Commentary

Email Re-Engagement, Reimagined

We’ve all had them: the conversation with a colleague who says, “Why can’t we just keep sending campaigns to everyone in the email database? It can’t hurt, right?”

Yes, it can. A lot. Sending generic messages to unengaged email subscribers is opt-out rocket fuel. The good news is, there are approaches you can take to reawaken inactive subscribers on your list.

A Quick Primer
A non-engaged, inactive email subscriber is someone who hasn’t opened or clicked on an email in a set number of months. To keep your email program healthy,  I recommend that you mail only to active email recipients — those who open or click on your campaigns.

Sending emails to inactive subscribers can negatively affect your deliverability, overall metrics, and budget.

The amount of time you use to define an email as inactive is up to the nature of your business and will vary based on your company’s email frequency, seasonality, and sales cycle.

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A New Approach

An email marketer’s ultimate goal is to offer content so valuable that subscribers will want to continually open, click, and stick around. Inevitably, for a portion of an email list, activity often grows stagnant.

So what are some new approaches to bring non-responders back into the fold as active subscribers?

It’s critical to note that not all inactive emails are equal. Similar to active emails, inactive subscribers can also be segmented, targeted, and treated differently. Most marketers often forget this when developing an inactive email program. For instance, if a company’s inactive threshold for email is six months, I recommend putting those subscribers into these three segments, with these varying approaches:

1)    “Soon to be” inactives (haven’t opened or clicked on an email in two to six months). With this group, driving activity is the goal. Consider targeting a specialized, limited-time-only promotion based on their most recent email or website behavior. Contextual marketing tactics like in-email polls, surveys, and personalized imagery are also proven methods to drive clicks with this audience. Consider developing a series of campaigns employing a variety of these methods to drive engagement for “soon to be” inactives.  

2)    Inactives (haven’t opened or clicked for six months to a year). These individuals are past the threshold, so a straightforward approach is best. We miss you, opt-down, and re-permission-type messaging work well for this audience. Remind them of what they will be missing by not receiving your emails. Again, consider sending a series of campaigns. Be clear that you will no longer email if no activity is taken.

3)    Dormants (haven’t opened or clicked for a year or more). It’s best not to email these individuals, since that may cause severe deliverability issues. Instead, take a re-permission approach. Ask them to opt back into the email program via other channels where they’re logged in and can be recognized by their email address. Facebook, your company’s mobile app, or your online/call-in reservation program are good places to start.

For all segments, test a variety of content and calls to action to re-engage subscribers to find a winning combination. Automate the messages once a winning sequence is identified.

If, after all this effort, an inactive or dormant doesn’t open or click, let them go and focus your energy on those who do.

What are some ways you’ve re-engaged your subscribers? Let me know in the comments.

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