Re-engagement campaigns: not timely, but effective

Send relevant, targeted, timely, valuable emails to people who have subscribed.

That statement is one of my favorite replies to nearly any email marketing related question.

For example:

  1. How do I get more people to open my email? Send relevant, targeted, timely, valuable emails to people who have subscribed.
  2. How do I reduce my unsubscribes and complaints? Send relevant, targeted, timely, valuable emails to people who have subscribed.
  3. How do I increase engagement in my emails (clicks/conversions)? Send relevant, targeted, timely, valuable emails to people who have subscribed.

The easy-to-say, yet hard-to-implement answer is “Send relevant, targeted, timely, valuable emails to people who have subscribed.”

Simple. Done. End of story, right?

However, what about re-engagement emails? These are emails that you send to either an older list or folks who have not taken action (open/click/convert) on your emails in a long time. While it’s possible the messages are valuable and relevant, are they really timely? They may be timely for you – the sender/marketer – but how about for the receiver/subscriber?

As we often do on the WhatCounts Marketing Team, we debated this very topic via a flurry of “reply-all” emails over a two-day period. We recently sent a re-engagement email (promoting a webinar) to some older names in our database – folks who had opted-in to receive emails from WhatCounts, yet were what we’d consider a “stale” lead. My argument was, “No! We can’t send an email to this list. It’s old. It’s stale. They don’t want to hear from us. Why would they care?” The counter-argument was simply, “Let’s test.”

The Results
As it turned out, with the exception of the high bounce rate (to be expected), the stats on the old/stale list send were quite compelling:

Sent: 7,789
Bounced: 792 (11.3%)
Opted-Out: 68 (1.0%)
Complaint: 7 (.01%)
Share With Your Network (SWYN): 9 people, generating 102 additional views of email
Opened: 1,398 (20.0%)
Clicked: 203 (2.9%)
Registered for webinar: 154 (41%)

Pretty impressive, don’t you think? A 20% open rate and 41% of all webinar registrants balanced against a 1% opt-out rate (and a handful of complaints). This was to a list that I would have argued was dead. I was wrong. I hate being wrong. Hate it. However, if it helps WhatCounts grow, I’m all for it.

Now, time will certainly tell whether or not those who registered for the webinar will ultimately become re-engaged and eventually sign on as a WhatCounts client. However, it’s clear from the example that, while not timely, this campaign was relevant and valuable.

What are your thoughts on re-engagement emails? Have you found them successful or a waste of time & effort?

This post was originally written by DJ Waldow.

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  1. Chris (DJ?), nice post, though, i’m not sure I’d call this a re-engagement campaign. But that might be splitting hairs.

    I’m curious, while the results were impressive you are still left with about 70% of those folks who still didn’t take any action whatsoever. At what point do you dump those names or at least try a re-opt-in campaign?

    • We tried one more shot after that and got another 10% or so back. The rest went into an archive where we kept their data but didn’t engage them.

  2. DJ admited he was wrong? huh? what? ;) good stuff

  3. What was “re-engaging” about this campaign? Did you test out a new subject line to see if it worked, body copy that was specific to them being “quiet” for a while?

    • It was content specific to them not being active for a very long time.


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