Are Your Recipients Tired? Look No Further Than List Fatigue: Part II

Ben Jenkins - 05.01.2009

Last month, I laid out some concepts to help nonprofit email marketers determine whether or not their email recipients are fatigued by too many emails. So, it’s been a few weeks and you’ve been working long hours to ensure your event communications are well planned and well executed.  Hopefully you’ve squeezed a bit of time into your schedule to research further into potential issues surrounding non-responders.  Follow me through the next few steps to create an action plan to put your findings to the test. 

Determine a path forward. 

Once you’ve hypothesized and determined potential root causes, you need to determine how you’ll move forward.  Can you segment these inactive subscribers based on what you’ve identified?  Can you build specific content for each segment that provides a more targeted action based on your analysis?  How often will you message to these individuals? 

  • Do some A/B testing to determine the most effective content to reach each segment
  • Look at ways to obtain additional profile information to help build relevancy for future emails sent to these recipients.
  • Create a simple, directed call to action for each email communication. 
  • Don’t try to do too much at once.  You want to re-ignite the relationship and then build the relationship moving forward.


Measure success. 

Are you still on track to reach your goals?  How does this trend across each segment and across the varied content you’ve tested? 

  • Developing a matrix to determine the overall success of different options tested will help you define trends for future fine-tuning
  • You may not initially see a positive ROI given the number of hours you’ve worked upfront to gather data but you’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting already


Fine tune your strategy, rinse and repeat. 

Continually monitor the overall success of this process and make adjustments where needed. 

  • At this point, you’ll have a much better understanding of what you need to do to re-engage non-responders and you should gain quite a bit of knowledge about what additional tweaks you can make to your overall campaigns to keep your recipients engaged thus reducing the non-response rate.  
  • Determine your ROI considering time spent, number of non-responders that are now active again, non-responders as a % of your total subscriber base, etc.


Finding a diamond in the rough will take some work through the development of an executable plan.  With some upfront legwork, you can successfully develop a process to handle these inactive recipients.  You will begin to see trends over time, and although these won’t be 100% accurate, they will help you to determine a manageable path forward.  Who knows? Your biggest acquisition might be from your own database.


Let me know how this process went for you and your organization. I’d love to hear your findings.


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