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How To Plan and Manage An Email Reengagement Campaign

We’ve covered a lot of topics related to email on the Firefly blog. From ways to welcome new subscribers to metrics that can help you improve your communication strategy. These are helpful when it comes to your active lists, but what do you do with the subscribers on your list who just aren’t opening your emails? That’s where reengagement campaigns come in.

Reengagement is the email marketing equivalent of reaching out to a bunch of old friends you’ve lost touch with and trying to reconnect. A few of them might respond, a few might not, and a handful could actually become deep important relationships again. Here’s how we suggest approaching a reengagement campaign.

Prepare Yourself (And Your Team)

Before you begin the process of setting up and running a reengagement campaign, you need to understand that you’re going to be dealing with a large portion of your email list that is inactive. According to the 2017 M+R Benchmarks Report, median email open rate among nonprofits was 16 percent. This means that for most nonprofits, the majority of your list is not opening or interacting with your messages. The desired end result of a reengagement campaign is to get some subscribers back on that active list. But you’ll also end up identifying and suppressing a list of email addresses that you’re no longer going to send to. And this could be a big list. You may need to sell this to your organization’s leaders and board to get everyone comfortable with your list decreasing before you start.

To explain why a reengagement campaign makes sense, you need to realize that quality does matter more than quantity. Suppressing inactive subscribers is important because it improves your list. Since you’ll be sending to people with a higher likelihood of engagement, you’ll probably see your open and click rates go up. And cleaner and more responsive lists help ensure that your email deliverability score is good, which means your messages aren’t going to end up in spam folders where no one will see them.

Define Inactivity

Before you can send a reengagement campaign, your organization needs to determine exactly what ‘inactive’ means to you. For one nonprofit this could be anyone who has not opened an email in a year while another could view those who have never donated or participated in an action alert as inactive. The types of emails you send, how frequently you send them, and how you segment your lists all factor in to determining the group that you define as inactive.

Once you’ve all agreed on the characteristics that make up this group you can create the list for your reengagement campaign.

Plan Your Content

We think that the best email reengagement campaigns feature a series of automated emails with different messages and different asks. As you send your emails, subscribers who take the action you’re aiming for (open, click, donate, etc.) will be segmented off the inactive list and won’t receive subsequent emails in your campaign. Those who do not take action will continue to receive the rest of the messages. Here are a few ideas for the type of content your emails could feature.

  • Reintroduction: Remind subscribers why they signed up in the first place and share some good news or a recent success story.
  • Action: Ask recipients to donate, complete an action alert, or fill out a survey. The survey could even be one where you ask for feedback about how your organization is doing, which could help guide your communication strategy moving forward.
  • Subscription preferences: If your organization sends a variety of emails (event announcements, newsletters, action alerts, etc.) you could give people the option to choose which emails they’d like to receive and which they’d like to opt out of. The same goes for nonprofits that send emails centered around specific topics or programs.

While these are general best practices for reengagement, it is important to understand that every reengagement campaign will be different and unique to the specific organization implementing it. You’ll want to weigh different options and approaches and have a clear goal in mind. Then you can craft content that helps you get there. In the end, while you may have to say goodbye to a large portion of your list, the end result should be dramatically improved data hygiene and a deeper understanding of what interests your most engaged subscribers.

If you have more questions or want to find out if your organization should take on a reengagement campaign, reach out to our team of experts today.

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