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By now, you have certainly experienced the occasional “We Miss You”, “We Want You Back,” or “It’s been awhile” emails, either in your inbox or as a campaign specialist who has sent these to your un-engaged subscriber base.
Everyone likes to ask: Do these sorts of emails work? Well, for some brands they do. Other brands have mixed results, and for quite a few, they are a complete waste of time. I say this because most often these campaigns tend to be one-off batch emails where some arbitrary line in the sand of 5 or 8 months of some combination of no opens/clicks or purchases are segmented, usually using a template with a discount or incentive that’s typical of what is normally sent out to the engaged subscriber base. The batch send is scheduled, and if you’re lucky, you get decent open rate and a super low conversion rate. In the following few months, when things are slow or upper management panics about how big the inactive subscriber base is, you then do it all over again. Lastly, it’s also hard to track downstream how the newly “engaged” are truly performing in your program and if the efforts outweighed the reward for that campaign.
However, it’s those rare brands who have set up a series of intervention-triggered programs tied to a pre-defined behavior (or lack thereof) where they are constantly testing a messaging strategy based on subscriber and brand-specific life-stages that tend to get re-engagement programs right. They realize that early and mid-term intervention, along with your messaging, is just as important as the last ditch “we miss you” effort. The brands are constantly testing the waters on tone, template, CTAs, frequency, TOD, and TOW, all while layering in subscriber behavior outside of the email channel. (e.g., mobile apps and website engagement)
The reason re-engagement campaigns don’t work all of the time is because brands wait until the end and don’t realize the opportunity at the early or even midterm stages of disengagement. It’s an afterthought for some brands, and they worry more about the next promotional send rather than creating an engagement/disengagement journey for their subscriber. However, as a former brand-side marketer, I get it. I am willing to bet that you sometimes don’t have time to eat your sandwich at your desk or even pee, because you are often pulled in so many different directions while keeping the lights on in your program. You are not lazy; you are just busy and oftentimes can’t change the political climate regarding your organization’s email program.
There are probably many initiatives on your plate as a brand marketer and, while I get that all of them are important, I think you owe it to your brand and your subscriber to look at creating an early and mid-term batch of triggered intervention program. The cost of not doing one is rather unknown and mileage will vary, but going from a good to a great program takes effort and foresight.