Defining the Unengaged Subscriber

We’ve been talking a lot lately about unengaged subscribers. It seems the whole email marketing industry has. But then someone asked the question, how do you decide when a subscriber is unengaged? And we realized that question needs addressing!

As with so many things email, this question has no set answer. It is something your organization will need to decide…and decide you should because it’s not until you can recognize that someone is unengaged that you can act to re-engage.

Work with your team (and your email marketing consultant if you have one) to determine when a subscriber is unengaged: Is a subscriber unengaged when the last 15 emails have not been opened? Or after so many emails with no click through? Is it time-related, perhaps measured by inactivity lasting 3, 6, 9 or more months?

Remember that new subscribers tend to be enthusiastic about your brand—and receptive to your emails—in a way the longer-term subscriber no longer is. Think through what happens with that longer-term subscriber and where the interest starts to wane. Track your metrics for a while and see if you can tell when disinterest usually starts.

Then work with your email marketing consultant to implement a re-engagement campaign.

You’ll also find useful information in the Marketing Sherpa paper on Segmenting Your Email Lists for Better Results because it addresses treating inactive subscribers as a segment.

Need an email marketing consultant to help? Call on ClickMail!

Published On: July 9th, 2012Categories: Email marketing best practices

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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