Reactivation campaign: win back inactive email recipients in 6 steps

If your subscribers have lost interest, a reactivation campaign is an effective way of getting them to click on your content again. In our step-by-step guide, you’ll learn what makes an email marketing campaign successful.

Our step-by-step guide shows you how to successfully carry out your reactivation campaign.
Image: © JenkoAtaman / Adobe Stock

Launch your reactivation campaign with a well-thought-out strategy

Reactivation campaigns are multistage email marketing campaigns that are intended to turn inactive subscribers (back) into enthusiastic readers. For that to work, a targeted, well-thought-out strategy is absolutely crucial. So, you first need to find out what the reasons are for the inactivity – take a look at both your target group and the different customer types within that target group and use your findings as a starting point to plan your reactivation campaign. The following six steps will help make your reactivation campaign as effective as possible.

#1 Define the goals of your reactivation campaign

It is completely normal for your active subscribers to temporarily dwindle. However, if users remain inactive for a longer period of time, not only will it damage your brand reputation and your appeal as a sender, but you will also continuously incur unnecessary costs. But before you start sending the first re-engagement emails, it is important to clarify what you exactly want to achieve with the reactivation campaign.

  • Is your aim to get users to open a newsletter or click on the latest blog posts again?
  • Or do you want them to do more, such as retrieve a downloadable, listen to a podcast, and subsequently like and share the content?

Whatever impact you want the reactivation campaign to specifically have for your brand, the objective you set will be the benchmark for measuring its success.

#2 Identify weary subscribers

There’s nothing more embarrassing than sending a “we miss you” message to active users. So it is essential to filter your email list and identify inactive subscribers beforehand. You can either do this manually by creating a separate recipient list of all subscribers that haven’t reacted for a few months, or you can segment the existing list and have a corresponding software program automatically move all recipients that have been inactive for a certain number of months into a separate segment.

#3 A successful reactivation campaign requires context

In order to reach inactive users as part of a reactivation campaign, you need to embed your message in an appropriate context. There are a range of options available in this respect:

  • Emails that request users to confirm that they are still interested in receiving newsletters and other communications after a while are a proven method of drawing attention to your brand. In these emails, you could also ask users about their content optimization preferences. By doing that, you demonstrate that your brand is interested in offering users added value, which can help reactivate them.
  • Another option would be to directly and specifically ask inactive subscribers about the reasons for their inactivity – for example by conducting a survey.
  • Depending on the target group, offering special discounts, promo codes, and similar benefits may also be more suitable to revive interest.
  • Whether a new company name, a relocation, an additional service – if something has changed at your company, this is a good opportunity to get back on the radar of inactive users.
  • If your brand is planning to update its corporate strategy in order to optimize the customer experience on a long-lasting basis and in all areas, this also gives you the perfect chance to pique curiosity using a reactivation campaign.

Emails all too frequently get overlooked in full inboxes or in the busyness of everyday life. When conducting a reactivation campaign, it is therefore sometimes wise to make multiple attempts and test out different variants.

#4 Surprise your subscribers with something new in your reactivation campaign

Whether in B2B marketing or customer communication, reactivation campaigns are ideal for trying something new and gaining experience that will help your brand resonate even more strongly, even among active users. For example, that might be in the form of an updated design, a new writing style, more personal engagement, or even a sender name.

#5 A reactivation campaign with alternatives

Do the topics of your newsletter no longer match the interests of your users? If that is the case, you should offer alternatives as part of your reactivation campaign. If subscribers are switching to another newsletter or starting to follow your brand and interacting with each other on social media channels for example, that brings two advantages:

  • The number of inactive subscribers decreases and the recipient list is filtered.
  • When users switch to alternatives, it gives your brand enormous potential to increase traffic and boost sales.

#6 Accept disinterest

If users opt to click on the unsubscribe button after receiving emails from a reactivation campaign, you can try one last time to reactivate them. One option here is to send another email where they have to confirm that they really want to unsubscribe. Your brand could express how much it regrets seeing them go and thereby convince less resolute users to stay subscribed after all. If this last attempt is unsuccessful, it is important to accept that. Even if users leave after the reactivation campaign, your brand benefits because the recipient list is cleaned up and your content is shared in a more focused manner with subscribers that are genuinely interested.

Implementing your reactivation campaign effectively and easily

Regularly filtering the recipient list helps brands home in on their target group. Together with a reactivation campaign, this “decluttering” also gives you the chance to make inactive users intrigued again, win them back, and make them loyal to your brand in the long term.