Inactive subscribers are not “neutral” anymore. They can harm your business directly. Besides, reengaging email subscribers is cheaper than acquiring new ones. Actually it is 4-8 times cheaper depending on your products.
The only alternative to reengaging your customers — a real alternative, doing nothing doesn’t count, — is erasing them from your list, but that’s not what you’d do in most cases.
If you continue to email inactive subscribers, which could have been turned into “spam traps” by ISPs ages ago, you may become subject to ISP scrutiny. If you continue to behave in ways that displease ISPs, every email sent from your address can become undeliverable.
How to re-engage your customers?
Before you take any steps, try and ensure that your email deliverability is top-notch and your email bounce rate is reasonably low. You can read more about the subject (including how to improve deliverability) in our article on email deliverability.
1. Define the segment.
For example, the inactive users could be the ones that are inactive for at least 90 days (haven’t opened an email). Or, if your business is seasonal, you can make the period longer. It depends heavily on your business niche.
2. Try winning the inactive subscribers back.
Yikes! Defining the segment is a straightforward action anyone can do. But, luckily, here are some ideas that you can use to reengage email subscribers:
- Send an offer that peaks the subscriber’s interest.
Easier said than done? Well, simply look around at what’s gaining people’s attention. Maybe you can get to the core of an urban legend, and use the same language, the same approach, yet in a positive way to gain the attention of a customer?
Or maybe a contest or a giveaway could reengage email subscribers
- Focus on catchy subject lines.
As email marketing expert Brent Rosengren said in an interview to directmag.com,“With any reengagement campaign to any audience, the subject line and a clear and valuable message are crucial. The subject line is the first step to getting the attention of your disengaged audience.”
- Send a “best of” email, showcasing the most popular content on your site over time.
This also serves as a reminder about why the customer subscribed, and can work well to reengage the customer.
- When all the above fails, send a survey.
If you don’t know why the subscribers are inactive… ask them! Survey the inactive subscribers. You’re not that popular amongst the inactive segment means that something is wrong, and it is worthwhile to ask the inactive subscribers what they think you are doing wrong. It will help you get to the gist of the problem if you hadn’t already.
3. No success? Decrease the sending frequency gradually.
Instead of removing the subscriber right off the bat, gradually decrease the mailing frequency. For example, send 1 email instead of 2 per month, or 0,5 instead of 1 per month. You get the idea. This will decrease the possible frustration of subscribers who don’t know how to unsubscribe, and will help you reengage email subscribers that have been on vacation, maternity leave, or traveling for extensive periods of time.
4. Still no success?
Your company isn’t a twenty dollar bill. Everyone will not like you. Let go of the really inactive customers, preferably by sending them a “goodbye email”, and informing them at a set time you will unsubscribe them if they won’t take any action.
Once you’ve finished reengaging your customers, remember that you ought to place the reactivated in a new segment–chances are that if they didn’t like your emails before, they won’t like them now. Note that the win-back campaign shouldn’t take too long, or else you won’t reengage email subscribers; you’ll only enrage them even more.