3 Simple Steps to Re-engage with Subscribers Using Email


Whether you like it or not, if you’re in the email game, you’ve come to accept that as marketers, we lose an average of 25% of our subscriber list every year. Hey, it happens!

Subscribers churn for a whole slew of reasons: they lose interest in your brand, or they change their email address, or they disengage because you email them too often, or your content isn’t relevant to them anymore, or it’s not optimized for the device they’re using to read email messages… Or for any number of other reasons (see this great article on the top 7 reasons people unsubscribe from email programs). Like we said, it’s table stakes if you want to play the email marketing game in the current age of hyper-connectedness.

But there are ways to reconnect with some of those lost subscribers who are actually still interested in what you have to say, but are just suffering from a case of “inbox overload”: a re-engagement campaign.

Re-engagement campaigns, including those that can be developed through a full-service email marketing provider like Vigorate Digital, can help you to win back those disengaged or otherwise lapsed opt-ins. But remember, there are right ways and not-so-right ways to get back into the hearts and minds of your subscribers (and it pays to know if your automated email provider can accomplish this for you—remember to ask the right questions in advance!).

Here are the 3 steps we recommend for effective re-engagement campaign development:

 Step 1 – Identify Your Inactives

It’s important to consider what ‘inactive’ truly means to your brand, and in many ways, it’s related to the length of your products’ buying cycles:

  • Companies with short buying cycles (think: retailers or CPGs) have different parameters for inactivity than companies with long buying cycles.
  • The former group deploys emails much more frequently than the latter, because their subscribers interact with their brands more often and in more diverse ways.

Based on buying cycles, gauge what a normal time span for inactivity looks like. Then, mix it with a discrete metric to segment inactives. We recommend Click-through Rate (CTR), as it’s a better indicator of engagement than Open Rate, but not as high-commitment as completing a transaction or filling out a landing page form.

Step 2 – Develop a Re-engagement Campaign

It’s called a ‘campaign’ for a reason: You’re not looking to develop a short-term relationship with your subscribers, so a single batch-and-blast email isn’t going to cut it.

The best approach is to consider the possible reasons that your subscribers lapsed in the first place, and develop a series of messages that will be sent over several weeks to entice them to reconnect with your company.

Think about integrating the following tactics that make it easy on subscribers to stay connected:

  • A mechanism to update email preferences, such as a preference centre – This allows  the subscriber to change the frequency or content of emails sent to them, so they are more personalized to their wants and needs
  • A feedback survey – Ask for feedback about what can be improved, how you can target your messaging to their interests, etc.
  • Offering incentives – Making subscribers feel valued by offering them exclusive white papers, coupon, or other special draws for re-opting in
  • Making it time-sensitive – Best used for the last email of campaign, make sure that lapsed subscribers realize the importance of being a part of your community by setting a deadline for their re-opt-in
  • Ensuring message variety – Grab subscribers’ attention and interest by changing up the look and feel of each message. Think:
  • Format (short and punchy message vs. text-heavy)
  • Use and size of images
  • Communication style (formal vs. informal and conversational)

Step 3 – Reduce ongoing inactive subscribers

Some of the work of this step should already be covered by your CASL action plan, but needless to say, ensure that you’re proactively keeping your list active by:

  • Setting clear expectations – In the opt-in process, incorporate details about your brand’s email sending frequency, the subject matter of your digital messaging, and the content types your subscribers should expect to receive
  • Triggering the first (confirmation) email – using your automated email platform’s trigger-based messaging functionality, respond right away to your subscribers’ re-opt-in activities, and ensure you strike while the iron’s hot by including enticing content and/or an offer in this “welcome back” message
  • Using segmentation to nurture your list from the inside-out – There’s no better way to keep a list active and attentive than to give your subscribers what they want—and what like-minded people, like their friends, family, and other people in their cohort, want too.

As we’ve said before, the future of email marketing is sunny when you know who your target audience is and you are able to deliver the content and messaging that they’re looking for from your brand. But when times get tough and your subscriber base starts to churn, we’re here to help you get back on track with simple and easy-to-implement re-engagement tactics that can make a difference to your business.

Check out our email marketing solutions here, and let us know how your re-engagement plans are working out.