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Are you in or are you out? What makes a great re-engagement campaign? by Jessica Best @bestofjess


Are you in or are you out? What makes a great re-engagement campaign? by Jessica Best @bestofjess


Are you in or are you out? What makes a great re-engagement campaign? by Jessica Best @bestofjess

Are you in or are you out? What makes a great re-engagement campaign?

Your email marketing list doesn’t stay golden forever. Contacts may change email addresses and never tell you. You may be the victim of triage – where subscribers quickly prioritize and delete emails –  in an overcrowded inbox (who isn’t?). The truth is, if you’re like most email marketers, up to 50% (or more) of your list could be inactive.

Inactive means something different to every client, but for the most part, if you can’t prove that an email subscriber has opened or clicked (or purchased online or offline) in over a year, it’s time to look at reactivating them.

  1. Put your brand into it. Don’t just send a boring transactional-type email. Use your brand’s characters, colors, and all around tone to communicate with them the way you did when they signed up. Now is the time to play up your personality (again).
  2. Give them a (great) reason to re-engage. You’re basically asking for them to sign up all over again. What’s in it for them? Expert content, a freebie or coupon, entry in a promotion, or access to exclusive insider information may do the trick. You should be providing your email subscribers with value anyway. Here’s your chance to show it off a little.
  3. If at first you don’t succeed… Ask again. Don’t just send once. Remember that only 25-30% of your list will read each email, so don’t assume just because they didn’t see/interact with the first one that they’re uninterested.
  4. Bonus: Branch out of email. If they’re not taking the action you want them to – open, click, buy – it may be because they just aren’t seeing you. Try getting an updated, primary email address via phone or direct mail. Remember all 3 of the tactics above when you reach out!

Let’s say you run your re-engagement campaign. You nurture your inactive subscribers with two or three very clever, highly branded emails asking them to come back. Most likely, only about 5-15% of your list will re-engage, depending on what you offer them or how long ago they signed up. What do you do with the other 85%?

Consider trimming your inactive contacts if you can’t re-engage them with a well-designed nurture campaign. Meaning, remove them from your mailing list and put them off to the side to find other ways to re-engage. This can not only save you email marketing volume costs, but helps keep your list clean, which can mean better inbox placement. If you stop sending to the 30% of your list that never opens or clicks, your Open and Click-through percentages for each email just got a healthy boost.

ISPs like Yahoo! and Gmail love to see these response rate percentages go up! It makes you look less like spammers, who usually don’t keep clean lists and usually get low response rates.

Important caveat: if you can prove those who aren’t acting in email are still buying online or offline, you may want to leave them in the mix. Studies have shown that even showing up as a subject line in someone’s inbox can help drive traffic and sales!

Takeaway: Reach out to inactive email contacts with a nurture or “drip” campaign – more than just a single email – that highlights the benefits of subscribing to them again and encourages them to re-engage as email subscribers.

  • Profile:  Jessica Best is Parade Leader, aka Marketing Manager, at emfluence, a marketing platform and email service provider based in Kansas City, MO. Part massive email, social media and online marketing nerd and part permission-marketing evangelist, she’s not afraid to type (or speak) her opinion on the industry. New communication outlets, beware, she’ll come for you. Spark a discussion on email marketing, social media or music (any genre) at jbest at emfluence dot com.
  • Website:  http://www.emfluence.com
  • Twitter:   http://www.twitter.com/bestofjess
  • LinkedIn:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicalbest
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Your thoughts here
  1. Jessica,

    Great article..but why wait a year. Why not look at time to inactivity models and then start re-activation prior to them becoming inactive?

    Andrew Kordek
    Co-Founder, Trendline Interactive – A Strategic Email Marketing Agency.

    • Great thought, Kordek. I actually just said the same giving a presentation the other day. Figure out what your own cycle is for your list and start your nurture campaign where the inactives start to “die off” and never come back.

      Thanks for reading!
      Jessica
      @bestofjess

  2. Nice article. Many B2B entities aren’t aware or don’t consider this positive campaign strategy. Another worthwhile article to read on this subject is Re-Engagement Email Campaigns: 9 Steps: http://masstransmit.com/tag/re-engagement/

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