How to re-engage inactive subscribers

25% of your email list will die off each year.

Re-engaging inactive subscribers is essential for the health of your list, those people ignoring you or not taking action are affecting both your open and click rates. But we’ll worry about the health of your list in the next module of the course.

Today, our focus is on how do we get them to re-engage and take action.

There are 4 important steps to achieve this (Consider this your homework for the day):

1) Establish a goal

Setting a goal is essential in this case, otherwise you won’t be clear on what you’re trying to achieve. I know we’re trying to re-engage as many of those deadbeat subscribers in your list, but let’s get specific.

The goal should be based one type of action:

  • A download
  • Set email preferences
  • Take an offer
  • Answer a question

Whatever the end goal is here, the metric will probably be the same: Click Rate. Of course you can also measure things like replies, conversions or downloads, but the main thing is that they take action in your campaign.

So the goal for your campaign should be as simple as “10% CTR,” because this will tell you the percentage of inactive subscribers that became re-engaged.

2) Identify the inactive subscribers

Now you need to:

2.1) Define the target audience

Decide who will receive this campaign. This will be based on how long they have been inactive.

3 months? 6 months?

2.2) Segment

Create a segment of your list based on this criteria: “People that have not opened any emails since XX/XX/XX”

Save your segment so you can use it to send the campaign.

3) Re-engagement campaign

We have a goal and we have an audience, now it’s time to get creative and have fun. You need to design your “Re-engagement Campaign.”

Here are some ideas:

Offer a discount or a coupon

There is nothing like getting an irresistible offer, right?

Send a discount promotion or a coupon to make the come back. Be straight and tell them why you’re offering it: “It’s been a while and we want you to come back!” 

Re-engage coupon

Deliver value

You have a new ebook, and since they’re already in your list, there’s a chance they’ll miss the opportunity to get it. Send them a campaign offering the free download.

Tell them about a new feature

Your product has improved, you have a new feature that’s getting good response. Write a campaign to tell them how they can benefit from this.

Upgrade them

One of the services I love is InVision, but I stopped using it for a while. Instead of just asking me to come back, they upgraded my account.

This, of course, was probably based on behavior. I went from being an active user to not using at all. I’m back, by the way…

Re-engage with an upgrade


Send an email to ask if they want to update their subscription preferences.

Can this backfire and result in an unsubscribe? Of course, but this is a good thing (we’ll discuss this in the next module).

Ask them

Sometimes you just need to ask.

A campaign asking why they haven’t been engaging with your emails can, not only get them re-engaged, but it can also provide you with some key insights about how they perceive your entire strategy.

Ask them

4) Measure results

Now that you’ve ran your campaign, it’s time to look at the results.

Remember, the results might not be as positive as when you send a campaign to active subscribers, these people have been ignoring you for a while.

What’s next?

What happens with the people that didn’t re-engage?

What follows after step 4 is a whole different animal that we are planning to attack in the next module, where we’ll cover the health of your list.

To be continued…