Reactivate Your Inactive Subscribers Fast

Colleen Preisner

3 minute read

Do you have a higher number of inactive subscribers than active subscribers? If your inactive list is overflowing, it represents opportunities you can leverage for improving your email marketing results. Read on to find out why not all is lost when your subscribers become inactive.

Fact: It’s not uncommon for brands of any size or industry to have email subscribers who aren’t engaging. However, it’s our job as marketers to not only grow your database and engage active users but to also leverage reactivation campaigns in order to engage those who have become inactive.

“It’s Not You; It’s Me”

Why are the users inactive? There are several potential reasons:

  • Change in email address/dormant email address
  • Lack of interest from subscriber/engaged by a different brand
  • Desire different service/product due to change in the customer lifecycle
  • Inability to receive your email (soft or hard bounce–check your delivery rates, too!)
  • Overwhelming amount of email in their inbox
  • Signed up for one reason in particular but began receiving emails related to other reasons

Whatever the reasons may be, you’re not alone in having inactive users. Industry standards reveal that up to half of most total email lists are inactive, with many industries having inactive rates as high as 70-80%.

In order to diminish inactive rates, senders need to do a better job at targeting and re-engaging their inactive segments, as well as keeping up-to-date lists for segments’ permission levels and consent among end-users.

Here are 3 go-to methods you can use to win back your inactive user segments and level the playing field in your email marketing:


Considering all the reasons mentioned above, do you know why your inactive users have become inactive? Did it have something to do with the frequency at which you sent emails? Was it their interest in your product that waned?

One of the best win-back campaigns and ways to improve your list hygiene is by simply asking users why they haven’t engaged. Email subject lines such as “Gone So Soon?” or “We Miss You” often remind users that they have previously engaged with your brand for a particular reason, which still may be valid.

If you combine this email type with a more personalized approach that leverages the contact’s name, the likelihood of engagement is that much higher.

If the percentage of your respondents is low, there’s always the option of contacting subscribers through other forms of media.


If a win-back campaign is sent from an “” address, the chance of engagement and reactivating subscribers is already sabotaged.

In your subject line and email header, offer value upfront to those who are inactive. A subject line of “We Miss You!” could easily be paired with “Take 10% Off” in order to incentivize end-user engagement.

By providing a value proposition upfront, users are much more likely to not only reactivate but to also convert on services/products your brand offers at the same time. Return Path estimates that the read rate for the win-back campaigns sent with these features is 12%.

Even if subscribers don’t read your initial reactivation email, 45% of subscribers are likely to read subsequent messaging from your brand.

“$ off” discounts in the subject line were nearly twice as successful at getting people to read the email than emails with % off discounts. Yet, most marketers use % off in their win-back email subject lines.” – Return Path


As illustrated with our client audits and assessments, CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) compliance is crucial for your email marketing success for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that offering the right consent/unsubscribe mechanisms increases the level of trust among end-users, and this level of trust is your most valuable commodity as a brand.

When sending a win-back campaign, ensure that your email design has the correct mechanism in place for an unsubscribe. Not only is this friendly to consumer interest, but it also contributes to your list hygiene in the case that an end-user does want to unsubscribe because the user can opt-out and be removed from your database.

Ironically, offering a clear email unsubscribe mechanism and adhering to CASL rules actually increases end-user trust through transparency and might lend towards inactive users becoming active again.

How will you re-engage your inactive end users? Whether it’s by offering an incentive or getting personal again, we hope you leverage these tips to provide balance for your email database. For more tips and insights on how to reactivate inactive subscribers, contact us today.

Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Colleen Preisner

Two decades of experience in the financial services industry. Fanatic of insight-based marketing strategy, having worked in nearly every marketing discipline. She leads Trendline’s Client Services teams across North America. Follow Colleen on LinkedIn

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