We Want You Back! How to Re-Engage Inactive Email Supporters


Image: https://flic.kr/p/5bEMgT

You’re losing email subscribers. Every month. All year long.

They unsubscribe. They bounce. They stop responding.

churn happens

According to M+R Benchmarks, on average, about 24% of subscribers are considered inactive.

What’s a nonprofit communicator to do? Practice your ABC’s (Always Be Collecting), AND offer content worth subscribing to, AND…how about rekindling and reconnecting with your inactives!

Inactives are people who already said “yes” to joining your list at one time, but haven’t opened an email in months, maybe years. These inactives pile up over time and drag down the performance of your email list. (See 3 Benefits to Removing Inactive Subscribers from Email Marketing Lists and Why Deleting People From Your Email List is a Good Thing.)

You could simply ignore or delete inactives, but why not try to rekindle the love and win them back?

Re-engagement campaigns take a bit of bravery. After all, you’re emailing a bunch of people who haven’t paid attention to you in a long time.

If you’re serious about waking up your inactives, plan a campaign:

  • a series of emails (2-3) and a compelling offer
  • smartly segment your email list (people who haven’t engaged in 6 months or more)
  • always offer a way to unsubscribe or manage communications preferences
  • after trying to win them back, remove inactives from your list


These strategies are not mutually exclusive. They can be mixed and matched as part of a multi-email win-back campaign.

Hand-Picked Content


Source: https://flic.kr/p/71TpER

These emails go something like this: “We haven’t heard from you in a while, and wanted to share three great pieces of content with you that you might not have seen yet.”

This content has to be your BEST – the blog post that gets tons of shares, the video that got boatloads of likes on social, the resource supporters are raving about.



Source: https://flic.kr/p/5Y5kW

Maybe you should find out why people have stopped responding with a very short survey: “We noticed you haven’t been clicking on our emails. Is there anything we can do to improve?”


free ticket

Source: https://flic.kr/p/9vijdX

This is the go-to re-engagement tactic for retail and business – offer a discount or other special gift for returning subscribers. What can you offer your subscribers to get them to re-engage? Tickets, discounts, access?


  1. How are you
  2. Can we do better? Tell us how.
  3. Are you there, reader? It’s me, [insert ED or other person subscribers might know]
  4. I miss you
  5. We miss you
  6. Because we miss you
  7. We haven’t seen you in a while
  8. Hey, it’s been a while
  9. We’re checking in
  10. Are you breaking up with us?
  11. Come back!
  12. We want you back!
  13. It’s been a while
  14. Let’s catch up
  15. Where have you been?
  16. Did you forget about us?
  17. We haven’t seen you in a while. Everything OK?


10 Examples of Email Re-Engagement Campaigns You’ll Want to Steal

9 Re-Engagement Emails That Won Us Over for Good

10 Re-Engagement Email Inspirations to Win Back Subscribers

12 Examples of Re-Engagement Campaigns

6 Awesome Examples of Win-Back Email Campaigns

Do you have a re-engagement example you love? Share a link in the comments.

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Author: Kerri Karvetski, Online Campaigns and Social Media Adviser

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