Email Re-Engagement 101

January 25, 2022

Jackie Clements

Jackie Clements is the interactive art director at Fixation Marketing. She’s the glue that connects creative concepts to digital execution on websites, email campaigns and social media for Fixation clients, and is the agency’s resident email expert.

Have you ever tried getting rid of things in your closet? “Editing” is big right now, and Instagram and Netflix make it look easy and productive. Revisiting clothes you haven’t worn in a while is an overwhelming task (“But what if I need this yellow sweater I haven’t worn in eight years for a potential theme party that I have not been invited to?"). It’s easier to move something to the back of the closet and shut the door, especially when many of us have been living in sweatpants this past year.

Looking at your non-engaged email audience is very similar. You may be marketing your event or product to a large list, but only a small segment of individuals are actually engaging. Establishing a re-engagement strategy can seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the risk of not doing so:

  • Get to know your engaged audience, allowing you to better view your current list makeup and areas you need to expand upon depending on targets and goals.
  • Increase the accuracy of email performance reporting to reflect only active users.
  • “Win back” non-engaged users with personalized messaging and offers.
  • Decrease risk of bothering people who are not interested in your offering, and thereby decrease the risk of having them opt out altogether.

We recently carried out a re-engagement email exercise for the National Apartment Association’s Apartmentalize event attendee prospect email list, resulting in a 4% unique open rate increase. Here’s how to conduct one of your own:

  • Define your non-engaged group.

    • How you define them will depend on your promotion cycle. For an annual event we recommend pulling anyone who has not opened an email since your last campaign. For a product purchase, you may consider extending the time frame.
    • Depending on your email service provider (ESP) and how you have your data set up, look at where these individuals are coming from. Do they tend to be members, past attendees or other general prospects?
  • Confirm your approach and goal outcome.

    • Send them an email that acknowledges their absence and give them the opportunity to take action. Use clear language so that users know what you want them to do and what the outcomes are. Someone may want to stay engaged with other organization offerings but not your specific event or product.
  • Track their responses.

    • Create a form via your ESP or website, or have an email address people can reply to directly. If you have an overall email preferences page you use for multiple events and/or products, you can also use that.
  • Follow through.

    • Welcome back those who requested to stay engaged with a discount code and message of appreciation (even if it’s a very small list).
    • Remove individuals who opted out (or, depending on your ask, did not opt back in) from future email communications.
  • Evaluate performance.

    • Take a new look at list performance and exhaustion. While it is hard to see the total sends go down, it’s worthwhile for your long-term engagement and strategy.
    • Make this a yearly or every-other-year practice.

In a year that has brought so much change, it’s a good time to scrutinize your lists. We won’t tell you to get rid of that yellow sweater, but we’re always happy to talk data and email strategy.


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