Marketing & Advertising

6 Ways to Re-engage Dormant Email Subscribers

Email subscribers come and go. Some are active. They open, read, and click every email. But few stay active indefinitely. Many eventually become dormant and no longer respond.

In this post, I’ll review six tips to re-engage these dormant subscribers.

6 Tips to Re-engage Email Subscribers

A/B test subject lines. Subject lines entice recipients to open the email. For dormant subscribers, try new subject lines with alternative messages.

To do this, take a group of subscribers that have not opened or clicked an email in, say, six months. Divide these subscribers into two equal sub-groups. Send an email with plainly different subject lines for each sub-group. Keep other aspects of the email identical.

The subject line for one group, for example, might be a date-sensitive offer while the other may emphasize a percentage off. Identify the winning subject line — either the most opens or the most clicks — after the campaign is complete. Then implement similar messaging for other dormant groups.

Try a new “From” line. The “From” line is often overlooked as an important element in subscriber response. On mobile devices (which are increasingly dominant), the From line is more prominent than on desktop clients. Sometimes changing the From line even slightly can generate new responses.

In the top email, Crate and Barrel altered the From line to "Crate and Kids." This small change could have a big impact, as it's more relevant to recipients with children.

In the top email, Crate and Barrel altered the From line to “Crate and Kids.” This small change could have a big impact, as it’s more relevant to recipients with children.

New offer or incentive. Most brands have a pattern to their offers and incentives. Some luxury retailers may not offer discounts or sales, for example.

Over time, subscribers can see the same types of offers and stop responding, becoming dormant. To re-engage them, try entirely different incentives. If a free shipping offer is standard, try a gift with next purchase or “25% off + free shipping.”

Kohl’s varies its discount offers to email subscribers. This example is for a one-day flash sale.

Kohl’s varies its discount offers to email subscribers. This example is for a one-day flash sale.

Review data. Subscribers can become dormant for reasons other than not being interested. They may have changed email addresses so that the one you have on file is inactive or undeliverable. To check the status, run an email verification on the address. This quick process with a vendor such as FreshAddress will identify which emails are undeliverable for one reason or another. You can then change the email address for those subscribers.

Analyze mobile versus desktop usage. Look at the breakdown of mobile versus desktop engagement. (Roughly 70 percent of email opens in the U.S. occur on mobile devices.) Review the metrics for your program and prioritize all email design elements to appeal to as many recipient devices as possible.

Delete a group of subscribers. When all attempts to re-engage dormant subscribers are unsuccessful, remove a small segment of them for a set period. Then look at overall open, click, and conversion rates. If the rates increase, permanently remove those non-responders.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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