“If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try, try again.” – Thomas H. Palmer

Resending email campaigns probably sounds redundant, right?
I mean, they ignored your email the first time completely, or opened it and decided they didn’t care enough to click. Would trying again even work?
Well, let’s answer that with some cold, hard facts.
Forbes contributor Neal Taparia tested resending an email campaign and here’s what he found:

  • They sent out a first email and a follow-up email about an information literacy report.
  • 2,723 received the original email. 579 (21.3%) of them opened it and
  • 224 of them clicked on the call-to-action (8.2% CTR).
  • So then they resent the email, but only to people who didn’t open the first one.
  • 309 of those people opened it, and 114 clicked on the call-to-action.
  • Between both emails, nearly 54% more people were reached, and they got almost 52% more clicks on the follow-up than the original.

Which means…resending emails can totally work.

resending emailWoohoo!

If your open rate for a re-sent email is similar to the rate for the first email, that means you’ve almost doubled your open rate, reached as many people as possible and done it all with minimal effort.
Not too shabby.
This post will cover:

  • Why you should (or shouldn’t) try resending emails to customers – is it annoying or acceptable?
  • The 5 questions you must ask – if you don’t want to have any regrets
  • What results you can expect to see from resending emails (is it what you think it is?)

Here we go.

Should you even bother resending email campaigns?

A single email is a lot of work. There’s…

  • Conceptualizing
  • Copywriting
  • Designing
  • Coding
  • Sending
  • Monitoring

No doubt about it – quality emails take time.
So when you see all that labor yield low return on investment and someone (like me) suggests trying it again, it’s easy to think, “should you even bother?
The answer to that question is: Yes, you should re-send emails.
Just not all of them.
Your customers get emails on top of emails all day, every day. It is really easy to lose messages in a flooded inbox.
Did you know that…

Quick math time:

(620 weekly emails) x (52 weeks per year) = 32,240 sent and received work emails annually

Can you even picture that many emails? Imagine if those were actual mail messages…

sending too many emailsEvery single box would be bursting at the seams.

Resending every one of your email campaigns is not necessary. But resending just one or two might be enough to get more eyes on your emails.

Why you should resend emails

Resending email campaigns gives you a second chance to engage your contacts by:

  • Give unopened recipients a chance to engage
  • Give people who opened but didn’t click another chance to click
  • Test new ways to send emails (with different copy, images, etc.) to see which version works best (in case you want to reuse it in a later email funnel)

And yes, breathing new life into an email campaign can potentially do great things for your email open and click-through rates — but ultimately there needs to be a bigger goal behind a second try.
What’s an open or a click worth if it doesn’t lead to a sale, or subscription, or some other solid connection with customers?
Bottom line: A better open rate and more clicks are great, but email should be about solid engagement that leads to conversions—not just open rates.
Think about the long-term value you are looking to give a customer and the kind of connection you want to build with them, not just the one-time open or click value you want for yourself.
That value might be resending emails that offer things like:

  • A free content download for being a regular customer
  • Product suggestions with a special discount code so they can get more of the value they love
  • A note that appreciates them as a customer (it doesn’t always have to be about things)

Customers are going to remember the brands who sent emails that gave them long-term value.

Why you shouldn’t resend emails

The worst reasons to resend an email campaign are:

  • Because statistics and research are telling you the best ways to
  • Because you’re only trying to boost that conversion rate

Don’t get me wrong – learning from other people’s experiences (both successful and not) is completely legitimate. But where people run into trouble is internalizing those experiences and expecting their attempts and subsequent results to mirror them.
Neal Taparia was able to show that resending email campaigns can be successful. But remember – it was a success for them.
There’s a lot of research that talks about the best days and times to send emails—but all of that research has a fatal flaw (and we’ll get to that in a moment).
Take a look at this headline for research about the best sending days and times.

best email sending days and times(Source: Coschedule)

What you need to pay attention to in this headline is the phrase “what 14 studies say.”
What does that really mean? “14 different studies” are giving average data on best sending times simply because they can’t agree?
There’s no definitive answer because there can’t be. Data like this will be different for everyone. That’s why averages exist.

email send time researchSo…Wednesday ISN’T foolproof?

But average data is flawed.
Why doesn’t average data just work if experts are saying it? Here’s a common averages story that explains why.
A man drowned crossing a river that was said to be on average 3 feet deep.
More specifically the river was 6 inches deep near the outside and 8 feet deep at the middle. Which meant that an average of 3 ft, which would be easy to cross through safely, meant nothing because those 8 feet still existed.
8 feet is still 8 feet, so even though the average depth between 6 inches and 8 feet was a walkable 3 feet, it wasn’t enough data to rely on to be successful.

average dataWhat do you think? Does that look like 3 feet to you?

It isn’t that those 14 studies don’t reach the same conclusions. It’s that the data which came from all of them is based on average best send times, and there are a lot of problems with using average numbers to make decisions.
I mean, clearly. That man in the story drowned.
It’s good to look at what people have done, but it’s more important to look at what you’ve already done and figure out what else you can do.
Don’t expect the same results as everyone who’s had success sending an email at 10 am on Tuesdays. Your data will be different.
Remember this when you resend any email.
First, optimize for content, then tweak send times.
Email marketing research about email sending best times and days only goes so far. There may be some trends on average, but there’s so much variability that the average is probably not useful.
Optimizing send time for your own list might make more sense, but nailing the content and subject line of an email has a higher impact.

You’ve decided to resend the email. What do you need to do next?

Ask yourself the following 5 questions about the emails you’re planning to resend:

Q1: What (if anything) should be changed?

You’re resending an email, so does that mean you:
1. Resend the exact same email as before?
2. Send a slightly tweaked version of the original email?
I’ll give you a hint – it’s not option #1.
You can’t know for sure why people either didn’t open or didn’t click through the first email you sent them, but it could have been something as simple as an unappealing subject line or a call-to-action.
Small incremental change can drive big impact. That’s where A/B testing comes in.

split testing emailsA/B testing compares two versions of the same email to find out what elements have great impact. Here, the CTA button has been made more visually prominent. (Source: Optimizely)

You can try testing changes with things like:

  • Subject lines
  • “From” name
  • Body copy
  • Call-to-action buttons
  • Images
  • Layout
  • Send time windows

Although A/B testing results shouldn’t be taken as gospel, they can give you an idea of what customers respond to. Combined with your own intuition, testing data can lead to good decisions that get more people to do what you want them to do.
So, how much should you test? One variable? Three? Five?
For A/B testing, I would just start with changing one variable of your email. Here’s why:
Science historically tells us that most scientists recommend only changing one variable to test the effect on the relationship between the elements of an experiment. It’s a more accurate way to tell whether the thing you change actually has an effect.
Quick example:
Noah Kagan coined the term double-opens, which means waiting one week to re-send an email to subscribers who didn’t open the first one.
When testing this, the only thing Noah changed in this second email is the subject line.
Guess what he saw?
An 11% bump in his open rates for a total of 30%+. In his case, that meant 7,028 more opened emails from 1 minute of work changing the subject line.

email subject line

Double-open email:

double open email

Just one variable change did that. Science for the win.
A good place to start A/B testing is the subject line.
Here’s an example of two emails I got from Fabletics about the same new SculptKnit legging, with a few minor changes between the two subject lines:

email subject line exampleFor your convenience, that upside-down one reads “flip your perspective on sculptknit.” Clever, right?

That upside-down subject line definitely got my attention, and I did actually open that email, but I didn’t click on anything in it. But the next time they emailed me (approximately a week later), they updated the subject line to do two things:

  • Continue getting the word out about their new leggings
  • Incentivize me to click-through the email and take advantage of their offer (before it was too late)

And now I’m the comfortable owner of some new leggings.
A small change made the biggest difference, but resending the exact same email twice would have been cause for a delete or spam action.
If a customer saw your first email and purposefully didn’t open it or even deleted it, they likely won’t react well to seeing the exact same subject line appear in their inbox again.
Would you? I doubt it. So it’s better to refresh it for round two.

Q2: Who should (and shouldn’t) receive the resend email?

Here are your options to rece