How do you know if email subscribers are active or not?

A common problem for senders is when a recipient will opt-in to receive their emails but after a certain period of time, these opted in emails do not make it to the mailbox. Worse, this leads to recently opted in addresses missing out on this senders emails as well. These addresses have opted in so what is the issue?

Monitoring engagement is the best tool in ensuring a good reputation as a sender. In the past few years, there has been a large push in determine whether emails will make it to the mailbox by past engagement with that sender. Popular receiving mailboxes like Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail all use engagement tracking to decipher for their users which emails to put in the spam folder, bounce, or allow passage to a user’s mailbox. Furthermore, many mailboxes now have the option to prioritize emails automatically so that there are two different categories of email; those deemed by the mailbox as important and those that aren’t. This is almost entirely determined by whether or not recipients click on their emails or even better, if they reply. This increases the ante for senders to send content that recipients will engage with.

Thankfully SendGrid provides a window into the problem. Senders are able to make use of the Event API which allows senders to know if recipients have opened and/or clicked on their emails. Lower tier plans can view this information under the Email Activity tab. With these tools, a sender can ensure that they are not sending to two major pitfalls: spam traps or recipients that are likely to acknowledge the email as spam. Sending to either of these recipients leads the receiving mailbox to believe that they are uninterested and therefore, begin to divert their emails to the unimportant or spam folders.

Monitoring engagement provides a sustainable solution to sending that leaves both the sender and the recipients better off. Once you have been monitoring, you are primed to take some action with the subscribers who have not been active recently. You can do this with a Reconfirmation Campaign.

What is a Reconfirmation Campaign?

In order to maximize your email deliverability it is important to keep your address list current and clean. A reconfirmation email, otherwise known as a re-opt in email, reminds clients you correspond with about your business (which can increase your inbound marketing), effectively cleans your lists with minimal impact to your deliverability, and prevents inadvertently spamming your clients.

Why Reconfirm?

As you opt-in your recipients, the email addresses provided to you initially may become obsolete. These addresses might become abandoned and eventually recycled or converted to spam traps. Or your recipients might simply become disinterested in receiving your emails.

This can cause problems for your email deliverability. Old addresses become undeliverable and subsequent sending will result in bounces. Recipients that have become disinterested are more likely to mark your mail as spam, especially if there is no easy opt-out method in the email.

To prevent these problems, we recommend using re opt-in messages. These emails remind your recipients of your services they once opted in, and politely ask for the recipient’s permission to continue sending emails.

How to Reconfirm

Send an email with two links: one link to re-opt in the recipient, and the other link to opt-out the recipient. If they do not explicitly opt back in with this email, their address should be removed from your list as this is an indication your recipient is not engaging in your emails. This could be a sign that you are sending to someone that does not care for your emails, or even worse, you could be sending to a spam trap.

If you are set up with SendGrid’s Event API, click and open events are an excellent way to track which of your users have been unengaged and might be the best targets for your reconfirmation emails. You can even make your reconfirmation emails specific to a particular segmented list if your address lists are set up in this fashion.

This approach is much more favorable than trying to clean a large old address list all at once. Sending to a 10-year-old list (or even a 3-month-old list) can produce a high bounce rate and cause your unengaged recipients to mark your emails as spam. Email service providers discourage this type of sending because of these results. Keep in mind, the older the list, the bigger the headache it will be to clean.

How Often Should We Reconfirm?

We recommend sending re opt-in messages to recipients if you haven’t corresponded with or otherwise interacted with via email in over 3 months. This may seem like a short duration, however, you might be surprised with how quickly your recipients can lose interest in your emails. Of course there are many types of businesses and this recommendation of 3 months is only a suggestion.

Ultimately, the more frequently you clean your address list, the less likely you will be to have deliverability problems related to old lists.