In the past week alone, I received two emails from companies that were trying to “reactivate” or “re-engage” me as a customer. I thought it would be a good idea to examine these emails and also to think about “reactivation” techniques in other channels—like mobile and display/paid media.

What Is Reactivation?

Reactivation (or re-engagement) is a technique used by marketers to reach out to those people who have previously expressed interest, purchased, or otherwise engaged with their company but have since “gone dark” or disengaged. The goal is to encourage them to become active again.

Typically, the most common (although not used enough, in my opinion) method for reactivation is via email. But now that we’re in 2015, and mobile marketing is king, marketers need to think about how they’re doing reactivation on mobile as well as on display/paid media channels.

Why Should You Do a Reactivation Campaign?

A marketer typically has a list of customers, with as many as 25-50% of these people classified as “inactive”. These people have raised their hand in the past, either through showing intent, engagement, or making a prior purchase. Therefore you have spent valuable time and not to mention probably a good amount of money on grabbing their attention in the first place. So, I ask, why not try to get the most value out of your efforts? I implore you—don’t let these viable opportunities slip through your fingers! Frankly, ignoring these prospects will not serve your bottom line. So, here’s your chance to seize the opportunity and pursue a reactivation campaign! Keep reading…

Best Practices for Reactivation Campaigns in Email

A 2014 study by Return Path assessed the email reactivation campaigns of 33 retailers. As a result, researchers were able to determine a handful of best practices. Here are my favorites:

  • Tip 1: The best subject lines to use for reactivation campaigns include “Miss You”.
  • Tip 2: Don’t just send one email. Instead, send a short series of engaging emails over a period of time with a message showing that you miss and care about winning back the customer’s business. Perhaps end the engagement series with an incentive, like a discount mentioned in the subject line. Of note: subject lines that included a discount in the form of an exact dollar amount were nearly twice as successful as subject lines that included a discount in the form of a percentage. Food for thought!


Additional Email Tips

And to double your reading pleasure, here are a few other best practices that I’ve learned over a long career in digital marketing and email reactivation:

  • Re-engage your audience relatively early—think 30/60/90 days and definitely no later than 180 days (six months). Just think—if you got an email from a brand more than six months after initial contact, you’d probably assume that the brand is not paying attention and doesn’t really care about you.
  • Reference prior engagement, purchases, or other data so that the customer recalls their relationship with your company. This shows that you care about them!


How Can You Do a Reactivation Campaign in Mobile?

In the mobile channel, marketers can engage via several methods to reactivate their users. They can do push notifications or in-app messages, or they can use email to drive re-engagement.

A few examples that I personally like are MyFitnessPal’s push notifications reminding users to log back into their app (re-activation) and to log their food items. MyFitnessPal also understands that if a user is not responding to their notifications, that user might want to change his preferences.


Insight for Reactivation in Display/Paid Media Channels

Marketers can also pursue reactivation via the display/paid media channels. One example of reactivation via display or paid media channels is email-display retargeting: Email-display retargeting works similarly to traditional website visitor retargeting, but it allows you to target your email subscribers (people who are already in your database) rather than just anonymous website visitors. Email to display retargeting is relatively easy to set up: you place a line of code in your email signature or in the HTML of your email, and anyone who opens your email (but perhpas doesn’t click or doesn’t complete the desired action) will be served digital display ads around the web, wherever they are. This is a particularly powerful way to keep your brand in front of your customers without sending too many emails and risking high complaints and unsubscribes.

Another example of reactivation in display/paid media channels is that you can provide a list of your inactive customers to a data onboarding company (Acxiom’s LiveRamp, for example) to then pass through to your DMP/DSP to execute paid media buys to target these consumers with display ads. This is all in an effort to encourage customers to return and engage with you! What is a DMP/DSP, you ask?

According to Clickz, a DMP is a data management platform that helps all parties involved in the buying and selling of ad inventory to manage their data, facilitate the usage of third-party data, enhance their understanding of all this data, pass back data, or port custom audience data to a platform for even better targeting. And the DSP or demand-side platform allows advertisers and ad agencies to more easily access and efficiently buy ad inventory off an exchange because the DSP aggregates inventory from multiple ad exchanges. DSPs eliminate the need for another cumbersome buying step, the request for proposal (RFP) process.

To learn more about how you can use paid media to do reactivation, check out my blog post from earlier this week on Monday, June 1st!