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Re-Engagement Email Strategy (With Examples)

Max Freedman
Max Freedman Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2023

When your audience seems to lose interest in your email marketing campaigns, re-engage them with this strategy.

No company retains all its customers, but through an email marketing platform, you can determine which of your formerly active customers could use a gentle nudge. A re-engagement strategy allows you to send this customer demographic re-engagement emails and evaluate whether your re-engagement efforts are working.

What is a re-engagement email?

A re-engagement email is a mass email delivered to your list’s least-active subscribers. Unlike typical communications in email marketing campaigns, a re-engagement email acknowledges the recipient’s reduced recent engagement. It also incentivizes the recipient to re-engage with your company, hence the title “re-engagement email.” A re-engagement email may be your company’s last resort to reach inactive subscribers.

What are the benefits of using email to re-engage customers?

The benefits of using email to re-engage your subscribers include:

  • Reactivating inactive subscribers: Re-engagement campaigns seek to reconnect inactive subscribers with your brand. A compelling email subject line that incentivizes subscribers to click, coupled with further incentives in the email itself, can reactivate customers you thought were entirely lost.
  • Identifying lost subscribers: Re-engagement campaigns rarely activate all inactive customers, but they do consolidate your active subscriber base. These campaigns help you identify lost subscribers, and with emails going solely to active subscribers, your analytics – open rates, click rates and more – are higher than when inactive subscribers are included with the list.
  • Smarter marketing decisions: By consolidating the number of active subscribers you have, you can gain a clearer picture of how well your company’s marketing efforts are working. As such, re-engagement emails may help you create better future marketing campaigns.
  • More sales: With active and inactive subscribers segmented and your marketing approach more refined, you might generate more sales. That’s because email campaigns with a smaller but more active audience connect loyal customers with the items they want to buy.
  • Superior sender reputation. If you are regularly sending emails and subscribers are barely interacting with your campaigns or marking your emails as spam, your sender reputation, a numeric score (which ranges from zero to 100) assigned by email service providers (Gmail, Outlook, etc.), decreases. The lower your score, the more likely it is that email platforms will mark communications from that address as spam, or they may not even be delivered at all. If your company has a high sender score, though, the higher the likelihood is that your emails will land in customers’ inboxes.

How to develop re-engagement email campaigns

To develop a re-engagement email campaign, follow these eight steps:

1. Identify your inactive subscribers.

Begin your re-engagement email campaign by identifying your inactive subscribers. Once you’ve gathered your inactive subscribers, place them in a new email list. This list will receive your re-engagement emails.

2. Write a catchy subject line.

A key challenge with re-engagement emails is that your company sends them to people who are already disengaged. As such, your chances of re-engagement dwindle significantly without something to immediately hook your target. Sometimes, catchy subject lines are your only shot to catch a disengaged recipient’s attention.

3. Incentivize disengaged readers.

You can think of the most unexpected, surprising subject line and still fail to re-engage consumers. Just because you have someone’s attention doesn’t guarantee a sale – surely, you’ve seen things that at first appeared exciting only to quickly lose interest. Back your catchy subject line with an incentive to click. Consider offering a discount, advertising a sale or extending another financial incentive in your subject.

4. Restate your value.

Assuming that your inactive subscribers subscribed to your list, use your re-engagement email campaign to restate your value to these customers. What do your emails give your subscribers that they can’t get without remaining active? This value could be as general as subject-specific news roundups, or it could be as specific as discount codes they will not find elsewhere.

5. Introduce new value.

In addition to restating the value that you’ve long brought your subscribers, discuss new, additional value that your company delivers to your target audience. If your company has launched a new product or service, discuss that. You can also mention partnerships, integrations or other ways that your company has become newly connected with other products that your target audience might benefit from. The more you show your value, the more likely you are to re-engage consumers.

6. Give updates.

Depending on what you usually include in your emails, you may be able to share updates as part of your re-engagement campaign. For example, if you’re trying to re-engage customers with an email list that includes your company’s most recent blog posts, include a “blog posts you might have missed” section in your re-engagement email. There, list each blog’s title, link to the blog, and briefly describe its subject matter. This easy road to re-engagement may yield results in the form of increased click-through rates.

7. Offer several subscription options.

While you can’t guarantee that an inactive customer will become engaged once again after receiving your emails, perhaps you can offer them a few subscription options instead of just one. Maybe your customer stopped engaging because they felt bombarded with emails. In that case, offering the option to subscribe to only certain kinds of updates can re-engage them. However, you should have an unsubscribe option – it’s the law.

8. Don’t stop with one campaign.

Re-engagement campaigns don’t have to be one and done. You can – and should – send follow-up emails. Don’t assume that one failure to open a re-engagement email means that all subsequent communications will go unopened. Sending one or two more emails may make all the difference, but make sure that subsequent emails that you send differ substantially from previous ones, and keep all of the above seven steps in mind.

Examples of successful re-engagement emails

While the above steps sound simple in theory, sometimes, they’re tricky to implement in practice. Re-engagement emails involve a balancing act of tact, smart marketing approaches and respect for people’s boundaries.

Large companies regularly implement successful re-engagement campaigns using the above steps. Below, we’ve provided three especially strong examples:

1.  West Elm

This West Elm re-engagement email deftly blends a strong incentive with a nifty subject line. Customers who see “20% Off. Because We Miss You ❤” in their inboxes may feel drawn to the email for both the potential discount and the emotional appeal, especially because the phrase “we miss you” doesn’t attempt to guilt the reader. Neither does the email itself; the body provides the discount code and a gentle, welcoming invitation to shop again.

2.  Hootsuite

Prominent social media marketing company Hootsuite takes a re-engagement approach based on restating and introducing value. As you’ll see in the screenshot below, Hootsuite discusses not only its changes since the recipient’s last engagement, but the platform also explains how these changes originated from customer feedback. This combination of demonstrating value and showing the power customers have is a winning combo for re-engagement.

3.  Duolingo

The language learning app is known for constantly emailing users to remind them that they’re falling behind on their lessons. In this re-engagement email, Duolingo appeals to readers’ emotions to give the platform another try.

How to track re-engagement success

Your re-engagement emails are but the start of your re-engagement campaigns. To guide your next steps, you want to measure the extent to which your emails engage people.

Start by looking at your campaign’s open rate. This metric tells you how many recipients opened your email. Low numbers suggest that your approach just isn’t connecting. Even high numbers, though, don’t mean re-engagement; that’s why you need to check the click-through rates.

High click-through rates mean that you’re successfully convincing inactive subscribers to re-engage. Low click-through rates – even with high open rates – suggest that you’re not doing quite enough to convert email opens to actual customer follow-through.

Compare and contrast your click-through and open rates for several re-engagement campaigns to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Next, move your reactivated subscribers to your general active subscriber list, and keep inactive subscribers in a separate list.

Continue targeting your inactive subscribers according to the above steps. You’ll likely see one immediate change: Your active subscriber list is more active now that you’ve removed inactive subscribers and added newly reactivated customers.

With an optimized target audience, more successful marketing efforts may follow.

Image Credit: dima_sidelnikov / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.