When you have been sending newsletters over a longer period of time, you will experience that a part of your recipients becomes inactive over time. They simply stop to engage with your newsletters which you have spent so much time planning and executing.

Your recipients may have become tired of your newsletters that no longer lived up to their needs, or tired of the endless stream of newsletters they constantly receive – and where you did now manage to stand out from the rest of the crows. Or perhaps your email simply does not reach their inbox anymore.

Some people you haven’t heard from for a long time, while others have not opened your emails at all – despite having been diligent users of your newsletters once.

This is a shame because your recipients are highly valuable to you – if you can get them involved, that is.

Your recipients may cause a problem for you if they completely have stopped opening your emails.

It can affect your delivery capacity and therefore affect those who actually want to hear from you. And therefore, it can sometimes be an advantage to delete inactive recipients from your contact lists.

However, before you do so, you should try to wake up the sleeping recipients first. You should launch a campaign that should try to bring them back to life.


Why do my recipients become inactive?

There can be many reasons for why one of your contacts no longer wants to receive your content:

  • Your newsletters were too boring or irrelevant
  • You didn’t send often enough – or you sent too often
  • Their needs have changed since they first signed up to your list
  • They generally get too many emails
  • They expected to get some other content than the one you actually send to them
  • They are too busy
  • They got a new email address because they, for example, changed jobs

Sometimes, it is out of your hands if you are no longer able to get engagement from your contacts.

However, there are several cases where you simply have not met the requirement or desire of the recipient, and you have probably used a lot of time and resources on getting the contact, and therefore, you have to put extra effort to reactivate the inactive recipients and try to make yourself (more) interesting again.

…there are several cases where you simply have not met the requirement or desire of the recipient


Identify sleeping recipients

First, start by segmenting the recipients who are no longer responsive, when you send your emails. Your email marketing platform probably has a segmentation option, where you can create segments. By using the segmentation feature, you can create segments with recipients who, for example

  • Have not opened an email for 6 months
  • Have not shopped for 3 months
  • Have not clicked through from an email for 3 months

or other important key points that fit into your business.

Several research studies have shown that you get greater response if the email sendings are segmented, so it is important not to treat all recipients as equal, so to speak.


Build an automated flow 

You should not just send a reactivation email only once. You will constantly have recipients on your email lists who will become inactive, and it is important to address them all as soon as they become inactive.

The good thing is that it can all be solved via marketing automation flows, which means that you do not have to try to reactivate the sleeping recipients manually. Instead, you can set up triggers that will notice self if your recipients have been inactive for a longer period of time or have not met important goals for you.

Send more than one reactivation email

So what happens if the recipient does not open the first reactivation email either?

Research studies from Return Path have shown that even though recipients do not necessarily open an email, they pay attention to your email in the form of the sender’s name and the headline. And if we, for example, assume that you have been too careless in sending newsletters and the recipients have forgotten you, it can be a good way to get you back into the recipients’ awareness again.

Therefore, you should not just send one reactivation email. Some sleeping recipients simply require more work.

Therefore, consider a reactivation flow with maybe 2, 3 or 4 different emails. In case you still have not activated the recipient, then you have to remove the recipient completely from your list.

Email 1: Send a simple email with “We miss you”

Email 2: If email 1 has not been opened or there has been no engagement from the opened email, then ask the recipient a little more, and what type of content the recipient wants.

Email 3:If the interaction is still missing, then make the email more interesting by offering something or by giving some kind of VIP information

Email 4: If you still haven’t waken the sleeping recipient up, then it is time for “Thank you for this time – We will delete you from our list” email. In the last email, you should of course give them a last chance to become active again.

Set up the flow with intervals of several days.


Build the content

Once you have identified the sleeping recipients, you must plan the content. The best is, as mentioned above, if you can let it all run through marketing automation flows.

Look at the data that you have collected on the recipient and see if it can be used actively. For example, if you have a valuable information such as purchase history, it will be quite obvious to try to push offer that is relevant to the purchase history – either in the form of the same types of products or in the form of additional sales of similar products (one has bought a shaver, and therefore must also use shaving foam or razor blades).

Other forms of content that can be segmented could be

  • Demographic data
  • Latest engagement
  • Persona
  • Purchasing habits
  • Preferred channel

In addition, you should think about the design of the email, the use of language, the length of the email, the content itself etc. Your recipients have lost interest once, so what can you do differently this time in order to maintain their interest?


Put extra work on the subject line

You should re-think how you previously created your subject lines in your emails. Since you know that many of the sleeping recipients have not opened your emails at all, it is important that you get their attention with something very telling in the subject line. Is there for example a deal they won’t be able to resist? Or should the subject line be a little provocative or clickbait-y if it fits in with the target audience? Or maybe the Sense of Urgency tactic is the way forward?

Some examples of subject lines are

  • “We miss you and we would like to hear if there is something new”
  • “It has been a long time since we last saw you – Use this discount code before Friday”
  • “Dear Peter, this offer is made specifically for you”
  • “We are also tired of spam – Let us know if you want to stay on our list”

Check out our article on 5 tips for subject lines in newsletters in order to get more inspiration.


Become personal and play with emotions

No matter what, it is important to sound less robotic and more human. Make sure to make the email as personal as possible. Use the contact’s name and make sure that the content is as close to the recipient’s profile as possible. Take advantage of all the data you have available in the email marketing platform.

It can also be a good strategy to play on emotions “We miss you very much!” or “May we hear from you again?” These can also often be advantageously combined with discount codes – and not least their name – to achieve greater chance of reactivation.


Seek dialogue

Now that you have reactivated the sleeping recipients, see if they can help you to figure out why they suddenly became so quiet.

Ask the recipient to fill out a scheme on why they have been inactive – what they could do better – and if necessary, ask them to give more information about themselves, so that it is easier for you to hit them with the content they want.

When you ask the recipients why they became inactive, you can ask them whether

  • you sent emails too often
  • you sent too few emails
  • you sent emails that were not relevant enough
  • the customer has got other interests

or whatever you think might be relevant.

Then ask how you can best communicate with them in the future so that you try to ensure that they do not become inactive again.

You can, for example, ask them about the desire for sending frequency, whether they will only receive offers or news, which categories in your webshop they are interested in (some email marketing platforms such as MarketingPlatform have tracking function, which enables the system to automatically save this information) or whatever else seems relevant.

Offer some kind of reward to those who spend the time answering your questionnaire.

With the new amount of data, you will now be able to target content of interest at the right time to the recipients of your newsletters to a much greater extent.