Do This Now: 3 Powerful Strategies for Re-Engaging Inactive Subscribers

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In this article we talk about why inactive subscribers are actually a goldmine, and how to get them re-engaged.

According to the marketing team at, inactive subscribers can make up, “as much as 50% of your email marketing database, even with customers you paid a lot to acquire.”

What’s more, for the marketer who sees inactive subscribers as an opportunity, there’s more than a little money to be made. A recent study showed that even if inactive subscribers aren’t engaging with your list emails, they’re still highly likely to engage with your brand through another channel.

AlchemyWorx, a digital marketing agency, put a number on this phenomenon. According to them, 20% of inactive subscribers will engage with your brand after just six months.

What does this mean? It means that without a smart re-engagement strategy in place, you’re leaving money on the table. After all, it’s five times as costly to find new customers than to nurture your relationship with existing ones— can you really afford to let those leads go to waste?

If you’re not actively reaching out and re-engaging inactive subscribers, it’s time to start. Keep reading, and you’ll walk away with 3 powerful re-engagement strategies that you can start implementing today.


Hold on Just One Minute

Before we get into the strategies, let’s talk briefly about segmentation. Each of the following strategies requires that you first create a list of subscribers you believe to be inactive. That is, they aren’t engaging with your list the way you’d like them to.

If you’re a Sendlane user, you may already be familiar with segmentation. In a nutshell, you’ll want log in to your email marketing platform, find your segmentation options, and the segment based on either open rate or click rate.

For most of us, open rate is probably the best place to start. After all, if no one is opening your emails, it’s a good idea to either get them re-engaged using one of the strategies below, or—at the very least—purge them from your list before they begin reporting your campaigns as spam.

Try creating a segment that contains subscribers who haven’t opened any of the last five campaigns you’ve sent them. When you’re ready, keep reading and learn how these 3 re-engagement strategies can help you get inactive subscribers back in the game.


Strategy #1 – Using Urgency

As a marketer, you likely already know how powerful a little urgency can be. The fear of missing out (or FOMO, if you like acronyms) is a powerful psychological quirk that you can use to encourage your readers to take a specific action.

Meelis Ojasild, product manager at Pipedrive, did exactly that in order to reactivate 9,000 inactive subscribers on his email list.

“Not only did we manage to reactivate 9,000 inactive leads, but we also managed to get a significant portion of them to sign up again and give Pipedrive another shot.” — Meelis Ojasild

Here’s the email PipeDrive sent to their inactive subscribers after a short automated sequence:

pipeline re-engagement email - re-engaging inactive subscribers

This can be a wildly effective tactic. By telling your subscribers that they’re about to miss out on your content—or, “Great Sales Advice” if you’re Pipedrive—they’ll be highly-motivated to respond to you and request that they stay on the list.

It’s such a powerful strategy, that when cosmetics giant Crabtree & Evelyn used it they saw a 30% re-engagement rate from their readers. This was their version of the same idea:

crabtree and evelyn re-engagement email - re-engaging inactive subscribers


Strategy #2 – Branded Re-Engagement

With this email, you’ll be asking users to jump right back into the action. It’s less do-or-die than the last strategy, but can still be highly effective. Be sure to use a great subject line and be specific about what you want users to do next.

Notice how TeeSpring pushes their readers to re-engage by asking them for a single, specific action, “Launch your next campaign”. They also do a great job of using their data to make the email feel personalized and friendly.

tee spring re-engagement email - re-engaging inactive subscribers

Strategy #3 – Personal Email

Confession time: this is my absolute favorite way to re-engage with inactive subscribers. It’s just a great, simple way to snatch attention back from folks who’ve lost interest. Here’s how it works…

Start out by drafting a plain-text email with little to no formatting. Try and make it as clean as possible, like an email you would write to a friend. 

Address your reader using their first name using personalization tags (available with most email marketing software).

Let them know you’re aware that they aren’t engaging with your emails and that you genuinely want to help. Tell them your intention wasn’t to overburden their inbox, and if they’d like to unsubscribe you’d be happy to remove them from your list.

Finally, add an attention-grabbing subject line like, “Missing you” or “Sorry to disappoint…” and then sign off using your name (or the name of someone at your company).

This is a sure-fire way to wake up inactive subscribers. It helps pull the whole formal framework off of your marketing and make you sound more human. And as we all know, humans buy from humans.

Here’s an example that Creative Endeavors, a photography tour company in Bulgaria, used to re-engage 16% of their inactive subscribers:

photo company re-engagement email - re-engaging inactive subscribers

Getting Creative

Keep in mind, the above strategies are meant to serve as inspiration. While they work as plug and play, try thinking about your audience and the kind of content that would work best for re-engaging inactive subscribers. For anyone who responds, ask if they’re simply too busy and would prefer to receive email on a different day.

And don’t forget, if you’re still not seeing engagement from your users after three or more months, clean them from your list. Their inactivity will make it harder for you to collect accurate data and make predictions about the effectiveness of your overall email marketing strategy.

Good luck out there, marketers! If you have any questions about this article, let me know in the comments. And, if you want to see how we run our own newsletter here at Sendlane, you can steal our ideas get inspired by joining our mailing list. See you there!

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Jerrik Neri

Jerrik Neri

Jerrikis a Sendlane warrior by day and an avid and aspiring Web Developer ninja by night. His passion for programming and technology which has cultivated since he was young, has landed him in this company - helping people and fixing code.
When he’s not helping out and fighting for Sendlane’s cause or staring hard at long lines of code, you can find him at the gym trying to lift heavy things, or at home, trying to be the next E-sports gaming professional.
Jerrik Neri