It’s inevitable that every email you send will have some un-opens. Even the best of us miss an email from time to time. However, what happens when a large portion of your recipients start showing an overall decrease in interest with fewer opens and clicks? One answer to winning them back could be creating a re-engagement email campaign.

Re-engagement campaigns are emails, or sets of emails, designed to convert these non-engagers back to happy engagers. At the same time, they help identify inactive contacts that can be removed from your mailing lists. You must also be aware that if your email database has many inactive records Internet Service Providers (ISPs) might classify you as a poor-quality sender. This could damage your deliverability and result in labeling your emails as spam or even worse, block your emails entirely. Learn more about how to maximize your email deliver ability here.

Identify your inactive contacts

When planning your re-engagement campaign, you must identify the non-engagers first. Every company will define their inactive subscribers differently as they use unique email marketing strategies.

The main indicator of inactivity is lack of opens and clicks within a certain period of time. You must determine the exact length of what you would consider an ‘inactive contact’. The recommended time frame is six months, but you should consider your email recency and frequency, and your customer lifecycle when making these decisions.

Many customers in financial services have quite a long lifecycle – investments and other financial service products are usually a long-term endeavor. It means that your contacts might have less frequent engagement. In these cases, you should consider a longer time frame. Frequency and recency are important too. If you are sending newsletters and a few other email campaigns each month, longer periods of non-engagement should be taken into account. If you are a frequent sender, a shorter time frame could be the option.

Once you have defined the length of inactivity, you need to consider what type of contacts they are. If your CRM data is in order, all contacts should have their unique contact types and classifications. For example: customers or leads, currently active or former clients, their relationship to the business, discretionary investment management or advisory contact records, and so on. You know your contacts best, and once you cross match them with the inactivity periods, you will start creating strong database segments that will help you learn more about your audience. This way, you can begin crafting powerful re-engagement campaigns.

Planning your re-engagement campaign

When planning your win-back campaign, you need to identify your goals. For example, you might want to get your contacts active again, discover the types of content they prefer, or simply make these re-engagement programs a regular exercise to find the obsolete contact records in your mailing lists and maintain good deliverability. Try following these steps when planning your re-engagement campaign:

  1. Revisit your previous campaigns. Have you made any changes to your emails? Look for possible disengagement reasons. Various factors could have triggered the drop in engagement. Here are a few examples: email deployment frequency, different content topics being covered, changes in writing style, scheduling emails at a new time, and even different sender names.
  2. Cross-reference these insights with the contact types. It may well be that some of your clients have lost their interest in the product or services you are currently promoting. For example, they could be looking to move their investments into a different asset class. When it comes to preference changes – the more current information you have in your database, the better. Interests that you identified five years ago will have most likely evolved. Identifying low engagement on the company level could also signify that your emails are not reaching the recipients due to their marketing and web security policies.
  3. Language preferences. If your mailing list is multi-national, try re-engaging your contacts with local language emails.
    Note: you will need to continue utilising local languages if you do win-back these clients – you do not want to send mixed messages about your brand. Make sure you are consistent. If you are sending a local language email, ensure that it directs your recipients to a landing page that uses local language too.
  4. Content and relevancy. Make sure your win-back campaigns are not “salesy” in nature. If you want to get your recipients active, your emails should be visually attractive, provide value, and have relevant and useful content. In these scenarios, current thought leadership articles, appropriate investment news and updates work well.
  5. Clear call-to-action. Make sure your call to action is bold and visible. Try to limit the number of CTAs in the emails. Too many will be overwhelming, and the recipients might lose focus. For re-engagement campaigns, have one clearly visible call-to-action. Test the different brand approved colours for your bulletproof HTML buttons, and make sure they are placed above the fold.
  6. Capture attention with creative subject lines. Use subject lines that will grab the attention of your inactive recipients such as, “this is what you’ve missed” or “recent changes we’ve made”. These captivating subject lines will communicate that you want to keep them informed and you are aware they have been unresponsive. A subject line with, “Do you still want to receive updates from us” might be a good solution to remind contacts to update their email preferences to receive the content they prefer. The sender name and the subject line are the first things people read when checking their inbox, get creative and try to stick out from the crowd.
  7. Personalise and test. Personalisation is a key driving factor for engagement. Thus, your emails need to sound and feel personal. Decide what sender name you will use – it can either be from the company itself or, for a more personal touch, it can be sent from the relationship owner’s name. Don’t forget to test – try to utilise the multivariate testing capabilities that your email solution provides. A/B test those subject lines, the sender names, deployment times and even the images you select for your emails.

Launching your re-engagement campaign and monitoring success

Once the emails are built and matched with the right segments you have created, it is time for deployment. Most often re-engagement campaigns consist of a single email. However, using Marketing Automation workflows can benefit your win-back campaigns by utilising two or three very targeted email deployments.

You can activate the workflows after you have determined the inactive subscribers. Another way is to enable them once the contact is in the process of becoming a non-engager, trying to prevent their loss of interest. For example, if your inactivity length is six months, you can start the re-engagement process by month four or five of non-engagement – before the contact becomes completely inactive.

When your re-engagement programs are up and running, make sure you watch the following metrics.

  • Deliverability will show you how healthy your database is. If your lists are clean, your deliverability rates should be high. Remember, deliverability reputation builds up in time – it is a long-term process, do not expect an immediate result. Examine the numbers of unsubscribes and abuse complaints (spam rate) – negative metrics contain plenty of information too.
  • Watch the opens, clicks, and click-to-open rate to identify the level of engagement.
  • Monitor your links to see where your email recipients are clicking and find the more engaging types of articles, calls to action and their locations.
  • If you have identified your non-engagers and put them into different mailing segments, you can now distinguish their unique patterns. Maybe certain leads prefer one type of content, and former clients would like to learn more about something else. You can find potential preferences in email template layouts, content types and much more if you have segmented your re-engagement campaign lists well.
  • Utilise engagement time metrics. Analyse the reading scores – have they read, skimmed or just glanced at your email? Knowing how long the contacts have spent reading your messages will give you information that you need to plan your next re-engagement campaign.

To achieve the best possible results, actively learn from the insights you get from your re-engagement campaigns. Try to make it into a regular exercise and apply this knowledge to optimise all other emails you are currently sending. Re-engagement can become an effective business process that revitalises your email database, and also increases sales and ROI.