Re-Kindling the Flame: How to Build an Effective Re-Engagement Campaign

By June 26, 2019 Blog No Comments

They don’t call, they don’t click. In fact, they don’t even open your emails. And you never see their name—or at least, their email address—on your reports anymore.

Is this the end? Is it possible that (gasp!) your email subscribers are ready to break up with you? Well, yes. But don’t despair—and don’t give up on a beautiful friendship just yet. This relationship can be saved.

It’s Not Just You

The first thing to keep in mind is that for some of your email prospects, the relationship just may have naturally run its course. According to the Email Experience Council (EEC), one of the premier organizations for email marketing, each year email marketers lose approximately one-third of the email addresses on their lists to bounces, spam complaints or natural attrition (such as unsubscribes).

While that’s a whole lotta love—and potential leads—lost, console yourself with the thought that sometimes you just have to let go. And honestly, in this case that may be a good thing, because it will free you up to concentrate on a segment of your list that could actually do more damage to your hard-earned reputation: inactive subscribers. You know, those people who don’t open your emails and just delete them unread.

Umm…how can someone not opening an e-mail hurt your reputation? Well, all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) monitor email open rates. The lower your open rate, the higher the likelihood an ISP will think recipients aren’t interested and send your emails straight to the spam folder.

But as we all know from our own experiences, subscriber inactivity is a fact of life. (Secret confession time: we’ve been known to let emails sit unopened and unread in our inboxes, too.)

So, is there a way to make recipients who thought they were over you sit up, take notice and start clicking again? You’ll be happy to hear that the answer is an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

The Re-Engagement Campaign: Better the Second Time Around

A re-engagement campaign is exactly what it sounds like: another opportunity to remind your inactive email subscribers of the magic you once shared. It can be structured like any other nurturing campaign when it comes to frequency: X number of emails, sent X number of days or weeks apart, with messages that start with something like, “We miss you!” and end with, “Well, we guess this is goodbye.” (Sniffle.)

But re-engagement campaigns don’t always have to end with a break-up—because this is one of those “What have you got to lose?” moments, which means it’s an opportunity to take chances with your communications that you might have hesitated to try with your most loyal customers.

Here are a few suggestions to help warm up your old-and-gone-cold relationship with your inactive email subscribers:

  • Give your email templates a makeover—Many, if not most, email programs show a preview of the email in your inbox. Your subscribers may be so used to the look of your emails that they automatically glance right past them. A different design could catch their eye and make them remember what they love about you. As we said, what have you got to lose?
  • Amp up the emotion—Google “examples of re-engagement emails” and get ready to laugh. Or say “Aww!” Or be stunned. Companies have used everything from funny text messages to sad puppies to breathtaking skyline photos to successfully catch inactive subscribers’ attention. Remember, the heart wants what the heart wants—so go for it, take a tug at their heartstrings and see what happens.
  • Free giveaway or gift—You’re already saving money by not buying new lists, so why not spend a little on a tempting treat to incentivize your subscribers? There are very few people who don’t love to get something for free, especially if it only takes a quick click of a link or they only need to fill out a couple of fields online. P.S. Be sure to check with your attorney or legal department for any regulations you need to know, or any limitations your company may have on giveaways.
  • Turn it into a game—We humans love to have fun, so the prospect of a game can be as irresistible as a box of Valentine chocolates (ooh, or those candy message hearts; we LOVE those). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gamification as “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Quizzes, wheel spins to earn discounts, virtual scratch-offs—there are so many possibilities for gamifying a re-engagement campaign. And if it brings back your inactive subscribers, it might be worthwhile to try it out on your active subscribers down the line.
  • A/B testing—A re-engagement campaign is the perfect time to tinker with A/B testing, a measurement methodology in which you send two versions of an email or other marketing asset to two different audiences, to see which version performs best. The UK’s Digital Marketing Magazine has a very non-intimidating and understandable article that can tell you more about the basics of A/B testing (link at end of article).
  • Experiment with personalization—We all want to be loved (or at least noticed). Is it possible your inactive subscribers aren’t engaging with your content because it’s…well, a little on the impersonal side? If you have a nagging suspicion this might be the case, it could be time to experiment with personalizing your communications. Address the recipients by their first names, refer to their past purchases, or send personalized recommendations to create a bond they won’t want to break. It’s all possible with today’s marketing automation tools.


In their 2016 “State of Marketing” report, Salesforce noted that while 71% of marketers think re-engagement campaigns are effective, only 57% actually implement them. Which is a somewhat baffling statistic, when it’s easier and less expensive to retain your existing customers than to acquire new prospects.

Of course, for all we know that 14% may just not be quite ready to settle down and put the work into a relationship that has already seen its best days (we’re not judging, just saying).

Whatever their reasoning, the fact is that 57% of marketers do happily embrace re-engagement campaigns. Could it be time to take advantage of new content and innovative approaches to achieve your own email marketing happily-ever-after?

Wondering how to kick off a re-engagement campaign? Start with our Marketing Director (and Certified Pardot Consultant and SharpSpring Specialist), Jeremy Sterling, at or 734-546-5434.