The Email Re-Engagement Sauce

Feb 06, 2024

Paul Shriner

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A tale of two dinners

For the sake of a tired blog article, let’s compare two pasta sauces for a little dinner party that you are throwing.

Sauce number one

My wife’s family has a recipe for pasta sauce. It is from the old country. It is made from scratch, and it has been passed down for generations. We shared a batch with our neighbor. That neighbor asked for the recipe and I was told by my spouse, “THAT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE SHARE.” The fresher the ingredients, the better the sauce, but fresh ingredients are not enough. You also have to simmer the sauce for hours, then season it, but not too much because you could ruin it. Once everything is done the silky rich is truly something to behold.

Sauce number two

Add water and stir they said. You can reconstitute your sauce and it will look/taste/smell like you put in the hard work. NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.

Which sauce do you think your guests will rave about coming back for more? The answer is my wife’s family recipe. Why? Because “add water, and stir” only works when you are backpacking Mt. Ranier, and you are hungry. Shortcuts taste like shortcuts.

There is no “add water and stir” in marketing

Everyone keeps looking for the magic marketing sauce where all they have to do is reconstitute their dehydrated marketing and customers will then come flocking to them. That is the thing, marketing requires hard work.


99% of the prospects that come to AudiencePoint are seasoned professionals who understand the nuance of data and have calculated strategies that leverage our data to drive huge results. But occasionally I will get a marketer who just wants to reactivate their lapsed file. They want marketing sauce #1, when their strategy reflects sauce #2 (the water one).

It is found money

Re-engagement campaigns have been hot as of late. With the cost of customer acquisition going up, the appeal of reconciling with your previous subscribers sound really interesting, because there is no cost of acquisition. They have already opted-in, but they stopped engaging.

Should you still email unengaged?


But I want to email them still

Yeah, this perspective is not uncommon. The unfortunate side-effect of this approach is that the mailbox providers watch your engagement rate and silently and politely usher your email over to the little thing that we in the industry like to call the “Spam” folder. Why? Because those same mailbox providers are saying. “You should already know if your customers are engaging with your emails.” And their lack of engagement is a signal that they don’t want your content.

Ask the hard questions

Why did they stop engaging? Sometimes we have to do little bit of guessing, but detective work is part of the email marketing game. Were you over-emailing? Were your offers too low? Did they just move on to a new stage of life?

Will re-engagement campaigns work if you are still mailing the disinterested email addresses?

No, you are wasting your time and your money. If you are still emailing people and through the data of ListFit, you identify which of those email addresses are actually engaging somewhere else, no new email will bring them back! Why, because you are likely either already in the SPAM folder or the recipient is like, “DUDE, I HAVEN’T OPENED/CLICKED YOUR EMAIL IN SIX MONTHS.” Either way, your re-engagement efforts will fall flat.

Relax, back off, for a bit.

When someone has not engaged with your content in 180 days, it is time to let them go. Not permanently, but back off a bit. Give them some air. It gives off “desperate” vibes. Let them appreciate how much you love them from a distance for a bit. Then after more time has passed, a little note that says, “I miss you, save 30%” suddenly means something.

Make sure your IPs are healthy

If you are sending a re-engagement campaign the IP addresses that you are sending from are already ushering your content into the SPAM folder, then your re-engagement sends are only going to make things worse.

Other than audience what else works

This is going to sound dangerous to some marketers, but if the big discount is only going to new customers, guess what you are teaching your customers? You are teaching them that you only value new customers, and you don’t value their loyalty. Will the old customers know that the new customers are getting a better deal? Yes, people talk. What if your offers were greater for email addresses that have been around as opposed to the opposite? That perspective is a little bit of me preaching on a soap box. But with that said, your offer needs to be at least as good as a new customer offer, but likely better.

Show them how to unsubscribe

If you don’t want them to unsubscribe, why should you show them how to unsubscribe? People feel valued when you trust them with their own choices. If you keep emailing them when they don’t want to receive email, then their next-best option is to just hit the “Report Spam” button.

Honor their wishes

Just because someone didn’t respond to your re-engagement camping doesn’t mean that you should never email them again, but it does mean that you should give them another break before reaching out again.

Bring in the big guns

There is an art to it. There are agencies that specialize in winback campaigns. There is an art to getting re-engagement right. If you are really interested in a successful winback campaign, you should consider engaging an agency that specializes in the space.


Re-engagement campaigns are awesome and can generate a lot of revenue for a brand, but if you are still emailing these people, just calling the email your “re-engagement email” won’t suddenly make it effective. Email marketing is hard work, just like making my wife’s secret pasta sauce recipe. With that said, that hard work generates something of beauty (sauce and revenue!).