Lionel Richie asked this question (well sort of) back in the ’80s, with his heartstring-tugging hit song Hello.
And you could ask the same question of your subscribers. You know, the ones who haven’t opened one of your mailings in a while. Or the ones who haven’t engaged with you in a way that shows they’re still interested.
Let’s go back in time to when you first started collecting addresses and sending emails. I’ll bet the numbers were great. Lots of people were consistently opening and engaging with your mail and – better yet – they were spending money! Now, those same subscribers that made your list productive and profitable are no longer engaging with your mailings. At best, they’re just taking up space in your list and, at worst, it’s costing you money to keep them there.
So, if it’s been a long time since you mailed to certain addresses, or since a particular subscriber has opened any of your messages (and most senders agree that 12-24 months is a long time), you should consider sending a little something called a reconfirmation campaign.
A reconfirmation campaign does exactly what the name implies. It provides a way for subscribers to remain on your list by opting in again (that would be the reconfirmation part). It also gives them the opportunity to unsubscribe if they wish. Most ESPs will indicate subscribers that choose to opt in as “confirmed” addresses. If the recipient chooses to unsubscribe, or if they take no action, their status will show as “opted out” or “unsubscribed”, and they will no longer receive any emails you send.*
As you can see, a reconfirmation campaign is an easy way to make sure that the subscribers on your list actually want to be there, and that they are still interested in hearing from you.
These campaigns can help you clean up older lists, or lists that are not getting the delivery rates, opens, or clicks that they used to. They can also benefit your list if you’re noticing an increase in complaints, as this can be an indication that some subscribers don’t want to receive your messages anymore.
It’s important to make sure that older addresses with no recent engagement are purged from your list. These addresses may be considered abandoned or invalid, which means that they could be repurposed as a spam trap by the ISP, or they could be purchased by a blacklisting service to be used as a spam trap.
These things can cause serious issues for your email marketing account, including deferment of your mail by ISP’s, blacklisting complaints against your own domain, and possible termination of your account by your ESP.
So now that you know why you should run a reconfirmation campaign, how should you do it?
First, I suggest you use the campaign to remind the recipient why they joined your list in the first place. You could also use it to show these subscribers how valuable they are to you with an exclusive special offer.
If you want to find out why people have stopped engaging with your mail, you could send a survey to that effect. Publish the results on your site and, most importantly, change your mailings to reflect the feedback you received.
Is there any downside to running a reconfirmation campaign?
The short answer is yes. Some sources state that you could lose up to 50% of your list members when you send a reconfirmation campaign. This is because you have to move the selected addresses to a sort of “limbo” within your email marketing account. Many ESP’s won’t send mail to these addresses, until and unless the subscriber opts back in and is added to your list as a confirmed member.
My “glass half full” outlook on this is that, while your list may be smaller in terms of the number of addresses, it will be a stronger, healthier list of subscribers who truly want to receive your messages and will actively engage with you as a result.
Your mailing list is really a living part of your organization. Keeping it healthy, fit and trim is important, even critical, to your business. And sending a reconfirmation campaign is one way ensure you’re staying on track!
*Any address that unsubscribes for your mailing list should be purged from any accounts you may have with any other ESP’s, as well as from your own files. You can’t contact addresses that have been unsubscribed from your list via any electronic means. The only way you can mail to them again is if the address holder opts back into your mailing list.