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Email Engagement: How to Avoid Reactivation

A healthy database of engaged email addresses is a priority for your marketing strategy. Constant churn and attrition is normal, as there will always be unsubscribes and new subscribers. But how many of your current subscribers are really engaged? According to a report by ReturnPath, only 24 percent of email lists consist of highly engaged subscribers. MailChimp recently identified through 6.6 billion sends that inactive subscribers, on average, were estimated to be worth 32 percent that of an active email list participant.

There are many point of views and strategies on reactivating inactive email addresses. After all, it’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones, and the same goes with your list. While win-back reactivation tactics can be effective in re-engaging, they don’t come without risk. Deploying mass amounts of emails to unengaged audiences can spark an increase in unsubscribes and spam reports, which can hurt your ISP rating and deliverability.

So, what is the best strategy? Keep your audience engaged with relevant and personalized messaging. Here are six ways to help you get started:

1) Email Subscription Center

Remove the guess work and ask your subscribers what they want to hear about and how often. This is an important tactic at the beginning of your relationship. Not only will this information guide targeting and segmentation, it also shows your subscribers that you care about their interests.

A subscription center can be as long or short as you need it to be, depending on your email strategy. The best time to ask is during the opt-in process or in the welcome email, when they are the most engaged.

More targeted communications increase deliverability, maximize engagement, and help minimize unsubscribes.     

2) Cadence

How often do you receive email from a brand or company you haven’t heard from  in one or more years? Some brands are notorious for this, especially around the holiday season. From a consumer and user experience perspective, it is disconnected and just seems weird. If you’re already using an email subscription center, you most likely have indicated how often your subscribers will receive an email. If you have not, testing cadence early on is a good tactic to find the sweet spot. In all cases, it’s important to stick to a cadence, so your audience isn’t surprised or taken aback.

3) Test Content

While there are best practices around content and messaging, there isn’t a guide of content guaranteed to produce results. Every brand and audience will perform differently, so it’s very important to test, test, test. Start simple: CTA’s, time of day, etc. If your KPIs include engagement, leveraging an analytics tool that includes a heat map will help you understand what type of content your audience is most interested in.

4) Triggered and Personalized

Whether they’re looking at a product or service, or further along in the decision journey, anyone actively visiting your website is engaged in your brand. Setting up email triggers based on their online behavior keeps the conversation (and engagement) going once someone has left your website.

Examples vary across industries but may include cart abandonment or repeat visits to the same page. Like all email communications, personalization will maximize user experience and results.

Before rolling out, test to make sure it’s set up and works properly. I recently received an email from a large home improvement chain asking if I was still looking at “home appliances” – but I had already purchased some within the last 30 days from that retailer. The email was immediately deleted, unopened.

5) Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are also a great way to engage with lapsing or low engaging subscribers, and can include discounts, reward points, sweepstakes and other incentives. A study by HelloWorld found when customer engagement scores are low, participation in a loyalty program can increase engagement levels by nearly 20%.

6) Your Customers’ Shoes

Data and KPIs are important tools to measure the success of email and other marketing campaigns. We as marketers are also consumers, and it helps to put on your “consumer hat” from time to time. Email is for the benefit of the receiver, not the sender. We’ve all received emails that leave us a little puzzled, or wondering, ‘what were they thinking?’. We’ve also seen campaigns that inspire us. Think about what motivates you to engage with your inbox.

Incorporating engaging email tactics is key to keeping your best subscribers active and to grow a healthy, scalable list. Implementing and executing a robust program generally requires the use of an integrated marketing and analytics platform and the help of email experts.

What tactics do you use to engage with your subscribers? Let us know in the comments below!

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