Reactivate dead subscribers with the CEO Technique .... use sparingly for incredible returns :
Nothing is more frustrating in email marketing than having acquired a substantial list of customers, only to then reluctantly accept losing a massive portion of them due to disengagement.
Unfortunately, this is necessary if you want to protect your deliverability - most of the time.
Most marketers are aware that sending to their whole list will destroy their sender reputation and damage their relationships with subscribers.
At best, the returns are menial. At worst, you are categorised as a spammer and blacklisted.
Thus, emailing engaged segments the overwhelming majority of the time is a must to ensure your reputation with the ISPs remains strong.
However, this is often frustrating for stakeholders as they will question the logic of abandoning often tens of thousands of subscribers.
And while this is generally due to a lack of education on the technicalities of how email works, they do have some legitimate concerns about giving up on disengaged subscribers entirely.
What do you do when you encounter this scenario? We use what I call “The CEO Announcement Technique”.
The CEO Announcement Technique
The CEO Announcement Technique is used to deliver important announcements to subscribers on key events happening within the company. It can be used to announce:
- Key sales events imminent within the company to prepare subscribers to take action
- Company changes that may affect the existing customers
- Commentary on events happening in the wider world beyond the business (we saw this a lot with Covid & BLM protests in the last year, and although I wouldn’t recommend exploiting those opportunities solely for this purpose, they are scenarios where the CEO may have input)
Essentially, the CEO is going to want to create a plain text email and aim to notify as many subscribers as possible on the list.
Why plain text? Simple: the goal is to maximise delivery rates and accessibility with this email, and I’ve found from experience that plain text works best for this.
Let’s take the first example mentioned above and look at a preview at what this may look like:
As you can see, the messaging is very basic and focused on delivery.
The next thing you’ll want to amend is your Sender Name. Rather than sending from ‘Monster Toy Company’, you would want to change this to something like the following:
The Subject Line should allude to the fact that the CEO is writing the message.
For some reason, people just tend to notice when the CEO wades in with something to say. It may seem a bit pretentious, but if it’s sincere, it works, which is why we do it.
The Sending Strategy
Once you’ve crafted your message, you’ll want to create a sending strategy that will maximise inbox placement.
The levels of granularity you can go here are quite astounding. You can separate by engagement via ISPs (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc), or use generalised engagement tiers. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use some basic engagement tiers in this example, although I do implore you to go as granular as possible for best results in your own company.
We’ll break this down into three separate sends. The theory here is to warm the ISPs up so by the time the next batch of emails is sent, our inbox placement will be solid and not end up in the spam folder.
Here’s how we typically approach it.
Segment 1: Engaged within 60 Days (opened or clicked email twice)
Segment 2: Engaged within 120 Days (opened or clicked once within 120 days)
Segment 3: Engaged within 365 Days (opened or clicked once within 365 days)
Here’s a schedule you can follow:
- Segment 1: send at 8:00 am
- Segment 2: send at 11:00 am
- Segment 3: send at 4:00 pm
At the end of the day, you should have significantly brought back a significant volume of previously disengaged subscribers into your engaged segments without causing great harm to your sender reputation.
WARNING: make sure to still exclude hard or frequently soft bounced emails over all time from this strategy and to also exclude each segment you’ve already sent to with each subsequent send (i.e. don’t resend to people who overlap in Segments 2 & 3 you’ve already emailed in Segment 1).
This is something that should be used sparingly from time-to-time and certainly not become the norm for any sender.
The CEO technique isn’t something that can be abused with every send, and if you develop a dependency on using it, you’ll condition your subscribers to start ignoring all future correspondence from you which will diminish the effectiveness of the technique.
However, for occasional sends, we’ve found this to be effective once a quarter to bring back old subscribers into the fold. We hope it works for you too!