• Alex Ford

Let’s Stay Together – The Rules of Re-Engagement

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person just kind of checked out? You may not have done anything different – or wrong – but suddenly they just didn’t seem that into you anymore? If they didn’t break up with you, there was still some hope of turning it around though. A relationship worth saving takes work – you need to put in some extra effort and attention. The same rings true for your email subscribers. Let’s take a look at how to reinvigorate a fizzled-out relationship with your inactive subscribers and get them re-engaged and re-invested in your messages!


It’s Not You, It’s The Subscribers


Inactivity usually isn’t your fault – it’s natural for email lists to deteriorate over time. So why should you care about inactive subscribers? If you don’t do anything about it you could face some pretty negative consequences. These people will affect your overall deliverability – with a lower reputation, more of your messages will end up in the spam filter. Another issue with these subscribers is they can impact your decision-making process if you’re looking at engagement metrics.

Some list managers will try to solve these issues by cleaning the list and removing these inactive subscribers. This is a good habit, don’t get me wrong, but it should be the LAST option. Assuming everything is above-board with your list, these people willingly signed up to hear from you… that means there’s a chance to win them back. Going back to the relationship analogy, you wouldn’t just break up without trying to work through things, right?

A re-engagement series, as you can probably assume, is a journey to send inactive subscribers through with the goal of boosting retention and improving engagement rates. This is a last-ditch effort to convince your subscribers that the messages you send them are valuable – otherwise it’s probably best to break up for good (and remove them from your list.) 💔

Renewing the Vows

Now you know what a re-engagement series is and why it’s important to have one, so let’s look at the best practices of creating one.

The way you work to re-engage your subscribers may look different than the way someone else does – it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Think about what you hope to gain and how you can make an exchange worthwhile for your subscribers. In most cases, you’ll need more than one email to achieve this. One commonality to keep in mind is these re-engagement messages need to command attention. For whatever reason your usual content is not doing that, so make sure that your re-engagement effort is unique and tailored. You should also be sure to remind them of who you are and why they gave you their email address at all to rekindle the spark that you once shared.


A few tips include:

  • Find the most impactful subject line possible for your first message - do this by split testing different options until you find a winner

  • Consider what made the person sign up with you in the first place - so if they initially received a free recipe, send them another one!

  • Try providing an incentive that adds to your value - depending on what you offer, a discount or a upgraded membership trial could be a starting point

The foundation of an effective re-engagement workflow is proper segmentation. You need to group the subscribers that you’re trying to target according to the criteria most appropriate for you. Maybe that looks like “hasn’t opened an email in 6 months” or maybe it’s “hasn’t clicked in 3 months.” Think about what important metrics matter most to you and your list and remember that not all relationships follow the same rules.

Once you have your segment, it’s time to set up the pathway that your subscribers will follow through this journey. In some cases, they may give you your desired outcome early and can be removed from the workflow. Make sure to set up specific rules to ensure that they’re not going through multiple times and that the sequence of messages they receive make sense. Since this is your last chance at salvaging the connection, you definitely don’t want to make any blunders here!

Just keep in mind that these people were at once interested in your messages enough to give you their information. Ideally you will be able to remind them of the good times i.e. all of the value that you provide through your content and reaffirm your relationship. But, if they still don’t respond to your advances… that means their silence is actually speaking volumes and it’s time to wish them the best and make a clean break.

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