Zeta Blog

Don’t Stop Emailing: When it’s OK to Email “Disengaged” Customers

Posted by Viney Qazi on March 19

Email deliverability experts advise that it’s a best practice to remove addresses from your email list after a certain amount of inactivity. Even in my last blog post, I discussed avoiding list fatigue by not sending to non-engaged recipients. This is beneficial for a number of reasons­. Most importantly, having a list full of disinterested recipients not only hurts your wallet, but can negatively impact your company’s sender reputation and deliverability. For plenty of businesses, this best practice is useful. However, in other industries, it is not only justifiable to extend the shelf life of your email database, but highly recommended.

A key step to identifying what email marketing best practices suit your company is to determine what kind of product/service you are offering and the level of engagement you can reasonably expect to see after an interaction with a typical customer.

For instance, in retail marketing, it’s in your best interest to remove contacts that haven’t made a purchase or opened an email for 12-18 months.  A customer’s level of commitment, financial or otherwise, is relatively low, being disinterested/disengaged is a good sign that this is somebody you don’t want on your database.

On the other hand, for travel and hospitality marketers, the level of engagement expected after an interaction is low. For the most part, travelers aren’t booking vacation packages every couple of months and when they do, it’s not a decision they make lightly. The level of commitment here is much higher; it’s expected that customers who have just booked a vacation package or stayed at your hotel recently to be relatively disengaged for a considerable amount of time.

As a result, keeping such a contact on your database for longer is justified, as it might actually be more detrimental to remove clients from your list than to intentionally target unengaged customers.

By using segmentation and relevant and personalized messages, targeting disengaged customers could provide much-needed additional revenue that wouldn’t have been possible had you eliminated them from your database.

Examples of industries that might not fit in with conventional email marketing wisdom are:

1) Insurance: Let’s say a prospective customer signs up for emails, but ultimately goes with a different company. This means they’ll most likely be inactive for a long period of time, but it doesn’t mean you can’t email them in one year around the time they would be re-evaluating their contract. 

2) Seasonal stores (Halloween and Christmas stores): Customers are only engaged during the specialty season. When this season comes along the next year, don’t hold emails back just because a customer wasn’t engaged during the rest of the year.

Marketing efforts sometimes clash with deliverability best practices, but as seen in these examples, that doesn’t always have to be the case. If you have a chance to re-engage, don’t stop emailing!


-Viney Qazi is Zeta Interactive’s Director of Deliverability with over 12 years of experience in email delivery. He sets direction for Zeta’s deliverability strategy and issue resolution. Viney maintains Zeta’s email reputation by holding industry relationships and personal contacts with deliverability professionals around the world.

For more information about Zeta Interactive, the Zeta Hub platform, and/or deliverability services, please email zetahub@zetainteractive.com or call 857-246-7629. 

Topics: Email Marketing, Online Marketing

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