Re-Engagement Emails 101–How to get Customers Back On Board

Saga Jakupcak

What are Engagement Emails? 

If you are an online subscriber business, chances are, you have a long email list on file of potential and current clients. But what do you do when you notice that your current clients are no longer biting/responding? Re-engagement emails are often sent to people who unsubscribe from your product or service, as well as those who are no longer even opening your emails. 

Through your current “email marketing campaign,” you may be able to gain customers through mass email. However, inevitably, consumers are going to turn these emails down: the main reasons being: lack of engagement or interest in the product, boredom. 

Re-engagement emails draw these customers’ attention back in by way of discounts, social sharing buttons, and promises of achieving their goals through your product. Send re-engagement emails if you’ve made improvements to your product, or if you feel your product’s reputation has been damaged–or if you need to get more customer attention via emails and feel as though you have lost your audience. 

Take a page out of these companies' books, companies who know how to do this the right way. Some may give options of different products for a wider reach, while others might take a more personal approach, promising new deals, or a “new you” if you use their product. Whatever approach you end up taking, always make sure that it aligns with your business’s values and the potential that your product can deliver. Don’t oversell yourself, that will only lead to more distrust in you (and more emails lost). Simply remind your audience that you are here for them with a service that they had originally wanted, and then sweeten the deal. 

Example 1: Grammarly

Image Source Grammarly

  • Grammarly: “Wrinkle in Time” Badge (how is this not copyrighted?) Allows people who have discontinued their use of Grammarly to return to it. It’s cute, and quirky–a temptation. 

Example 2: Path (Photo Editing App) 

  • Path: A photo editing app explores new features, their way of re-updating is simple, through a button pressing (never make things too difficult for the person you want to sign on). 

Tips For Going Forward: 

We Miss You! 

Phrases such as “we miss you,” are friendly, and not too pushy. Remember not to be too persuasive in your emails, as this raises a lot of red flags in consumers and makes it appear as though you are spamming them. If a spammer would type it, you shouldn’t. 

Take note of Holidays

The people on your email list will be more likely to engage around the holidays, as human nature dictates that most resolutions of betterment come right around that time (New Years, or Xmas if you’re thinking presents). If it’s “frugal season,” where you are, it is better to refrain from sending these emails out. Wait until the stage is set right so that you can make a positive impression. 

Send Surveys

If your efforts are failing and you aren’t sure why, try sending out a survey on customer satisfaction and opinion of the product. This will tell you exactly what is turning them off of your approach, though be ready to take a bit of heat. Generally, the people who fill out such surveys are either 1) really happy with your product or 2) utterly disappointed in it. 

“You rub it on your skin and it makes you live forever!” 

Promise that this product will fix all their problems. This is an old marketing scheme. Remember that one Spongebob episode where Spongebob and Patrick go around selling chocolate bars–but when they realize that just chocolate isn’t exciting enough to their audience, they start telling people what they really want to hear: “it’ll make you rich,” and “you’ll rule the world!” (Season 3. ep 12, "Chocolate with Nuts,"). This isn’t me telling you to lie, as they did in the show, it’s simply me telling you to sell your product in a way that you know your audience will be receptive to. If you’re selling a fitness program, emphasize how your clients will come out of it stronger, faster, and leaner. That’s what they (most likely) want to hear. Make clients feel like they’re falling behind or off of the bandwagon by unsubscribing. 

Break your Funny Bone

This one is perhaps the most important: Add humor! Emails are dry and boring to read through at the best of times. Imagine the slush pile of a literary agent, who literally receives hundreds of emails a day, most of which are junk. If you’re an aspiring author looking to hook an agent, you’d better ensure that your first few lines are not just good, but excellent. Humor is a big part of this. So, take a page out of these aspiring authors' books and remember that most people won’t read past your first line–unless it’s very appealing to them. 


Image Source: 12 Outstanding Re-Engagement Email Examples That Bring Back Customers

Image Courtesy of 10 Best Re-engagement Emails to Win Your Subscribers Back

If all else fails, Spell it Out!

Finally, list reasons to shop with you. This point sort of ties back into the entire “appeal to a person’s goals thing.” If you have to, be overt about why customers should shop with you. List out the reasons: They will be better for it, for whatever reason. If you’re a bookstore, maybe write something along the lines of: “Finish every classic book on the shelf!” or “Reach your reading goals this year with our discount!” 

Helpful Resources for Drafting Re-Engagement Emails: 

If you lack the time to draft your own engagement emails, use this list, which has copy/paste engagement emails depending on what message your trying to send to your customers

More examples are here, and here so that you can get the right idea of what an engagement email should look like. 

What not to Do! 

If there are re-engagement email rules to live by, then there are certainly things to stay away from.  I’m sure that you’ve opened up your email a few times to find an annoying, prodding email from a company you haven’t used in ages.  To avoid being this person/ company, it is almost universally suggested that you avoid the following: 

  • Sending too many emails (you don’t want to come off as prodding or annoying.  Imagine how many emails you would want to see in your inbox per month if you were a customer, and leave it there.  Resist any and all temptation to send a follow up email to your follow up email.  That’s an easy way to lose a subscriber fast). 
  • Don’t use overtly prodding language.  Anything that makes it seem the customer “has to” follow up with you, or that implies that they are being mean by ignoring you.  When ignored, accept defeat. 
  • Don't ladle on the guilt.  No one should ever feel bad for not buying something that isn’t necessary to their life.  As amazing as you might think your subscription/ product is, there will be people out there who stubbornly won’t want it, for a litany of reasons.  It’s not up to you to convince them otherwise.  
  • Don’t “trick” them into making a purchase.  This might seem like an impossible thing to do, but if the rule exists, it’s been done.  Don’t create a button that says “sign up here,” and then have the site auto-download a person's credit info from previous purchases.  Don’t create a button that says “learn more,” if it’s only going to direct someone towards a purchase page.  Don’t make promises about your product that you cannot deliver on.  If you start scamming people, you can bet that there will be forums of people online warning each other not to buy your product.  
  • Don’t fail to address past mistakes.  If a customer of yours received a bad product, had late shipping, or was addressed rudely in an email–do not gloss over this.  Addressing past wrongs is the only way to move beyond mistakes (in relationships and in life!)  If their trust in you is damaged, your customers will not be returning to your website.  Period. 
  • Don’t be creepy.  This one should honestly go without saying, but it is a pitfall that you can more easily fall into if you are typing our your own re-engagement emails. These emails should be personalized to an extent, as was addressed above, but don’t bring up private information about a customer, or send hyper-individualized emails the way a friend would.  Being personal and amicable via email doesn’t have to mean being over-familiar.  It’s a tough line to tow.  

In Conclusion, If you want to re-engage your customers, you have to Utilize the power of Email 

By sending out re-engagement emails to your previous subscribers, you demonstrate that you are a responsible and engaged company owner.  There are many different ways to approach a Re-Engagement Email, though the best results tend to follow a formula, all possessing the same attributes, such as humor, personality, and relatability.  Sending out surveys shows that you value their experience and want their input. A little pinch of humor makes you relatable and gives your brand a human touch.  The occasional reminder of why they signed up.  All of these can be the difference between your subscription service  maintaining regular customers, and you losing them one by one.