In addition to throwing off this balance, a high percentage of inactives or subscribers with lengthy periods of inactivity can create several problems problems. Inactivity with the email program can be an indicator that the subscriber has abandoned their inbox. These accounts are often deactivated by the mailbox provider, resulting in an unknown user bounce code. Occasionally, dead accounts may be reactivated by the mailbox provider and converted to a recycled spam trap (read more about inactives, unknown users and spam traps here). Both unknown users and spam traps are associated with substandard list hygiene or poor marketing practices and can hurt deliverability and performance.
There are hundreds of ways to address engagement and inactivity. Below are a few of my regular go-tos:
- Periodically leverage a list validation service. If welcome/confirmation emails tend to see a high number of unknown user bounces or you have risky acquisition practices, you may want to consider real-time email validation.
- Ensure that you have an inactive threshold in place. This is dependent on a range of factors, so pinpointing the appropriate threshold is a bit of an art and science. Many of my clients use two years as the cutoff, but for brands with deliverability issues, we recommend a year or less.
- Test content to determine what resonates and motivates engagement. Consider segmenting by timeframe of last activity to determine what compels activity across those segments. This can be particularly relevant for brands that have the opportunity to experiment with different promotion and discount levels.
- Leverage a preference center that allows subscribers to provide direction of the kind of content they would like to receive and how often they would like to receive it.
Volume and Frequency Spikes
Mailbox providers have designed their filtering algorithms to help them detect messages and activity that looks out of the ordinary or suspicious. Major changes to your send volume or frequency can raise the red flag and get mail blocked or heavily filtered. By maintaining consistent volume and frequency at the IP address and domain level, you are less likely to run into these issues with mailbox providers.
If a change in volume or frequency is necessary, consider gradually increase volume and/or frequency. If the brand is migrating to a new ESP, IP address or even domain, a steady, gradual increase in volume is critical during the warm-up phase when the sending reputation has yet to be established and deliverability is at its most vulnerable. In addition:
- If mailing patterns are being adjusted due to a revamp of the email strategy, it can be beneficial to increase frequency by segment, starting with those who will likely be most receptive to increase mail.
- Sending an initial communication to subscribers that informs them of increased frequency and includes a method for them to manage their preferences can reduce the negative impact of this change.
As a Senior Email Strategist with Return Path, Casey specializes in driving increased engagement and boosting deliverability. Casey has a healthy fixation with helping marketers realize the potential of their email programs by addressing human needs, building better relationships, and ultimately driving improved results for the business. Her nine years of experience and obsession with evolving the email space helped land her a spot on ExpertSender’s list of “25 Email Geeks to Help You Get Your Geek On.”