On any given email list, 75 percent of email subscribers are inactive. And those inactive subscribers can damage your company’s reputation. Not only do they serve to keep your email engagement metrics low, but they put your messages into the graymail category.

Graymail refers to emails people have opted to receive but never engage with. Internet service providers have learned to automatically shuttle such emails into Junk folders, and continuing to send graymail can negatively impact your sender score reputation.

email image

Keeping your email list as current and active as possible is a must, both to protect your sender score reputation and offset email decay. The average B2B email list decays at a rate of 2.1 percent each month, or more than 22 percent each year.

Regular email re-engagement campaigns can help prompt inactive subscribers into action while cleaning out the contacts that are contributing to the decay. These eight tips can help you craft a campaign that works.

1. Pinpoint Subscribers You Want to Re-Engage

Create an email list segment to identify the inactive subscribers you want to re-engage. Determine how you want to define inactivity, which for many B2B businesses is someone who has not opened an email or visited their company website within the past four to six months. You can review subscriber activity and create a segment in your email program or customer relationships management platform.

2. Establish a Re-Engagement Strategy

The overall goal of your email re-engagement campaign is to get inactive subscribers to once again interact with your brand. Decide on metrics you’ll use to indicate success. Make sure you record your current email marketing metrics for at least the past six months so you can compare them to data following your re-engagement campaign and subscriber list cleanup.

Decide on how many emails you’ll send and the schedule for sending them. Three to five emails sent 10 to 20 days apart makes sense for many B2B re-engagement campaigns. Your final email in the series should give subscribers one final chance to engage before they’re taken off your email list.

3. Design Your Emails

Remember that inactive subscribers have not been responding to your usual emails, which means you may want to give your re-engagement emails a complete overhaul. Try changing up your subject lines, images, layout, and email visibility, such as text vs. HTML. Include a compelling call to action in each email, with bright, obvious buttons typically prompting the highest CTA response rates.

While you don’t have to use re-engagement tools in your campaign, they can provoke interest and provide incentive for email engagement. Choices include:

  • Surveys and polls
  • Online competitions
  • Promo codes or coupons

4. Provide Subscription Choices

Some inactive subscribers may simply be inundated with too many emails, or more interested in your educational content than what you’re selling. If possible, include a link in your emails that takes subscribers to a page where they can choose the types of email they’ll receive and the frequency for receiving them.

5. Make It Automated

Since you’ll be sending a series of emails on a set schedule, you’ll save time and effort by automating your re-engagement campaign. Set up the automated workflow to funnel out contacts as soon as they re-engage with your emails or website so they don’t keep receiving re-engagement emails urging them to do so.

6. Test before Launching

Before you set up your automation, make sure each email within the campaign is reviewed, refined, and tested. A/B testing allows you to test two versions of the same email, while multivariate testing lets you test multiple variables, such as subject line, CTA, images and content. Run the tests that make sense for you, then pick the winning elements for the official launch.

7. Respond to Subscribers who Re-Engage

The whole point of the campaign is to re-engage inactive subscribers, so make sure you take the time to respond to any subscribers who email you directly. You can also review the open rates and send a friendly email to those who opened one of your campaign emails, asking if there’s any subject they’d like you to cover in your next piece of content.

8. Review Results, Cut Inactive Subscribers Loose

Viewing your campaign results lets you gauge the success of your campaign’s performance. It also lets you see which subscribers were unresponsive to your entire re-engagement campaign, or the people you need to cut loose.

While it may feel a bit painful to delete a large segment of inactive subscribers all at once, holding on to them can do more harm than good. At the very least, move the names to a list of inactive subscribers that receive few to no emails every year.

The most successful re-engagement campaigns typically re-active about 10 percent of formerly inactive subscribers. Depending on the size of your email list, that can result in a lot of clicks. Creating email re-engagement campaigns that are friendly and simple while integrating these tips can help ensure those clicks keep coming.