Perhaps the title of this blog should read ‘bacon,’ but in a recent post by Click Z they used that semi acronym. The semantics don’t matter, what is important is what it signifies. Now we all know what spam is in the context of email marketing? Don’t we?, actually I sometimes wonder if everyone does, many’s the time I have heard marketers think that using a bulk email supplier is tantamount to spamming so, courtesy of those good people at Wikipedia, here is a useful definition.

“Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. While the most widely recognised form of spam is email spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, wiki spam, online classified ads spam, mobile phone messaging spam, Internet forum spam, junk fax transmissions, social networking spam, television advertising and file sharing network spam.”

What is Bacn?

I am confident that most responsible email marketers, certainly in my experience, are aware that their broadcasts need to be spam checked before sending and that they should be aware of the relevant rules regarding transmission to subscribers. OK? Perhaps we should move on to discuss bacn?

Another definition from Wikipedia:

“Bacn (pronounced like bacon) is email that has been subscribed to and is therefore not unsolicited, but is often not read by the recipient for a long period of time, if at all. Bacn has been described as “email you want but not right now.”

Bacn differs from spam in that the recipient has signed up to receive it. Bacn is also not necessarily sent in bulk. Some examples of common bacn messages are news alerts, periodic messages from e-merchants one has made previous purchases with, messages from social networking sites, and wiki watch lists.

The name bacn is meant to convey the idea that such email is “better than spam, but not as good as a personal email.”

Why is bacn such an important term?

So why is it important and what’s the point of this briefing? Well people subscribe to all sorts of email broadcasts, sometimes without thinking and, quite legitimately marketers add their email addresses to their lists. The problem can be that over time a pretty large proportion of the subsequent email list built up simply don’t respond, that is don’t open email and thus never engage with the sender. Perhaps another way to describe Bacn is to call it historic non-openers, either way it results in a large percentage of a list attracting zero engagement from subscribers.

That is they don’t open, respond or show any recordable involvement with the email. Direct Marketing Association surveys suggest that a benchmark figure for open rates is around 23%. Am I alone in thinking that is scary? Three quarters of a broadcast list being unheeded?

The Rules of Re-Engagement

So what needs attending to? OK here are some “Rules of Re-Engagement”.

Remember those in a bacn list haven’t yet unsubscribed so they are still potential customers.

If you don’t make efforts to engage them you will continue to spend money broadcasting to a void.

Try to assess why they are not opening your emails. Boring subject lines? Not really aware of who is sending to them or why?

Do some in depth analysis of your broadcast reports. It’s not hard to work out who never opens your emails, use your service providers report functions, along with excel, it ain’t hard, then create separate lists for these people.

With the complied lists of this BACN send highly targeted emails. Tempt them with offers to get them to respond and, use all the tricks and devices at your disposal to persuade them to react, surveys, special offers, discounts etc.

If these tricks don’t work and, obviously as a last resort, invite them to unsubscribe, but if you do be subtle, yes maybe you might feel you just want to get rid of them but who knows, an email offering them something special for responding just might pay a dividend.

In conclusion…

Don’t ignore the bacn, what these recipients are ignoring today could very well be attracted back on the future. It is up to the marketer to be more understanding of this phenomena, assess it and respond back creatively.

Remember it could be that up to and over 75% of your list is not acted on. If you could re-engage just a small proportion of this dead sector your ROI could increase significantly…..Analyse….Create….Test…Analyse again…and you definitely will be eating BACN for breakfast.