Unread doesn’t mean unloved

If you’re involved in email marketing there’s a good chance you’ve heard of MailChimp. Certainly, they are the email sender we direct people to when someone wants an easy way of sending email newsletters, and they are our provider when handling a full end-to-end email marketing campaign for customers.

Recently, MailChimp published the results of a study into how valuable email subscribers are for businesses, and how many repeat orders they generate. They examined over 40 million email addresses and compared them to 60 million email purchases. This data was then cross-referenced against email campaigns sent through Mailchimp to break down customers into three categories:

  • Active email subscribers — People who had opened an email from the company they bought from in the last six months.
  • Inactive email subscribers - People who hadn’t opened an email from the company they bought from in the last six months.
  • Non-subscriber — People who weren’t on the company’s email marketing list.

(note: ‘Company’ refers to the business the customer conducted the transaction with — not MailChimp)

Comparing repeat sales from the three categories revealed something interesting. As expected active email subscribers create the most repeat business and are 38% more likely to order again from a company than non-subscribers. However the findings for inactive email subscribers went against what most email marketers would expect.

Why are inactive email subscribers worth keeping?

“Inactive subscribers are 26% more likely to make a follow-up purchase than non-subscribers.”

Inactive Subscribers are Still Valuable Customers — Mailchimp

Traditionally, inactive subscribers are treated the same as non-subscribers. This makes sense because neither group is acting on information sent in a measurable way (they aren’t ‘engaging’ with the brand to put in marketing-speak). The MailChimp results contradict this and prove just because people aren’t opening emails it doesn’t mean the message isn’t having an impact.

For this reason it’s important not to remove inactive members from an email marketing list. Doing so would put them into the non-subscriber category and reduce the chances of repeat orders.

How can businesses improve their email marketing campaigns?

Local businesses should look again at email marketing campaigns and re-assess their effectiveness:

  • Segment email marketing lists to separate active and inactive subscribers.
  • Cross-reference email addresses captured as part of orders with the email marketing list to see which category a customer falls into.
  • Don’t remove inactive people from email newsletter lists.
  • Give customers the option to receive email newsletter every time they give their email address.
  • Send emails to the inactive segment to try and make they active (A/B split testing is a good tool to use here).
  • Make sure the email’s subject line includes key information as it may be the only thing a customer reads.

An unread email isn’t unloved, it just means the receiver hasn’t got time to read it. The customer will still see the subject line and the sender’s name, keeping a businesses fresh in their mind and when it comes time to order something new businesses that keep sending email newsletters are in a better position to gain repeat business.

Written by

Get in touch

Focused on the North West