Here are some of the reasons why…
- Sending to lapsed data is bad for your deliverability – it’s easy to damage your deliverability but hard to fix it
- You’re more likely to see complaints, unsubscribes and spam trap hits from this type of data
- You’re wasting your money by sending to people who no longer open
- You are automatically, before you even hit send, degrading your engagement metrics
- It enables you to have a conversation with the people that want to talk to you and are listening
Hopefully the above is enough to convince you that you need to take action if you haven’t already. There are now two things you need to plan for: how to clean up the data that has already lapsed and how to manage lapsing data moving forwards.
Step-by-step guide to handling those who are already playing hard to get
- Run a segment to find those who’ve become unengaged – I suggest you look for contacts who have been sent multiple campaigns in 180 days yet haven’t opened anything they’ve received (if you are unsure how to do this, your dotmailer Account Manager can help).
- If you have a large number of contacts who are unengaged, do not send to them all in one go; this could be disastrous! Instead, take a very small chunk of them and test what impact this has (you could use dotmailer’s random sample tool).
- If you see a high number of unsubscribes or next to no positive action, it might be worth taking the data out and accepting the loss.
- Next, we need to build your “Don’t leave us” or “We miss you” email.
- The email must contain a link to be clicked to show that they wish to remain on your mailing list – DO NOT assume an open is enough; it’s not. You need explicit opt-in and the only way to do this is to have them fulfil an action, and this link needs to go to a landing page saying “Thank you for remaining subscribed”. This is now your chance to collect updated preferences and set new expectations.
- You need to clearly state “If you do not click this link, we will no longer email you – you have 7 days till D day” (or something along those lines).
- After the desired time period, you need to run a segment or have a decision node in your program to find those who’ve not clicked the link – then whip those clients out of your account!
What to do with those becoming lapsed
Basically, do exactly the same as the above, except ensure that your processes are built into a marketing automation program. Set up your program so it pulls in wavering contacts on the day you think they’re in danger of becoming lapsed. For instance, it could be that you want to capture all contacts who’ve not opened your last 10 email campaigns. It’s at this point that you then send them your lapsed customer campaign.
One thing you need to be conscious of is how you treat the people who are enrolled into your program. It’s worth setting expectations like “If you choose not to stay, we’ll take you out of our marketing list in 7 days”. As it’s an automation program, remember to add in a ‘delay’ node or a ‘decision’ node that holds them for X number of days (i.e. however long you want to give them to take an action). Based on the link they click, send them down a lapsed path or a re-engaged path.
If you choose to exclude lapsed contacts from ‘business as usual’ emails, you should flag those contacts currently going through the lapsed journey and add them as an exclusion rule in your usual send segments. You can do this using the subscription node and enter them into a lapsed address book when they enter the program. Alternatively, you can use the ‘update contact’ node and update a data field to show they’re going through the journey, using the relevant address book or data field in the exclusion box. Please be aware that if they click the link to remain subscribed, you then also need to reverse this and update the field again, or remove them from the “going through lapsed” address book.
If you’ve managed to keep them then WOHOO! Make sure you capture their preferences and ensure you honour these options so you do not have to put them back into the program later. What you should be left with after this is a beautifully engaged pot of data, a far less risky email program, and much nicer email reporting stats!
The timeframes used above are simply for example’s sake. It does, and always will, vary business to business. The window changes off the back of what’s normal for your business, e.g. your offering and sales cycle, as well as your email sending habits.
If you send emails four times a month, then by 90 days they have ignored 12 emails; if you send once a month, they have only ignored three. So, it really is all about using your best judgement and finding balance between best practice and what’s appropriate for your brand. In general, I would suggest that your lapsed date falls between 90 – 180 days, but of course some will fall either side of this.
If you’re interested in other ways to keep your reputation and deliverability in tip-top condition, get a free copy of our deliverability guide.