Email re-engagement campaigns can be a great technique for re-vitalizing prospects that have "fallen asleep" and have stopped consuming your content or responding to your offers. Here are the steps you need to create a re-engagement campaign.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you're probably not surprised by this first step. If you don't have an idea of what success looks like, it's hard to tell if you've accomplished your goal. The thing is, metrics for success in your first email re-engagement campaign are really difficult to come up with, because the benchmarks vary based on your industry and business model. Once you make these campaigns a regular part of your email marketing program, however, you'll start to notice a pattern around:
But if this is your first re-engagement campaign, adjust your mindset around the campaign metrics -- because they can look bleak with the wrong perspective. What this means is: you know you've run a successful re-engagement campaign when you have a smaller email list. Counter intuitive, yes, but that's the way it works. Quality, not quantity. Email re-engagement campaigns give you an email list that is far more engaged, yields a higher click-through rate, drives more conversions and customers, and improves your email deliverability.
Like we discussed before, someone can be inactive for a number of reasons. Similar to the metrics you'll track, there's no one definition for inactivity that fits all business models. You'll need to use a mixture of discrete metrics and business-specific information to make the final determination for the definition of an inactive subscriber. But let's walk through exactly how to make that determination for yourself right now.
First, consider the length of your buying cycle. For example, let's say one of the products a business sells is contact lenses, and they notice there is a certain portion of their customers who purchase a yearly supply of contact lenses, well, yearly. The contact lens email marketer may not be emailing that segment of their email list because they take a very specific action -- they transact once a year and don't require monthly, weekly, or daily emails. But an e-retailer like Amazon.com, would have much different parameters for inactivity; they email much more frequently because their subscribers interact with the brand more frequently and in more diverse ways.
So while a rule of thumb for defining inactivity is often 3-6 months, look at your business model and ask: am I a "contact lens retailer" for whom 3-6 months of inactivity is normal, or am I an "Amazon-type e-retailer" for whom even 1 month of inactivity is a bad sign? Or, of course, something in between.
Tip: If you find there are people on your email list who have been inactive for years (unless you truly have a several-years long buying cycle), don't include them in the re-engagement campaign, as they will drive up SPAM complaint rates. Just remove them from your list altogether.
Once you have an idea of what a normal time span for inactivity looks like, mix it with a discrete metric to segment out your inactives. I recommend click-through rate, as it is a much better indication of engagement than open rate, but not so high-commitment as completing a transaction or filling out a landing page form.
Be sure to create different list segments if you plan on sending re-engagement campaign content that is specific to, say, a particular buyer persona. For example, if you're the contact lens retailer but you also sell glasses frames online, you might create three separate re-engagement campaign list segments -- one for your recipients who purchase contact lenses, one for your recipients who purchase glasses frames, and one for your recipients who purchase both. This will allow you to create more targeted content that increases the likelihood your campaign actually does re-engage some subscribers.
Some companies have sent one email that asks people to make a decision -- click through a call-to-action on our email now, or we're taking you off our list! And for some companies, that approach may work. But consider this less drastic approach.
Think of your re-engagement campaign as, well, a campaign. That is to say there will be a series of emails you're sending over several weeks to try to re-engage your inactive subscribers, not a batch-and-blast. We recommend this primarily because many of your inactives have suffered some kind of communication breakdown with you along the way that has caused the value of your emails to be lost. It's only natural that it may take more than one email to find the value proposition that causes them to change their minds about your emails.
To help you build your email campaign, here are several effective types of re-engagement emails that businesses often send:
There are other elements you may decide to test as you become more sophisticated with running re-engagement campaigns. For example, you could experiment with increasing or decreasing the frequency of your email sends to see if certain segments respond positively to the change in frequency. You may also notice that the format of your emails could benefit from some A/B testing -- perhaps your emails are typically quite text heavy, and your inactive subscribers may be more interested in short and snappy emails. You may even need a more "out there" subject line that more effectively grabs the attention of your inactive subscribers.
After you've established some baseline metrics for comparison from your first few re-engagement campaigns, experiment with more radical changes like these. You may just find a diamond email marketing idea in the rough!
Just because you've completed your re-engagement campaign, doesn't mean you're done! The success of your next re-engagement campaign (and your email marketing program) depends on your ability to keep your currently healthy and engaged list ... well, healthy and engaged. Make sure you're doing these things to proactively keep your email list active:
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