Email re-engagement can be intimidating. In fact, it can be downright terrifying for most email marketers. Not surprisingly, few email marketers incorporate re-engagement into their marketing strategy.
The following are common reasons email marketers admit to why they avoid running re-engagement campaigns:
- Fear of losing subscribers.
In the case of re-engagement, losing subscribers is actually a good thing for many reasons that we’ll dive into a bit later. Understand that in email marketing, quality outweighs quantity.
- Don’t have the staff or the time.
The use of Automation allows you to work more efficiently. Automation removes the manual effort of a personal conversation. According to Nucleus Research, marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.
- Concerns about a spike in unsubscribe rate.
When compared to the emails' open and click rate, the unsubscribe rate will be negligible. You need not worry about the unsubscribe rate as this slight uptick is best for your long-term sending health.
WHY RE-ENGAGEMENT MATTERS
WHAT IS RE-ENGAGEMENT?
In terms of the focus for today’s webinar, email re-engagement is the practice of strategically sending a series of emails to subscribers who have stopped opening or clicking in an effort to win them back as an active subscriber once more. This is known as dormant re-engagement. However, re-engagement is not bound to only inactive subscribers. Have you considered re-engagement for these two audiences?
- Low Engagement
This re-engagement type nurtures subscribers based on demonstrated engagement history, even if it may be low, offering more of what sparked their interest in the first place. This type of re-engagement is very strategic in nature and will require a deep understanding of your subscriber data and historical activity. You don’t want to throw just anything at these low engagement subscribers, you’re aiming to create a personal connection with your brand.
- Closed/Lost Opportunities
This re-engagement type focuses on why prospects did not move forward with a purchase like timing or budget, if this data is available, that may have changed in the last quarter or two. Closed/Lost contacts are an excellent audience to attempt to re-engage as they are already qualified and they already know your brand.
WHY DO AUDIENCES DISENGAGE?
No matter how engaging your emails are, you will have contacts on your list who simply don’t interact with you. According to a study by Marketing Sherpa, on average, an email list experiences a 2.1% decay rate every 30 days. This means nearly a quarter of your subscribers will drop off on an annual basis. This is a common problem in the email industry and there are a variety of reasons why, common reasons for list decay include:
- Lack of segmentation to target emails.
Emails become less effective, or irrelevant, when all emails are sent to all subscribers. Consider using past behavior, data, or email preferences to target subscribers who are most likely to respond to the different emails you send.
- Inconsistent emails.
Inconsistent in this instance can be used to describe frequency and/or relevant & expected messaging. If you are actively using forms or social media to collect email subscribers, begin that relationship on the right foot. Commit to delivering relevant messages on a consistent schedule and honor the expectations set at sign up.
- Change of circumstances.
The subscriber may have left a job or is no longer in the market for your services. In this case, your emails are simply no longer relevant to their situation.
- Deactivated email address.
The subscriber may have simply discontinued use of a previous email address that was used to subscribe to your email list.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF A DISENGAGED AUDIENCE?
Your email list is your most important asset. I get it. But the size is not as valuable as a list full of engaged email subscribers. What happens when your subscribers disengage?
- Inactive subscribers affect your sender reputation.
Email service providers pay attention to how your subscribers interact with your emails. If you repeatedly email contacts that do not open or click, ESPs will take notice. This will tarnish your sender reputation and impact your deliverability as a whole.
- Inactive subscribers affect your analytics.
Having accurate analytics is key to email marketing. They influence decisions and provide you a general picture of performance. Disengaged subscribers who regularly receive emails from you are preventing collection of meaningful and accurate statistics.
- Inactive subscribers affect your ability to test.
A/B Testing is part of any good email marketing plan. However, You cannot accurately predict audience behavior or determine test components of your emails, if your analytics include disengaged subscribers.
- Inactive subscribers affect your budget.
You're getting less bang for your buck if you don’t identify & remove stale subscribers along the way. Executing regular re-engagement campaigns ensure you’re not wasting precious marketing dollars on dead ends.
NEED MORE CONVINCING?
As if you need more convincing that email re-engagement is a good idea, let’s talk through several more reasons why you should add email re-engagement to your marketing strategy.
- The COVID 19 Pandemic.
Digital marketers have reported a 40% boost in digital content consumption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. While email marketing is a piece of the larger “digital marketing” spectrum, now may be a great time to give that re-engagement campaign you’ve been putting off a whirl.
- You already have access to your best source of subscribers.
These contacts chose to sign-up for your emails for a reason at some point in the past, so take advantage of that and reignite their interest in your brand. The effort is much higher to acquire new subscribers, in fact, in terms of acquiring new customers, the cost is 5x more.
- List Health and Sender Reputation.
As mentioned a few moments ago, inactive subscribers affect your reputation. A clean list means higher conversion rates, lower bounce rates, and a more engaged community.
- According to a study by Salesforce, 63% of marketers surveyed who implemented re-engagement campaigns said that they are “very effective.”
- A study by Return Path found that 45% of recipients who received win-back emails read subsequent messages. This proves not only can you re-engage them once, you can win them back long term.
Now that you understand why you should use re-engagement campaigns, let’s shift now to the best practices for identifying disengaged subscribers, what should be included in your emails, and more.
PLANNING & STRATEGY
Before you jump in headfirst, take time to think through and develop your approach to re-engaging inactive subscribers. This plan will be different for every organization. Understanding the following concepts will provide insight into decisions you will need to make when you're in the weeds building segments, designing emails, and putting together the automation workflow.
Develop your approach by considering the following:
Your goals – what do you want to achieve?
Your target audience – what data will be used for segmentation? How many audiences are possible?
Your messaging – what will make your email engaging?
Letting go – what conclusions are reasonable? How will disengaged subscribers be removed?
IDENTIFY INACTIVE AUDIENCE(S)
When identifying inactive subscribers for re-engagement, it’s important to understand that one size does not fit all. I would suggest you break up your inactive subscribers into further subsets (or, segments) so you can offer them the most relevant content, thereby personalizing the re-engagement experience as much as possible. Now, depending on what you offer and how often you send your emails, "inactive" will mean different things to different organizations. Consider these strategies when creating your inactive subscriber segments:
- Historical email activity.
When was the last time each inactive subscriber opened an email? Clicked a link? Viewed a page on your website? Use this information to separate inactive audiences.
- Where they signed up.
Did the subscriber sign up on a landing page or a lead magnet? Did they attend a webinar? Did they use a form on your website or social page? This information will shed light on why they joined your list in the first place, which can be a powerful re-engagement tool.
- Purchase history.
Understanding which products a subscriber has purchased in the past can help you provide them with unique offers or coupons.
- General subscriber data.
Think about other data that is available like the type of contact, their location, interests, gender, and so on. This data can be leveraged to create additional inactive segments allowing you to target further. For instance, separate your leads from your customers in re-engagement efforts.
If you do not have the kind of data readily available to support such segmentation an easy starting point is to segment your subscribers based on general length of inactivity. For instance, break zero engagement activity into 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months.
Recommendation: When determining how far back to analyze activity, it may be tempting to go beyond a reasonable amount of time (which is typically 9-12 months). If you decide you want to include subscribers who have not interacted in 12 months or longer, I recommend an email validation be run against the list first to verify the email accounts are active. Connect with your client success manager for more information about running an email validation with Delivra.
WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN YOUR EMAILS?
It is as simple as sending an email right? But, it’s what’s in the email that matters, especially when re-engaging subscribers. Keep these tips in mind when designing your emails.
- Personalize as much as possible.
Personalized content is crucial for retaining customers. According to research from Adobe, 67% of customers expect personalized content from brands.
The first step in personalization is to merge your subscriber’s first name in the subject line. This technique should pique their interest and lead to an open. An open is a win, but only half of the battle is won as far as re-engagement is concerned.
The next step is to leverage data like interests, their purchase history or behavior in the body of the email. This will demonstrate that you care about them and that they are not just an email address. Subscribers need to know that they mean something to you. For example, recognizing that John has not opened your email in 3 months or that Jane has not made a purchase in 6 months can be powerful personalization techniques that provide you very targeted means of re-engaging them.
- Re-engagement emails should not be boring.
When designing your emails, shoot for interesting and captivating text and imagery.
One great way to do that is to inject a bit of personality into your emails, if your brand is flexible. Another great way is to make the email about your subscriber, not about you or your product.
Everyone loves being the center of attention, even in emails.
- Keep it brief and to the point.
One thing to remember when writing the copy for re-engagement emails is to keep it short and sweet - brevity is always best. Your email should be short enough to scan and get the gist of it all easily. Anything more will distract from your goal.
- Include a Clear CTA.
Let the subscriber know exactly how to engage with your email. This means crafting a prominent call-to-action button. Not only should the button be prominent, but the text itself should be clear and concise. This will eliminate any chances of confusion and increases the probability of more subscribers engaging with your email.
- A powerful element of a re-engagement campaign is “the ask”.
If your subscribers are not engaging with your content, don’t be afraid to ask them why. Not only should you ask why they stopped engaging, but also offer a way to reconcile, like including an option to update their preferences. Understanding why one subscriber has stopped engaging can help you tweak your email marketing strategy to prevent other subscribers from disengaging for the same reasons. Easy ways to ask for feedback are to include a survey or an email address that they can contact.
- Call out the benefits of staying.
Sometimes subscribers stop opening your emails because they forget what’s in it for them. The cause for this is typically too many emails, and too little value. Remind your subscriber, in as few words as possible, how they will benefit from opening your emails and engaging with your brand again.
If there’s one thing that moves subscribers to action, it’s the fear of missing something. Let them know what they’re missing out on, and you’ll be closer to winning them back.
- Failure to engage.
While re-engagement is a great strategy, the reality is that it will not work for all your disengaged subscribers. Because of this, your email must be clear about what happens when they fail to take action, like being removed from your email list forever. If done properly, this may entice your subscriber to re-engage immediately.
Remember that this re-engagement email is your last opportunity to reactivate the relationship, so don’t hold back. Experiment and try creative ideas to grab their attention.
Ideally, you want the re-engagement email subject line to be completely different than what you normally send so readers will do a double-take. Have fun, if your brand is flexible. The following are a few examples, take a moment to review them now.
We miss you, [Name]
Here’s what you’ve been missing, [Name]
[Name], please come back
Reason #1 you should click: $20 off
Are you still interested, [Name]?
POST RE-ENGAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES
Below I'll touch on a few key items you need to do after the campaign.
- Nurture your win-backs.
Remember the study by Return Path I cited earlier that found 45% of recipients who received win-back emails read subsequent messages? Do not allow these newly engaged subscribers to slip away - Strike while the iron is hot to nurture the relationship once more.
Recommendation: Move the win backs to another automation to nurture them. You can do this in the re-engagement automation through use of an Exit step.
- Let them go.
I understand the hesitation you may feel and recognize that this may be a new concept for many of you. But, you need to pull the plug on spending any further energy on this group and focus your efforts on the subscribers who are regularly consuming your content. Repeat after me: “I will remove any email address that does not take action in my re-engagement emails.” Commit to what you set out to do, otherwise it’s all for naught.
Recommendation: Add an export step or use a category step in your automation to collect the subscribers who did not engage. Re-import this list as another contact status, like expired, to remove them from your email list. Or, use an update field step to change the contact status to expired directly in the workflow.
- Review performance.
After you’ve launched your re-engagement campaign, you should keep tabs on its performance. Monitoring statistics positions you to make informed decisions about re-engagement strategy going forward. Delivra offers a variety of reports to assist. Utilize standard reports like Mailing Overview and Tracking Statistics to view individual email performance, utilize Report Groups to view holistic performance of all emails in the automation, and utilize automation specific reporting to view automation metrics (found in Analytics > Automation).
- Repeat re-engagement regularly.
Based on the information and studies presented today, we know that a clean email list is important. You should plan on running your re-engagement campaign on a regular basis. To make this easier and save time, you can save your automation workflow as a template in your account to be reused next time around.
Recommendation: Incorporate re-engagement campaigns every 12-18 months to keep your email list fresh. Of course, this timeline will vary for each organization based on what they send, how often and to whom.
THE TOOLS YOU NEED
Highlighted below are the tools you should be using in your Delivra account to execute a successful re-engagement campaign. Watch the webinar linked below to see a closer look at these features.
- Import CSV to change contact status.
Our CSV import tool allows you to easily update the contact status of disengaged subscribers. This is key when you are ready to remove subscribers post re-engagement to clean up your list.
Easily identify the subscribers who did not engage in your automaton by adding steps to Export a CSV or Update Category.
- Behavioral segmentation.
Build segments easily using built-in Lifetime engagement scores or historical activity clauses for open / did not open and click / did not click.
Use our mailings received clause to identify subscribers who have received a number of emails in a specified time frame and have not engaged.
Additionally, leverage our Clickstream integrations for Purchase and Anonymous Browse activity to evaluate clauses for purchase / did not purchase and browsed / did not browse.
Recommendation: When using Lifetime Engagement scoring alone, I recommend including an evaluation for the age of the contact that is reasonable so that you don’t unintentionally include subscribers that just joined your list.
- Automation Designer.
Use our drag-and-drop automation designer to plot out emails to send, send lead alerts to your internal team, evaluate actions & changes in contact data, remove subscribers from the Automation… and more. Recommendation: When your workflow is complete, save it as a template to use again and again.
Tracking the success of your re-engagement campaign is key to understanding it’s performance. You can access statistics for your re-engagement emails in our standard reports and through building Report Groups; today I will highlight new reporting specifically for Automation. In Analytics, you will find a new Automation dashboard.
The Automation performance report provides various metrics including recipient engagement, delivery summary, and subscriber summary.
The Recent activity report Provides a View of the activity occurring in your automations, along with which subscribers are engaging.
- Preference Center Forms.
For email re-engagement specifically, a preference center offers an easy way for subscribers to re-engage and personalize when and how they want to hear from you.
Beyond re-engagement, use of a preference center is an industry wide best practice. If you are not already, you should consider adopting use of a preference center in your email collection and sending practices.
There are many benefits to using them, the following are just a few benefits to you, the sender:
- Alternative to the one-click unsubscribe, reducing the number of unsubscribes as a whole.
- Stay on track with delivering the right content to the right audiences.
- Increase subscriber happiness and decrease list decay.
SOURCES: MarketingSherpa, PathFactory, Nucleus Research, Return Path, ReallyGoodEmails.com, Invesp, Adobe