Alice Spencer
Alice Spencer
Posted 18 May 2020

Deliverability basics: How to re-engage at risk subscribers

Topics: Deliverability

Email has become a lifeline for brands keeping in touch with customers during the COVID-19 crisis. With physical stores closed and a large portion of consumers now relegated indoors, keeping shoppers engaged has never been more important. So, what do you do when a large swath has stopped opening your emails?

In this blog, we’ll be highlighting how to win back unengaged subscribers in a way that  keeps customer experience front of stage.

What are the risks of contacting unengaged customers? 

Reaching out to disengaged customers is not without its risks. Although most customers will appreciate how much you value them and want to win them back, there are some instances where recontacting them may be more difficult. Potential risks include: 

  • Generating high customer complaints (i.e. subscribers marking the email as spam).
  • Subscriber email addresses no longer being in use.
  • Hitting ‘spamtraps’.
  • Being blacklisted.
  • Causing sends to your engaged audience to be blocked or delivered to the spam folder.
  • Being blocked by a mailbox provider, either as a result of their own filtering or due to being on a blacklist.

How can you minimise these risks? 

A great way to mitigate these risks is by creating automated re-engagement campaigns to target subscribers when they’re no longer opening your emails. 

Automation campaigns allow you to set triggers for sending re-engagement campaigns so they can run as part of your automation strategy, reducing the need to create large scale re-engagement campaigns for old segments.

In our recent blog around how to continue engaging with customers, despite a halted supply chain, we show great examples of automated emails you can send to customers which don’t disrupt the customer experience and keep you as the relevant brand of choice. 

Here is our 3-step strategy to re-engaging large segments of disengaged customers. 

1. Perfect your segmentation groups

Separate the contacts into smaller segments, starting with the most recently engaged. 

This looks like: re-engaging customers who haven’t opened an email in a specific number of days or weeks and breaking down the segments into months (since they last interacted with your emails): 

Here’s an example: 

Creating automated emails that differ slightly in incentive or topic line based on which segment they fall into, customers who have more recently engaged my not need discounts to get them to make a purchase: 

Segment 1: 3 months unengaged

Segment 2: 6 months unengaged

Segment 3: 9 months unengaged  

Segment 4: 12 months unengaged

It’s important that your segments of unengaged customers are not larger than your engaged groups; to solve this you can always segment these groups further – which helps to make your campaigns more targeted. Large unengaged segments risk hurting your sending reputation. Send your campaign in waves, starting with the most recently unengaged customers and culminating with those who have been disengaged the longest. 

2. Sending a strong re-engagement email

Send an email that highlights your unique brand style and tone, reminding customers of your value. You also want to add something a little different to your previous campaigns to catch their attention; this can be in your copy and your choice of imagery. Dynamic elements such as gifs, videos and user-generated lifestyle imagery are great examples of quick and easy wins with long-term benefits. 

If you’re using discounts, don’t run them too early, too often or offer too large a discount. If subscribers get used to seeing a coupon code after a short period of time, e.g. six weeks of no orders, they will start waiting for the offer, which will devalue your brand and cost you revenue.

3. Pay attention to what campaign performance is showing you

It’s essential to monitor how well your campaign does, as this insight can give an indication of whether your campaign is effective or if there are specific things you need to reconsider, whether more housekeeping based (like cleaning up your mailing list) or strategy based (continued low engagement). 

2 things to look out for in particular are:

  • Number of bounces
  • Number of unsubscribes

For automation campaigns which run continuously, it’s important to periodically review the success of this campaign, and adjust either segmentation or content for continued best effect.

If you begin to see problems with deliverability as a result of your re-engagement campaign, you should pause the campaign as soon as possible, even if you have a number of contacts still in the flow.

The less engaged your contacts become, the more damage they will do to your deliverability. You should consider suppressing any contacts still in the flow, and – where possible – use an alternative method such as social media to continue your re-engagement plan.

You can read our Deliverability checklist, to see if what you think may be poor deliverability may be common email mistakes. Check it out here

Where can you see great examples of emails?

Our download ‘The Advanced Guide to Automation’, breaks down the essential campaigns to be sending but also illustrates the components needed for them to be most impactful. Now, more than ever, all your emails should have a clear and visually appealing overview of your brand story and values. You want customers to re-evaluate their previous lack of engagement. Our Pinterest board showcases some of the best examples across all verticals. 

Re-think the typical content you’ve sent out and think of ways to truly stand out. During the pandemic editorial content has been highlighted as a great way to reinstate value and empathy during an unsteady period. You can read it here

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