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Reanimating The Dead Is Always Harder Than It Looks On TV

by mturk

(This is part four of a five part series on the Living Dead that infect your email list. You can read the whole series here.)

Your email list is full of the Living Dead – email addresses that don’t bounce, but never open, read, or respond to you.  Zombies are threatening your deliverability, driving up your costs, and threatening your job.

So what do you do?

Before you grab that shovel, axe handle, or baseball bat and start bashing Zs, you have to make an effort to reanimate some of the dead.  This should take the form of a reactivation campaign.  Try what you can to revive the undead before writing them off.

Your specific tactics may vary depending on whether you’re a corporation or a political organization, but they all boil down to getting the attention of, and fanning the interests of, your subscribers.

Everyone loves free stuff.

If you are in a position to offer some sort of tangible benefit to subscribers for affirming their participation in your list, by all means do it.  That could be a discount for commercial mailers, a bumper sticker or t-shirt for campaigns, whatever.  The idea is to get them to respond, and hopefully to provide a fulfillment address you may not have as part of doing so.

In turn, you now have better information than just the email address and zip code you asked for when they signed up.  You can use that information to connect them back to voter files or consumer data. The next message will be better targeted to the individual, and ideally they’ll stay engaged.

The Survey

If you can’t afford a premium, consider something that plays to their sense of personal value – ask for their opinion.

You would be surprised at how rarely email campaigns (especially in politics) ask for something other than money.  We’ve all received the “give me just $3” email.  A better tactic for non-donors is to ask them for something more valuable to them, their input.

Personal Appeals

One of the best reactivation emails I have seen was a personal note from the person sending these messages on behalf of the organization. It said they were fighting with their boss over his insistence to purge their list.  They were fighting to keep you on, but the boss was sure you would never reply and wanted to get rid of the dead weight.  The challenge? Prove the boss wrong.  Who doesn’t love sticking it to the man, right?

Whatever your tactics, do what you can to save your list.

If you aren’t already A/B testing your messages, start now.  Take a small subset of the Living Dead.  Come up with two or three variations of reactivation messages. Try them out, and see what gets you the best response.  Apply your best messaging to the larger mass of zombies and see how many you can save.

Being candid, however, I will tell you that much of your list will never be saved.

Once you have done all you can to reanimate the dead, it’s time to deal with the rest of the horde.