10 Tips for re-engaging your email subscribers

10 tips for reengaging your email subscribers

The success of your email marketing program relies on keeping subscribers engaged and interested. Yet inevitably, some subscribers will eventually stop engaging with your emails. This lack of engagement may occur for many reasons — they lack time, are no longer interested, or perhaps have changes in their world that render your email irrelevant. For example, a person who recently completed a home purchase no longer needs emails about home mortgages.

Clearly some subscribers will not return, but there’s a large group that can be reengaged. Here are a few things to consider when defining a strategy to reengage your subscribers who are indeed reengageable, along with 10 tips for bringing them back.

Defining disengagement

Disengaged email subscribers are those that have stopped opening your emails. They may be actively or passively ignoring them for an extended and continuous period. Someone who is actively ignoring your email has most likely marked it as spam. Passively ignoring means simply disregarding your emails in their inboxes.

Unfortunately, brands are often unaware that a subscriber has marked their email as spam because Google and several other email providers don’t provide a feedback loop for spam complaints. As a result you’ll keep sending emails, which are automatically diverted to the recipient’s junk folder.

Understanding these two types of disengaged subscribers can help you isolate the scope of the inactivity. But you also need to look at email-exclusive metrics, like opens or clicks. Metrics like website visits or non-attributed conversions can skew your data and thwart a successful reengagement strategy. While you can use these additional metrics later, you don’t want to rely on them when deciding which subscribers you consider inactive.

As a rule of thumb, consider a subscriber inactive if they’ve failed to open or click an email in the last 6 months or more. Then divide this group into two segments — subscribers who last opened or clicked an email 6–12 months ago and are eligible for reactivation and subscribers who have not interacted with your email in more than 12 months who are better targeted with a re-permission campaign.

One more thing to keep in mind — Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection has impacted your ability to track opens reliably. This makes click-through rates and call to actions key to your success with your approach to reengagement.

Tips for reengagement

Now that you have a way to identify your disengaged subscribers, try these 10 tips to reengage them.

1. Create a reengagement series, not a single email

When creating a reengagement strategy, a single action is unlikely to change subscriber behavior. You’re more likely to succeed if you implement a reengagement series within your customer lifecycle. This provides several opportunities to recapture subscriber interest before deciding if it’s best to let them go.

2. Shake things up by modifying attributes of existing emails

Think about the actions you can take to convince subscribers to change their behavior with your emails. Start off by introducing new ways that you target them. For example, try to change up the style of imagery you use or tone of your email.

3. Change the sending time or day

One of the first and easiest things to change is the timing of your emails. Your send time may result in your emails being buried in inboxes because they arrive before or after your subscribers view their email. Or maybe you only send emails on weekdays when your subscribers read email on weekends.

A small change in the sending time might be all you need to regain their attention. If this change leads to notable increases in clicks and opens, you may need to implement different cadences for different demographics in your active email program. This could reduce disengagement in the long term.

4. Modify the frequency and cadence of your emails

Changes in sending frequency are more effective if you are a high-cadence sender. The more emails you send, the more adjustments you can make to promote reengagement.

To figure out the ideal cadence, leverage your data to learn how often your subscribers were opening before disengaging. If it appears you are sending too many emails, apply these tactics:

If you change the frequency or cadence, let your subscribers know — otherwise, they may be surprised when your email doesn’t show up when expected or at all. Send your subscribers a frequency change notice explaining that their experience matters, so you’ll be spacing out and sending fewer communications to prevent your emails from becoming unwelcome. Ideally, your notice allows your subscribers to choose their cadence preference and provides the option to stop receiving all emails.

5. Spice up your subject lines

When subscribers are accustomed to seeing a familiar theme in your email subject line, they may tune out. Consider breaking patterns and traditions to grab their attention by speaking to them in a different way.

6. Create new content aimed at recapturing subscriber attention

Subscribers get tired of receiving the same type of content every time. If you’re not getting through to your subscribers with sales pitches, try creating content that either rekindles their interest in your product or service or inspires them to learn more about it. Using your emails to promote content with brief excerpts that link to your website is also a great way to boost clicks. Using clickbait is a totally justifiable means of reengaging subscribers.

7. Don’t be afraid to experiment

Your reengagement email series provides a great opportunity to experiment and test new ideas. If you’ve been on the fence about risking a content strategy change, your disengaged subscribers represent a low-risk audience to introduce disruptive ideas. Test your new ideas and changes and experiment away.

8. Special treatment can also go a long way

Everybody likes to feel special and appreciated. Provide your disengaged subscribers with exclusive discounts, promotions, or access to unique content. Target them with early access promotions that will later be available to all your subscribers or provide additional discounts. Be sure to leverage non-email data like previous purchases or recent website visits to create more targeted audiences within your larger disengaged segment.

9. Be ready to let your users go

Implementing a reengagement strategy is not just about bringing back your subscribers, it’s also about giving every disengaged subscriber the opportunity to confirm a lack of interest if that’s true for them. In every email in your reengagement series, include an easy to find unsubscribe link. If any subscribers continue to ignore your reengagement emails, you can later include them in a re-permission campaign, which essentially serves as a respectful and polite farewell letter to your subscribers.

10. Leverage other email streams

Pay attention to other email messages that you are sending to prospects or customers. These include emails about transactions, birthday messages, repeat purchase reminders, and really any other message that’s not part of your email marketing program.

These peripheral messages often show different signals than your marketing emails. But never assume that just because a person engages with these types of messages means that you should continue sending marketing emails if they’ve showing no activity with those. And specifically, don’t resume sending emails to a subscriber who has been excluded due to lack of engagement. That said, these messages are a perfect opportunity to include a discreet link to your website where they can resubscribe to your marketing and newsletter email programs.

Engage with customers where they want

Email is one of your most valuable channels for engaging with your prospects and customers — but it’s just one channel of many. Performing an omnichannel analysis to see where else customers are engaging with your brand — such as your website, app, or in store — can show you where you can focus on reenergizing the relationship. If email isn’t their preferred channel, give them options to download your app, receive SMS text messages, or see personalized offers on your website. These are all channels and ways to engage with and breathe new life into your relationship with those individuals.

Daniel is a deliverability consultant with Adobe who has been helping many well-known brands across several industries deliver hundreds of billions of emails in the last decade.