One of the recently conducted surveys stated that email marketers lose 25% of their email list every year. Despite those large attrition rates, email marketing continues to be the workhorse of marketing strategies.  The median (meaning that half were lower and half were higher) return on email at the end of 2017 was about 122% that’s about four times that of any other marketing channel.

As this image from Neil Patel shows, the general return on investment from email marketing is significant.


[Tweet “If your emails have a low open rate – you’ve got potential customers sitting on the sidelines”]

How to Get More People to Open Your Emails

The good news is that you’re more than halfway to your goal, these folks have registered for whatever email offer you’ve put in front of them; an ebook, a checklist or maybe a webinar.  They are interested.  Now the goal is to get them interested again.  And that isn’t going to happen by your simply sending one more email the way you’ve done it before.

The way to get more people to open your emails is to “re-engage” them; get their attention and open up a new conversation.  This is where the re-engagement email sequence comes into play.

The re-engagement email sequence serves a divine purpose of bringing your dead email list to life. This is one of the prime reasons for it to be referred as the win-back email. Re-engagement emails also help in increasing the readability of subsequent emails by up to 24%.


email info

Here is a very general outline of what a re-engagement sequence might look like.  Remember, the key is to simply open up the conversation and, if this group still doesn’t engage with you, it’s time to say goodbye.

Step 1: Create a list or segment of people who have not opened your emails.

This seems simple enough, but as soon as you start working the process, you’ll suddenly get stopped.  You need to run a report in your email marketing system for people who have not opened your emails.  Try several different options that include, those who haven’t opened in 3 months, 6 months, a year, and those who have NEVER opened your email.  You’ll notice that you’ll get different numbers across all of these selections.  Which you pick is up to you.

WARNING: If you see large numbers (and you will), you’ll get heart palpitations about eventually deleting these email that you’ve worked so hard to collect. You’ll think that these are prospect and people but they are NOT, they are simply emails.  And, if, after this engagement sequence, they don’t re-engage with you, don’t worry about them, you never had them anyway.

Step 2: Write your email sequence 

This is the step where you are probably stuck — what do you say? How do you grab their attention so that they will re-engage with you?

Lucky for you, I’ve already done this.  In fact, I’m going to give you the outline that I used a few years ago to clean up my email list.  This is a sequence of 4 emails that run over the course of about a week or so.  The goal of this sequence is to either re-engage with this list or to take them off the list.

Email #1: Send this to the folks you’ve classified as “unengaged”.  Create a very personal subject line because this is a personal email.  Here are a few you could use:

Subj: Hello…(knock, knock)…anyone there?
Subj: Are you ok?
Subj: Hey [FIRST NAME] is everything ok?

The idea here is that they are so busy, that they simply hadn’t had time to open your emails.  So go with that theme and send them a list of your most popular blog posts that they may have missed. (This will show them the quality of your content without being pushy)

Add a P.S.  with a third-party helpful tip focused on what helps YOU be productive.  Is there a tool or platform that YOU have found to be especially helpful, share a link or a tip that helps.

Email #2: Send this 2 days later

Subj: Is this your best email address?
Subj: is this still [FIRST NAME]’s email?
Subj: am I bugging you?

The purpose of this email is to ask if you’ve got the right contact information and to get them to update their contact information. So write something short and sweet and send them a link to where they can update their information or you can just ask them to reply to you with an updated email.

Email #3: Send this 2 days later

Subj: Are you stuck?
Subj: What has you stuck?
Subj: How can I help YOU?

This email switches gears away from the “where are you” stuff to more of a survey theme where you try to understand more of what’s important to them and to encourage re-engagement.

The survey itself isn’t as important as the act of re-engagement, so feel free to ask them anything. My favorite question is very broad – like “What’s keeping you up these days?” or “What’s your biggest marketing challenge this week?”

Email #4: Send this 2 days later

This is the second email in the survey themed campaign. This is really the same type of email, just positioned more as an “I need help” message than the first email.

Subj: I need your help…please
Subj: [FIRST NAME] can you help? Please?
Subj: [FIRST NAME] I need your help

In this email, you can say that you’re working on something special (a video, an article, a new product or service) and that you need their help in focusing on exactly what will be most helpful to them.

If you have something that you can offer them as an incentive or a gift, this would be the place to put that.  You can have that be an ebook or a checklist or some kind of tutorial video or webinar.

You can download the re-engagement email templates here.

Step 3: Clean your list — say goodby to inactive contacts

OK, this is the “hard” part and it’s also the best part — it’s time to wave goodbye to the folks who have not engaged with you.  If that list is large, you may mourn the fact that it was hard work attracting these folks.  But look at it this way — they just weren’t that into you.  Don’t spend a lot of time grieving, download them off of your email system and then delete them from your email system because you’re actually PAYING for these inactive emails.  This will save you some money and free you up to attract better prospects.

But Wait — I’m not ready!

What? you can’t say goodbye?  OK, you can actually try and win those people back.  And there’s an email sequence for that as well.  It goes something like this.

After the last engagement email; the one where you asked for their help, you can send this last sequence of 5 emails.  These emails are designed to bring them back by promising a free mystery gift.  So, before you run this sequence you’d better be prepared with a really awesome and super value-added gift — something that’s going to blow their mind and make them want to stay for more.  And that also means having MORE great info and not just sales pitches and offers.  So don’t run this sequence unless you’re ready for that.

Email #1: Send this 2 days after the last engagement email

Subj: Was it something I said?
Subj: Sorry if I offended you…
Subj: I want you back!


This is the email where you lay it on the line and be open and honest about what you’re doing and why — You want them back and you’re giving them a free gift.  When they click on the link, they get the gift and they are telling you that they want to stay on the list.

If they click on the link — great, that’s all that’s required, you can leave them alone after this.

I they DO NOT open the email, they get…

Email #2: Send this 2 days after the previous email

Subj: Claim your “mystery gift”…
Subj: I’ve got a give for you (sssshhhh it’s a surprise 😉
Subj: Surprise gift for [FIRST NAME]

Hey, maybe they didn’t get the email – so check in to make sure they did and give them a link to the mystery gift. Go ahead, be open about the fact that you are trying to win them back. But  also be open about the fact that you won’t be emailing them forever, if they don’t open this email, send them

Email #3: Send this 2 days after the previous email

Subj: Am I still welcome in your inbox?
Subj: Am I still welcome here?
Subj: Am I bothering you?

This is the first of the “countdown” emails.  In this email, you’re still offering the gift and you’re prompting them for some response, maybe they aren’t getting the value, maybe their business has changed — ask them what has changed and what matters to them.

If they respond in any way — clicking on the gift download or replying to you – YAY, they stay on the list.  But if not — the countdown continues with…

Email #4: Send this 1 day after the previous email

Subj: Should I unsubscribe you?

It’s just that simple – you’re basically saying — If you don’t want the link and if you don’t want to tell me what you need, then it’s time for us to part.  And that’s ok.  Give them the link to the gift download and that’s it.

Email #5: Send 1 day after previous email

Subj: Is this goodbye?
Subj: Is today goodbye?
Subj: Is today the end of us?

Keep it short and simple — still give them the option to download the gift AND tell them you will be removing them from your list.  Oh — and then REMOVE THEM FROM THE LIST.

You can use these examples as inspiration

Stale lists are killing your Email ROI

Great email marketing gets great return on investment.  If you are building a list that’s getting open rates under 10% – it’s time to clean your list.  All of those people who aren’t opening your emails are taking up space in your CRM or email marketing platform and that is costing you money.  Get them out of there.

As soon as you clean your list, you’re going to be left with those people who are engaged and want to get information.  Once you complete this sequence, it’s a great time to keep engaging with them.  Don’t just send them meaningless information, send them personal messages; if you read a great article, share it with them and tell them why you liked it.  Ask them for their feedback.  If you snapped a selfie with your dog — share that with them too.

Think of these newly engaged people as pen pals and open up a conversation with them.  The key is to send 4 informational and educational emails for every 1 email that you send that’s asking them to buy something.

Give this a shot and let me know how it goes for you.