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The deactivation email: what is it for?

When I'm writing an article, I'm usually inspired by the marketing emails that people send me, they're kind of like muses. My hobby is emails that don't belong there. Just open my email and everything is served on a silver platter. Today, we're tackling the deactivation emailor the basic cleaning program, it's all the same 😉

Most of the time when I receive campaigns, I skim them or delete them without opening them if the object doesn't speak to me enough. What can I say, I am ruthless. But a few weeks ago, while looking at my emails, my eyes were drawn to an object that had its little effect: "Your account will be deleted soon". The least we can say is that it is intriguing.
On the other hand, the name of the sender didn't remind me of anything, but the persona with my first name visible in the preheader left little doubt: it is more than likely that I had indeed registered on this site one day. No more suspense, I let you discover the email in question.

Let's defuse the rumors right away: no, I'm not looking for a job (well, not that I know of ^^').

Starting over on a sound basis

My first thought upon reading this deactivation email was rather positive. As someone who receives a lot of email on a daily basis, this is the kind of action I like from a company. Taking matters into their own hands and deleting my account, they score points. It almost makes me want to reactivate my access, just to see if there is a welcome back scenario.

I think the text is well turned out, especially on the 2nd paragraph. It explains that without action, our data will be anonymized and stored for statistical purposes. It is clear and reassuring.

To quibble, I would have liked to have a 2nd CTA that would allow me to confirm right away my eventual wish to deactivate my access (why not "I already have my dream job" ?). The purpose of a deactivation email is to clean up the database by deleting the inactive onesIf you want to be able to use the new service, you might as well allow your contacts to delete their account without delay.

But the little devil on my shoulder reminded me of one thing after that first impression: why now?

Do I need to send a deactivation email?

If it's not the name of the sender that made me open this email, it's not for nothing. Checking in my mailbox, the last email I received before this one was in 2014... Yes, you read that right. 8 years without any news (I had probably unsubscribed from NL), to the point of forgetting their name. The calculation is simple: 8 years without email, we can estimate that my account has been inactive for at least 7 years and a half! Isn't it enough to directly archive my account without informing me or trying to reactivate me? Will the RGPD have been useless?

As a result, I'm slowly starting to rethink my copy. I guess they didn't have an inactive management program in place until now, and they targeted all of the inactive contacts in this mailing.

From my point of view it's clearly a mistake, with a major risk: having a lot of spamtraps, bounces, complaints and desabo. So not only did the company not have the obligation to inform me, but it is very likely that the results are bad by targeting a full base.

I hope for their sake that they at least spread the sending out over several weeks so that the impact on reputation is more diffuse. Of course, by spreading the sending out it is imperative to monitor the reputation, because you can then stop the routing to limit the damage if necessary and not strongly degrade the reputation over time.

The inactive program: when, how, for whom?

All that being said, what would we have suggested to put in place if we had worked on this project?

  • If the contacts have been inactive for more than 2 years: we do not route anything, we archive!
  • We analyze the data to place the active / inactive cursor at the right time (this may vary depending on your sector, if it is an e-commerce site, a BtoC or BtoB target, etc.)
  • We set up a automated scenario on new inactivesThis can be done by sending a survey email about the reasons for inactivity.
  • For inactives 2 years, you can send a deactivation email, but it is not mandatory to do so.
  • In parallel, you monitor your shipments Inactive contacts can have a real negative impact on your deliverability. If the lights are green everything is fine, otherwise we stop everything and we (re)read Seb's article to try to turn things around.
  • If there is a reaction from the contact, it returns to the active segment, otherwise the contact receives the rest of the inactive program or is directly archived.
  • After a few months, we analyze the results and optimize our strategy by doing AB tests. Marion discussed it with her guest during a live show recently, it's here >>



To summarize, I know it's tempting, but no: you don't feel the c... oh oops. Let's go over it again: you don't route an email to a full base of inactives! We set up an automated program with monitoring 😉 and as always, AB testing, analysis and optimization.
And if you still have doubts or questions, don't hesitate to call Jonathan, he's inexhaustible about automation 😀

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