Tips on Effective Re-engagement Campaigns in Email Marketing
Written by
Puneet Mahajan
Puneet Mahajan

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Tips on Effective Re-engagement Campaigns in Email Marketing

Published : May 17, 2023

It’s a world where the average human attention span has already shrunk to eight seconds or less. To make matters worse, far too many distractions (TikTok videos, Instagram reels, Snapchat stories, YouTube shorts, and what have you) co-exist. They are almost always entertaining and take away a big chunk of the audience’s digital time. Whatever is left of it is definitely not enough for emails.

For you, as a marketer, this translates into tons of inactive email users and subscribers to deal with.

What you need to win them back are re-engagement campaigns.

Email marketing produces exceptionally successful results when it starts leveraging re-engagement campaigns, and that’s what we’ll talk about.

Think of this article as “The re-engagement campaigns in email marketing 101.”

What is a re-engagement email?

Any email (or set of emails) you send to the inactive recipients on your email list to win them back to your brand is a re-engagement email. Re-engagement email campaigns target folks who bought something from your site/store once or signed up for a newsletter but do not interact with your content or assets anymore. They don’t open your emails. They don’t visit your site. Nothing.

Often, re-engagement emails have one or more specific goals, some of which are:

  • Opening/clicking emails
  • Visiting your website
  • Making a purchase
  • Installing your mobile app

Much has been said about the email’s unbeaten capability to reach your audience and generate conversions (we’ve done much of that talking ourselves), so it’s no surprise that they take center stage in re-engagement efforts.

Quick Note: When you run a re-engagement campaign, be prepared to whittle down your email recipient list. There will be some inactive users you cannot re-engage, no matter what you do. They only bloat your email list and should be cleaned out – why bother them with content they don’t care about? (You might want to brush up on the “email list hygiene” concept here.)

A good campaign will increase the number of people who open your email/newsletter and make purchases. The idea is always to increase your click rates. A decrease in your email list (within reason) is not the end of the world.

User segments for re-engagement campaigns

When initiating a re-engagement campaign, it’s crucial to start by narrowing down the user segments based on their current engagement level. Here are a few helpful categories and their definitions:

  • Active: Subscribers who last opened and/or clicked on emails or visited your site in the past 30 days
  • Engaged: Subscribers who opened and/or clicked on emails or visited your site between 30 and 90 days ago
  • Unengaged: Subscribers who last opened and/or clicked on emails or visited your site between 90 and 180 days ago
  • Dormant: Subscribers who last opened and/or clicked on emails or visited your site between 180 days and 12 months ago
  • Zombies: Subscribers who last opened and/or clicked on emails or visited your site more than 12 months ago
  • Ghosts: Subscribers who never opened or clicked any email or visited your site

Re-engagement emails should target recipients in the Unengaged, Dormant, Zombies, and Ghosts segments.

Note: You will eventually have to delete some users in these segments from your list. It will minimize the chances of your emails ending up in spam folders. (A large email list with very low engagement usually indicates that many of your emails might be ending up in the spam folder.)

Essential elements of a re-engagement email

You can shape your re-engagement email campaigns in a variety of imaginative ways, but each email in the campaigns should have the following characteristics (at the very least):

  • The email should be design-friendly. A significant majority of the browsing population accesses emails via mobile. Your re-engagement email should look and read comfortably on customers’ handheld devices.
  • Include a catchy, attention-grabbing CTA that tells the customer exactly what they will get when they click it. More importantly, make sure it’s relevant to them.
  • Offer a reward they actually care about. Discounts and perks (free shipping, 1+1 free) are among the most popular rewards that get users to re-engage with your brand.
  • Give them a clear option to unsubscribe if they don’t want to receive further communication from you. It shows that you respect users’ choices, even when they are not in your favor.

Re-engagement emails will contain other elements in design and content, depending on the industry and purpose. However, the four parameters discussed above are non-negotiables; re-engagement emails seldom succeed without these qualities.

Examples of some excellent re-engagement emails

Example 1


What we like: Playfully calls out that the user has been missing in action and directly offers a 20% discount. No muss, no fuss, straight to the point.

Example 2


What we like: Humor, wit, and vulnerability.

Example 3


What we like: The content is heartfelt and clearly written to delight, amuse, and appeal. The email directly talks to users, choosing not to depend on the visual support of images or GIFs. It uses good writing to get people’s attention and retain it.

Example 4


What we like: Upfront, no-nonsense, but not outright sales-y. The advantages mentioned are real and bring tangible value to customers.

Example 5


What we like: Again, the copy and the graphic are actively funny. Few things catch your users’ attention as effectively as giving them a good laugh.

Re-engagement emails work

You really need to put in the work – there are no easy fixes. When crafted, targeted, and optimized accurately, re-engagement campaigns can breathe new life into your email marketing. You will see many folks returning to active engagement; however, the key phrase here is “optimized accurately”.

Not every email list is the same, and neither is every inactive subscriber on every email list. Create re-engagement emails with a deep understanding of what your users want, what their pain points and triggers are, and what you can provide. Do dedicated research and back it up with the time and money to create campaigns based on analytical insights. Else, you’ll end up with generic emails that don’t do much to activate dormant users.

Or, you could spare yourself all the stress and let the experts at Netcore help you create re-engagement campaigns that align your business and your customers’ interests. We send over 20 billion emails a month on behalf of 6500+ businesses across 40 countries; and we could bring insights from all that experience to your campaigns.

Contact us to discuss how we can get your inactive users to sit up, take notice, and hit the CTA button in your marketing emails.

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