waking up email subscribers

Waking Up Email Subscribers: How To re-engage Inactive Email Subscribers

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Your email list is your important asset. But the size is not as valuable as a list of full active subscribers. So what happens when your subscribers stop interacting with your emails? Don’t give up on them. These subscribers are not only bad for business but they can actually affect your email marketing performance. Here are few methods by which you can re-engage your inactive email subscribers:

1. Validate and keep validating

Start by using an email address validation tool on your inactive email list to ensure you’re analyzing an accurate data pool. This service will identify invalid email addresses that are likely contributing to problems such as low deliverability and unnecessary database storage costs with poor sender reputation. With regular validation, you can reduce bounce rates up to 98%.


2. Create a clear definition of active, inactive, and dormant subscribers.

Active: Engaged with an email for a period of 0-6 months.
Inactive: the last email opened between 6-12 months.
Dormant: the last email opened 12+ months

3. Analyze

Now when you’ve validated e-mails, you can now analyze segments of inactive and dormant subscribers based on whether someone had clicked or opened it over a certain period of time. Always keep in mind the holidays and seasonal cycles. This is important as retailer’s customers may only engage and purchase during the holidays whereas with resorts customers may engage only once a year.

4. Segment your inactive subscribers

  • Distill inactive population into smaller, more intricate segments by attributes like gender, age.
  • Note how the inactive subscribers came into a file
  • Understand what subscriber signed up for originally
  • Segment based on recent click activity
  • Note all the past purchase history and key attributes on which you can target
  • Understand if your inactive email subscribers are active on other channels

5. Focus in your content

Since you’ve defined and segmented your inactive subscribers, this is the time to craft a series of win back messages. Try to be concise with your word count and focus on clear calls to action. Inactive subscribers already have less patience so focus on being useful and personal.

  • Be empathic and use human language
  • Utilize a simple brief template and a short subject like ‘come back’.
  • Consider context to show you’re listening. You can add personalized images and scratch off features. Use data based on most recent past activity.
  • Remind them of the benefits of being a subscriber or customer
    Show them other ways to connect to your brand.
  • Recognize that emails only may not be their medium but other channels could be. Be sure to provide the link.
  • For all incentives let a re-permission email be the last email you send.

6. Give discounts

Your inactive subscribers might just need a little more incentive to use your service and depending on your profit margins, it might be better to give them discounts instead of losing them completely. For example, you can add ‘ we miss you ‘ email by throwing in a discount for inactive subscribers that come back.

7. Show them what they’ve missed

Give your subscribers fear of missing out. Remind them of the progress they’ve made so far. With this type of email you’re trying to build interest and give your subscribers a reason to come back. We’ve all seen the email notification from Facebook and Twitter that shows us everything that happened since we last logged in. These companies keep using them because they work.


8. Remind them why they’ve signed up

Don’t rethink your whole value proposition just because you have inactive email subscribers. The reality is that all email subscribers get distracted. Their inbox is flooded with other emails and promotions. With so many people reaching out to them, they simply could’ve forgotten why they signed up for your email list. You can send a win-back email to them.

9. Offer extra value

Good re-engagement emails consider things from the subscribers perspective which means they don’t just promote a service or product, they try to win back the emails telling how their subscribers can improve their lives.

10. Always follow up

Remember that your subscriber’s inbox is always crowded so your first re-engagement email might be unnoticed. Your subscribers might not have seen your re-engagement emails so try resending it.

Give them a choice

Finally, give them a chance to leave. People change and the subscribers might’ve lost all interest in your emails. So presented with a simple choice let them think more about whether they want to keep receiving your emails or not.

When to let go

Okay, so you did your best. When should you trim an email from your list for good? If all your efforts fail, you should be explicit about the next steps. When can they expect the emails to stop? Give them a little time to re-engage with an opportunity to re-engage. Otherwise, you can remove emails when :

  • Your Subscribers have a complaint or two months after unsubscribing.
  • Verification processes and email loops prove that the email no longer exists.
  • You’re hitting the spam traps and deliverability rates increase.
  • E-mails housed in your system are not converting and are costly to maintain
    If Dormants remain inactive even after a few attempts to regain via other channels.


Other Considerations

Try to test a variety of different content and calls to action to re-engage customers. Set up an automatic campaign once you identify a winning re-engagement campaign. Here are different strategies to experiment with:

  • Review content and metrics regularly for positive and ever growing performance
  • Create a throttling schedule, monitor complaints and unsubscribes.
  • If emails have not been emailed to for an extended period of time, send from a different IP.
    Inactive subscribers are a reality for every email marketer out there in the market. While a re-engagement might leave you with a smaller list, the remaining active subscribers will be more engaged. Stronger engagement increases the effectiveness and improve your sender reputation and leaves you with a more accurate view of what’s working and what’s not. That is where you want to be.
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