When you think about initiating an effective re-engagement campaign, it’s best to first forget that you’re even thinking in terms of email. Instead, ask yourself, What would I do to reconnect with someone I have a relationship with? Because that’s what you have: a relationship with a person who happens to be an email subscriber.

If you thought about your email subscriber in the same way as someone you met at networking event three months ago, what would your first instinct be about how to reconnect?

To reignite that relationship, you might email or call. You might remind the person how you met and ask him or her to meet up for coffee — your treat. That’s the same approach you want to consider when developing your re-engagement campaign.

First: You Haven’t ‘Lost’ Email Subscribers.

The word lost is interesting when you think about it in terms of your email list. You haven’t technically lost the subscriber; you still have his or her email address. What is lost is an active connection with the person.

Often, re-engagement campaigns don’t work as effectively as they might because the focus isn’t on proper reconnection.

As Automizy explains, there are a few common reasons why subscribers become inactive.

  • They lost interest in your newsletter, product, or service.
  • They found an alternative to your solution.
  • They didn’t understand all the benefits that your product offers.
  • They forgot about you.

According to Marketing Sherpa, you’ll lose 25% of your email list each year simply to natural attrition. What does that mean? People decide they don’t want your emails anymore and unsubscribe, of course.

That’s actually a perfect outcome for both of you.

The key for any business is to have a solid and engaged email subscriber list. The more engaged your email readers are, the more likely they are to purchase your product or services. If they’ve self-selected out, they’ve done the work of cleaning up your list for you.

Second: Determine the Primary Goal of Your Re-Engagement Campaign.

This explanation from Mailerlite for determining your re-engagement goal is worth sharing: “The goal of your re-engagement campaign is to grab people’s attention and restate your value proposition (why they signed up in the first place). The call to action, or CTA, should be that they remain on your list or unsubscribe if they have no intention of engaging with your emails again – painful, but better for your cost and email statistics.”

Yes, it costs money for you to have subscribers on your list when you use an email marketing platform to support your efforts. And if a subscriber isn’t engaging with your emails, that costs you money. And you begin to think about the goal of your re-engagement campaign differently. In other words, you don’t want to boost numbers if the numbers don’t include engaged subscribers.

What if your goal was to let subscribers know you’re there when they need you? Or that you have educational material that you haven’t yet shared that may be what they are looking for? Or to unveil a new service?

One worthy goal is to re-engage one subscriber (or one segment of subscribers) at a time. So, think in terms of what you could do to have just one subscriber open your email.

Sending out a blanket re-engagement email sequence may not be not the best tactic.

Third: Don’t Lump All Inactive Subscribers Onto a Separate List.

Most email marketers will tell you to look at your inactive subscribers and to break them into groups or segment them based on what you know about them. You may segment based on the last time they engaged with you. Then, send out different messaging to each group.

Following this process will likely help you gain a small portion of re-engagement. But if you want to engage more subscribers, you may want to take an even more personalized approach.

Now understandably, if you have an extensive email list containing thousands of subscribers and 5,000 aren’t engaged, you can’t write to each subscriber separately. In that case, form segments, add the segments to separate lists based on characteristics you know about them, then send out a specific message to each list. (If your list is much smaller, and you like the hands-on approach of personalized emails, consider tackling your inactive list over a period of time, such as by sending five personalized emails per day.)

Fourth: Write Your Re-Engagement Sequence.

Think back to the example about reconnecting with someone you met at a networking event. Would you send the contact an email and forget about the person after that? No; more than likely, you’d also try calling or texting. That’s a type of sequence to spark re-engagement.

When you want to re-engage someone, it may take more than one email. Make a plan that includes the types of emails you’ll send and the schedule you’ll follow for sending them. Consider these sequenced-email tips.

Do something different with your subject line. Remember that disengaged subscribers probably haven’t opened any of your earlier emails. That means your subject lines aren’t grabbing their attention enough to get them to open and read what you’ve sent.

So, what subject lines might make them open your email?

Often, it’s the out-of-the-ordinary that attracts attention. What may work is a simple “How are you?”

Mailerlite suggests fun subject lines, such as:

  • Are you missing us? Let’s reconnect!
  • Hey, are you still there?
  • You’ve been missing out…

The type of subject line that’ll work for your business may not work for others. You must always ask: What subject line would grab this particular segment of subscribers enough to get them to open the email?

Determine the schedule of your sequence. Will you send one email every two weeks for two months? Or one email per week for three weeks? Use your knowledge about your audience to determine this schedule, and carefully consider variables such as peak engagement days of the week and times of the day.

Ensure your content sequence has a point. What’s the whole point of sending this re-engagement sequence? What do you want from subscribers? Do you want them to open an email and show you they’re still interested? Do you want them to unsubscribe from your list so you know for sure they aren’t interested?

Write your email re-engagement sequence so it:

  • provides an opportunity for the subscriber to reconnect with you and your content.
  • gives the subscriber something of added value, like a free download or a discount offer.
  • offers the subscriber an opportunity to provide you with feedback or ask a question.
  • allows the subscriber to self-select to unsubscribe.

You’ll know you’ve run an effective re-engagement campaign when your open rates and click-through rates increase from your segmented list of inactives or you have subscribers unsubscribe.

In the process, you’ll end up with a healthier list — and learn a little more about your remaining subscribers.