How to Win Back Inactive Subscribers

It’s a fact of email marketing that inactive subscribers make up a significant portion of your list. Whether they make up 20%, or 90% of your list, engaging this segment of your recipients is vital. There is bound to be a reason behind inactivity, it may be the content being mailed isn’t what subscribers expect, or it could be that a subscriber isn’t likely to go back to your site after their initial interaction. Whatever it may be, it’s important to have an idea of WHY your subscribers may not be engaging, because this should shape your approach to re-engagement.

The first step in tackling your dormant subscriber problem should be to segment your subscribers and analyze. Take into consideration how long the subscriber has been active. It would be ideal to have separate campaigns for subscribers that are inactive after 2 months, and those that have been inactive for 6+ months, and so on. The higher level of segmentation you can achieve, the better you can tailor your messages to fit the profile of your inactive subscribers. For instance, you can have a newsletter with a special offer or discount to subscribers that haven’t engaged for 6 months after not mailing this subscriber for a week. For a subscriber that has engaged more recently, a targeted offer containing a product similar to one they have searched for when signing up on your site. Most engagement campaigns try to incentivize older, less engaged subscribers, but with newer subscribers just a reminder may work.

ISPs are focusing more and more on engagement statistics when determining inbox placement, so mailing to older, less active subscribers is more risky. You have to know when to cut your losses, and cull some inactive subscribers from your lists. Try to determine the likelihood of a subscriber being inactive for 6 months suddenly engaging again, and weigh this against the risk of your more engaged subscribers having to check the spam folder for your messages. There is also some additional danger in hitting spam traps from mailing to older, unengaged subscribers, as their accounts may be completely inactive.

Try to find some campaigns you’ve mailed recently that got a high level of engagement and mail those more frequently. If your segmentation allows it, try to find subscribers that were inactive for a long period of time and then suddenly came back and began engaging with emails again. This could serve as a template for your re-engagement strategy. Get some inspiration from this Pinterest page highlighting some great examples of re-engagement strategy. The examples run the gamut of strategies, showing emails that incentivize, ask, and beg users to come back.

Written by
Marcin Chruszcz
Account Manager at ExpertSender
Email and marketing geek. Specializes in email deliverability, strategy and design. Basketball and MTB riding enthusiast.
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