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Email Reengagement

Last updated February 2020

Email reengagement is a type of email campaign in which senders systematically reach out to subscribers who have not recently interacted with email messages. The goal is to explicitly reconfirm a recipient’s interest in receiving messages from the sender.

Recipient engagement with email is a critical factor for any successful email program. Reengagement campaigns can improve your deliverability and increase email performance by:

  • Recapturing subscribers’ interest
  • Flagging and removing unresponsive addresses from your list

Methodically reengaging subscribers who have not recently interacted with your messages is a best practice—as is removing those subscribers from future mailings if your reengagement effort fails.

Why Email Engagement Matters

Mailbox providers track recipient engagement with email messages to better understand their users’ needs. By analyzing that user behavior, the mailbox providers make decisions about how to handle your emails.

Most major inbox providers acknowledge that recipient engagement metrics play a major role in their spam filtering algorithms and sender reputation scoring. Simply put, email with more opens and clicks gets better inbox placement. Conversely, if you frequently send email to unengaged recipients, providers will take notice and respond by spam foldering or even blocking your messages.

Best Practices for Email Reengagement

Segmentation is a vital part of any effective email reengagement campaign. Defining and identifying the unengaged segment you will target for reengagement may well include many factors. Consider these as starting points:

  • If a recipient has not opened or clicked your emails in six months, they are a candidate for reengagement. Note that six months is a fine default assumption, but the Engagement Recency feature of SparkPost Signals gives you a much clearer indication of what timeframe is significant for your specific situation.
  • Keep a small control group of otherwise-eligible recipients who will continue to receive regular emails rather than the reengagement series. This will help you judge the effectiveness of your efforts on both engagement and deliverability.
  • Pause emails (“rest” the recipient) for one month.
  • After this one-month rest, send a series of three messages, one per week, designed to reengage the subscriber. Each message in this short series should include a clear opportunity to continue or to opt-out.
  • If any point, the recipient opts in or out, you’re done. If, after three messages, the recipient has not responded, you should automatically opt them out of future emails.
  • Reengagement campaigns should be carefully throttled and spaced over a number of days so that it runs in parallel with your other, standard mailings to engaged recipients. This ensures your overall sending volume and engagement patterns remain consistent. That’s important for your overall deliverability performance.
  • Consider keeping users who engage via other channels in your active segment, even if they do not often engage with emails. Although there are trade-offs to this choice, your emails may have a positive, indirect impact on their overall cross-channel engagement.

Suggestions for Creating Effective Reengagement Emails

Make the goal of reengagement email clear and explicit. The subject line should clearly state the purpose of the email and clearly stand out from routine messages. For example:

  • Are you still enjoying our emails?
  • We miss you. Do you miss us?
  • Clean up your inbox. Tell us if you want to receive our emails.

Don’t muddy the water with competing ideas. Dedicate the entire message to the reengagement call to action and make it easy for the recipient to indicate their preferences. That means:

  • Be direct about asking subscribers to engage.
  • Clearly state benefits of staying involved.
  • Provide both “Yes” and “No” options. Counterintuitively, providing the choice often drives more opt-ins.
  • Suggest your user “opt down” in frequency or types of emails, in addition to opting out entirely.
  • Provide the opportunity to change email addresses in case the recipient wishes to provide an alternate, preferred address for communication.

Although you should make it easy to unsubscribe, don’t be afraid to put your best foot forward and provide compelling reasons to continue. For example,

  • Highlight the benefits of receiving your emails
  • Reflect your brand personality
  • Encourage engagement in other ways, e.g., through products or mobile apps.
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