6 Steps to More Engaged Subscribers
Takeaway notes from a DMNews webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data

In “The New Email Imperative: Subscriber Engagement” webinar on May 20, Loren McDonald of Silverpop insists email marketing in not dead. However, bad marketing is on life support. In this sense, subscriber engagement becomes imperative.

Step 1: Give subscribers a stake in the relationship. If there’s no data, there’s no relevance.

Target communications based on age
• Under age 26 targeted
- age centric subject line
- sent to recipients under 26 years
- open rates around double average open rate

• Mailing for the over 50 crown
- targeted discount offer
- open rates 75% above average open rate

Preference center touch points
• At opt-in
• Welcome email
• Normal email stream
• Transactional emails
• Web site/transactional process
• At opt-out

Step 2: Welcome emails—Start the relationship right away.

Research by marketing publisher Marketing Sherpa shows mail subscriber interest begins to disintegrate as early as two weeks after the opt-in, as measured by the open rate. Within two months, the open rate typically falls 20% to 25%.

Welcome Emails: Goals and purpose
• Goals
- speed up conversion
- minimize list churn
- strengthen brand perception
- reduce inactivity

• Purpose
- educate subscriber
- reward/incent
- instill/reinforce trust
- enable immediate “email experience”
- provide administrative information

Step 3: Make it human—use personality. Customers want a personal note, not a direct marketing promotion. More than ever, customers want to connect with brands via real people (think Twitter).

Step 4: Get them involved. Ratings, popularity, top sellers, most read articles, top 10 albums, top springtime recipes, etc. Social email is the new rival.

• Are your messages share-worthy?
- are you a trusted source?
- tribal interests—what motivates your interest groups?
- simplicity of message
- ease of sharing
- obvious value
- timely and relevant content

Step 5: Use the data and create value through additional email streams. Use relevancy based on purchase data.

• Cart Abandonment implemented a cart abandonment reminder campaign. Compared to previous email campaigns they tried, they saw big results after only one month.
- 48% lift click through rate
- 129% lift in net conversion rate

• Break through the clutter with new message streams
- triggers
- notifications
- alerts
- reminders
- aggregators
- updates
- closeouts
- …and more

Step 6: Don’t let them disengage or walk away.

List Churn and Inactives—The Good and Bad News
• The Bad News
- A typical list will lose 1/3 of its members each year. (Bounces, spam complaints, and unsubscribers account for 2-4% per month).
- 25% to 80% of your list is inactive. (Subscriber has not opened or clicked in specific time frame of 6 to 12 months).

• The Good News
- Churn can be reduced
- You control most of your destiny
- Some inactives can be reengaged

It’s hard to get people back once they’ve unsubscribed, so ask for feedback on how you’re doing or create a ratings system within a survey. Also, promote alternatives to unsubscribing. Offer email preferences on your unsubscribe page.

---Source: DMNews May 20, 2009 webinar ( Loren McDonald is the VP of Industry Relations for Silverpop. Reach him at










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