The Goal of Sunsetting

Today’s guest post comes from Steven Lunniss, Deliverability Lead for Cordial. Steven is a seasoned email marketing expert with over 15 years of experience – including six years working with top email service providers as well as nine years client-side.

The goal of sunsetting is to focus your resources on engaged subscribers and maintain a healthy email list. As part of a “subscriber lifecycle strategy” methodology, it helps to boost deliverability success (and inbox placement) by boosting your engagement metrics. You’re boosting those engagement metrics by suppressing subscribers who aren’t engaging.

It's important to strike a balance between re-engagement efforts and the need to remove those unresponsive subscribers – you want to maximize engagement but not at the cost of throwing away live subscribers.

How to properly sunset your inactive subscribers:

  • Define Inactivity Criteria: Determine what qualifies as "inactivity" for your specific business. It could be a certain period of time (e.g., six months) since the subscriber's last engagement or a specific action, such as not opening or clicking any emails within a defined timeframe.
  • Segment Inactive Subscribers: Segment your email list to identify inactive subscribers separately. This allows you to target them specifically with a sunsetting campaign or strategy.
  • Sunsetting Campaign: Create a dedicated email campaign to re-engage inactive subscribers before removing them from your list. Craft compelling subject lines and content that aim to reignite their interest and encourage them to take action. Offer personalized incentives or exclusive content to entice their engagement.
  • Monitor Engagement: Track the results of your sunsetting campaign to evaluate its effectiveness. Measure open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to assess re-engagement success. Use this data to refine your future strategies.
  • Data Hygiene: Regularly clean and update your email list to remove inactive subscribers. This practice helps maintain a higher deliverability rate, improves engagement metrics, and ensures you're targeting an interested audience.

Done properly, this process helps you maximize interactions and engagement, providing positive reputational indicators to various mailbox providers (especially Gmail and Microsoft).

Don’t worry about Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) when defining inactivity segmentation – though MPP negatively affects open tracking accuracy, the data is still useful in this case.

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