How to Write Effective Re-Engagement Emails

Peter HillWritten by Peter HillJul 01, 2019

1. Find out the reasons for lack of engagement
2. Segment inactive subscribers
3. Ask subscribers for feedback
4. Personalize beyond using a first name
5. Show subscribers they’re missing out
6. Lure them with a gift or an offer
7. Send a series of emails
8. Use gamification
9. Engage with humor
10. Testing

If you have an email list, you find over time that some subscribers go dormant. They may be ignoring your emails altogether or not clicking through.

The good news is that it does not necessarily mean you have lost them altogether. It is easier and cheaper to try and reach out to dormant subscribers than to find new ones.

If you can understand the reason why they’ve gone dormant, you can use customized re-engagement emails to win them back. Here are some ways to write effective re-engagement emails.

Create effective re-engagement emails

image source: unsplash

Find out the reasons for lack of engagement

Marketing Sherpa reports that, on average, marketers lose 25% of their email list every year. There are multiple reasons for disengagement. For instance, subscribers may no longer use an email address, or worse, they may no longer find your emails useful.

Some of the top reasons for unsubscribing from an email list include getting too many emails in general and receiving emails that aren’t relevant.

How do you figure out why your subscribers are inactive? You have to look for clues. For instance, someone who subscribed to get a free ebook might disengage after receiving it. Abandoned shopping carts are another clue. A subscriber may have had a problem with your check out process or prices.

Segment inactive subscribers

Looking at your customer demographics can be helpful. Perhaps you haven’t met the needs of a certain segment of your list. If you see that a number of people of the same age are unsubscribing, this could be the problem.

It helps to segment your inactive subscribers according to the length of time they’ve been disengaged as well as their reason for disengagement.

Ask subscribers for feedback

Of course, you can simply ask for feedback from subscribers. Ask them the reason for their inactivity and try to figure out what could persuade them to re-engage.

Re-engagement CTA example by Duolingo

image source: duolingo

A re-engagement email from Mini does this in a humorous way, giving various questions followed by solutions. The first one they ask is “Are you out there?” with a request to send smoke signals or wave your arms to let them know you’re okay.

They ask “Are you ignoring us?”, “Are you in jail?” etc. with entertaining answers and provide subscribers with an opportunity to re-engage.

If you don’t feel you can pull off an entertaining email like Mini’s, go for a simple, direct approach. Ask a simple question: “Do you still want to hear from us?” Use a prominent CTA button asking subscribers to update their email preferences.

Personalize beyond using a first name

Personalized emails will improve your chances of inducing engagement but this has to go beyond just using a first name. You can’t just send your email subscribers a slightly different version of emails you send active subscribers.

It starts with your subject line. Purely based on the subject line, many recipients mark an email as spam. Try to aim for a subject line that sounds like one friend talking to another. Some examples could be:

  • Hi Mike! Is it us or is it you?
  • Be honest with us, we can handle it

Earbits includes first name personalization but they go beyond and even include an interactive media element in their re-engagement email.

The text reads, “Hi Steven, Three weeks ago I thought you and I had something going on. You came to visit me and I played some songs for you. But now I haven’t seen you in a while and the heartbreak is tough. So, I made you this one song mixtape …. I know you wanted me to be the good listener, but I really think that’s your role in this relationship. Please come back … I’ll do you right this time.”

Show subscribers they’re missing out

Remind your customers about the value of your products or services. Show them what they’re missing out on since they last engaged or bought a product from your brand.

Coffee Meets Bagel is an online dating site that uses clever re-engagement emails. The email says, “Danielle, your bagels are waiting. Come back! You have bagels who liked you and are waiting for your response. Reactivating her account will give her a chance to check out the bagels.

Re-engagement email example

image source: coffeemeetsbagel

SurfStitch’s re-engagement email features new products, new brands and more. They include a provision for subscribers to adjust email frequency and remind them of what they get for free, such as free express delivery.

Skillshare focuses on new features and benefits, enticing subscribers to visit the website and try them out. They also throw in a discount on their premium plan for the first month.

Lure them with a gift or an offer

Gifts, offers or discounts are great ways to re-engage with subscribers. Mentioning an offer in the subject line of the email may encourage them to visit your store again. Highlight the offer in the copy and follow with a clear CTA.

BirchBox provides subscribers with two interesting options in an attempt to re-engage with them. They can pick from two Rifle Co. boxes - a box of five surprise samples personalized to their beauty profile or a box of five editor-selected samples.

Pinkberry simply says “We miss you” and adds a free yogurt to the subscriber’s Pinkcard.

Giveaways do not necessarily engage customers over a long term. Only you can do this by continuously creating good and meaningful experiences for them.

Crocs use simple but effective copy in their re-engagement emails. They offer an incentive of $10 off the next purchase of $50 but they also manage to humanize the brand and even sneak a message in at the bottom about their shoe donations through Croc Cares.

Send a series of emails

Sometimes persistence pays off. Try out different combinations of subject lines, email copy, offers etc. Send out about three emails that are relevant, well-written and informative. If you don’t get results, it’s time to let go. If you keep sending emails after this point, you’re likely to give your company a bad reputation.

The following resources can help you to make your email content more enticing and professional looking. Mix visuals and text, make copy simple but memorable, offer the opportunity to share and achieve consistency in email signatures. To achieve the maximum open rate and the final conversion rate, use these tools.

  • Venngage will help you to create infographics, collages and other visual content.
  • Use writing help or custom writing services to help you create your email series.
  • The Click to Tweet tool makes it easy for customers to share your content.
  • Hemingway can pare your email content down so you don’t lose the attention of readers with sentences that are too long and more.
  • Newoldstamp is an email signatures generator that helps you to manage all email signatures from one dashboard to make sure they are consistent across an entire company.

Use gamification

Using elements of gaming, such as badges, avatars, creating leaderboards or challenging subscribers with a contest can be effective. For example, Grammarly uses “The Wrinkle in Time” badge in its re-engagement emails with a big, red “Go” button.

Engage with humor

Use some humor in re-engagement emails

image source: katespade

Humor is not so easy to get right but in the right circumstances and using the right branding spin, it can be a very effective way to renew interest.

Urban Outfitters used a light-hearted approach in their re-engagement emails, with a text format like those readers would see on phone messages. They remind them of what a fun brand they are but also give them the option to unsubscribe.


Not every tactic you use will work. Don’t be afraid to try different strategies on different segments of your inactive subscriber list.

Final thoughts

Subscriber inactivity is common and how you react to it makes the difference. Try innovative approaches and new content to find out whether you can bring them back. Present subscribers with options, such as how often they want to receive emails. For some customers, it may simply be the length or frequency of your emails that are the issue. You may have to experiment a little to find the best way to reach out to your customers and re-engage them.

Peter Hill

Peter Hill is the best editor of Papersowl review. He is a socially active person, likes traveling and photo/video editing. In his free time, he works as a member of the Edugeeks Club. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Go to Peter Hill’s Profile

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