When Recognition Can Play a Nasty Trick on You

One of the best email marketing practices says that the recipient must immediately recognize our emails in their Inbox. Good email marketers follow this practice and use various sender recognition elements in the email such us constant individual’s or company’s name as the Sender name, brand name in the Subject line, company logo at the top of the email that displays in the preview pane, habitual email template design and colors. All of this lets the recipient instantly know that the message is from you. Sender recognition leads to the email open provided the recipient is interested in what you send. So far so good.

But what about those who lost the interest in your mailings? Some people unsubscribe, others don’t for whatever reason and simply delete your emails as soon as they see them in their Inbox. The recognition plays against you in this case. Why should you care about it since they don’t like what you send? Because it may play a nasty trick on you if you send a re-activation email to them trying to revive their interest. Your efforts are equal to zero.

So, if recognition works against us, should we change something in our email campaigns and try things that we would hardly do when emailing to active recipients? On my opinion there is nothing wrong with trying something different on your inactive readers. If it makes them unsubscribe, it’s better for you as you clean your list from the “dead” wood. If they continue to not react, you lose nothing.

If you fear to deviate from the “best email marketing practices” and spoil your sender reputation, keep in mind that those practices are best for active recipients. For inactive readers, they may turn into “bad practices”.

So, what can you change in your email campaigns to try to re-engage inactive readers? Think about this:

  • Change the email format from HTML to plain text, or vice versa
  • Change the From name [make your From field show only the email address]
  • Do not put your company name or your name into the Subject line
  • Change email sending frequency [reduce or increase it considerably]
  • Change your email sending time

Once again, different email tactics do not mean bad tactics because we are not saying that you should do something unethical, silly or illegal. Do not forget about recognition elements completely. People still need to know the email is coming from you. If your From field contains only the email address, make sure you use the friendly email address from your domain in order not to generate spam complaints from your recipients.

Also, remember that all efforts to re-activate inactive subscribers are doomed to failure if you don’t identify the reason why they ignore your emails and don’t address it.


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Many who are new to email marketing start off on the wrong foot. They ‘spray and pray’ and hope that someone will click and buy, but are hit with angry complaints and find their emails blocked as spam.

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