Which one do you think makes more sense: spending resources on getting new customers or investing more into keeping your existing ones while warming up your leads with smart re-engagement email campaigns?

Hint: customer retention is cheaper than acquiring new customers, and existing customers are more likely to convert than new ones.

customer retention vs acquisition

Source: Invespcro.com

Many companies don’t know the right answer, and they still invest more in acquiring new customers than in retaining and re-engaging existing ones.

It doesn’t matter whether you run an online shop, a service business, or a software company, your primary focus should be on retaining your existing clientele by any means.

You have various channels and tools to choose from, for example:

  • Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter if you have a B2C business, however the best channel for B2B companies is undoubtedly Linkedin
  • Paid remarketing campaigns on Facebook or Google’s display network
  • Online or offline events
  • Loyalty and referral programs
  • Push notifications or SMS
  • Targeted re-engagement email campaigns
  • and many more…

Let me focus on the latter piece now and help you get started with setting up your own reactivation email strategy.

Why are reactivation emails important?

At the very beginning, when the website visitors sign up for your newsletter or service, they are still very engaged. The recipient opens your emails, clicks your links, and makes purchases, but as time passes they are less likely to open your messages.

Your emails compete with so many others that it’s difficult to grab the recipient’s attention. It’s inevitable that some of the recipients won’t engage with your emails anymore.

Maintaining communication with these inactive users costs you money; that’s why you need to consider to either activate them or delete them from your subscriber list.

By doing so, you can maintain a healthy email marketing strategy, and your analytics shows accurate data that can help you to improve your campaigns.

Removing these inactive recipients also prevents embarrassing situations. Internet Service Providers (ISP) check your open rate, and if it’s too low, the ISP might categorize your emails as spam. Now, that isn’t a good thing if you want to continue sending marketing emails.

You might think the situation is hopeless, but don’t give it up so quickly. An excellent re-engagement strategy can help you win these people back. Most of the best email marketing software helps you track your emails, and provides you with valuable data.

Understand your customers by collecting the right data

Untargeted, unsegmented, and blast email campaigns are so 20th century. It’s time to move on and do it better. With traditional mass emails, you won’t be successful, no matter how hard you try.

Answer the following questions honestly:

  • Do you know who your ideal target customer is?
  • Do you know who buys what from you?
  • Are they primarily men or women?
  • What age are they?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • When did they last make a purchase on your site?
  • What did they buy?
  • Do you have their contact information and consent to receive emails from you?

If you answered yes to most of the above questions, you’re already on the right track. Congratulations! You might be well ahead of your competition.

If not, then it’s your last chance to jump on the bandwagon and start tracking and analyzing the behavior of your visitors, first-time buyers, and repeat customers.

What data should you collect?

Don’t worry; you don’t need a big data and analytics team to get started. You can begin in small by focusing only on the most critical data at first.

Your goal should be to collect data that can help you:

  • understand who your customers are,
  • where they come from,
  • what they did or didn’t buy,
  • how they can be grouped into segments,
  • figure out their preferences and interests to be able to make targeted offers

To be able to track and act on all this information, you’ll either need to use a website/e-commerce platform which is prepared for both the data tracking and marketing automation aspects, or you’ll need developers who can do the job for you.

Don’t quit now. Don’t be frightened by the words “platform” or “developer”.

Remember it’s 5x more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, and if you want to keep them, you’ll need more than mass email campaigns.

How to use the data you collected

First and foremost you have to make sure that the data you collect is kept safe and that you comply with the different data protection laws and regulations that are in effect in your country of operation.

Based on the data you collect, you primarily want to segment your customers based on behavior or time and come up with relevant product recommendations or discounts that match their needs.

Define who the inactive users are. Determine whether users are active or inactive based on their activities within a specific time frame. For example, you can decide that recipients who haven’t opened your emails in the last six months are inactive recipients.

Create a segment of these inactive users. To activate these people, you need a well-thought-out plan.

Timing is crucial here. Try to find out which day and at what time these people opened your emails previously, so you can figure out what the best time is to send your emails.

You can also create your very own RFM matrix (Recency, Frequency, Monetary value) to identify which of your customers you should focus on with your re-engagement emails.

RFM matrix

Source: Ometria.com

Why should you create a complex matrix like this? I’m sure you don’t want to send the very same discounts to your loyal customers as you send to those you wish to win-back, and this matrix can help with that.

Subject lines to consider in your next reactivation email

It doesn’t matter how great your design is if you don’t have an attractive subject line to make your subscribers open your message.

It’s pretty hard to come up with compelling and attention-grabbing subject lines, but let me list some basic rules for you to keep in mind:

  • Avoid SPAM triggering words like FREE, Save, Urgent, etc
  • Make your subject line urgent, useful, unique, ultra-specific – the 4U model.
  • Keep your subject line short 45-65 characters, best under 50 characters.

Length is an important factor, mainly because email clients have different preferences as well.

subject line length by email client

If you want to become a master subject line writer, I would advise you to check out this detailed, 2,000+ word article, written by an expert copywriter, about email subject line copywriting.

I know that you are short on time, like many of us, so I collected some re-engagement email subject line examples that can help you to win back your inactive subscribers. Let’s start with general ones, like:

  • We’ve missed you
  • We miss you
  • Need help?
  • Haven’t seen you for a while
  • Are you there?
  • It’s been a while
  • Was it something we said?
  • Where have you been?
  • Did we do something wrong?
  • Come back, we’ve been looking everywhere for you
  • Were you eaten by a T-rex? – This is my favorite from FameBit.

If you did your homework and implemented tracking, you can do much better than these by making your win-back email subject lines talk to your customers.

  • We have discounted your favorite [product category]
  • Save 10% on your next [relevant product category] order
  • Are you running low on [product that you want to sell them again]?
  • Want a free [product] for your birthday?
  • Let us ship your next order for free
  • How about 20% off if you buy a [related product] now?

Your options are endless, so be creative and regularly A/B test your win-back email subject lines, always striving to improve and never giving up.

Maybe you tried your best, did outstanding research, came up with a fancy subject line, but they still ignored your message. That’s a sad moment, I know.

The good news is that you can try again, and resend the very same email with a different subject line if they left your previous message unopened. This is a simple way to improve your email open rates, and thankfully it’s easy to set this up in most email marketing tools.

You can also increase the chance to trigger a higher open rate if you write a clear preview copy. Activate the recipients by telling them what to do next. Personalization can also be a great way to get closer to your goals.

Re-engagement email copy

You don’t have too much time to convince your readers and convert them, so not only the design but the copy of your email matters a lot also.

email reading statistics

Don’t try to write long emails unless you are great at storytelling. Try to stick to simple sentences and use the right email typography to make your message easy to read.

Re-engagement email design

Designing the perfect re-engagement email isn’t easy. Especially if you are using an ESP without the flexible drag and drop email editor. It takes ages to design a good email, especially because you will need to do some A/B testing as well and it’s hard to move around the elements.

In order to create a great re-engagement email template, we advise you to use a professional email template designer. It will help you to create a beautiful email within minutes. Also, it will be fully responsive- it will render perfectly on all devices. There are many great email template builders that you can use for free.

You can use the examples below as an inspiration.

Re-engagement email template examples

Instead of the theory, now let’s move on to practice, and let me show you some examples of good-looking emails that do a great job in reactivating existing customers.

Most of them take advantage of data analysis, tracking, segmentation, smart recommendations, and some other tweaks which make them stand out from the competition.

Location-based segmentation in email

Take a look at the example below from Eventbrite, which is sent only to people who are located in New York.

Eventbrite location based re-engagement email

Location-based segmentation is an essential part of the re-engagement strategies for sites like Eventbrite. This tactic can be beneficial for you as well, if you have a business with various offline stores.

Here’s another example from Movableink, which proves that adding a map that shows the nearest locations to the reader can boost the click-through rates by 66.67%.

Nectar rewards re-engagement email

In fact, it was not a classic segmentation-based email. They use different, more expensive, geo-targeting technology to make these emails work so well.

However, don’t worry, you can deliver something similar on a budget if you segment your users based on their home or shipping address, for example.

It’s not that hard, is it? Most likely, you already have that data somewhere in your systems. Maybe you just don’t use it to customize the content of your emails.

Gender and age-based segmentation

This one is pretty obvious too, but many e-commerce sites still fail to differentiate their offers based on gender.

It’s easy to tell that this email is primarily for men who prefer craft beer.

delivery.com re-engagement email

Of course, since this re-activation template doesn’t include any sexist illustration, it can easily be sent to those women who ordered craft beer from them previously.

The only problem with gendered-based segmentation is that women are, generally speaking, more active online shoppers than men, so in many cases, they do the shopping for their men as well.

online shopping habits by gender

Take this data with a pinch of salt though, and analyze the purchasing habits of both men and women among your existing customers.

For example, in my family, I’m the one taking care of most of the online and offline shopping, and in many cases, I buy things that are for my wife or daughters. So it’s not enough to look at the gender or previous purchases only. You need to combine all these data points and form separate customer personas and customize your emails accordingly.

The age-based segmentation is a bit more complicated since you have to know the birth date of your customers too, which might be especially hard to get from women.

age based re-engagement email

A slight change like this can easily mean a 10-30% increase in conversion or even more. As the example shows above, using the right image helps the recipient internalize the message itself, as it seems to be more relevant.

Birthday and anniversary based segmentation

Birthdays and anniversaries are a good excuse to get in touch and show love to your customers.

Personalized emails are the most successful ones concerning ROI. The same applies to emails that acknowledge the recipient’s birthday or being a customer for a certain period.

According to [studies],(http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2010/3751/birthday-anniversary-emails-generate-more-revenue), the open rate of the birthday emails is three times more than other promotional emails.

Remembering your customer’s birthday and surprising them with a nice present can blow your recipients off their feet. Since people are more likely to treat themselves as their birthday is approaching, the success is almost guaranteed.


This birthday email below encourages the recipients to update their account information and add their birthday data as well. Offering a voucher or secret present in return are great incentive to get the data necessary to use this tactic.


The anniversary celebration email below has a great, playful design and shows that the sender cares about the customer.


This re-engagement email by Modcloth leveraged the six months anniversary and offered a 5 dollars coupon. This gesture encourages the recipient to take action and start shopping.

This re-activation email template also included additional CTAs which recommended that the recipient connect to the brand on social media and share their coupon as well.

Why is it essential that your customers follow you on social media? The reason is straightforward. The number of times you can send emails is limited. However, you have the chance to communicate using your social channels more often, without being spammy.

Account activity-based emails

Sending a yearly wrap-up about the recipient’s activities is useful and helps them reflect on the previous year. It could also help your customers think through their plans and use this data to make decisions later on.


JetBlue summed up the year and shared their data with the passenger. This email template also visualized the data in a way which makes it easy to understand.

This type of re-engagement email must be personalized to get the most out of it. Make your customers understand why they should keep using your product and help them reach their goals.

Abandoned cart recovery

69.23% of website visitors abandon their shopping carts. Creating a great cart recovery email sequence is crucial to turn these prospects into customers by encouraging them to finish the purchasing process.


This shopping cart recovery email by Ralph Lauren used humor and said they kept the customer’s shopping bag. Two dogs looked after the customer’s “belongings”.

Include your contact details just like Ralph Lauren did so you can make sure the customer can get in touch if needed.

You can also activate the customers after they favorited products on your webshop. Let them know that these items won’t be there forever, and they should act ASAP.


This reminder email template example by Shoemint is simple and allows the recipient to navigate to the webshop. You can also include the item in your email to encourage the recipient even more.

What’s more, this post can help you to come up with the reminder email template design in accordance with the latest best practices.

We miss you emails

Here is a clear design example of re-activation email, that says “we miss you” and granting you with 20% off for your next order.

Mark & Graham we miss you


Pinkcard used a nice technique in their we miss you email template for re-engaging with old customers by giving them free yogurt vouchers with limited time.

We miss you come and get free yogurt


Thank you email

Saying thank you to your customer doesn’t cost anything, but it helps the recipient bond with you. You can also build trust by showing how grateful you are.


Tinybeans used their thank you email to sum up how far they came and to ask the customer to help spread the word.

Time-triggered re-activation emails

Timing is essential when it comes to re-activating inactive customers. Depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey, send the most relevant emails to move them through the sales funnel.

Build a re-engagement email sequence to maximize your efforts.

Offer assistance

Based on the recipient’s activities, ask if you could help them with anything. The inactivity of the user might happen because they don’t understand your product or had some issues while shopping. Whatever the reason is, get out there and ask what’s wrong.


This email by Typeform offered content to inspire the user. You can also send educational content to help the recipient get their head around your product.


This e-commerce reengagement email by SurfStitch listed all the benefits and news that the recipient might be interested in. Dividing the email into more sections was a great idea, making it easy to read and understand the content.

Emphasize if you offer free delivery or you provide something different.

Show your product improvement

If the previous email didn’t work, send another email about your product in two weeks.

The recipient might think that your product is just not good enough. You can prove that they are wrong. Reassure them that your product has great value and that you keep working on making it even better. Provide product updates or remind the recipients why they should use your product.


This reactivation email sample by Asana is a great example of promoting product updates and reminders to use the product at once. This tactic is especially useful if your existing customers gave you feedback regarding a problem. Communicate that you improved your product so the recipient can try out the better version.

Say goodbye 🙁

Despite all your effort to get back the recipients on track, some of them might decide they are better off without you. In this case, all you can do is to let them decide if they want you to break up with them or not. Two weeks after you sent out your product related email send a final email to those who didn’t engage with your previous email.

Before saying goodbye, you can either send the recipient a coupon as the last shot or tell them that you will remove them from your email list. The latter could trigger a sense of urgency which would activate some users, as they don’t want to miss out on something great.


This re-engagement email template design by Virgin trains shows how you can use emotions in your emails. By saying that “We noticed you’ve not been loving our emails lately,” Virgin gave a human touch to their email. They reminded the recipient why they should say “Yes“, by including all the benefits when receiving the emails.

Even if the recipient intends to click on the “No” button, the copy underneath would definitely make their recipient read the list of benefits.


Not on the High Street decided to give multiple options to the recipient to determine what’s next. The customer could either get 10% off, update their preferences, or unsubscribe from the email list. I think it’s a great combination of offering a discount and including the unsubscribe button. The recipient will think through what they really want.


Ocado used a similar tactic when they offered a 20% off voucher. They also included a deadline for using this coupon which is a great way to trigger urgency based on FOMO. They also limited the amount of the reward and required a minimum spend as well.


You don’t necessarily need to offer a coupon; free shipping might work too. This hilarious reactivating email template by Missguided included emojis and a funny conversation as well. Don’t be afraid to show your feelings. We are all human beings at the end of the day.

If the user opens, clicks, or (even better) purchases something, it means you got the green light to keep in touch. On the other hand, if the tactics mentioned above don’t work, let these inactive users go. Use an automation tool to remove subscribers from the inactive subscribers’ list.


This reactivation template by Paul Mitchell is simple but great. The copy is written expressively. The words “Sniffle, sniffle” and the sad face make us feel sorry for a moment. The customer has been taken off the email list; therefore, they need to sign up again.

Note: If you still haven’t found an example or a template that you want to use in your campaigns, you can take a look at our email template collection from our app with already predesigned email templates.

You can modify them using this free email template designer, builder, and editor.

Wrapping up

It’s getting harder and harder to get the recipient’s attention because they receive so many emails each day. Even if at the beginning of your interaction they were keen to engage with your emails they might get a bit distant by the time.

That’s when you need to come up with a re-activating strategy to encourage the inactive recipients to interact with your email. Being professional means that if these people don’t want to read your emails, you respect that and remove them from your email list.

Before you decide to say goodbye, make sure you do your best to get these inactive users on track, so you don’t waste money on acquiring new customers only but focus on retaining existing customers as well.