How to Reactivate Your Inactive Subscribers Quickly

By Colleen Preisner

Published on 14 Jan, 2022

Do you have a higher number of inactive subscribers than active subscribers? An overflowing inactive list represents opportunities you can leverage to improve email marketing results. Read on to find out why not all is lost when subscribers become inactive.

Fact: It’s common for brands of any size or industry to have disengaged email subscribers. However, as marketers, we aim to not only grow your database and engage active users but to also leverage reactivation campaigns in order to engage those who have become inactive. 

“It’s Not You; It’s Me”

Why are the users inactive? Several potential reasons:

  • Change in email address/dormant email address
  • Lack of interest from subscriber
  • Engaged with different brand
  • Desire different service/product due to change in the customer lifecycle
  • Inability to receive your email (soft or hard bounce)
  • Overwhelming amount of email in their inbox
  • Signed up for one reason in particular but began receiving emails related to other reasons

Whatever the reasons may be, you’re not alone in having inactive users. Industry standards reveal that up to half of most total email lists are inactive, with many industries having inactive rates as high as 70-80%.

In order to diminish inactive rates, senders need to do a better job at targeting and re-engaging their inactive segments, as well as keeping up-to-date lists for segments’ permission levels and consent among end-users.

Here are 3 go-to methods you can use to win back inactive user segments:

Ask Why

Considering all the reasons mentioned above, do you know why your inactive users have become inactive? Did it have something to do with the frequency of sent emails? Did their interest in your product wane?

One of the best win-back campaigns and ways to improve your list hygiene: Simply ask users why they haven’t engaged. Email subject lines, such as “Gone So Soon?” or “We Miss You,” remind users that they have previously engaged with your brand for a particular reason (which still may be valid).

Combine this email type with a more personalized approach that leverages the contact’s name. Doing so will increase the likelihood of them engaging with the email.

Even if you receive a low percentage of respondents, you still have the option of piquing subscriber interest through other forms of media.

Offer Value Upfront

Don’t sabotage the chance to engage and reactivate subscribers by sending a win-back campaign from an “” address. 

Use the subject line and email header to offer value upfront. Pair a “We Miss You!” subject line with “Take 10% Off” in order to incentivize end-user engagement.

If you provide a value proposition upfront, users are much more likely to not only reactivate but to also convert on services/products at the same time. Return Path estimates a 12% read rate for the win-back campaigns sent with these features.

Even if subscribers don’t read the initial reactivation email, 45% of subscribers will likely read subsequent messaging from your brand.

“$ off” discounts in the subject line were nearly twice as successful at getting people to read the email than emails with % off discounts. Yet, most marketers use % off in their win-back email subject lines.” – Return Path

Offer an Out

As illustrated with our client audits and assessments, CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) compliance is crucial for your email marketing success for a number of reasons. Offering the right consent/unsubscribe mechanisms increases the level of trust among end-users, and this level of trust is a brand’s most valuable commodity.

When sending a win-back campaign, ensure that the email design has the correct mechanism in place for an unsubscribe. This shows you care about subscribers’ needs. It also contributes to list hygiene in the case that an end-user does want to unsubscribe, because the user can opt-out and be removed from the database.

Ironically, offering a clear email unsubscribe mechanism and adhering to CASL rules actually increases end-user trust through transparency and might lend towards inactive users becoming active again.

How will you re-engage inactive end users? Whether it’s by offering an incentive or getting personal again, we hope you leverage these tips to provide balance for your email database. For more tips and insights on how to reactivate inactive subscribers, contact us today.

Written By Colleen Preisner

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