• AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #266: Weeds Out the Duds



If you’ve ever managed a garden or lived in a home with a yard, then you know that the worst part of the upkeep involves the weeds. The pesky, disruptive, resource-draining, landscape-altering visitors that detract from the beauty and function of your space and add nothing but frustration.

While weeds tend to be obvious to the avid and even the casual gardener, the weeds in our mailing lists—the accounts and addresses that bounce back, come back, and simply lack—often fail to hold our attention for more than a short time. Sure, we all know we have “bad” names in our lists, but they can’t be that bad, can they? Surely we can deal with them some other time, right?

If you’re talking about inaccurate addresses, the answer is “no.” By all means yank them out as soon as you see them. They’re costing you precious resources every time you use them to mail or email a promotion. That may not seem like much, at first, but when you consider how many promotions you send out in a year, the costs can really accumulate.

But if you’re talking about inactive accounts, accounts that haven’t donated, renewed, or ordered in recent months or years, depending on the business of your business, you may want to consider your answers to the following questions before you start plucking them from your database:

  • How long have your “inactive” accounts been inactive?

  • What were the accounts’ primary purchases? Do you still have comparable solutions to offer, or has your organization moved away from that interest area?

  • How long are you willing to wait for a customer or donor to re-engage, and similarly, can you discern any patterns of inactivity for your accounts?

Once you have an idea what’s acceptable in terms of inactivity and what’s not, consider trying to re-engage your customers one last time before removing them entirely. After all, you’ll likely spend less money on re-engaging an old customer than in developing a new one.

What’s the best way to re-engage inactive clients? MailChimp, a marketing automation platform, suggests using polls and surveys—with the promise of a free gift or promo code for those who participate, online competitions, and coupons or promo codes.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to re-visit your mailing list often and repeat the process because a healthy database makes a happy organization.


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