You lose a quarter of your subscribers every year.
Sure, people unsubscribe. Everyone knows that. But you’re actually losing more people than you realize.
Email unsubscribes aren’t the only way for you to “lose” your subscribers.
Research from Marketing Sherpas shows that email list decay costs you about 22.5% of your subscribers per year.
Loren McDonald, of IBM Marketing Cloud, argues that you lose 10% to 25% of your subscribers on top of that.
Not because they unsubscribe – because they stay subscribed and stop interacting with you.
These people are ignoring you, and you might never know it.
A re-engagement email sequence can win them back.
A re-engagement email can go by a few different names:
- Reactivation email
- Win-back email campaign
- The “divine jackfruit of dead email lists” (I wish this was a joke)
A re-engagement campaign is a sequence of emails sent to inactive subscribers. The goal of a re-engagement email is to get people to interact with your emails.
To write this post, we surveyed ActiveCampaign Certified Consultants about the best ways to use re-engagement emails. You’ll learn things like:
- How many re-engagement emails should you send before unsubscribing your contacts?
- How long should you wait between re-engagement emails?
- How long do you wait before sending a re-engagement email?
Our experts were all over the map, but waiting 31-60 days before sending a re-engagement email was the most popular option.
To re-engage people, you need to understand why they tune out in the first place. It’s usually one of these reasons:
- Too many emails
- Clickbait subject lines
- Confusing design
- Not optimized for mobile
- Repetitive or irrelevant content
- Only signed up for a one-time offer
“It’s critical to understand that people disengage for one of two reasons: either their needs change or your emails aren’t meeting their needs. – Stephanie Nivinskus, Sizzleforce Marketing
Re-engagement emails give you a huge bang for your buck – set them up once and then they work for you. The key benefits are:
- Turning an inactive subscriber into a customer is 5 times cheaper than acquiring a brand new customer
- Your deliverability sucks (and your emails go to spam) if you send emails to inactive subscribers
It’s not just a re-engagement email – it’s a re-engagement email sequence
When you sign up for a service, you probably get a series of emails asking you to…
- Get your new account set up
- Return to your abandoned online cart
- Shop a flash sale BEFORE IT’S GONE!
- Give feedback on a purchase
Those are all part of an email sequence.
Instead of sending one email and hoping for the best, the smartest businesses use a series of emails to get you to take the right actions.
ActiveCampaign experts prefer to send 3+ re-engagement.
When you’re trying to re-engage your quiet customers, it probably seems counter-intuitive to send multiple re-engagement emails instead of a single one. That seems kind of clingy or desperate, right?
Not in this case. Sending an email sequence is actually the opposite (if you do it right).
People need reasons to stick around. It’s not enough to send an email that says “please come back” – you have to show them why it’s worth their time. And that’s not something you can accomplish in a single email.
NOTE: Each individual email in the sequence should have its own message centered around the theme of getting back together. Too many ideas in one email are overwhelming.
If you jump around from free content to a flash sale and make a pit stop at offering a discounted subscription rate (all in one email), people won’t know where to look first.
An email sequence lets you cover all the bases without shoving too much down a customers throat with one email.
Good luck not getting lost.
Email marketing produces the highest ROI out of most digital outlets – in fact, the average order value of a purchase from email is at least three times higher than one from social media, according to McKinsey.
A re-engagement email sequence is essential for the health of your email lists and your subsequent email ROI.
What should your re-engagement email campaign look like?
You should probably send a re-engagement email sequence of 3+ emails starting 30-60 days after a subscriber becomes inactive.
But what should those emails look like? Sound like?
Here’s some advice from an ActiveCampaign expert on how to send effective re-engagement emails.
“Don’t overthink it. People have a hard time with email because they make a big deal out of it. It’s just another medium for conversation. Think of ONE person you would love to respond and write to them. My subscribers often tell me they can’t tell if my emails are personal or campaigns. Keep it simple. Sometimes a 9-word email just asking them if they’re still interested in [benefit of your product or service] will get them to re-engage. Lastly, a little humor never hurts!” – Kronda Adair, Karvel Digital
Val Geisler, an email marketing strategist and conversion copywriter, did a detailed re-engagement sequence breakdown of Jill Stanton (owner of the popular blog Screw the 9 To 5).
Need a killer subject line like these? Try our totally free Subject Line Generator tool.
Here’s a look at two of the four emails she got from Jill.
*Pout* Personal additions are part of what makes any email (and especially a re-engagement email) effective.
Then two days later…
YAY! *Fist pump* this is a good re-engagement email
Here’s why Val says that these emails work:
- It’s a clear message
- It’s personalized
- It uses Jill’s brand voice
- It includes link triggers to stay on the list or be removed
- The second email reiterates the same email from two days prior
Here’s an idea of what your automated re-engagement email sequence can include.
- Reminder: the initial email that opens the win-back email campaign
- Review: ask them to review their email preferences (so they can choose the email frequency they want)
- Receive: Offer them something for free (and put your offer in the subject line)
- Regrets: It’s time to say goodbye and unsubscribe them…but give an option to come back in case they change their mind
Once you have your re-engagement email campaign fleshed out, automate it.
If you use ActiveCampaign, you can import a free, pre-built re-engagement email sequence by clicking here.
What if your re-engagement sequence doesn’t work? It’s time for email list cleaning.
Before you decide to take off those email subscribers from your list though, remember this: there are recipients who open the re-engagement emails up to 300 days from the day you sent it.
In fact, 75% of these subscribers will open the messages within 89 days of receiving it.
So decide how long you want to wait after sending your re-engagement email, then be ready to clean.
Yes, best practices are everywhere. But these will help your re-engagement email campaign a lot
Here are 7 best practices you should definitely use in your re-engagement emails:
- Personalize your copy – Use their name, sure, but hammer home the benefits they care about. And as long as your message is still clear, feel free to make it funny!
- Segment your list of inactive subscribers – You might need a different re-engagement automation for different types of people depending on if they open but don’t click, or if they do both
- Target emotions – Remind them of the painful problems you’ve helped them with (feel free to use guilt or nostalgia)
- Offer another way to stay in touch – Let people update their email preferences or take a short email hiatus – it might avoid an unsubscribe
- Offer them something for free – A content upgrade, a discount, a giveaway, a free trip to Hawaii (just kidding…)
- Remind them why they signed up – Reiterate the problem you can solve for them – then give them the fix they need
- Include a good and visible unsubscribe option – It feels counter-intuitive, but you still have to give them the option to unsubscribe. It’s nice, and not having it is illegal…)
Here are 7 killer re-engagement email examples that put these best practices into action.
7 re-engagement email examples to win back hearts, minds, and opens
1. Jet Blue
What’s good about this re-engagement email:
- It’s personalized with the word “you”
- It targets emotions (breakups ARE hard and emotionally draining)
- It offers alternatives to unsubscribing (BUT it still gives an unsubscribe option, which is important)
2. Kate Spade
What’s good about this re-engagement email:
- This email goes to Kate Spade’s inactive subscribers – but it’s segmented so that it only goes to subscribers who get emails in the Gmail promotions tab
- The curiosity-inducing CTA teases updates to come (an incentive to open the next email too)
“Just approach it like a one-to-one conversation. Remind them why they joined your list and that your goal is to help them achieve something.” – Prashant Murphy, Unlimitly.com
What’s good about