6 Ways to Re-Engage Inactive Email Subscribers

You’ve done it!  After deploying numerous campaigns your email list is finally looking extensive. You exhale a sigh of relief, but suddenly realize that you’ve applauded yourself too soon. You’re losing engagement, or worse yet, your email list is filled with inactive subscribers. Studies show that 70% of email lists are inactive. This number might seem tremendously discouraging, but before you abandon all hope, keep reading.  

Losing engagement is inevitable, but it isn’t irreversible. According to Loren McDonald, Marketing Evangelist at IBM, 10% to 20% of subscribers completely disengage from a brand’s email list annually (mailer lite). 

Initially, you may think the best resolution is to contact your audience more. Maybe if you are able to say the right thing, they’ll re-engage? While that is partially true, there are a few steps to consider before pushing more content out. Here are a few ways you can revamp your content to drive engagement.

Segment inactive subscribers

Before building your re-engagement strategy, you’ll first need to identify your inactive subscribers. Who has engaged with your campaigns within the last 6-12 months?  Research shows that 39% of marketers who segment their email lists generate better open rates. You’ll often find subscribers at one of these stages in your marketing funnel: hibernation, limbo, and graveyard. 

  1. Hibernation –  Hello? Is anyone home? Subscribers who’ve recently stopped engaging with your campaigns will be placed into this category. With the right message, you can rattle them awake! 
  2. Limbo –  This is where you’ll place subscribers who’ve been inactive for a substantial amount of time. The fire is still burning, but it’s shrunken over time. With a solid re-engagement campaign, it’ll be rekindled to its former ferocity. 
  3. Graveyard –  Here lie the subscribers who most likely signed up to partake in your discounts or promotions. They’ve never interacted with your campaigns and engaging with them seems next to impossible. Before you vanquish them from your list, try to find an effective way to reconnect. Studies have shown that inactive subscribers are 26 percent more likely to make a follow-up purchase than non-subscribers, and active subscribers were actually 38 percent more likely to come back.

Cleaning out your email list will not only give you a clear view of who is truly engaging with your content, but it will also improve your email deliverability rate. Your sender score can plummet if you have a low engagement rate, and then mark your emails as spam. You’ll also be saving money! The longer the email list, the more you’ll be paying your email service providers. So, do yourself a favor and tidy up! This can be done at least once per year.

Improve Subject Lines 

We’ve all heard it. Time is money. Your subscribers are human; they have lives and their time is limited. So how can we grab a few seconds of their time? According to Connectio, people are naturally drawn to numbers. Including them in the subject lines of your emails can generate interest. A great way to do this is by implementing the R-O-T ( results, objection, time) formula which simply states the results, objections they might have and a specified time-frame in which the results can be achieved. Sign-up for our content upgrade for an in-depth break down of the formula and more! 

It’s important that your subject lines are free of spelling and grammatical errors. Be mindful of how many exclamation marks are used and try to refrain from stating your subject line in all caps. Incorporating these elements can make you appear aggressive.

Emojis 

I know, I know. You might think that incorporating them into your subject lines will do more harm than good, but these little guys can help your emails pack a punch. In a vast sea of emails, emojis can be the lighthouse that helps your message stand out in an inbox. Studies show that incorporating emojis in subject lines can lead to higher response rates than traditional email.

Here are a few ways they can benefit your emails: 

  • Personality – Throwing an emoji in your subject line can help it convey what words can’t. They can also be useful in solidifying your brand’s voice and improving the overall tone of your message.   
  • Space saver – Maximize space by replacing certain words with its emoji equivalent. 
  • Engagement boost –  Push notifications with emojis saw 85% increase in open rates and 9% bump in conversions

Unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing. It’s important to find balance when using emojis in your emails. Use too many, they become a distraction or convey a sense of unprofessionalism. Try limiting emoji use to one or two maximum per subject line.

Personalized Messages 

Do you remember how you felt the last time you received a birthday card or a package addressed directly to you? It felt good, right? Studies show that the open rate for emails with a personalized message is 17.6%, compared to 11.4% for emails that don’t contain a personalized message. Sending a personalized message to your subscribers makes them feel like an individual rather than just another number. Making them feel like they matter can encourage them to resume engagement with your content. 

Here are a few ways personalized messages can be incorporated into your   re-engagement campaign: 

  • Incentivize Your Subscribers 

Who doesn’t love saving money? Depending on your profit margins, extending a special discount toward inactive subscribers might be enough to get them to return. Special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, can be useful with this approach. 

  • Remind them of why they signed-up 

Reinforce your value by reminding them of the benefits that come with being with your company. What makes you stand out from other businesses in your field? 

  • Show them what they’re missing 

Reminding your subscribers of what they’ve accomplished while using your services could encourage them to return, especially if the data is significant. Use this opportunity to share any new information. Accompany this message with a call-to-action in the form of a “learn more” button.

Personalized Emails

Survey

Sometimes, you just need to hear it straight from the source. Conducting a poll or survey gives your subscribers an opportunity to engage with you and openly share their thoughts. Try to keep your survey short. AWeber recommends covering between 1-10 questions during a timeframe of 1-5 minutes. The survey can include open-ended questions or take the form of an opinion poll with premade answers. Of the two, most recommend taking the opinion poll approach, as it could save the recipient time. 

Spam 

Your word is your bond. A huge part of relationship-building is honesty. When building your re-engagement campaign it’s important to state information that you’ll be able back up. Dishonest subject lines or copy might increase your open rates momentarily, but they’ll put your business at risk. The CAN-SPAM Act explicitly states that the use of deceptive subject lines and misleading header information in commercial messages can be subject to penalties for such violations. When it comes to successfully re-engaging your subscribers, honesty truly is the best policy. 

Saying goodbye doesn’t have to be hard. Remember to follow the CAN-SPAM Act rules by honoring opt-out requests promptly. The Can-Spam Act prohibits you from charging a fee, selling email addresses, and requires you to honor this request within 10 business days. Try not to take their departure personally and ensure that the unsubscribing process is hassle-free. 

There could be numerous reasons as to why you’re seeing a drop in engagement. Take a step back. Clean up your email list and re-evaluate your strategy. Your subscribers signed up for a reason. With a few tweaks to your campaign, you might be able to remind them of that reason. But it’s important to remember that just like the seasons, people also change. Don’t get hung up on those who still insist on opting out after launching your re-engagement campaign. There are only lessons, not failures. Use this as an opportunity to dial in your personas and create curated information.

Clearing away inactive accounts will not only save you money, but it will also decrease the chances of your data becoming skewed. With a clear view of your data, you’ll be able to make accurate decisions that’ll spark engagement. 

As you can see, just as there are complexities and details that can’t be neglected when creating an email list, there are precautions you must take when trying to re-engage readers.

Written by Bryanna Norris
Published on February 24, 2020
Filed Under: Email Marketing
In This Article: Email Marketing