One of the biggest myths in email marketing is that having a massive email list will net you great results. Sure, that can be true, if you have a list of active subscribers. However, what about those subscribers who are no longer engaging with your content? Do re-engagement emails honestly work?
Let’s face it: We’ve all been guilty of disengaging from a newsletter or email campaign in the past. Maybe you were no longer in the market for a particular service or you just became overwhelmed with all the messages in your inbox, but for whatever reason, you were no longer connecting with a company’s email marketing.
Having a massive email list won’t get a brand far if their list includes old contacts or subscribers who have simply checked out. But that doesn’t mean that every person on that list as a lost cause, which means, at some point, you’ll probably want to know how to re-engage an old email list.
The good news is that process isn’t complicated. All you need is a stellar re-engagement campaign.
Why should you re-engage an old email list?
Email marketing is all about the quality of your subscriber list. While having an extensive list can be beneficial for your brand, it all comes down to how you maintain your list long term.
Most brands who run an email campaign or newsletter will lose around 22.5% of their list each year. Now that doesn’t mean a subscriber is a dead end. The subscriber may just have decided they needed a little break from the consumer-brand relationship.
Before assuming that your old email list is a lost cause, you’ll want to attempt to re-engage them. Why? First of all, it’s much more cost-effective to try and re-engage these subscribers than it would be to give up and attempt to find new ones.
Re-engaging an old email list can also help marketers maintain their overall list health. When done correctly, re-engagement emails can not only reduce list churn rates but also boost incremental engagement.
If anything, sending out re-engagement emails can help you clean up your email list. It’s hard for some marketers to trim the fat off their lists but doing so is vital. If these inactive subscribers remain in your list, you could experience numerous issues, including inflated complaint rates, deliverability issues, increased bounce rates, and falling into recycled spam traps.
How to re-engage an old email list
Re-engaging an old email list can be as simple as sending out a re-engagement campaign, also known as a “win-back” email.
One study found that 63% of marketers said re-engagement emails were “very effective.” These emails serve multiple purposes, more than just helping you weed out inactive subscribers. They also help remind a subscriber that you find them important, which helps to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship.
Luckily, there aren’t that many steps involved in a re-engagement campaign, although each one is important.
1. Identify inactive subscribers
Before you can send re-engagement emails, you first need to define what “inactive” means.
Most email service providers such as Campaign Monitor allow users to do this by creating list segmentation. Once you’ve defined the segment, you can export it and view every email that falls into what you’ve defined as “inactive.”
Remember, after you’ve sent your re-engagement emails, any names on the list that remain inactive can be removed. All you need to do is go back into your list segmentation and create a new segment list. By defining this new list, you’ll be able to remove inactive subscribers from your lists entirely.
While it may sting at first, remember, cutting old contacts is an integral part of maintaining a healthy email list.
2. Understand why your subscribers stopped engaging
Note that disengaging and unsubscribing are two different things. Those subscribers who have disengaged simply have stopped opening your emails or otherwise stopped interacting with your brand’s email campaigns for whatever reason, whereas unsubscribed contacts have removed themselves from your list entirely.
When it comes to disengaged contacts, some of your subscribers may not realize they’ve disengaged, while there are other subscribers that need a break from a brand.
That’s why it’s important to ask for feedback during your unsubscribe process and provide an option for subscribers to change their email preferences. That way, you can invite these subscribers to reconnect with you in a way that works best for them.
Take Walgreens for example. They send out email campaigns for several different reasons, and while many individuals love the updates, there are some that get overwhelmed with the number of emails they receive.
When a user goes to unsubscribe, they have the option to change their email settings, or they can choose to unsubscribe.
Image Source: Walgreens
Giving contacts a way to tell you what they want from you will help to guide you when you design your future email campaigns. You’ll then be able to tailor campaigns to particular subscribers—such as Walgreens does with their Balance Rewards members—and still have a way to reach out to the general public without overloading everyone on your list.
3. Give inactive subscribers a reason to return
When sending out your re-engagement emails, it’s vital you give your recipients a reason to become active again. The unfortunate news is that sometimes it doesn’t matter how enticing the deal may be, some people may want nothing more to do with your brand.
You want to view this re-engagement campaign as a last chance to remind your audience why they should remain on your list. Remember, good marketing—and especially good email marketing—communicates the value you offer to your audience.
Some of the absolute best re-engagement emails are those that give your subscribers a reason to return, such as:
- Polls and surveys – These are a great way to get your inactive subscribers a reason to click on the email. Let’s face it: Consumers want their voices to be heard, so asking for their opinion shows you want to know what they have to say. Plus, throwing in a promo code for answering some questions is a great way to entice subscribers to open their messages and get involved.
- Coupons and promo codes – Sending inactive subscribers a special coupon or promotional code shows that you care about them and value their business. This is also a great time to show them what products or services they might have missed recently, so don’t be afraid to add a few sections highlighting best sellers or customer testimonials.
- Product recommendations – Some brands offer product recommendations based on a customer’s previous purchases. This shows the consumer that the brand cares about their needs.
- Online competitions – Using raffles, giveaways, and other forms of contests are a great way to re-engage an old email list, especially if there is a chance for subscribers to win a valuable prize.
Examples of effective re-engagement emails
We know the why and how to re-engage an old email list, so now we want to show you a few examples of re-engagement emails that caught our eye.
David Lloyd made excellent use of their call to action button within the email, but we also love the play on emotions the company used to draw the consumer in and cultivate engagement.
Don’t be afraid to play the emotion card on those you haven’t heard from in quite a while.
Image Source: Emma Email
In their re-engagement email, Birchbox not only provided subscribers with promo codes, but they also gave their subscribers options: a choice between a standard product or a surprise!
And who doesn’t like a little surprise occasionally?
Image Source: HubSpot
While it may not work for all brands, humor is a great way to re-engage inactive subscribers.
Take Urban Outfitters’ approach to bringing back subscribers who’ve gone quiet on them. Instead of the standard “unsubscribe” option, they offer a silly spin on a classic “do you like me” note.
Urban Outfitters took that grade-school idea and ran with it, offering their inactive subscribers the chance to unsubscribe or re-engage with their email marketing campaigns. This email campaign’s not only clever and true to their brand voice, but the message remains clear and effective: checking yes means you’ll keep getting emails.
Image Source: Campaign Monitor
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Boulevard Brewing Co. did an excellent job with this re-engagement email. First of all, they openly acknowledge that they’ve gathered their subscribers’ personal information. These days subscribers want to know everything about their data, so being upfront shows you value transparency.
Additionally, the company also explicitly asks their subscribers whether or not they want to keep receiving emails from them and tells them what subscribers can expect if they say yes. This tactic works great not only to re-engage subscribers but also if your email marketing slacked a bit for whatever reason. This way, your subscribers won’t automatically assume you’re spamming them if they’ve forgotten about the time they freely offered their information to you.
Boulevard Brewing Co. also earns a few bonus point with their creative call to action buttons embedded within the email.
Image Source: Emma Email
When it comes down to re-engaging inactive subscribers, it can be difficult to let go. Remember, just because you have a big email list doesn’t mean you have an active one.
You don’t want to be penalized or marked as spam, so make sure you maintain a healthy email list by sending a re-engagement email now and then to purge the contacts who fall under the “inactive” category.
Remember, you can re-engage inactive subscribers by:
- Identify inactive subscribers
- Find out why they disengaged in the first place
- Give them a reason to return
Try this re-engagement campaign to reconnect with your subscribers and you might be surprised how effective it is at bringing in more engagement.
Need help creating segmented lists or gathering relevant data to serve your clientele better? Then let Campaign Monitor get you started today!