Your subscribers are the most engaged with your emails the moment they join your list. They may have just learned about your brand, or they’re fired up about that handy lead magnet you offered in exchange for their subscription. In an ideal world, your emails would continue to provide so much value that they’d always open everything you send.
Sadly, that won’t be the case. For one reason or another, they might stop opening or clicking on your emails – it happens to the best of us. So if you’ve accumulated a group of inactive subscribers, it’s time to send a re-engagement campaign.
A study by Return Path found that 45% of recipients who received win-back emails read subsequent messages. And if they don’t, that’s ok too. You’ll have a cleaner list, more reliable data, and an unsubscribe is always preferable to someone sending you to the spam folder and hurting your sender reputation.
Let’s walk through how to send a re-engagement email.
Figuring out who to send to
What defines an “inactive subscriber” is different for every brand and industry. In this post from Litmus, they recommend thinking about the following as you determine your parameters:
- Types of behavior: While most people generally focus on opens and clicks (or the lack thereof) while choosing an audience for their re-engagement campaign, you can also consider behavior on your website and purchase history.
- Frequency: Consider longer or shorter timeframes for inactivity based on your send frequency. If you send daily, you might want to narrow down your focus to anyone who hasn’t engaged in 90 days. A business that sends a monthly newsletter may want to track a longer timeframe, say 6 months.
- Customer lifecycle: If your customer lifecycle is long (as is often the case for B2B companies or brands that sell bigger ticket items, like luxury goods or vacation packages), you’ll also want to consider a longer inactivity time frame.
What to include in your campaign here are some ideas to consider:
Make it valuable. While coupons and monetary incentives can work well in the retail space, other industries should try to offer the type of value that will help drive engagement in the long term. Consider ideas such as: an invitation to an in-person event; membership to a VIP rewards program; access to a free educational course. Or, if your product or service has changed significantly since they signed up, simply make them aware of your latest offerings.
Own your brand. You have a distinctive brand voice and style. Remind people why they decided to sign up in the first place with your unique design and copy. Pro tip: An element of humor or self-deprecation can often help your re-engagement email stand out and capture attention.
Ask what you’re doing wrong. A lack of engagement from your subscribers often signals something’s off with your email marketing, whether it’s an overzealous send cadence, poor mobile design, or irrelevant offers. Come right out and ask subscribers what they want (or don’t want) in the body of your re-engagement email.
What to do now?
After you’ve sent your re-engagement campaign, gather your data. And, if you asked for feedback, be sure to integrate it into your strategy moving forward. Then, you have a couple options for dealing with the portion of your audience who still didn’t respond.
One route is to segment out the subscribers who don’t open or click on your re-engagement campaign and bench them for a while. Then, you can send them another re-engagement campaign at a later date.
Or consider a different approach: let go of your inactive subscribers altogether. It will be a little painful to watch your list shrink, but it’s for the best. It’s possible that the email addresses you’re sending to aren’t valid (this happens frequently in the B2B space as people change jobs), maybe your subscribers never check the inbox you’re sending to, or maybe they just sincerely no longer want to hear from you.
In any case, you won’t accomplish anything by sending to people who don’t open your emails. If you’re struggling with letting inactive subscribers go, see how they can be adversely affecting your email reputation.
What does success look like?
You’ll want to look at metrics other than open rates to measure the success of your campaign – your open rates will be higher when you stop sending to people who habitually don’t open. For instance, it could be a better deliverability rate or a lower spam complaint rate. These are both legitimate indicators that your re-engagement email had a positive, lasting effect on your email marketing success.