Re-engaging Your Email List

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Open rates are declining.

There are two primary reasons:

  1. Your email never makes it to their inboxes. This is a deliverability issue between your email service provider (ESP) – Aweber, Constant Contact, MailChimp, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, etc. – and their internet service provider (ISP). So step 1 is to do a search and see what your ESP’s deliverability rate is and move if low.

  2. Your email makes it to their inbox and they either don’t open or it goes into a junk/spam folder. This one’s on you and is often due to:
  • Subject line – is it enticing?

  • How you’ve shown up for them in the past. If you’re inconsistent or consistently write emails that could double as novellas, they may delete or put you in a “read later” (aka “folder of death”) folder.

There’s one other reason your open rate may be declining and they’re opening your emails. Yep… You read that right.

Some email readers, such as Outlook, allow you to preview messages or read without fully opening. In this case, they may have read your email without ever “in the eyes of your ESP” truly opened it.

Given the above, chances are your email open rates are X amount (likely not huge, especially if you have a lot of gmail users) higher than you’re seeing.

All is not lost, if you’re email open rates are anything under 12-15% and you’re ESP’s deliverability rate is good (97%+), it’s time to re-engage your list.

First, the simplest add-on process that I recommend you incorporate now if you’re not already doing: Resend to non-openers.

If you’re sending out a weekly email, set it up to re-send 3 or 4 days after the initial send and experiment with when you re-send.  I like to put ”ICYMI” for “In case you missed it” in front of the subject line. This always boosts the open rate a minimum of 4%, usually higher, for us.

Second, institute a periodic Reactivation/Re-engagement Campaign. I like to do it every six months.

Here’s how we do it (tweak as needed to fit your business, purple shows areas to personalize for your business and email closings left out to conserve space here):

  1. Pull a report in our email service provider (ConvertKit) to see everyone who hasn’t opened an email in three months.

  2. Send them a series of three emails over the course of 9 days – emails two and three only go to those who didn’t open the emails prior. The reason it’s 10 days is in case they’re on a week’s vacation, especially when doing in summer months and during the holiday season.


  • Message 1, sent Day 1 of Campaign: Quick question for you (sample subject line)


Our goal is first and foremost to bring value to you. Through our X (programs, products, whatever you offer) and through our email communications.

We’ve noticed that you haven’t opened any of our emails for months and were wondering why.

Are our emails too long?

Too frequent?

Not valuable enough?

Whatever the reason, can you please hit reply and let me know? One of our company values is continuous learning and improvement and this will help us with both. And if we’re no longer a good fit, no worries, just hit unsubscribe below.


  • Message 2, sent Day 4 of Campaign: Complimentary XXX checklist (or template or tool) for you inside


I trust all’s well!

We’ve been getting great feedback on our XXX checklist / template/ tool (whatever you have that clients love) and wanted to offer you a copy.

You can download it here, no opt-in needed (link to the XXX directly and have your ESP add a tag that they downloaded it).

Once you’ve used it, we’d love to know how it worked for you!


  • Message 3, sent Day 9 of Campaign: Is it time to say goodbye?


One of our values is to contribute. To “not add noise” – after all, we think the world’s noisy enough and your inbox already sees its fair share of that.

We’ve sent a couple of emails over the past week and don’t show that any have been opened.

As a result, we assume that our info isn’t valuable to you. If that’s true, and you opened this message, please unsubscribe below.

If it’s not true, and we hope this is the case(!), no need to do anything, you’ll continue to receive our emails.


Remember, only send emails 2 and 3 if they didn’t open 1 and 2 respectively.