To kill or cure? The curse of the email zombies
“In your head, in your head, Zombie, Zombie, zombie – ie- ie “
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You’re not gonna want to hear this, but …
Your email list is full of the walking dead.
You know the ones I’m talking about…Those subscribers with the non existent open rates, the non actions. They’re out there, deadly silent. lurking in the background and slowly sucking the life out of every email campaign you’ve sent.
Yup! you’re list is most likely full of zombies
But what are zombies?
Well, keep reading and I’ll define what exactly a zombie is, explore why they’re a problem, discuss how to deal with them and show you how to keep your zombies revived so they remain alive. Make sure you follow my tips and before long you’ll be breathing life back into your dead list once again.
So, what is a Zombie?
Ok, well let’s just clear up the obvious.
For starters, they’re nothing to do with the zombies portrayed in the popular Walking Dead series or Zombie Apocalypse movies that you may be familiar with.
However these Zombies do feed off email lists.
These Zombies are an infestation of people on your list who’ve been receiving emails from you for a while, but have lost interest. They’ve not unsubscribed but according to stats, have just stopped opening your emails.
They’re technically alive, but are in reality, they’re as dead as an unsubscribed person.
– and trust me when I say, they are a danger to the healthy portion of your list and can actually cause you harm.
Why are they a problem?
Once your subscriber list decays, having these people on your list impacts email deliverability. Lots of people not opening emails is a signal to the email account controllers, that your emails aren’t very good and should not be sent to the inbox.
Plus sending continued emails to dormant subscribers will earn you a reputation as a spammer which is a pretty rotten thing to have.
Also, on non-legacy accounts, Mailchimp charges based on your total contacts, which includes subscribers AND the unsubscribed.
So having Zombies is costing you money too.
Even though you want your Zombies to unsubscribe if they aren’t interested, you’re still going to be paying for them unless you archive them as well.
Zombie Attack Plan – Step 1: Define your Zombies
Each email lists’ definition of an email Zombie is going to be different. It will depend on your sending frequency and your product or service. It’s up to you on where you draw the line.
Typically, we look at anyone who’s been in our audience for over 6 months, but hasn’t opened any of our ongoing communication and has a contact rating below 2 stars. (you need to work on your own definition).
This will give you a number of ‘likely’ Zombies in your list… and once you know you’ve got them, it’s time to address why they turned into the living dead…
Why do Zombies go dormant?
You need to do an autopsy and diagnose the cause of death.
What was the reason for the lack of engagement? Repetitive or irrelevant content? Too many or not enough emails? If you can, discover the issue, correct it, adjust your marketing plan – then go from there.
…and thus avoid happy subscribers turning into Zombies in the first place – stopping it happening before it starts is the best way to avoid Zombies happening in the first place.
…but what happens if it’s too late and you’ve already got yourself an infestation?
Zombie Attack Plan – Step 2: Dealing with a Zombie infestation
Firstly, when dealing with a potential pack of Zombies, you need to realise that although they appear to be gone, there may be some good contacts hidden in their midst – because of the way Zombies are defined.
We use “opens” and “clicks” to indicate if someone is engaged… but if these are misreported or not counted, then someone might get misdiagnosed… which means the goal with dealing with potential Zombies is to contact them and give them two options:
They need to be either killed (unsubscribed) or cured (woken up).
As mentioned, continuing to send emails to recipients who show no signs of life will affect your deliverability, cost you money and much much more! So you need to confront the zombies head on and get them to identify themselves and make their own decision as to whether it’s worth receiving your emails or not.
There could be a ton of reasons why they’re not interacting with your emails and this could be the perfect opportunity for you to find out why by starting with a win back re engagement campaign.
This should preferably be a series of automated emails much like a welcome series.
Segment your Zombies with your predefined criteria i.e. not opened emails in the past 6 months, and draft up 3 – 6 emails to send over a set period of time.
Acknowledge that you’ve noticed the customer is disengaged but always give them the option to unsubscribe or stay. Remind the subscriber why they engaged in the first place and let them know that they are valued.
As part of your re engagement campaign you should also:
- Deliver something of value such as a webinar, whitepaper or blog post, just make sure it’s relevant to the subscribers needs.
- Ask the subscriber to update their contact information,
- Offer Customised subscriber preferences as it adds personalisation, allows you to be relevant, helps rebuild your relationship and shows you have empathy.
- Ask for feedback to find out what your customers want and what made them disengage.
- Consider split testing, experimenting with different subject lines, layouts, images etc to see what engages.
- Use a strong CTA.
…If they’re in, great… if they’re out, just let them go, they get unsubscribed from your audience…
…and then archive them.
Clear the walking dead!
We spend a lot of time growing our email list but one thing most of us forget is that when it comes to our subscribers, quality always comes over quantity. Email campaigns will perform better if you send to a smaller list of engaged people. So you’ll actually benefit from removing them.
If you want to learn more about the importance of a clear out, take a read of our blog here.
Zombie Attack Plan – Step 3: How to keep Zombies revived so they remain alive.
There’s no point in reviving those zombies if they’re just going to revert back again in a couple of months, costing you extra time and effort.
Follow the points below to avoid a deadly reinfection!
- Be consistent, send out emails on a regular basis
- Make sure you have a welcome sequence in place to keep customers engaged
- Take advantage of automation as much as possible
- Provide value to keep reviving your list
- Segment and be relevant
- Work on building a relationship with your subscribers
- Encourage feedback and take action on any received
- Don’t promise without delivering
- Hunt zombies on a regular and timely basis – then kill or cure
Remember, they may be dangerous and highly infectious, but having zombies on your list is not a lost cause.
Look at them as an opportunity to discover why your subscribers are becoming disengaged, a way to improve your deliverability, a chance to reduce your costs and adjust your campaigns. In fact, embracing your zombies can be the key to improving your overall marketing strategy.
If you want someone to help you with your Mailchimp account, whether it's setting it up, reviving it or just keeping it ticking over, don't be shy.
Cheesy as it sounds, Liz is the biz when it comes to Marketing. She's worked in Marketing for around 20 years when she went to uni and studied Multimedia Technology…That's where her love affair for all things Marketing began. Since then she has worked for household names such as Wickes, The Rank Group, Nuffield Health, Snappy Snaps and Marriot. Not to mention a great variety of B2B and B2c businesses and agencies.
Here at Chimp Answers she deals with all things Marketing focusing on the Content and Copywriting side of things such as Blog posts, Emails and landing pages. Liz is Certified in Direct-Response Copywriting, Google Digital Marketing Fundamentals,Hubspot Inbound Marketing,Hubspot Social Media and of course, Mailchimp Foundations.
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