Email Re-Activation Strategies That Will Save You Money

Re-activating customers who are no longer engaging with your emails should be part of your regular email marketing strategy and factored into your customer lifecycle. It is a fact of life that people will lose interest over time. Although you can reduce that disinterest and email list churn by working harder to keep people engaged (more on that later), it will happen that people will stop opening your emails. Be ready to re-activate when that happens.

Realize You’re Leaving Money on the Table

At some point, that consumer wanted to hear from you. And at some point, they handed over their email address and said “yes” to your emails. They opted in , they were interested. However, they haven’t been curious lately, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be again!

In fact, there may be a lot of value left in the inactive portion of your list. Of course you need to put time and money into wooing new subscribers onto your email list. But don’t forget about re-engaging people and possibly clients who wanted to hear from you but got lost along the way. The latter already knows you and your brand, therefore there’s already  a basis for a relationship. You simply need to get them interested in your messages again. So don’t look at them as dead weight to be ignored. Until they actually unsubscribe from your list, they have potential value.

Your re-activation campaign doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time either. It can be set up as an event-driven campaign, which are becoming more popular and several types of autoresponders can increase engagement, that’s automatically triggered by set lapse in time or after a certain number of emails go unopened.

Fellow email enthusiast Scott Hardigree of Email Industries talks a lot about autoresponders. According to him, a reactivation series doesn’t mean that you need to throw subscribers in the bin if they don’t become active instantly. Take a look at his equally quick read, he insists you would be able to set up an automated reengagement campaign in under an hour.

However, to help you get the creative part of the strategy set up, below you’ll find creative ways to think about re-engaging the inactive part of your audience.


Ideas to Jumpstart Your Creative

If all you need is an idea to wrap this reactivation strategy around, we have plenty of of ideas for you here! When Ryan Phelan solicited ideas for a reactivation campaign on Facebook, he got dozens of replies some of which we share here. Take a look at these titles:

  • Where are you?
  • You unfriended us
  • Please don’t go!
  • Lost your way?
  • Still friends?
  • Say it isn’t so!
  • Playing hard to get?
  • It feels like something is missing…
  • The silent treatment is so last year…
  • I like you. Do you like me?
  • Should you stay or should you go?
  • Let’s start over
  • Can we talk?
  • Have a minute?
  • Where are you?
  • We Miss You! Don’t let your points expire.
  • “Hi [name],” said the ski slope. “Wish you were here…”
  • Look what you could have earned…since you’ve been gone!
  • Where you at, yo?
  • We need to talk
  • Don’t let another great offer go unopened!
  • Yay! You’re back!
  • Hello again!
  • Is it me?
  • “Come baaaaaaack!”
  • Miss U Come Back
  • Like a warm blanket
  • We’re listening.
  • Gimme a chance!
  • Or…depending on audience – “We know we fucked up…”
  • Better together
  • Wait, don’t go!
  • Rediscover XXXXX (might not work depending on name)…
  • Let’s reconnect
  • Don’t leave!
  • “Well, hi there!….. “
  • You always used to say that
  • Hello, stranger!
  • Check THIS out!…
  • Wait! Don’t Go!
  • Here’s what you missed.
  • In the doghouse?
  • We need to talk.
  • Checking in
  • <x brand> will miss you.
  • If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put you and I together…

Unusual Approaches to Re-Engaging

Creativity is the one thing that seems to be missing in many re-activation emails. Quite often they are simply straightforward, with “we miss you” as a headline and a boring plea to come back—sometimes accompanied by a coupon or other incentive, while other times not even that. And let’s be honest, as far as attention-getting and action-prompting, they are blah and easy to overlook.

Now boring CAN and often does work, but only a slight change to your normal emails might be enough to get someone interested again. For example, try a different offer than what you’ve been sending. Try a completely different subject line, a different sender name, etc. For example, if your offers have typically been for free shipping for selected products, try a 20% off coupon instead. Or if you’ve been promoting the 10% off, try a dollar amount, a free givaway, a discount, or a time sensitive offer to get that sense of urgency instead.

Give Them Multiple Options in One Email

You can also reactivate by doing something very different from what you normally do: Giving them choices. For example, this ProFlowers re-activation email offers three different incentives to choose from: $10 off, 20% off or $5 off plus free chocolates. And I know we all love free chocolate!


Combining Multiple Options and Re-Activation Concepts

Consider combining options and multiple ideas into one email. This email from NotontheHighStreet, has a subject line reads “This is getting awkward… is there something we should know?” (hint to the preferences) and “Hello Stranger”, “It has been a while” and “Time for a refresh” in the copy.


So you CAN pick and mix from the awesome ideas above. This email also offers multiple re-engagement mechanisms:

  1. An incentive to stimulate re-engagement (and direct sales, of course)
  2. link to the preference center to update their preferences. This can be a smart tactic addressing a underlying problem that’s causing the disconnect being Irrelevant emails because of outdated preferences and the inability to segment your emails as a result of it.
  3. If the inactive subscriber simply isn’t interested any longer, there is also a prominent unsubscribe link.

Need Some More Visual Re-Engagement Inspiration?

Still not inspired and need some inspiration for your reactivation? Several Pinterest boards are dedicated to re-engagement emails. Try the great Pinterest boards of Andrew King and Nick Letham for starters. You’ll find dozens of creative ideas you can be inspired by or borrow from.

Remember your other kind of “reactivation.” This is not something you use exclusively for subscribers or customers who have lost interest. Also remember to have a plan for re-engaging those who sign up for a free trial offer and don’t commit when the free trial ends. They were interested enough to opt in for the free trial. Give them reasons to stick with you and become a paying customer!

Bonus Tip: Avoid the Need for Reactivation in the First Place

In addition to your reactivation strategy, put some effort into avoiding that kind of disinterest in the first place. Putting time and effort into engagement might be the one best list growth tactic. Here are three steps:

  1. Go beyond a single welcome email and have a welcome series to “ramp up” new subscribers right away. You need to deepen that relationship with them while they are the most interested in you, at the very beginning.
  2. Offer content of value—always. People lose interest in part because you stop being interesting. If you’re always sending the same kinds of offers and content, stop. Work to be engaging instead.
  3. Pay close attention to your analytics and watch for up- or downward trends in spam complaints or unsubscribes so you can take action and prevent small issues from becoming big ones.

Creating a reactivation strategy isn’t rocket science. It requires only a bird’s eye view in regards to your strategy, some inspiration to help you come up with your approach, and implementation. There are a lot of different ways to reactivate your sleepers, but the best way is to keep them engaged before they become inactive.

Now your turn! If you have an additional idea or “pick up lines” to get people active again, do post them in the comments below.

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Jordie van RijnJordie van Rijn

Jordie is an independent email and eCRM marketing consultant. Entrepreneur Magazine titled him “One of 50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch”. Brands like Unilever and KLM turn to him for advice. Next to helping companies improve their marketing results, he is often asked as a trainer and keynote speaker. His practical and enthusiastic approach is contagious and will have you sending better emails the next day.

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