Study: Most retailers email inactive subscribers

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A majority of retailers continue to email subscribers who have been inactive for more than 40 months, according to a study released by email service provider Responsys on Nov. 17. The “Email Engagement and Deliverability Study” found that only 46% of retailers stopped mailing these inactive subscribers.

“Three years ago this wouldn't have been as big of a deal, but in the last couple years ISPs [Internet service providers] have put more focus on engagement metrics when determining whether to deliver emails and whether to deliver those emails to the inbox or junk folder,” says Chad White, research director at Responsys.

Email marketers are particularly susceptible to blockages during the holiday season because of an increased volume of marketing messages handled by ISPs, White said.

“It couldn't be more important [for marketers to address inactive subscribers] than going into the holiday season,” he said. “When you're blocked during the holidays, you are crying. It takes a lot of time and effort to get unblocked.”

The study examined the email marketing programs of 96 retailers over a 40-month period.

While 55% of retailers reduced the frequency with which they emailed inactive subscribers, 23% reduced frequency but continued to email inactives over the 40-month period. White said a bright spot among the study's “disappointing numbers” is that the retailers who reduced frequency shrunk how often they emailed inactives by 69% on average.

The study found that those retailers who stopped emailing inactives waited an average of 28 months to do so. Of those who stopped emailing inactives, only 16% sent an email notifying subscribers that they would be removed from a retailer's mailing list if they don't respond.

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