Why you need an Email Re-Engagement Journey

Re-Engagement (re-activation, win-back, lapsed subscribers, dormant, etc) Campaigns are a core feature of every good customer marketing strategy, and while the immediate goal of these campaigns is well understood – to retain keep existing customers engaged – the true benefits of these targeted and automated communications is often lost on non-CRM marketers.

It’s time to talk in detail about one of the highest performing campaigns in an email marketers toolkit.

The benefits of a Re-Engagement Journey

Re-Engagement is cheaper than Re-Acquisition

Most companies know their allowable cost per acquisition – the cost they are willing to spend to acquire a new customer based on their predicted lifetime value. Most of the time the lions share of these costs come from above the line campaign spend in display, social, search, and other paid media channels.
Reinvesting this cost as a voucher to a lapsing customer via a re-engagement journey can significantly reduce media spend to re-acquire them later down the track. Re-Engagement vouchers have the added benefit of being a soft/internal cost to your business; meaning they only cost if they are being used, which also means they are working!

Reduce Subscriber Churn

Your churn rate isn’t simply the number of subscribers who click unsubscribe – it’s also all the subscribers who stop opening your emails! While these 2 subscriber states are functionally the same for your business – your emails are not being seen by customers – they are materially different for your database health and operating costs. Sending emails to customers who are never going to open them is a waste of your time, money and reputation (more on that shortly).
You can reduce churn by detecting lessening engagement and reaching out with a non-sales message.

Improve Subscriber Database Health

Sometimes your subscribers will become disengaged and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it – they no longer need to be affiliated with your brand – however they won’t say it to your face (your unsubscribe page). The best thing you can do is to let them go.
If a subscriber fails to re-engage during a win-back campaign, unsubscribe them. Tell them why they are being unsubscribed and how they can subscriber again in the future. Removing these records from your active database will decrease your send volumes/costs, and artificially improve your email open rates.

Improve Domain Health & Reputation

One of the lesser known benefits of a Re-Engagement Campaign is the impact it has to your sending IP address. Inbox providers are watching your sends; they review how many of your emails bounce, don’t get opened or are flagged as spam! Inbox providers are known for requisitioning abandoned inboxes and converting them into “spam traps”; inboxes that silently connect the addresses of senders who don’t adhere to good email database principals.
Your email domain reputation is affected negatively by disengaged subscribers and spam traps, and positively by subscribers who regularly engage with your emails. Identifying and removing disengaged subscribers can help keep your emails away from the junk folder.

What a good Re-Engagement Journey should have

A clear objective & measures of success

Although your Re-Engagement Journey is different to your standard marketing sends – it’s performance should not be measured or treated differently. Define what you consider engagement (open, click, add to cart, purchase, etc) and report on it’s performance to ensure ongoing success. Don’t be afraid to identify “removing disengaged subscribers” as an objective, as we covered above, this will benefit your IP Reputation.

Point of difference from your standard sends

Subscribers should know your Re-Engagement emails are different from the moment they see them in their inbox. The subject line should be short and clear, the email content should be clean and to the point.
In some cases this can be enough to get your email placed in the inbox rather than the promotion/spam folder for some subscribers!

Clear engagement message and actions

Re-Engagement emails should have a clear objective – don’t muddy the message with sales or product information – keep the focus on their continued engagement with your brand. Remove detracting messages banners and use simple Call to Action devices like buttons to identify what you want them to do with the email.

Give lapsing subscribers a choice

Black and white messaging will work on some lapsing subscribers; however sometimes “now is just not the right time”, and an in-between option could have retained a valuable future customer. Enter the Snooze option.
Giving subscribers the option to “snooze” emails for a duration of time is the easiest way to respect their changing communication preferences. Customers who use this option will be in a very particular mind-set; they want to deal with you again in the future, just not right now.
Use this information to your advantage. Design an “awaken” campaign at the completion of their snooze duration; welcome them back to the brand or invite them to snooze a little longer – we’ve all been there…

Keep testing and improving the Journey

Ensure the messaging in your re-engagement emails is performing by splitting all eligible subscribers into 3 groups and conducting an “ABC” test:

  • 70% receives the primary “A” version of the email.
  • 20% receives the testing “B” version of the email.
  • 10% is held as a control group “C” to measure email performance.

Building an ABC testing methodology into your journeys gives you the flexibility to create an ongoing testing process to validate hypothesis and business requests. The 70|20|10 split is relatively safe as the majority of your disengaging subscribers will receive the primary version, however there is enough statistical significance in the remaining groups to prove any test case you try.

Log and Record everything

Depending on your Re-Engagement Journey entry conditions, you may have subscribers who enter the activity multiple times per year! Keep a record of every subscriber who goes through your re-engagement activities and use it to report on long-term subscriber loyalty. The insights gained from viewing long-term subscriber engagement may help to identify problems in your on-boarding or always-on marketing strategy.

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