Here's a hard truth about email marketing: even the most engaged and loyal subscribers can lose interest in your messages over time. New email subscribers love every message you send, but over time that interest fades. Before you know it, a formerly engaged subscriber barely blinks before deleting your emails.
So what's a marketer to do? Rekindling the relationship won't be possible for every subscriber, but you can win some back with re-engagement campaigns. These campaigns are the perfect opportunity to show disengaged subscribers why they fell in love with your brand and wanted to receive your emails in the first place.
There are a few compelling reasons to implement email re-engagement campaigns. The one that probably most readily comes to mind is re-engaging inactive subscribers to increase your sales or conversions. You want that once loyal customer to start buying your product or services again, or that prospect to download another white paper or register for more webinars. However, there's another great reason to engage inactive subscribers – inbox placement. Email providers, such as Gmail and Yahoo!, examine how their users interact with your emails and deliver your messages accordingly. With spam definitions being less content-focused than they once were, too many unengaged subscribers could put your message in danger of being flagged as spam.
Who to Re-engage
Depending on your industry, the length of your company's average sales cycle, how often you send emails and a host of other factors, the definition of what constitutes an inactive subscriber will be unique to your company. For some, 90 days will be the benchmark, while a year will be the right length of time for others. Rather than making a best guess, take a look at your email statistics to get a more accurate understanding of the average time between when someone subscribes and when they stop engaging.
Once you have determined how your company defines inactivity, start your re-engagement campaign just before that timeframe. So if your established timeframe is one year, for example, aim to start re-engaging at nine months, so you can reach these inactive subscribers before they're too far gone. If you use ClickDimensions, our campaign automation feature is a great tool to use to set up and automate campaigns like this.
How to Re-engage
Re-engagement campaigns can come in many different forms, but they should in some way communicate the message that you recognize they haven't interacted with your company's email in some time and that you want them back as an engaged subscriber. The email example below shows one common re-engagement strategy – offering an exclusive discount for inactive subscribers.
Offering inactive subscribers a free gift with purchase is also commonly used in re-engagement campaigns. Short surveys can be another method used to re-engage email recipients, and can also be used to give you insights into why subscribers became inactive in the first place. You can sweeten the deal and encourage survey participation by offering a discount to recipients who complete the survey or entering them into a drawing for a special giveaway.
When to Call it Quits
Sometimes people enter a new phase in life that causes them to lose interest in your message. For example, a parent whose baby has grown into a toddler may not be interested in emails from a baby products company anymore, though they were once very engaged with those messages. Other times, people no longer use the email address that you have on file. And still other times, subscribers have been inactive with your emails for so long that a re-engagement message simply has no impact on them.
Whatever the reason, as we mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, re-engaging every subscriber won't be possible. The good news, from a Return Path study, is that 45 percent of those who received re-engagement emails opened subsequent messages, even though only 24 percent had opened the initial re-engagement email.
What about those that don't take the re-engagement bait? Use it as an opportunity to remove people from your email lists, thus improving your list hygiene and email deliverability.