CampaignsMailing List & Subscribers

How to run a Re-Engagement email campaign and win back lost subscribers?


Let’s start this article with a bold statement: Size doesn’t matter! Size of the email list, to be precise, especially if the engagement of your subscribers is low. There is nothing that makes an email marketer happier than recipients who open their emails and engage with them. Sadly, some subscribers will stop interacting with you, and such are not only bad for your business but can also impact your email performance in the long run. Here’s where the re-engagement email campaign comes in.

From this article, you will learn how to create effective win-back email campaigns that will help you keep your subscribers invested in your content, and your product!

What is a re-engagement email campaign?

Basics first.

The re-engagement email campaign is a sequence of mass emails sent to previously segmented audiences, that aim to re-activate recipients who are no longer interacting with your emails. Such campaigns can be called:

  • Re-engagement
  • Win-back
  • Re-activation

There are different types of re-engagement emails that marketers use in their email strategy.

The Offer

You can send this email to prospects that have previously shown interest in buying or already made a purchase. You will need to use your data, and look into your recipient’s interests, browsing and purchase history, and based on that information create an offer that will be simply irresistible.

The Reminder

You can send such an email to remind your subscribers why they’ve signed up to your mailing list in the first place. You could bring back the good memories of how you have previously solved an issue or provided a product that was beneficial to the prospect and show them that re-engaging again will be valuable for them. It is also a good place to give them the possibility to update their email preferences.

The Regret

This is usually the last resort email, in which the sender uses regret to win the recipient back. By adding an emotional touch and guilt to your email, you might be able to warm up the coldest heart. You may use this email to express your sadness and trigger regret in the reader for wanting to leave your mailing list.

Why do subscribers become unengaged with your emails?

Nothing lasts forever, and even the most engaged subscribers might one day turn into cold, inactive and unbothered recipients of yet another email campaign of yours. Understanding why people stop interacting with your emails is essential in reducing the number of such to a minimum, and to find out what you’ve been doing wrong so far.

The frequency of your email communication was too high, the prospect got overwhelmed and lost interest in your brand. No one wants to be perceived as a spammer, check your email sequences asap.

Subscriber has only signed up to use a one-time offer. Such can be difficult to reactivate, however sending similar or even better offers their way might show them that staying engaged with your emails could be beneficial.

Your emails are no longer landing in the recipient’s inboxes! Re-engagement emails won’t help, you will need to look into your email deliverability practices to fix your email delivery rates.

Misleading subject lines can make everyone unhappy. If the subject was promising the moon, but the content didn’t deliver on the promise, you’ve just lost the trust of your recipient! Keep your subjects relevant and true but exciting!

If your email copy doesn’t provide value, or the offers are irrelevant to your subscriber’s needs, prospects will no longer interact with you.

Your reader is no longer interested in your value proposition, as their preferences have changed or the need was already fulfilled.

Why should you run a re-engagement campaign?

Before we dive deep into re-engagement email design, you should have a good understanding of the benefits of such campaigns, and why you should implement win back emails into your email marketing strategy today!

Two key benefits of running a reactivation email campaign are:

Increasing sales and saving marketing budgets

Every unopened email is a potential lost sale opportunity. Period. By fighting to get back your inactive customers, you will increase your revenue. You will be able to bring back prospects that you thought were already lost. Not to mention the fact that by removing inactive users, you will stop investing your marketing efforts and budgets into prospects that will never convert.

Improving your email deliverability.

Engagement rates of all your email campaigns are a significant component of your sender reputation. Inactive recipients can harm your metrics and impact your email deliverability as well. ISPs will definitely notice a persistent lack of engagement of your subscriber, and may perceive you as a sender with bad practices. They might lower your inbox placement and even block your email communications completely.

How to create a successful win-back email campaign?

Segment your audience

Segmentation is your key to the success of your re-engagement campaign. You will need to dive deep into your data, analyze the previous activity of your subscribers. Look into those that haven’t opened any email from you in the last x days or months. Experts often recommend marking recipients as inactive if they haven’t opened an email in the last 30 to 60 days. However, this will vary from the type of business that you provide, and your email marketing frequency. Group your audience by their lack of activity and other significant factors that will allow you to personalize your content.

Clean your email list

You can use an email verification tool like Bouncer or Kickbox to eliminate emails on your list that are no longer deliverable. If the last time you’ve emailed your list was over two months ago, make sure to first run your list through a list cleaning tool. This will help you reduce your bounce rate to a minimum and by that keep your sender reputation secured. Don’t let invalid addresses impact your email communication.

Select best frequency/sending time

Choose how many emails you would like to send in the sequence, and find the best time for the audience to open your emails. Don’t stop after the first email, add at least one, or even better, two emails, with different content and call to actions. Analyze your subscribers’ previous email opening time, and try to recreate it.

Create an eye-catching subject line

An eye-catching subject line solves a crowded inbox problem. But finding the best subject isn’t always easy. Don’t leave it to the last minute, and treat it equally important as the copy of the email itself. Use emoticons, strong words, instant value, incentives and personalization. Remember to keep your content relevant to the subject line.

Design the email sequence

Designing the sequence might seem challenging, but if you remember to answer the one super important question ‘What’s in it for the subscriber?’ in the copy of the email, you are on the right track! Focus on the value, emotions and personalization. Don’t be afraid to offer great discounts or to create a once in a lifetime opportunity, use FOMO if applicable, but keep it short at the same time. Make sure that call to action is clear and well-fitting with the copy and subject line.

Track the results of your campaign

Sadly, re-engagement campaigns don’t work miracles to bring back all inactive prospects, and some recipients will not respond to your win-back emails with any action. That is why you will need to track the results and analyze data, to remove those that still had no interaction with your email communication. Don’t feel sorry – this will do only good for your engagement rates and sender reputation. It is all about the quality of your list, not the quantity!

3 additional tips for designing the re-engagement campaign

1. Test your emails before sending them out. It might be your last opportunity to contact the subscriber. What a shame it would be if due to some silly mistake your email wouldn’t come out the way you have designed and planned in the first place. Check all the personalization, subject line, copy, images etc. Anything that might make a bad last impression, should be tested and fixed!

2. Keep your unsubscribe button visible! Don’t try to hide it, let your prospects take their emails off your mailing list easily. It is much better for your sender reputation and further email communication, to lose a recipient that won’t interact with your emails, than leaving them with no option than to mark your email as SPAM.

3. Make your emails mobile-friendly! Keep in mind that more than 54% of all emails are opened on mobile devices, and this number will most definitely grow year by year. That is why you have to make sure that the content of your email is designed for mobile users also: easily scannable, short paragraphs with bold headings, well visible subject lines and CTA’s.

Author’s bio: Izabela Harbarczyk is a Growth Catalyst and a Content Creator at Bouncer, where she has gained in-depth knowledge around email marketing, email deliverability and email verification. Bouncer is a Europe based email verification service, known for the most accurate results and data safety.