The Value of An Inactive Subscriber… And Other Email Data

February 16, 2016

MailChimp-Retail-Email-Subscriber-Behavior-Feb2016For retailers, inactive email subscribers “are still valuable customers,” reports MailChimp in an analysis of 6.6 billion sends through its platform that included 60 million e-commerce purchases and 40 million email addresses from retailers using its list segmentation and automation e-commerce features. Inactive subscribers were found to outperform non-subscribers across key metrics such as order frequency, retention rate and order value.

To arrive at its conclusions, MailChimp looked at purchases from the retailers it tracked and determined if those purchases had been made by active, inactive or non-subscribed customers. (The analysis appears to have been limited to e-commerce purchases as opposed to in-store also.) An email address was considered active if it had opened or clicked on an email in the prior 6 months, whereas an inactive address was one that had been sent a campaign but had not engaged with it.

Across the key retail metrics examined, subscribers (both active and inactive) proved to outperform non-subscribers. For example, they ordered 25-27% more frequently, spending 6-8% more than non-subscribers. (In each case, the higher figure actually applies to inactive subscribers.)

The retention rate was considerably higher for active subscribers, who were 38% more likely than non-subscribers to make a follow-up purchase. Nevertheless, inactive subscribers were 26% more likely than non-subscribers to make another purchase, another indicator of their value.

Subscribers accounted for about 45% of all the retailers’ revenue in the analysis, with 37% coming from active subscribers and another 7% from inactive subscribers. In other words, active subscribers accounted for 84% of subscriber revenue despite comprising a smaller share (61%) of recent recipients.

Overall, MailChimp says, in comparing revenues from active and inactive list segments across retailers, an inactive subscriber was worth almost one-third (32%) of an active subscriber. As such, MailChimp recommends re-engagement strategies as opposed to pruning inactive subscribers from lists.

What’s the State of Email?

In a separate study, GetResponse looks at current trends in email marketing via a survey of 1,831 email marketers around the world across various industries. The report offers up a host of data, some of which is highlighted below. (For the full results broken out by industry, download the study here.)

  • While 3 in 4 email marketers track opens and clicks for each send, a sizable share (15%) don’t track or review those metrics.
  • A smaller majority (53%) use tools to build their list and boost lead generation, though a large share (24%) again don’t manage their list and have no-one responsible for it. Fewer than 1 in 10 use progressive profiling to build customer profiles.
  • More than 4 in 10 (42% of) email marketers describe their targeting as “none – everyone receives the same message.” The next-largest share (37%) describe their targeting as basic – using 2-5 criteria, while only 4% use layered targeting that combines demographics with lifecycle position, activity level and lead scoring.
  • Respondents are more than twice as likely to be using 1-2 basic, mobile-optimized templates as they are to be using 1-2 basic, not mobile-optimized templates (66% vs. 26%).
  • Close to half report sometimes testing alternate subject lines, though one-third don’t proactively optimize their email marketing.
  • On average, email marketers send 5 emails per month, with sending frequency highest in the finance, banking and insurance sector (12.2) and lowest in the online advertising network (1.4) and consumer goods (1.5) industries.
  • Almost 3 in 4 respondents are using email automation, and a majority (58%) also personalize their emails. Other techniques such as social media integration (33%) and basic profile-based targeting (17%) have lower adoption, though adoption rates vary significantly by industry.
  • A majority of respondents will be increasing their email marketing budgets this year (in line with other research on budget trends this year), with budget enthusiasm highest in the affiliate network (70% increasing) and online advertising network (67%) sectors and lowest in the vacations/hotels/leisure (25%) industry.
  • A majority of marketers surveyed believe their email marketing ROI is either excellent or good, with retail/e-commerce and travel/transportation respondents among the most confident.

Desktops Still Rule in Email-Driven Conversions

Finally, in looking at B2C email activity throughout 2015, a recent study [download page] from Movable Ink shows that while mobile device are driving a greater share of email opens, most conversions still occur on a desktop.

Specifically, more than two-thirds (68%) of emails were opened on mobile devices, with smartphones alone accounting for a majority (52%) of opens. However, some 53% of the 1.4 million conversions tracked in 2015 across Movable Ink’s customer base happened on a desktop.


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