The holiday season is coming to a close, and hopefully, the months spent planning made it a successful one for you. Nothing is more festive than seeing your year-end goals met. But with all of the attention on the magical marketing momentum of the holidays and the positive sales results, it can be easy to overlook some of the more mundane data that can actually help you find success in the new year and streamline your marketing efforts throughout 2016.
Before you dig into the data though, it’s crucial to take a close look at your subscriber list. With the flurry of activity in these final few months of the year, you probably gained a lot of new subscribers and saw some great interaction from return customers. But you can likely also find subscribers on your list who tuned out well before the holiday hype and haven’t engaged with you at all. Before you can turn all that newfound data into personalized messages, you need to identify those subscribers who are dragging your performance down.
You don’t need to remove every inactive address, but you do need to gain a better understanding of when and why subscribers become disengaged. Finding the answer will improve the accuracy of your reporting, help you target shoppers more effectively based on their level of engagement and reveal which acquisition efforts will give you the best (or riskiest) return.
Here are four steps to analyze your acquisition efforts and build a program to rekindle the spark in 2016.
Define Disengagement and Inactivity Thresholds
Start by looking for subscribers who have not opened, clicked or purchased in the past 30, 60 or 90 days. You may need to extend or shorten these ranges based on your brand’s typical buying cycle. Then look for initial spikes and dips based on these constraints, and go a step further by layering subscription date into the criteria. There may be a correlation between duration on the list and a decline in engagement.
Rather than classifying everyone as inactive, consider using two degrees of inactivity. Classify the first signs of fading interest as disengaged. This distinction gives you a chance to jolt these subscribers back into your program before they’re too far gone. The other classification is truly inactive. These folks have simply done nothing for a long time and might be worth one last attempt to get them back before you officially remove them from your list.
Audit Acquisition Sources
As you start to define your re-engagement segments, determine where the subscribers originated. Audit acquisition sources, such as opt-in forms on your site, social pages, in-store or contents and sweeps. You’ll probably find that certain sources produce valuable, long-term subscribers, while others (looking at you, sweeps!) just add bloat. These insights can help you determine how to optimize your acquisition strategies in the new year, which could mean dropping certain acquisition efforts altogether or perhaps improving the way addresses are captured in your stores.
Write a Re-Engagement Narrative
Now that you know more about your unengaged subscribers, develop a series of emails to help them rediscover your brand. You might choose to use a friendly, subtle approach with your disengaged subscribers. Think “We Miss You!” or “Was it something we said?” But you may want to take a more formal, direct strategy with your inactive subscribers. Think “We want you back” or “You will stop receiving our emails.” Also, consider using an incentive to get them back in the buying mood.
Automate the Re-Engagement Series
Once you’ve built your re-engagement narrative, automate the series to space the sends out over time and remove subscribers who re-engage with you from additional sends. Map out your cadence so that the series doesn’t last too long, and consider testing variations to find the right mix. You may consider suppressing other emails while the series is in progress.
Once you’ve finished marveling in the success of your 2015 holiday marketing genius, it will be time to buckle down and get on with your 2016 plans. Improving your awareness of subscriber engagement and attempting to regain subscribers who are losing interest is a great way to step into the new year.
Jim Davidson is Head of Research for Bronto Software.