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Rule #17 – Be a Hero

by mturk

(This is the final installment in a five part series looking at the living dead that infect your email list. You can find the whole series here.)

So now you have run your reactivation campaign. You have saved all you can from the zombie apocalypse.  It’s time to deal with the horde – that stubborn subset of the living dead who refuse to engage.

Selling your boss on the idea that you want to stop mailing 50% of your list may be a daunting challenge.  He loves that “two million” number more than life itself.  How do you convince him it’s just not worth it?

In the soon to be classic movie Zombieland, our hero, Columbus, lives by a set of rules. One of the most important of these is number seventeen – don’t be a hero.  Without giving the story away, he’s forced to reconsider that.

Similarly, you should see it as your job to be the hero.  Here’s how you do it.

First, you should keep those addresses in your database. Make sure they can be easily suppressed from regular mailings, but stop sending them mail on a weekly basis.  This will afford you two nifty benefits.

The first benefit is saving money that could be better used elsewhere. You can mail them occasionally as new ideas for reanimation pop into the brains they are no longer munching on.  You may think of a creative way to reach them.  Go back once a month with a message to draw them in. If they make up half of your list, and you mail weekly, you’re still reducing your monthly costs by 37.5%.  Multiply that by 12 months and you have a good cost justification you can give your boss.

The other benefit is you can still count them as “registered” subscribers.  Your boss can still cite them as part of the “two million supporters” he likes to throw around because they still get mailed regularly. However, your mail reports will no longer include the dead weight. Your open, click-through, and conversion rates should rise significantly.  Your boss will see numbers that are consistent with “active” supporters.

If you can convince your boss to raise your acquisition budget equal to what you are saving on mailings, you can also focus on attracting more active supporters, rather than spending that same money on the undead.

The net benefit to you is significant.

Your organization saves face by not having to lower its reported list size. You have freed up resources for new acquisition (so the organization doesn’t have to find the budget for it). Your success metrics are more in line with reality, and not bogged down with Zs. Finally your ISP is no longer suspicious and your messages sail through with few deliverability issues.

You have done yourself and your employer a favor, and saved the world from the ravenous appetites of the Living Dead.  Go pour yourself a cold drink and enjoy life among the living…  just be sure to keep that cricket bat handy.  You never know when you will need it again.