Don’t Ignore Inactive Subscribers on Your Email List

by on September 13, 2016 · 0 comments


Every email marketer is looking for engaged subscribers for their email marketing list. Engaged customers are far more likely to open your emails, read your content, visit your links and hopefully purchase a product or service from you.

For the purposes of this post, we consider an engaged or active customer is someone who has opened or clicked an email from you in the last 6 months.

Unfortunately, not every customer will remain engaged with your business after subscribing to your email list. If they remain on the list, but don’t interact with an email for 6 months, they can be considered inactive. This begs the question:

Should we remove inactive subscribers from our list?

In the past, the accepted practice was to remove inactive customers from your list. However, a recent study and article published by MailChimp argues this is no longer the best path.

The study found that “one inactive subscriber is worth 32% of an active subscriber”. This means that even when an inactive customer isn’t opening your emails and actively engaging, they are still receiving your messages and reading your subject lines.

The Value of Inactive Customers:

Here are some interesting statistics from the recent MailChimp study regarding the behavior and value of inactive customers. The data pertains to e-commerce websites and retailers with online purchasing. The numbers suggests inactive customers cannot be ignored.

Source: MailChimp

Source: MailChimp

  • 7% of revenue came from inactive subscribers
  • Inactive subscribers are 26% more likely to make a follow-up purchase than non-subscribers
  • Inactive subscribers spent an average of 8% more than non-subscribers
  • Inactive subscribers are worth 32% of an active subscriber

You can read all the findings of MailChimp’s study here:

Develop a Strategy for Inactive Customers:

Now that we understand the value of inactive subscribers, we need a way to effectively reach them. Here are a few steps that will help generate a plan for turning inactive customers into active, engaged customers.

  1. Identify your inactive subscribers. Knowing which customers are inactive is the first step in understanding how to engage them.
  2. Segment the inactive customers based on purchasing habits and other data.
  3. Generate content specific to your segments of inactive customers to re-engage them. Consider creating a drip campaign to send out targeted content over time to inactive subscribers.
  4. Try two variations of subject lines to inactive customers. A/B testing will help you refine your subject lines. Perfecting your subject line is vital as this may be the only thing an inactive customer reads.
  5. Including a coupon, promo code, online contest or other incentive can help to spark re-engagement.
E2W Pro-Tip: Find multiple ways to ask all of your customers to join your mailing list. Even inactive subscribers have real value.


We all want our email list to be full of active, engaged customers hungering for the next content or offer from us. However, inactive subscribers are a reality.

How you treat inactive subscribers can have real impact on your business, sales and customer retention. Don’t let the opportunity to re-engage them pass you by.

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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