Reconfirmation is an essential technique for list cleanup when there's trouble. High complaint rates, high bounce rates, spam-trap hits, uncertain list provenance, periods of inactivity, all point to a need for reconfirmation to clean a bad list. However it can also be used day to day as part of the routine maintenance of a list.
In this article, Derek Harding provides these 3 rules for reconfirming email lists:
1. Select the recipients. To maintain an effective reconfirmation exit strategy, it's vital to know when recipients last responded. This should include all potential activity, clicks, opens, profile maintenance, and non-e-mail activity such as purchase behavior. While I would not recommend stopping reconfirmation due to a lack of e-mail activity it may well be worth factoring in to a weighting system.
For example your strategy may be to put recipients into the reconfirmation phase when they have not purchased (off-line) for three months, not opened for six months, and not clicked for a year. This would mean that someone who has not responded for a year but who purchases will have another three months before entering the reconfirmation process, just in case they have renewed interest.
One might wonder why the purchase wouldn't have a longer time frame. The reason is that since it's an offline activity it tells us nothing about the current state of the e-mail address even though it tells us a lot about the owner of that address.
2. Keep options open. This is not an emergency reconfirmation where it is essential to remove problematic addresses immediately. It is a mechanism to gracefully retire addresses from the list once the owners are no longer interested. To this end offer both an opt-in and an opt-out button, a "Yes, I want to remain on the list" and a "No, I'm done". This gives the option to send a second message to non-respondents before retiring a recipient's address.
3. Ensure the creative is clear, simple, and has a strong call to action. If you're running two messages it's possible to have a relatively soft sell on the first and a much stronger one on the last chance message.