Does your email marketing program have a sunset policy?

  • Categories:

    Marketing Automation

  • Date:

    January 27, 2022

Does your email marketing program have a sunset policy?

Marketing Automation

Your email inbox tells a story: Where you live. Where you bought supplies for your latest home renovation project. Which design trends you added to your Pinterest board. How a landscaper transformed your backyard. When your new skylights will be installed.

It’s almost as if a stranger could understand your life story just by scrolling through your messages. But your inbox alludes to another kind of story, too: whether the companies that contact you have a solid email marketing strategy … or a shaky one.

Unless you have the world’s tidiest inbox, chances are you receive a fair amount of graymail. “Graymail” describes emails that you opted in to receive but never engage with (open or click). You may be thinking, “What’s the harm in continuing to email disengaged contacts? Maybe they’ll take action one of these days.” But repeatedly sending emails to disengaged contacts can leave a real blemish on your brand in the email universe.

Luckily, you can combat this problem by implementing a sunset policy.

Sending graymail lowers your sender score.

By continuing to send email to contacts who don’t open or click, you may lower your sender score and decrease overall deliverability. This is true regardless of your email service provider or customer relationship management platform. Keep in mind that a low sender score increases the likelihood that your emails will land in your recipients’ spam folders, even if some of those recipients gave you permission to email them or previously engaged with your sends.

Worst of all? This decreased sender score will lower your ability to reach even those recipients who frequently engage with your emails.

This is why so many companies have adopted a sunset policy as part of a comprehensive email marketing strategy.

A sunset policy may improve your overall email metrics.

A sunset policy is a personalized plan of action that guides how you will manage disengaged contacts who are no longer opening your marketing emails. It establishes:

  • Your criteria for a disengaged contact

  • How long a disengaged contact should continue to receive your emails

  • How to manage disengaged contacts

In the simplest terms, your sunset policy triggers the removal of certain contacts from your email database. This plan may seem counterintuitive at first glance. We all want more — more revenue, more clicks, more opens and more marketing qualified leads. But that hard-won marketing qualified lead (MQL) that isn’t serving you now may be hurting you.

If the very thought of deleting a contact from your database makes you sweat, never fear: Contacts that are sunsetted can reenter the database through a strong inbound marketing strategy, such as a gated download on your website that you promote via LinkedIn. Consider it extra motivation to reach the right prospects, in the right places, at the right times. Meanwhile, by cleaning up your list and improving your sender score, you can focus your efforts on those contacts who are most likely to engage and deliver on your investment in email marketing.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to graymail.

Like almost anything in marketing, your sunset policy should be unique to your business. Work with your internal stakeholders and agency partner to determine:

  • Your definition of a “disengaged contact”

  • The length of time disengaged contacts should continue receiving email before being sunsetted

  • How those contacts should be managed (for example, will you deploy an automated reengagement campaign, giving these contacts another chance to remain opted in?)

Need help navigating a complex but rewarding email marketing landscape? Contact us.

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