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7 Re-engagement Emails to Win Back Inactive Customers

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No matter how hard you try, your email list will always, always, always encounter two things: 

  1. People who unsubscribe, and 
  2. People who stop opening your emails, even when they don’t unsubscribe from your list 

The first one can feel like a bit of a shin kick to the ego, but the second means that not all hope is lost.

Somewhere along the way, your email marketing efforts with those contacts either missed the mark or their primary inbox (we’re lookin’ at you promotions tab), and it sort of snowballed from there. 

It’s a natural occurrence, but it’s not hopeless. Marketers like you can win back inactive customers with a strategic re-engagement email sequence. 

If you typed "how to win back lost subscribers" into the search engine and found yourself here, good news! We're about to lay it all out for you.

Below, we're going to cover win-back emails and explore: 

  • Seven notable retention email examples (ones you probably haven't seen before)
  • Some reactivation subject lines to help you craft your own 
  • A detailed walkthrough of how to build your email re-engagement campaign

Re-engagement Emails For Inactive Subscribers: What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?

We've all been guilty of lurking around brands we have some interest in without converting right away.  

Maybe you heard about a product they offer, so you check them out and the email pop up catches your eye so you enter your email only to forget to open up the welcome emails they sent because you got distracted or didn't really care to open it right that second. 

Or maybe you have a brand you absolutely love (hi, TOMS!). You keep getting emails, but you're not ready to buy something from them right then and there, so you ignore their emails but stay on the list just in case that one fantastic deal pops up. 

Whatever the truth is in our case, we've all done something close to this, and the people on our email lists do it too. 

But when something tiptoes across the line from lurking to completely inactive, that's when your handy-dandy customer re-engagement emails swoop in for the rescue. 

These are a sequence of automated emails designed to be like your eye in the sky watching over your list to spot when someone strays too far before gently encouraging them to come back, reengaged. 

Plus, if someone prefers to not stick around, this automation can clean them off the list without you doing any of the dirty work. 

Your list stays clean, and your email subscribers get only relevant content they're happy to have sent to them.

On the flip side, without this handy "pal" who's always got your back, you're likely to end up with a large chunk of inactive subscribers with untapped potential. And fun little side note: Having a bunch of those on your list that ultimately affects your entire deliverability and sender reputation. 

So, trust us. 

You want these retention-building emails as part of your re-engagement strategy, and it's never too late to start on them. 

The Essential Elements Your Win-Back eCommerce Emails Should Always Include

Win-back. Reactivate. Re-engage. Welcome back. Whatever term you want to call this automated email marketing campaign, the goal is always the same: 

To get your subscriber to increase their engagement rates with you — preferably in the form of a purchase. 

But to get to that point, your emails should make sure to contain a few essential elements: 

  • Keep the email design mobile-friendly 
  • Always have an easy-to-find CTA in the email; preferably above the fold 
  • A tangible incentive 
  • The option to unsubscribe (usually in the footer)

This is the basic email template that all great reactivation emails are built upon. And there are plenty of examples out there that use all of these elements well with different results. 

Let's look at some re-engagement campaign email examples to get the ball rolling.

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7 Re-Engagement Email Examples To Win Back Inactive Customers


1. Call out they've "been gone" awhile

reengagement-email-template-example


What We Love About This Re-engagement Email

The copy in this example does a fantastic job of showing that the contact hasn't been engaging with their brand lately without sounding brutish. 

Their main headline mentions that things have changed since the last time they visited the store. They go on to use the word "new" four different times — including in the coupon code — to drive the point home. 

To make the savings stand out in the email, both the code and the phrase "20% off" are highlighted in the brand's gold color to make it pop. The copy is well crafted, and the email design does the job of capturing attention.  And to wrap it all up the CTA is above the fold in mobile viewing to increase the CTR.  

2. Give them a discount and product recommendations 

reengagement-email-template


What We Love About This Re-engagement Email

You gotta give it to the email marketer over at Glow Recipe. They get right to the point by mentioning the contact hasn't opened any emails in a while. 

That could be a good wake-up call to the email subscribers who didn't even realize they had been inactive. This email has a sort of one-two punch tactic because it offers both a discount and photos of products they recommend they try. 

For your own emails, personalized recommendations work best. But if all else fails, you can recommend your best-selling products since, well, they’re bestsellers for a reason. 


3. Use We Miss You Email Subject Lines

reengagement-email-example-template


What We Love About This Re-engagement Email 

We really enjoyed their “we miss you” email for how balanced it is. While you don't see it here, this email uses We Miss You as the subject line. 

The main copy tells a small story, “We miss you. Let’s make up. So we took a little break. No big deal. Let’s put it behind us.”

Notice the sentences are short without the tone feeling blunt or insincere. Words carry feelings and the whole “Let’s make up” part of the email does add kindness. (Not to mention the puppy… ‘cause who doesn’t light up when they see a puppy. )

Finally, they added some much-needed personalized recommendations based on the user's previous browsing and purchase history. 

Considering personalized recommendations can increase ROI by 300+ percent, using it in a reactivation email is fantastic to see. 


4.  Nail down the real reason behind their interest

reengagement-email-template-discount


What We Love About This Re-engagement Email

Noom has been ramping up their email marketing these days, and this is an excellent example of exactly how they’re doing this. 

This email, in particular, aims at getting a previously active subscription user back in as a paying customer. 

For whatever reason, these people stopped using the service. But the initial reason they signed up for it was for improving their health. The copy used “reclaim your health” speaks to an important desire, and offering an attractive 90% discount makes it even easier to say yes. 

For physical products, offering such a steep discount is likely not possible. However, the important part of this email is that they get to the root of the matter with the customer, which can be the difference between winning back customers or not. 

5. Add-In a Bit of Humor

reengagement-template-email-example


What We Love About This Re-engagement Email 

A bit of humor never hurts, especially when it's your brand voice. Missguided does this well while keeping their offer and email design simple, short, and sweet. 

They call out it's been a while since their customer has been around, and they want to make things work out by offering them a discount on their next purchase. The humor is lighthearted, which plays into their fun brand voice.

In the end, there’s also the option to connect via social media. 

So if someone doesn't jump right back into a purchase, there’s still the increased chance of staying in their social feed — which does play its part in marketing.

6. Keep it Simple, Like Super Simple

reengagement-email-example


What We Love About This Re-engagement Email 

It's easy to get stuck in the weeds of email design when what really matters is getting to the point. 

Nordstrom emails are usually image-heavy, but this email in their welcome back campaign, comes down to eight words and a simple photo.  

That's about all there is to it. 

You don't need to overthink the design of every email in the sequence. You can do like you see here and keep it polite and straightforward with an easy CTA.


7. Give Them A Reason To Come Check You Out Again

reengagement-email-example


What We Love About This Re-engagement Email 

Your email workflow can have emails that all build on each other to the end goal: 

Winning back an inactive customer. 

Kate Spade uses an interesting email here to get people to come back. Instead of offering a discount here, they list reasons why someone should come check out the online store. Each point lists something of some benefit to the reader. 

The CTA is simple, but there's not much to distract from it. Giving customers a good reason to come back, you remind them of your value and keep them coming back again.

6 Win-back Email Subject Lines To Help You Get The Ball Rolling

Half of the challenge of reactivating subscribers is getting them to open your emails. To capture that attention, you need your reactivation subject lines to help you out here. 

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling: 

3 We Miss You Reengagement Subject Lines 

  1. We miss you! 
  2. Here's a discount, 'cause we want you back 
  3. You haven't seen you in awhile (open for 40% off)

3 Retention-based Subject Lines 

  1. Happy Anniversary! Here's a gift for being so great 
  2. We couldn't do it without you! (gift inside)
  3. This is just for you {FNAME}

Play around with some ideas and test using emojis as well. There’s a lot you can do here, and nothing is set in stone forever. 

So jot down some ideas and use what you come up with as the subject line. Then revisit these later to test some new ideas and see if your engagement changes.

How to Create a Re-engagement Email Campaign Sequence To Win-Back Lost Customers

So far, we’ve covered email and subject line examples for your reactivation email campaigns. 

But that’s just the end result stuff. 

This section will show you both what your sequence could be made up of and a bit of the technical side of building out your re-engagement automation. 

Re-engagement Email Campaign Workflow 

So, here’s the scene: 

Your contact has been inactive for 12 months; this segments them to your “Inactive Subscribers” and triggers the following workflow: 

  • Email 1: “We Miss You!” + Here’s a discount. This starts the conversation.  
  • Wait 3 days 
  • Email 2: Benefits + Social proof. Your brand has a lot of value, so talk about it. Do purchases help support worthy causes? Talk about it here. Do you do something unique that no one else does? Talk about it. Try including some testimonies or other user-generated content here. 
  • Wait 5 days 
  • Email 3: Second discount offer/ discount reminder. People get sidetracked, so remind them that you care and give them that discount one more time. Try using product recommendations here. 
  • Wait 5 days
  • Email 4: Goodbye for now. If nothing gets them engaging with your content, then this email is where you tell them you’ll be removing them from the list unless they click the CTA to stay on. 

You can quickly build this automation in our email marketing platform with the result looking like this: 

reengagment-email-funnel-example


When you’re inside the Sendlane dashboard and building out the bones of your winback email campaign, this is the rough sketch of what you’ll see. 

I pieced this entire workflow together in under 5 minutes. With this flow put together, now it’s possible to get into each email, configure it with my reactivation-based subject lines, copy, images, product recommendations, and so forth. 

It’s easy to build and works like a charm. 

Every marketing strategy should have a plan in place for retention and reactivation. It doesn’t have to be exactly like this since you should customize the emails to your brand’s needs.

A re-engagement email sequence is one essential part of the puzzle and can help you nab the sales you could have missed otherwise. 

Ready to start automating? Take Sendlane for a spin, free for 14 days and start waking up those sleepy customers! 

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