How to Save Your Deleted Relationships (Before It’s Too Late)

Posted by Samantha Sussberg on

No one likes being ignored, and I’m not just saying that because I am a 20-something female millennial living in New York City. Living here, I have become all too familiar with the term “ghosting.”

Quick vocabulary lesson: Ghosting (verb) the act of suddenly disappearing and halting all communication with the person that one is currently dating, but no longer wishes to see.

For the sake of relevancy, let’s adapt this new term to email: Ghosting (verb) the act of signing up for an email program or purchasing from the brand and then suddenly disappearing or halting all email interaction, specifically by deleting messages.

So when your emails are ignored, deleted, or “ghosted” by subscribers who you thought you had something special with it hurts. Duh. But the truth is that you are not alone.

Data time. On average, 1 in 10 emails is moved to the trash folder by subscribers, or in other words, deleted before they are opened. At the risk of sounding redundant, I am going to say that again to prove a point. Ten percent of your emails never even stood a chance in the inbox. See below the average delete without reading rate by industry from last year taken from our Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability report :

2016_05_20_17_18_43_blog__delete_without_reading___google_docs (1)

I know, not cool. But here is the silver lining: now that we recognize the issue, we can take the necessary steps to rebuild the relationship. Here are a few things to consider when attempting to rekindle the email flame:

1. Frequency
Let’s think about that person you are trying to date. Have you ever wondered if maybe you call or text them too often?  Now think about your subscribers. Is there a chance that you send them too much mail? If you answered yes to question #2, this could be a great opportunity to think about your email preference center. Giving subscribers who are a bit scared of commitment the opportunity to pick a frequency they are comfortable with, is a great way to help save the relationship. For more on preference centers, check out  Asking for Preferences – Yes, You Can Do It Too!

2. Win Them Back
Flowers and chocolates, an adventurous date, a romantic dinner, make them an offer they can’t refuse. This applies to your subscribers too, sometimes people just need a little creativity or even a thoughtful gift to come running back into your arms. A well executed win-back campaign will give those inactive (“ghosting”) subscribers a reason to re-engage with you, and help transform them back into customers. Some ideas for an effective win-back campaign include a personalized message, a witty tagline, or a promotional incentive. See below for a great example from Lands End.
2016_05_20_17_19_30_blog__delete_without_reading___google_docs (1)

3. The Ultimatum
Sometimes you just need to say what’s really on your mind. The only way to know for sure if someone is interested or not is to come out and ask them the question. Think of this as the “hey are you still there?” text. Sending one final re-engagement email to subscribers gives them one last chance to say ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ before you remove them from your list and end the relationship for good. Below is a great final contact example from Benefit Cosmetics. They do a good job staying true to their brand identity while asking for another chance:

2016_05_20_17_20_11_blog__delete_without_reading___google_docs (1)

Bonus: Deliverability
I know all of these suggestions are great, but how do you plan to save your deleted relationship if your messages never reach the inbox? Take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Email Deliverability to help answer this question.

Until next time folks, I wish you success in saving all of your ghosted relationships.


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About Samantha Sussberg

Sam is an Account Coordinator at Return Path in New York City. Her goal is to build great relationships and RP value with clients to be an advisor for all things email. She enjoys researching marketing industry trends, and learning about client strategies to help them optimize their email program. Outside of work Sam can be found exploring the city, eating peanut butter, running, or petting every dog she sees on the street.

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