Study: Many Brands Prematurely Stop Emailing Subscribers Who Are Still Active

Return Path logo Nov 2013According to a new study on email win-back programs conducted by Return Path, many marketers are giving up on their email subscribers too soon.

Analyzing 300 million email messages sent by well-known brands to over 100 million consumers, the study found the brands leveraging a win-back campaign, an email program designed to re-engage inactive subscribers, stopped sending emails to four percent of its subscribers even though 85 percent were not actually inactive.

From the study:

Approximately 12 percent of all win-back messages were read, typically within a few days of delivery. However, as many as 45 percent of recipients later engaged with the sender’s email program, taking an average of 57 days – nearly two months – to read additional messages.

Return Path created the following image to illustrate the time span between a conservative cutoff point and optimal point for engagement rates following a win-back campaign 30, 60 and 90-days out:

Return Path_Optimum Win-back Waiting Periods-2Return Path found email subject lines also greatly impacted the success of a win-back program, with phrases like “Miss You” and “Come Back” performing better than promotional offers.

The study discovered that waiting times for removing subscribers from lists differed depending on email service providers, “The findings show that mailbox providers’ definitions of inactivity, and their tolerance for inactivity before filtering messages, are different enough to necessitate customized win-back campaign formulas.”

As far as win-back campaign read rates between the leading email service providers, AOL had the highest read rate at 23 percent. The average overall read-rate was 14 percent, with Gmail subscribers at 16 percent and Yahoo subscribers at 15 percent.

The full report can be downloaded here: “Email Win-Back Programs: Everyone Recommends Them, But Do They Work?”

Related Topics: Channel: Email Marketing | Email Marketing | Statistics: Email Marketing


About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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