Re-Engaging Your Disengaged Email Subscribers

Like any marketing channel, your email newsletter is nothing more than a tool to accomplish a goal. Your goal is to nurture the relationship between your brand and your audience members. This goal is best reached by earning their trust, entertaining them, helping them, giving them insider deals, and communicating directly with them on a regular basis.

One of the most common pitfalls of email marketing is being too focused on subscriber growth; building lists cluttered up with subscribers who are not interested in your brand at all. Maybe they signed up to get a promotion but have never once engaged with your newsletter. Or they were interested in the beginning but their interest has waned over time. Studies show that this is a common phenomenon, often referred to as a "honeymoon effect." Whatever the reason, a huge subscriber list isn’t effective if most of the emails are bouncing or getting ignored.

Why you need to scrub your email list

Messages that bounce or are tagged as spam by email users will hurt your domain's standing with email clients and will raise the ire of your email mass sending service provider. Is it really worth the risk of getting blacklisted by Gmail or Mailchimp?

Of course not.

Regardless, if you are paying a monthly fee based on the size of your list, it’s pretty wasteful to pay for erroneous or disengaged email addresses. That’s why we recommend that you scrub your email list periodically to get rid of useless addresses.

If you are not building your list via double opt-in, requiring that users confirm subscriptions by clicking on emailed links, start by using an automated tool to weed out the really bad addresses. If you are using double opt-in, and you should be, move to step two and segment your list according to most recent engagement (opens, shares, forwards and clicks).

Create a dedicated list of people who haven't engaged in over two months. Follow up by sending them an email enticing them to get re-engaged with you. There are a few different tactics you can use to convince your subscribers to re-engage.

1. The reverse psychology re-engagement ask

"Encourage" email recipients to unsubscribe if they feel they aren’t getting value from your emails. You can point out how much clutter useless emails generate and suggest they receive only the very few email newsletters that they consider to be most essential.

Let them know your goal is to deliver value and if they aren’t loving it, they should feel free to unsubscribe. This tactic will make them appreciate your honesty and hopefully raise their interest in your content.

2. The special offer re-engagement bid

Another approach is to send an email with a special offer. Tell them you noticed that they have not been actively engaged with your brand and you hope they will continue to be a part of your community. To show how much you appreciate their subscription, you are offering them an exclusive promotion.

Everyone loves a good deal, and you’ll be reminding your subscribers that engaging with your list means they will be the first to know when there is a discount or freebie.

3. The "Dear John" re-engagement challenge

A third tactic is to send a "Dear John" letter. Let your disengaged users know that you have noticed they are not invested in your brand so you have unsubscribed them to save them the trouble – because you recognize you're not making their lives better by cluttering up their inboxes. Include a prominent link for re-subscribing, and you're likely to see many of these people opting in again!

Those who are truly not interested will breathe a sigh of relief that you have unsubscribed them, but the customers who have simply not made time to open your emails may be motivated to start paying attention.

Scrubbing like clockwork

If you clean your subscriber lists regularly as part of a monthly routine, your database should soon be populated with strictly high-quality email addresses and not just unhelpful volume. Make sure that you continue to provide real value to keep up your subscribers’ interest for the duration of their customer journey.