Inc.)
Date: 2012-03-13 15:54:19
Subject: Re-engaging with your Inactives

Eric makes a number of excellent points. Re-engaging inactive customers costs money so be sure you're not throwing good money after bad by chasing inactives that will never buy from you anyway. Determining which inactives are the right ones to pursue, however, is just the first step in the process. The majority of inactives are simply the result of your subscribers changing their email addresses (due to changing jobs, schools, ISPs, email providers, etc.). So, re-engaging them is not as easy as sending an attractive offer as this will most likely land in an email box they no longer read. One solution with a highly attractive ROI is an Email Change of Address (ECOA) service. ECOA allows you to reconnect with inactive customers at their current, preferred email addresses. Due to consolidation in the ECOA industry, match rates of guaranteed deliverable email addresses for "lost" customers are typically in the 10%-15+% range for initial projects with double these results available over the year through automated quarterly processing. So segment your inactives according to their value, put together an attractive win-back program, and update the dead addresses in your file so you can be sure you're leveraging your marketing efforts to the fullest.

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