As much as we hate to admit it, non-engaged subscribers are a fact of life for us marketers. Whether you’re defining this based on those who aren’t opening or clicking on your emails, or something else, it sure is a bug-bear to us all at some point or other. There are several ways in which we can reach out to our non-engaged lists, but initially it comes down to how you’re defining that segment. Here are a few possibilities for list segmentation to help get you started:

Based on non-opens

Although open rates are usually our biggest ego-boost, strictly speaking, they’re not the most trustworthy measurement of campaign engagement.

Did you know that opens are actually based on images within the email being “downloaded” by the email server? Therefore, anyone who opens your email on an iPhone (where images are downloaded automatically by default), whether or not it’s just a preview or glance, are marked as an open. On the other hand, subscribers who are using traditional B2B clients such as Outlook (where images aren’t automatically downloaded) could be actually reading your content, just not showing the images.

We don’t tend to recommend this as the most reliable way to gauge engagement, for the reasons explained above.

Based on non-clickers

We much prefer to look at click through rate as a means for tracking engagement, as after all, actions speak louder than words!

After you’ve identified your non-engaged subscribers, here are some clever ways to work with your non-engaged email:

Are you sending the right content?

If you can see that your audience have been browsing your website for information about a certain topic (let’s say CRM for this example), email them content that is relevant to this. It may seem pretty obvious but it’s an easy way to encourage engagement. Think of it a bit like when you’re browsing for insurance products; if you’re looking to renew your car insurance and have looked at quotes, you’d more likely re-engage with an email about cars than you might bikes or vans.

We tend to recommend this for leads, but there’s no harm in doing the same for any and all of your website visitors. We call this lead nurturing, and it’s an easy way to link up web activity to your CRM or database, as well as ensuring you’re sending out relevant content.

Test, test, test

Secondly, consider the small tweaks you can make to your email content, subject lines, timing and frequency. Split testing is the best way to find out if your tactics are working, and your non-engaged group are often the best candidates to help determine the efficacy of your ideas.

Reactivation offer

Finally, if all of that above hasn’t worked, consider creating an email ‘win-back’. This generally includes an incentive, and lets the customer know what they could be missing out on with you. Whether this is a freebie – like a ticket to an event, an offer on your service or a free trial to something new that they may not have known about – whatever you think will reel in those inactive subscribers and ignite their interest again is worth a try.