Stop Subscribers Ignoring Your Emails – Part 1

Author’s gravatar Becs Rivett Kemm | | Tips & Help | 17

Filter of subscribers who never opened or clicked

If you find that your open rate is declining over time, it’s time to action!

Of course, you should begin with first questioning why subscribers might not be enjoying your content and we’ll deal with that in future posts. And whilst you are looking at who is opening your emails, you should also pay attention to the people that have not read or clicked on your emails for a while, and make them decide whether they would still like to hear from you. This is known as reactivation.

So why should you take action on your list? Well, did you know that repeatedly sending to disengaged subscribers, can actually damage your deliverability to other subscribers? Yes, you read that right, it can potentially prevent your emails being delivered to the inbox of everyone on your list, not just the people who are not opening.

Just like in real life, once your credibility is damaged, it’s a lot more work to get back to where you were originally. Email service providers (ESPs), that’s the companies that provide you with an email account, give you a “reputation” based on how you act towards your subscribers, to ensure that you don’t start acting like a spammer.

With email marketing quantity is great yes, but if the quality of them is poor you are fighting a losing battle in terms of inbox delivery. There is no point sending to people who don’t open! So if you’ve had customers on your list for a long time and never done any housekeeping, now is a good time to make a plan as to how you’ll manage these inactive email recipients.

Deciding how long to give people to open one of your emails will vary depending on the frequency of your emails, but not opening for 6-9 months would be a reasonable amount of time.

1. Consider reducing the amount that you contact this group first

See if this makes any difference. If they respond, you could remove them from the list, or make a separate list of people to mail less frequently.

For example, if you send an email every week, send them an email once a month, for two months.

At the end of the two months, anyone that responded could go to a “less frequent mailing” list, or back into your main list. Anyone that still has not responded, we progress to the next stage.

2. Give them an offer they can’t refuse

This only applies if you are selling something, if not, skip to step 3. If you are using Mailpoet to contact e-Commerce customers, why not give them a special treat, to see if this will encourage them to open your email.

Make sure that the incentive is in the subject line e.g. “We miss you – 10% off your next order” or “It’s been a while – Free Post & Packaging”. When considering the offer, do try to make sure they actually were a customer previously (i.e. they actually bought something), otherwise it sounds a little weird.

If they have never purchased anything, try something like “10% off – can we tempt you?”. If they respond, take them off the inactive list.

3. The ultimatum

So you’ve still got some customers ignoring you? That’s ok, it’s always going to happen. It is human nature to keep ignoring our inboxes sometimes rather than unsubscribing.

But what if you were asked directly “Do you still want to hear from us?”, wouldn’t that make you sit up and decide?

It’s a good idea to remind them why it’s good to be on the list e.g. “Be first to hear about xxx” or “Keep up to date with everything that’s going on…” and ask them if they still want to stay. Give them a date which they need to respond by and let them know that if you don’t hear from them they’ll be removed from the list.

A “yes” button, or link, could go to a specially created page on your site just saying “Thanks, we’ll keep you on the list”, a “No”  button/link will be the unsubscribe page. Non-responders get unsubscribed too.

Email list maintenance should be done on a regular basis – every 6 months is ideal.

In Part 2, we’ll demonstrate how to set up your reactivation plan in MailPoet.


    Author’s gravatar

    I have been using The paid version of Mail Poet for a couple of Months now.

    I have sent out about 6 Newsletters since last month.
    I have 8,000 + subscribers…

    only 0.02 % open them……My last one…I got…2 opened, 3 clicked and 2 unsubscribed.

    I even used your spam checker link…

    Can you help me with this situation…

    Every email address is less than 3 months old.

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Santo

    Are you using an SMTP to send out your Mailpoet newsletters? If not, that could be why. Sending by default WordPress PHP mail can affect deliverability. I’ve found it is much better to use an SMTP when sending to a list as big as yours. Please contact support for help with this:
    Best wishes, Becs

    Author’s gravatar

    Thank you Becs, it was helpfull.

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Astrid,

    Thanks for your kind words!
    Best wishes,

    Author’s gravatar

    I’m not seeing the “Never opened or clicked” tab. Was the image created just for the post or this something that will be implemented.

    Presently I can’t see quickly who has or hasn’t opened the last 6 months of emails. Would be useful.

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Eric, this is a screenshot from a genuine user, everyone has this feature enabled. Did you go to the subscribers tab? If you still can’t see it, please contact support

    Author’s gravatar

    Hello Eric,

    From technical point of view, there are only 3 scenarios where you can not see the link “Never opened or clicked”; in other words, inactive subscribers. Here they are:

    – OR there is no inactive subscriber!

    – OR you have never sent to those subscribers. Please note that, an inactive subscriber is the person who received at least 1 newsletter and has never opened or clicked yet.

    – OR technically, your database user was not granted permission to create TEMPORARY tables. Contact your sys admin or our support guru to sort it out.

    Hope this helps!

    Author’s gravatar

    Hey Becs, thanks for the info… i don’t see the “Never opened or clicked” tab either… i am wondering if this is just for paid clients?

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Leah,

    Are you using the latest version of Mailpoet? The feature was introduced in July and is available on the free version! Also have you sent a couple of emails out already?
    Best wishes,

    Author’s gravatar

    The last time i contacted MailPoet they told me to go to the Beta Version and this is the version i am using
    and yes, i have contacted Mail Poet about another issue… some of my subscribers are not getting my daily email. i contacted GoDaddy just last evening and made one slight change. Today we will see if that made any difference. Thanks!

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Leah,

    You should get the latest full release one – I don’t know about the beta version but on one of my sites using Mailpoet I don’t have premium and I can see “not opened or clicked”.

    Hope you get things sorted :)

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi, thank you for that post.
    I have very good opening rates (around 40%) but I was thinking that people of my subscribers that never opened their mail were people that never received them even if they are said “delivered”.
    Is there something to do for that people or the only thing is to try as you advised (progressly canceling the inactives) in order to strengthen my reputation ? Any other suggestion ?

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Chris,

    Are you sending via default WordPress method or via SMTP? That will help to improve your deliverability. As you say, a 40% open rate is good. Of course, there are many other factors that will affect whether people want to open your email but if it’s the people that have never opened then try the smtp and reactivation route :)

    Author’s gravatar

    Thanks Becs, I already use the SMTP method. It’s quite frustrating to see people who subscribe and never open. I will try deleting inactive subscribers… and see ! Thanks

    Author’s gravatar

    It is frustrating yes, unfortunately even though when it says emails are delivered, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the email ever reached the customer. And also, some people just ignore emails rather than unsubscribe – that is annoying!

    Author’s gravatar

    Great article, Becs. We’re honored to have you as a guest writer.

    Regarding the time to wait before deleting your inactive subscribers, Jonathan of, recently said in a webinar:

    1. After 3 months of inactivity, try to re engage with inactive subscribers

    2. After 6 months, you can go ahead and delete them.

    This might be seem perhaps drastic, especially for those who only send a newsletter once a month.

    Therefore, I recommend to see what happens to your own subscribers after your first try at re engaging.

    Author’s gravatar

    Hello! This is a question I’m wondering since some time ago: when you manage several lists by topic, and people may subscribe to more than one of them… is there any simple way to know who are subscribed to several lists? any way to filter or order by amount of subscriptions?

    If not, can you consider this a feature request? :)
    It would help determine who are the most valuable readers across different lists..

    Best regards

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