If you had one shot at a 100% guarantee that your customers will open every email you send, how would you do it?
Will you tempt them with massive discounts on your products and services?
Will you extend their free trial period?
Will you add a free upgrade to their account?
Whatever method you choose; one thing remains true: Forever does not exist.
Your customers will get tired of you eventually.
Acceptance Is Key
Once you have come to terms with the fact that not all your email subscribers will be with you for the rest of your marketing career, here comes the silver lining: Not all disengaged subscribers are lost causes.
There are still a bunch of ways to win them back.
Besides, you already won them over before. Right?
In a nutshell, re-engaging them is only a matter of figuring out what they liked about you the first time. To re-engage your email subscribers, you will need to look for ways to spice things up.
So, how do you do that?
Simple. Send them your best “win-back emails.”
What’s In It For You?
Writing re-engagement emails is definitely hard work. It demands so much time, energy, and manpower.
So, why bother?
Why not simply do it the old way?
Just keep sending your emails. Why should you care if your customers are engaged or not?
For starters, your ignored emails could eventually get you filed under the dreaded SPAM folder.
Before email marketers get tagged as a spammer, mailbox providers like Gmail, AOL, Outlook, and Yahoo! First, check just how engaged their email recipients are with the messages they send out.
This means that the following subscribers on your list could all affect your engagement rates:
- The people who no longer open your emails
- The people who delete your emails right away
- The people who mark your emails as spam
So even if you have a long list of email subscribers but only a handful of users who actually care about what you have to say, then you’re likely not doing any better than marketers with shorter lists.
Inactive Or “Inactive?”
Are your disengaged users going completely off the grid with their emails or are they just ignoring your messages specifically? This is an important distinction any email marketer would benefit to understand.
For mailbox providers, they categorize an email address as inactive if the user has not accessed or logged into it for at least 12 months.
As for email marketers, inactive users are those who no longer respond to their messages or prompts for a specific period.
The length depends on the business model of their firm.
The difference lies in the data type the two parties are granted access. However, one thing is for sure: The disengaged email recipients account for roughly 20% of dead-weight in an email marketer’s list.
This means that these inactive subscribers should be treated as lost money and a liability in their deliverability rate.
Although sending re-engagement emails is time-consuming and demands too much effort from marketers, 63% of experts in the industry are still determined to embark on this journey.
In the study by Return Path, the survey respondents revealed that re-engagement campaigns provided promising probabilities of getting back into the inboxes of their targeted subscribers.
In fact, a whopping 92% inbox-placement rate was recorded for marketers who utilized win-back emails to re-engage their disengaged subscribers.
An overall read rate of 14% was also gathered from the efforts of the retailers embarking on re-engagement emails.
To be specific, the read rate for AOL users are at 23%, while Yahoo! Subscribers recorded an average of 15%. As for Gmail users, a 16% read rate was recorded.
On a more promising note, 45% of subscribers who receive a win-back email actually take interest to read the succeeding messages from the marketers of the same brand.
For the marketers surveyed by Return Path, this carry-forward effect is worth the effort of sending win-back emails.
More importantly, email marketing is just too valuable to give up. It’s a crucial aspect of your business with 79% of ROIs in 2016 generated just from this avenue.
Don’t Lose Hope Right Away
Apart from the obvious reason, which is to win back your subscribers, sending re-engagement emails has yet another beneficial effect.
Knowing who among your disengaged subscribers remain open to the possibility of reconnecting with you equips you with the knowledge on who to direct your efforts in the future.
More importantly, these potentially re-engaged subscribers are also promising leads for sales!
And the “worst” thing that could come out of your win-back emails?
You get to clean up your email list and streamline it!
Before you decide to take off those email subscribers from your list though, remember this caveat: there are recipients who open the re-engagement emails up to 300 days from the day you sent it.
In fact, 75% of these subscribers will open the messages within 89 days of receiving it.
This re-engagement email from Starbucks is just pure genius.
Since everyone basically loves a freebie, they immediately capture the attention of their reader and entice them to read on.
The next thing they do is offer something “personal” to their subscribers.
What’s more personal than making your customers feel special on their birthdays?
Remember, personalized subject lines actually have a 26% higher chance of getting opened by readers.
Offering your subscribers attractive incentives like whitepapers or discount codes is an easy way to regain their interest.
It’s a beneficial give and take process where you give them free stuff in exchange for their time and attention.
Although this may seem like just another freebie, Starbucks actually manages to accomplish another important goal: gathering relevant data.
By prodding their users to provide them with additional info in exchange for freebies, the business gathers details that would help them send more appropriate offers and whatnot to their clients.
By zeroing in on their target market, Starbucks’ re-engagement emails can also help their team tailor fit their offers and possibly even encourage their recipients to make a purchase.
Office takes on a unique approach in re-engaging their customers.
Instead of asking their readers to simply come back and offering them freebies, the business actually offers a solution to the “severed” relationship.
In their re-engagement email, Office does two things:
- they acknowledge that they might be doing something wrong; and
- they let their readers choose what they only want to receive.
This approach accomplishes several important things.
It can be used to finally figure out what the brand has been doing wrong that pushed their subscribers to disengage.
This style can also gather information on what their users actually want.
By doing so, Office recognizes the fact that 56% of users unsubscribe because they receive content they no longer find relevant or useful in their lives.
So, this effort from Office helps them guarantee that their users don’t just vanish without a trace.
More importantly, this re-engagement email invites readers to provide feedback which would be super helpful in learning more about what users want.
3. Urban Outfitters
This re-engagement email is a prime example of knowing your target audience.
By using a format that relates better to the texting generation, Urban Outfitters immediately captivate their readers.
This customized format easily encourages their readers (who would probably be reading the message on their phones anyway) to read on since it perfectly fits their communication style.
You can also add words like “miss you,” which has a read rate of 13%, in the subject lines of your re-engagement emails.
Even the phrase “come back” works well – with a 12.7% read rate on emails that use these words in their subject lines.
4. David Lloyd
Pulling on the heartstrings has always been a foolproof way to keeping readers glued to your content – and David Lloyd does exactly this.
The brand uses the emotion card to re-engage its users. While this does not necessarily mean 100% response rate, this approach has produced impeccable results in most businesses.
In fact, studies showed that customers who become emotionally connected to a brand comprised 37% of their revenue.
They even spend twice as much per year compared to the average highly satisfied client.
These users also tend to be more invested in the brand once their emotions have been touched by your efforts.
For David Lloyd, the business opted to utilize a widely recognized symbol – a sad teddy bear. On top of that, they even had the stuffed toy left out in the rain.
If this emotional plea does not work, then this brand’s disengaged users probably have hearts of stone.
This is the welcome email for Sleeknote.
We strive to use a really interesting way of recapturing the attention of our subscribers.
First, we remind our readers of all the things we can offer. We don’t stop there, though.
We go on to share how all these things would benefit our subscribers and help them reach their full potential.
We list down all the possibilities we could offer – and sometimes, even more.
But, the best part of our re-engagement email is that we company actually walk the talk.
After making our readers salivate from all the advantages that could be gained from our service, we back their claims with tangible data.
Yes. We add actual research information with verifiable results to our re-engagement email as part of the Sleeknote guarantee.
6. Basil Tree
Although it may be a bitter pill to swallow, marketers often have to admit their content could no longer excite their users.
This is why the go-to re-engagement solution of businesses is to offer coupons for their items or services.
Basil Tree uses this class technique in their re-engagement email.
By sending a $25 discount to their subscribers, they can conveniently encourage them to once again check out the brand and possibly purchase something.
In fact, Return Path’s study also noted that adding “$” to the subject lines of re-engagement emails has twice as much read rate success compared to those sent with “%” in them.
Most of the time, users do not see the value of upgrading to a paid account after their free trial period.
RunKeeper solves this problem by explaining the benefits of their service to their subscribers.
Instead of directly persuading their readers to upgrade, the brand takes on a different approach.
Their re-engagement email eliminates the notion that their users might not want to upgrade their accounts.
Rather, RunKeeper decides to assume that their subscribers simply need help taking advantage of the service.
In their message, they highlight specific features. This takes a lot of deliberation as the benefit the brand chooses to emphasize must be enticing enough to push the subscriber to upgrade.
8. Kate Spade
For Kate Spade, their re-engagement email goes for a more confident route.
Instead of asking what’s wrong or how they can improve their service, the brand blames the mailbox provider for the disengagement.
This is actually pretty impressive since Kate Spade opts to instruct their users to return their emails to the Primary tab of Gmail (a.k.a. the highly coveted Inbox).
Habitat believes in keeping their subscribers at all costs.
In their re-engagement email, the brand succumbs to the reality that emails may not be the only way to keep their users engaged.
So, the company offers another option to their readers: Facebook.
Since most people nowadays check their Facebook accounts almost daily (if not hourly), Habitat targets the social media site to possibly better reach out to their users.
In any case, the brand covers most of the bases and ensure that their subscribers remain up to date with their activities.
Email marketing lists are bound to shrink by roughly 25% every year.
This means that approximately a quarter of your email subscribers will want out annually.
Yes. That’s the scary reality.
No matter how awesome or creative your emails are to your clients, they will eventually lose interest until one day, nobody’s opening your emails anymore.
But, there’s no reason to panic. Although this reality is inevitable, remember that there will always be ways to get them back.
As the controversial Justin Bieber would say: “Never say never.”
What about you? What re-engagement emails got you clicking and returning to your once abandoned interest to the brand?
About the Author: Emil Kristensen is CMO and Co-founder at Sleeknote, a lead generation tool for e-commerce. At Sleeknote, we help online stores interact with their visitors to increase additional sales and get more customers. You can reach him on LinkedIn and on Twitter
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