The term "emotionally unsubscribed" as a way of describing the subscribers who do not interact with your emails for long periods of time seems to be making a comeback – unfortunately.
I first came across the term 2 – 3 years ago and I have never liked it, particularly when it comes to describing people who have given you permission to email them.
I dislike the term because:
1. I really find it hard to believe anyone is so disengaged with your program that they can’t be bothered to unsubscribe – it only takes a click!
2. It is a very negative way of looking at the issue of inactives and implies that it is a result of some kind of failing on the part of the person sending the email; a classic case of what I call fear and self loathing in email marketing.
With very few exceptions when it comes to sales and marketing, long term inactivity is perfectly normal. After all, how often do you actively interact with marketing communications of any kind from a car dealer, insurance company, estate agent, bank, consumer electronics retailer, hotel chain etc?
So why should email marketing be any different?
I prefer to call them Unemotionally Subscribed
Given that between 35% and 55% of your list will NOT have interacted with your emails for between 6 months and a year, I think that a better description is that they unemotionally subscribed – that is they do want to receive your emails, but don’t need your content or offer yet. They would prefer to ignore your messages until they are ready to buy, because it is easier than unsubscribing and having to remember your url or Google you at a later date.
We have gathered plenty of evidence of this phenomenon, from our deep dives into client data and here are some examples:
- £70,000 generated by subscribers who had not opened (downloaded images) or clicked on the previous 25 to 40 emails – it was a great offer.
- 10% of 2008 revenue generated by subscribers who did not open or click at all in 2007
- The most common or modal open, click or purchase frequency across every email audit we have ever conducted is 1.
The takeaway is simple. While some of those inactive addresses may be people who fit the emotionally unsubscribed description, the vast majority are unemotionally subscribed – they don’t need you – yet!
So don’t beat yourself up over the fact that they don’t feel compelled to read every email you send.