Knowing how to re-engage email subscribers can be a powerful way to increase open rates, click-throughs, and revenue. It allows you to tap into an audience who have already expressed an interest in your offering. By sending a few carefully worded emails, you can boost new customer sign-ups and repeat purchases too.
In this article – we outline how to re-engage email subscribers using the same 5-step plan that worked for our email list, boosting open rates, clicks, and revenue.
We’re a specialist fitness marketing agency with 15+ years of industry experience, so we know first-hand what works (and what doesn’t!). We’ve helped gyms, fitness studios, and personal trainers to successfully promote their businesses, so our digital marketing strategies are tried and tested.
Perhaps you have a decent-sized email list but low open-rates. Or your subscribers haven’t heard from you in a while. If you don’t send emails consistently, then your audience can quickly lose interest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost them forever.
We had an email list of 15,000 industry professionals but it had been a bit neglected so wasn’t very engaged. We’d email sporadically rather than consistently which means opens and clicks weren’t great. So, we researched the best practice for re-engaging an email list and set about testing different strategies. Now our average open rate is over 40% which is twice the norm for our industry!
So, let’s dive into tried and tested ways of re-engaging an old email list. If you haven’t sent any emails for some time or want to target people who didn’t buy something initially, then here’s what to do…
- Create an email segment of disengaged subscribers
- Send a re-engagement email
- Follow up (multiple times if appropriate)
- Delete non-responders from your list
- Prevent it from happening again
Let’s walk through each step in more detail…
1 – Create an email segment of disengaged subscribers
The first step is to separate your unengaged subscribers from your raving fans. You don’t want to send unnecessary emails to people who are already engaged customers.
In order to target the unengaged subscribers specifically, you’ll need to create a segment. This is a sub-group that meet criteria that you define. They could be people who…
- Enquired but didn’t join, sign up, or purchase
- Were customers once but have cancelled or no longer buy
- Haven’t opened any of the last 5 emails you sent
You can decide for yourself which criteria define your subscribers as ‘unengaged’. Then use your email service to create a segment with these people in.
If you’re using Mailchimp, then simply go to your audience tab and select ‘segments’ on the left. It’ll then give you the option to use a pre-built segment for ‘disengaged subscribers’.
If you click ‘view segment details’ it’ll automatically suggest including people who haven’t opened your last five campaigns. You can amend the criteria if you want but we stuck with this and then clicked ‘create segment’. It collected all the subscribers who fell into this category and put them in a neat segment that we can now focus on re-engaging.
Almost every email platform will allow you to create segments in this way so it doesn’t matter if you’re using Mailchimp, Aweber, Podia, Convert Kit, or any other system.
2 – Send A Re-Engagement Email
The second step is to create a re-engagement email to send to your chosen segment. Be open and honest about why you’re emailing, then give people a reason to stay subscribed such as…
- Receive discounts and promotional offers
- Get time-saving tips and tricks
- Access to exclusive content
- Be the first to hear about news or updates
Then give people the option to stay subscribed or opt out. This could be an explicit YES/NO button that people can click based on their preference.
Here’s the re-engagement email that we sent to our list…
As you can see, we were up front about why we were emailing, provided lots of interesting content to encourage them to interact, and included a big button at the end for people who wanted to stay subscribed.
If you want to copy this format, then here’s the text for you to copy and amend…
Subject: Do You Want To Stay Subscribed?
Email Headline: Do You Want To Stay Subscribed?
Body Text: We’ve noticed that you haven’t interacted with our last few emails. We get it, everyone’s inbox is getting fuller and you’re busy with your business. Here are a few articles to tempt you into staying subscribed…
[Insert links to 5-7 popular articles]
If you’re no longer interested in our fitness business tips, then [insert ‘unsubscribe here’ link].
Do you have suggestions for how to make our emails more relevant? Hit reply to send us your ideas and feedback!
Big Button: WAIT! Don’t delete me…
3 – Follow Up
It’s also important to send a follow-up email to remind people about taking action. This simple step can boost responses by another 40%. It helps you to maximise the response rate and get the best results for your efforts.
“Sending a follow-up email increases response rates by 40%”.
Ideally, you should send this follow-up 2-3 days after the initial email. You may also want to send a second and third follow-up to ensure you’ve maximised responses before moving on to step 4.
4 – Delete Non-Responders From Your Email List
We usually wait 10 days after the follow-up email before taking this step. This allows anyone who has been on holiday to read the email and take action. Deleting non-responders may sound a bit harsh but it’s actually very beneficial. It will…
- Increase deliverability – because Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail will see that a greater proportion of your emails are opened and therefore think they’re better quality.
- Save you money – a smaller list means lower fees from your service provider.
It’s up to you whether you only delete those who opt-out or everyone who doesn’t take action. We’re pretty ruthless with our email list nowadays so delete anyone with a 2* engagement rating or less.
Remember, the number of email subscribers you have isn’t the most important metric. It’s quality of those subscribers that matters, not simply the quantity. If you’re paying for people to be on your list who don’t open or take an interest in your content, then you’re wasting money on them.
You can either delete those who don’t take any action (such as opening the email or clicking a link) or just those who choose to opt out. Better still, include an unsubscribe link so they can remove themselves and save yourself a job.
5 – Prevent It From Happening Again
The last step is optional but will save you time and effort in the long run. It involves finding the root cause of any disengagement so that you avoid making the same mistake again. Why did your email list become less engaged in the first place?
- Did you stop sending them emails on a regular basis? Why was this? Lack of time is the most common reason, in which case it’s worth batch preparing, delegating, or outsourcing this task.
- Did you never even start sending emails? Perhaps you collected email addresses from new members or people who enquired but never did anything with them. If so, then you need to set up a welcome sequence.
- Did you send a few but get poor results? Benchmark your open and click-through rates against the industry average. If it’s lower, then think critically about why that is. Maybe you need to work on better subject lines so that people are intrigued enough to open them.
In our case, we hadn’t been sending emails on a consistent basis. So we committed to sending a newsletter every fortnight since that seemed like a manageable frequency given our client workload. We also created 3-month long email welcome sequences so that new subscribers would here from us on a weekly basis to build rapport in the beginning.
How To Re-Engage Email Subscribers – Summary
By following these steps, we re-engaged our email list and now have open rates of over 40%! Because we chose to delete those subscribers who remained disengaged, our overall email list is smaller and platform costs are cheaper. But we have a much bigger engaged audience so we’re reaching more people with our content. And revenue from email marketing has dramatically increased so it’s paying off so far…
So, now you know exactly how to re-engage email subscribers that haven’t heard from you in a while. By taking these steps, you can encourage more of your existing database to interact and purchase. We’d love to hear how you get on – get in touch or tag us on social media to let us know your results!