Emailing to the Dead

On By - Engagement, Strategy, Subscriber List - Add Comment

It’s said the origins of Halloween are rooted in pagan and Celtic tradition, centuries before the holiday’s modern form of celebration. Known as “Samhain” (pronounced “SAH-win”), there are references to the holiday in the earliest forms of Irish literature. This was said to be the one day out of the year when souls could cross over from the Otherworld and inhabit the world of the living.

Samhain was viewed as a celebration, complete with feasts and parties. Families would welcome the spirits of their loved ones into their homes by setting a place for them at the dinner table. Children would go door to door asking for food in exchange for good fortune, which is the obvious precursor to trick or treating. Although some of these traditions have changed slightly, the fascination with the return of the dead still resonates in cultures around the world. From Dia de los Muertos to conducting seances, we as a people are enthralled with the belief that we can still communicate with the dead. Even as email marketers, we too try to communicate with the dead.

Have you ever tried to bring a long-dead email list back from the dark depths of the Underworld (of the internet, that is)? Surely, at some time or another you’ve neglected an email list, letting it die and slip away — But now you want it back. You try in vain to breathe life back into the dead list, hoping that you can re-engage your subscribers and communicate with them once again just like old times. You send offers, deals, and other goodies to try to lure them back to the world of the living, but to no avail. How do you resurrect your list?

First and foremost, start off with trying to revive an old list by seeing how many email addresses are still alive, kicking, and interested. Instead of sending an offer right off the bat, ease into getting to know your list again. Try using a drip campaign or reintroduce yourself to let your subscribers get back into the swing of things. If they’re forgotten who you are or what you’re all about, shoving an offer in their face after being neglected will not motivate them to respond. This is almost like starting back at square one, letting them get to know you, remember why they were interested in the first place, and slowly begin to build a relationship with you.

As you would with a human, keep an eye on the list’s vital signs when you’re trying to revive it. If you’re going about re-engagement the right way, you’ll begin to see open rates and clickthrough rates begin to pick back up. There may be some emails that are going to be dead, either because that subscriber no longer checks that email or because of deliverability issues. However, for those who are still receiving your messages, there’s hope in their inbox yet! Don’t bombard them with a ton of emails, but let them warm up to you through long-term re-engagement campaigns.

Take a look through your email lists and you’re bound to find one that was at one time very valuable to you but has since withered away. Take it upon yourself to see what you can to do bring that list back from the dead. You can maybe even piece together parts of multiple dead lists to create a thriving, engaged hybrid list. Just test, see what works, see who’s engaged, and keep trying. If Victor Frankenstein can do it, you can too!


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Answers almost everything with "for sure," enjoys craft beer, loves email, and is always good for a grammar pun. Wrangles content for WhatCounts.

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