On October 15, I received an email from Empire Avenue, letting me know that my account was in danger of being marked inactive. “You are about to lose status, leaderboards and more!” It said my account had not been active for 27 days and, in order to keep my account, I had to login.
I received the same email on November 23, February 3, March 23 and May 13 and June 10. I may have deleted some in between, I don’t remember.
Empire Avenue was once a buzzed about social site and has settled into being a community of people who enjoy the service and the idea of a stock market for online personalities. Which is fine. I’m not active on it. I log into it once in awhile and spend the accumulated currency.
The fact that I have received 6 emails in just under 8 months is ridiculous. But beyond that…
Marking Accounts “Inactive” Makes No Sense
It just doesn’t. It’s an artificial limitation of your own creation that serves no one.
Does it help the member you are marking inactive? No.
Does it help other members? No.
Does it help future members? No.
Does it help you? No.
Taking a look at the specific use case for Empire Avenue, you could say that there is value in knowing if a member is active or not. Well, guess what? On my profile, they have both an Empire Avenue network score (which ranks you based on your activity) and a dedicated activity section that lists my activity this week.
If you think it is worthwhile for members to know who is active, you can do something like that or just throw a “last activity” section in your member profiles and call it a day. Making a big todo about an account being inactive for 27 days doesn’t do anything.
In this case, I get the sense that my account wouldn’t be deleted (though Empire Avenue does reserve the right to delete accounts that have been inactive for 6 months or more). Deleting it makes even less sense because it destroys valuable community data for no good reason.
What these inactivity emails are about, really, is bringing me back to the site and trying to get me to use it again. Which brings me to…
Marking Accounts “Inactive” is a Missed Opportunity
If you are trying to get someone to use your community again, you are dealing with a limited attention span. They have already forgotten your community because more important things have come up. Maybe they would love to come back, if you only reminded them. But you can only make that push every so often. If you make it too much, they will start to filter it out.
The first time I received the email where it was threatened that my account would be “inactive,” it caught my eye. I didn’t want that to happen. I had spent some time on my account, buying shares in my friends, etc. Not much time compared to other platforms, but still, I didn’t want to lose it. So I clicked the link and logged in. And went about my day.
When I received the next email, I was like “OK… I’ll login again.” By the third email, I’m beginning to wonder why this is still necessary. Here on email 6, I have still not participated in any manner other than what I would do normally. Quick login, spend my money, and on my way. I would have done that whether or not I was sent an email.
It’s beginning to wear thin. You can only send people the exact same email so many times before the effectiveness of it starts to drop. If you are going to email people, give them a reason to come back instead of just the idea of losing their account. Eventually, they won’t care.
What to Do Instead
Quora sends interesting emails, I think. They send fascinating questions and answers on their platform. I actually click links in their digests somewhat regularly. Highlighting great content is a good way to do this. Rather than sending out automated, repetitive emails, tailor it to the recipient.
Even if you can’t do that, I’d prefer to write one really good, really interesting message each month or each quarter and send it to inactive members you want to try to bring back. And then leave them alone. Don’t try again for a while – at least 6 months.
As you fine tune the emails in format, you could conduct some A/B testing to optimize and find what sort of content and formatting leads to more people coming back. Use that info to adjust and attempt to improve performance.
Just don’t send the same, unenticing inactive account email over and over again. Rather than threatening them to do the minimum to keep their account, encourage them to rediscover a passion for your community by showing them the best it has to offer. Don’t email them because their account is “inactive,” email them because there may be something they’re missing.