Prepping your list with a pre-holiday re-engagement campaign

It’s Important to Run Re-Engagement Campaigns on a Regular Basis–If You Haven’t Done It Before, It’s Never Too Late to Start

The holidays will be here before we know it, and in preparation for the holiday season, it’s a good idea to run a re-engagement campaign to ensure your list is clean, engaged and ready to receive your holiday promotions.

You may be thinking “but I ask for opt-ins from everyone that is on my list and we remove hard bounces after each send.” It’s great that you’re doing that, but many ISPs factor email activity into their filtering decisions; so even if you’re doing things by the book, you could still end up going straight to the spam folder without even realizing it due to low engagement metrics.

Additionally, some of the inactive email addresses could have been turned into spam traps without your knowledge. This is bad news any time of year, but especially going into the busy holiday season.

In order to combat this, it’s important to run re-engagement campaigns on a regular basis. If you haven’t done it before, it’s never too late to start. Here are some general tips for pinpointing contacts that should receive a re-engagement campaign and the types of messages they should receive:


This will vary from business to business because each list is different and each business has a different buying cycle. Some have contacts that will purchase monthly while others may have contacts that purchase once a year or even less. You’ll need to run some segmentations to determine when your contacts typically become unengaged (stop opening your emails).

For example, run a segment of contacts that haven’t opened in 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc. From looking at that data, you should be able to determine the contacts that you’ll want to include in your pre-holiday re-engagement campaign.


Typically a re-engagement campaign has about 3-4 messages in the series. These messages tend to take on a different tone than typical promotional or business-related messages that the contacts are used to receiving. For example, “We miss you”, “Is it something we said?” and “Is this goodbye?” tend to be popular themes that work well.

Some ideas for messages in the series include:

 An offer/incentive
Provide an offer that’s better than what the contacts are used to seeing to see if that piques their interest.

Survey message
Keep it short and sweet – 3-5 questions that can help you improve your mail program. Ex: “Why did you stop opening our messages?”, “What type of content would you prefer?”, etc.

Manage Preferences message
Use this message as a chance to gain feedback directly from your contacts on their interests and capture any additional information that can be used for personalization or geo-targeting such as first name, state and zip code.

What’s New campaign
Feature anything new that’s happening with your brand. Maybe you launched a new website recently, maybe you added a new product line. Think of things that would be different and of interest to someone who hasn’t checked you out in quite some time.

Last Chance message
This is a reminder to use a coupon before the offer expires.

Make Up or Break Up message
Typically these messages give contacts the opportunity to opt out of receiving future email campaigns if they prefer. This is a good thing – if they don’t want to receive your emails, let them go.


Timing for the series will depend on the cadence that contacts are used to hearing from you. If you send only twice a month, a re-engagement campaign of 4 messages going out over the course of a week will be too much. Just be sure to allow enough time for your contacts to get through the re-engagement campaign in a timely manner before your holiday email campaigns truly kick off.

It’s up to you what you decide to do with the contacts that don’t re-engage by the end of the re-engagement series. Ideally, you’d remove those contacts as they can pull down your list metrics as well as potentially cause implications on your delivery. However, not every business is comfortable with that, so in those cases, we recommend at least moving the unengaged contacts to a separate list and mailing to them on a less frequent basis.

While the focus here has been on cleaning your list in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, it’s a best practice to ensure you are cleaning your list on a regular basis. Once you have the messages created, there’s no reason you couldn’t automate them to send on a regular basis once a contact meets the criteria set forth in the re-engagement automation.

Have questions about these tips? Our experienced Strategy team has helped many clients implement them and they’d be happy to help you too. Just reach out and contact our full-service digital agency.

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