Building a large email list of engaged subscribers is a huge challenge for most marketers. You have to invest in your lead magnets, landing pages and content marketing strategy to attract traffic. And no matter how many new subscribers you gain, you’ll always end up losing some in the process. According to MarketingSherpa, marketers lose 25% of their email list every year.

Churn is a normal part of email marketing, but there’s a lot you can do to retain your subscribers as well. Here’s how to write powerful re-engagement emails to minimize churn and keep your subscribers happy.

Use a Powerful Subject Line

Strong subject lines are always important in email marketing, but even more so with re-engagement emails. You’re trying to capture the attention of someone who stopped reading your emails a while ago. How are you going to get them to start paying attention now?

It’s all about using a powerful subject line. One strategy is to make it something funny that parts from your normal tone and voice. Here are a few good examples:

  • Long time, no see
  • Are you giving us the cold shoulder?
  • Did we do something wrong?
  • Let’s catch up

You can also be more direct with a subject line like:

  • Do you still want to hear from us?
  • We’re cancelling your email subscription
  • Last chance to receive emails from us

As always, test your different subject line ideas with your audience and choose the ones that get the most clicks from unengaged subscribers. Because if you can’t get them to click, there will be no way to impress them with the rest of your re-engagement message.

Focus on Illustrating Value

Getting unengaged subscribers to click on your email is the hard part. The next step is to remind them of the value your business offers. You want to not only keep them on your list, but also help them interact again as a lead or paying customer.

So use your re-engagement email to:

  • Remind subscribers why they signed up in the first place
  • Highlight what they’ll miss out on if they unsubscribe

Here’s an example of a re-engagement email from American Airlines that highlights the benefits of staying in their air miles program:

What kind of benefits you highlight should depend on where the subscriber was in the sales funnel before becoming unengaged. For a top-of-the-funnel lead who stopped reading your emails, you’ll want to highlight the benefits of staying subscribed (e.g. access to the latest tips and resources related to your niche). If they’re a converted customer that stopped actively using your product/service, you’ll highlight the benefits they’re missing out on (much like American Airlines did).

Use audience segmentation to personalize the re-engagement messages you send out, making them more relevant to the needs and position of individual subscribers.

Offer Incentives

Re-engagement campaigns are about more than just getting subscribers to open and read your emails. You want to engage them so they reenter the sales funnel as well. The more leads you’re actively nurturing through your email marketing efforts, the better it is for business.

Sometimes it’s worthwhile to offer incentives to get your audience to take action. For example, you could:

  • Encourage subscribers to click through to your site by offering them a special discount on one of your products.
  • Automatically enter subscribers into a sweepstakes when they follow you on social media, fill out a survey, sign up for a free trial, or perform some other kind of desired action.

Here’s an example of a re-engagement email from Uber that incentivizes people to use their service by offering a limited-time discount:

Include a Strong Call-to-Action

Between illustrating your business’ worth to subscribers and encouraging them to take action with special incentives, it’s easy for re-engagement emails to become lengthy and cluttered.

But if your underlying goal is to simply get your subscribers to act, then you need to make that the most prominent point of your email.

Having a strong call to action (CTA) is particularly important for emails you send out before removing unengaged subscribers from your list. Removing subscribers is an important part of list maintenance (you don’t want to market indefinitely to an audience that isn’t listening). But you want to make 100% sure your unengaged subscribers are truly uninterested in receiving your messages anymore.

Here’s an example of a simple but powerful email with a strong CTA:

Because their goal is list maintenance, they’re not bothering to try to convince subscribers to re-engage. They just want to know: do you want to be on the list or not?

Ask for Feedback

You might have some idea why your subscribers have lost interest, but still, it’s better to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Asking your subscribers to provide feedback has dual benefits:

  1. It provides you with audience insights you can use to improve your content strategy, email timing and frequency.
  2. Filling out the survey is actually a form of re-engagement. Unengaged subscribers may change their sentiment if you actually address their complaints with future content.

Here’s an example of a follow-up unsubscribe email that requests feedback:

It’s worthwhile to request feedback in triggered emails you send out after someone actively requests to unsubscribe from your list. But you can also send feedback requests to unengaged subscribers. This is a great way to show that you care about their opinion and want to improve your content to meet their needs.

Don’t Overlook the Value of Re-Engagement

Many email marketers invest a lot in optimizing their welcome and sales emails but treat their re-engagement message as an afterthought – why spend time, money and resources optimizing a message for leads that are least likely to convert?

But the truth is, overlooking your re-engagement emails leaves a huge hole in your sales funnel. People disengage for a lot of reasons, and your efforts to reach out could potentially fix those issues. Failing to re-engage will cost you in missed conversions and revenue you never realized.


Kim Anchors