Re-engaging Inactive Subscribers

Measuring Engagement

Good email marketing is about more than maintaining and sending to a large, permission-based marketing list. While it is generally a good idea to get your content in front of as many people as possible, it is also important to monitor the level of engagement those recipients have with your content and, when necessary, trim down your marketing lists by removing inactive subscribers. This can benefit both your open/click rates, and with strong re-engagement efforts, actually increase the number of people engaging with your content.

Engagement is usefully measured by the ratio of opens and/or clicks over a period of time. After looking at 18,000 active marketing lists, Campaign Monitor breaks it down like this:


Open and/or Click frequency

% in average marketing list

Very Active

2+ times in the past 90 days



At least once in the past 30 days



At least once in the past 90 days



None in the last 90 – 180 days



None in the last 180+ days



None in the last 12+ months / Never


So, based on the above statistics, it is likely that your marketing lists contain a fair number of “Zombies” who have long since stopped engaging with your content (or perhaps never did!). Instead of continuing to send these people content that they will not engage with, it may be beneficial to send them a strong, targeted email asking them to confirm their continued interest in your content, and, if they do not reconfirm, remove them from your marketing list. As this is potentially your last communication with these subscribers, be sure that your re-engagement email includes your very best content, offers, or deals.

Identifying and Re-engaging Your Zombies

You can use Microsoft CRM’s Advanced Find feature to generate a marketing list that contains only a given marketing list’s Zombies. To illustrate, let’s say that you have a “Special Offers” static marketing list targeted at contacts that you know contains a number of Zombies. To generate a “Special Offers Zombies” list, you would follow the steps below:

  • Create a new static marketing list targeted at contacts, named “Special Offers Zombies.”
  • Click “Manage Members” and use the “Add Using Advanced Find” function to add all contacts who are members of the “Special Offers” marketing list.
  • Then, use the “Remove Using Advanced Find” function to remove all contacts who have a Click or Open Email Event that occurred in the last year (or whichever timeframe you decide is best).


Now you’re left with a marketing list that contains only those subscribers who have not engaged with any “Special Offers” content in the past year, and are ready to send your strongest re-engagement content to these subscribers. Once the recipients have had a chance to open and/or click on your content, simply re-run the above “Remove Using Advanced Find” on the “Special Offers Zombies” marketing list to remove members you have successfully re-engaged.

Finally, go back to your original “Special Offers” marketing list and use “Remove Using Advanced Find” to remove all members who are included in the “Special Offers Zombies” marketing list, and you will have successfully removed the truly “dead” subscribers from your “Special Offers” marketing list.

Happy marketing!

Written by Weston Packard, Marketing Success Manager at ClickDimensions


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