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To quote the Lion King, it’s the circle of life. Or the lifecycle of customer engagement if you prefer email terminology. Every contact in your database is in a different stage of this lifecycle, whether a new subscriber who’s eager to learn more, or an older one that is very familiar and engaged with your brand.

But how do you deal with those contacts that fall into the black hole of your database? Those contacts that aren’t bouncing so they’re definitely still active but just not opening your campaigns. This subscriber data may be tired and out of date, or your contacts may have lost touch with your brand.  Your database can decay at a rate of 20% per annum so make sure you don’t lose your valuable contacts over time.

Not every contact is lost to the black hole, though. There are various ways to optimise your campaigns in your database before things get dark.

Here are some pointers on how to segment your database.

The ‘Bounces’

Make sure to keep an eye on and regularly evaluate your hard bounces. These records may be bouncing for a number of reasons: the user no longer exists, the domain is invalid or the inbox of the recipient is full. Repeatedly sending to these addresses can be detrimental for your deliverability and costly to your business. Separate these records from your main communications list by using an automated data cleansing process.

The ‘Stuck in a Rut’

Once upon a time when they signed up, they were eager to receive communications. But they have since faded into an unengaged audience. Attempting to send to contacts that haven’t engaged with a campaign in the last 12 months can be detrimental to your deliverability, especially because of spam filters which look for a high level of engagement as an indicator of good content and sender reputation.

Use a re-engagement campaign as part of your data cleansing process to identify email addresses that are still active. Make sure you send this campaign to small lists at a time and simultaneous to larger launches to minimise its effects on your reputation.

Keep in mind your customer lifecycles and context for what your organisation would define as inactives. But know when to call it a day by regularly suppressing any contacts from your mailing list who just aren’t meeting your criteria, to ensure your database is in tip top shape.

The ‘Quiet Ones’

You may not hear from them every day and they may go quiet for a while. But send them a campaign with incentives or the latest deals and they will come out of the woodwork. Simply building that brand presence in their inbox, even if they don’t open or click, could be an influential factor in determining future behaviour.

Try using a preference centre to gather more information about these contacts. It may be that you’re not sending them the most targeted content or they only want to receive the monthly rather than weekly newsletter. But you won’t know unless you ask!

The ‘Uber Engaged’

These contacts are your most engaged, opening and clicking the majority of your email campaigns and willing to shout about your brand. Try experimenting with the frequency with which you email these contacts. As long as you have relevant content and not consistently pushing a sales message, your brand presence in their inbox remains powerful. Bear in mind the Pareto Law, commonly known as the 80:20 rule; that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your database.