Bringing Them Back: Re-Engagement Strategies for Your Lapsed Customers

Much has been written about how to re-engage inactive subscribers on your email marketing lists. However, try as you might, it is still challenging to re-engage them, and you should dig a little deeper into this issue to develop some new strategies.

First, you must accept that there are many opportunities and products in your customers’ inboxes all vying for their attention, and you must find a way to rise above all the noise with our offers or services. Next, the fact of the matter is that some sources say that nearly half of emails sent to those who opted-in for them go unopened. How do you get them back?

Mailbox providers watch engagement rates carefully, and your deliverability could be affected if you have many subscribers who never open your emails. Make sure to identify the active subscribers on your email list. Although this may vary by industry towing to buying cycle, a good benchmark is that those who have opened or clicked your emails within the past six months can be considered active.

Next, define the segment of your email file to be reactivated. A safe bet for this group is to include those who have opened or clicked within the past six to 12 months.

Those who have been unengaged the longest should be approached with a reconfirmation campaign. This is a campaign telling the subscriber that they are on your email list, but that you will stop sending them emails if they do not click the button or link in the email to confirm their desire to stay on your list. The reconfirmation campaign should include subscribers who have not opened or clicked your emails within the past 12–24 months. This segment of your email list is very likely to include spam traps, which is why you should proceed with a reconfirmation campaign, as opposed to a marketing message. Finally, create a drop-off point. If you have been emailing them regularly, there is no reason you should be sending to addresses that have not engaged with you in more than two years.

Return Path has a lot to say on the subject as well. For instance, don’t delete your lapsed subscribers if you don’t get an immediate response. Studies show that only about 24 percent of those lapsed subscribers will open your initial re-engagement email, but 45 percent will read subsequent ones. One Return Path study showed that it was 57 days from when the subscribers got the win back email before they acted. Because of this, it’s important to plan for a multitouch re-engagement campaign over several weeks.

Additionally, for the subscribers who open or click but don’t confirm, silo them separately and continue trying to reactivate, but at a reduced frequency. Anyone who reconfirms can be bucketed back into the active segment of your list with a specific communication stream to immerse them back in your flow. The outliers who didn’t reconfirm or re-engage through this series should be removed from your mailings. Of course, we always recommend that you continue business as usual with a control group to measure the impact on your email program. (Guy Hanson, Return Path)

Certain language choices for your win back email don’t matter as much as having content that is relevant to your user. For example, asking your subscriber to ”come back“ may get about the same response rate as saying ”we miss you.” But having content that matters to your user has a significant increase in opens, reads, and click-throughs.

There are lots of ways to ask your customer to return. You can use nostalgia (remember when you were active with us?), a bit of guilt (wouldn’t life be better if you were back with us?), or some humor. It has been shown, though, that open rates increase with stronger language asking for their return!

Offering a specific discount amount is twice as effective as offering a percentage discount.

Putting your personalization in the front of the email has been shown to be much more effective than at the end or in the body of the note.

Also, you must often try to re-engage people who are flooded with offers and have little time to sort them out. So, what can be done that takes all these factors into account? Here are some ideas:

Of course, the best strategy is to maintain engagement with your customers and subscribers so that they never disengage. In my next post, we will explore some best practices to maintain engagement and keep it at a high level.