What Are Re-Engagement Emails? (Plus Examples!)

Melanie Balke
July 25, 2023

Have you been struggling with engagement?

Maybe your once-thriving email list has hit a slump.

In either case, your go-to action plan should be a re-engagement email!

But what are these email marketing tools, and how are they used? This blog post examines the intricacies of re-engagement emails and investigates the tips and tricks you must know to be successful! In addition to valuable insight into the practice, you’ll also see plenty of examples, so let’s get started!

What Is a Re-Engagement Email?

An aerial view of Los Angeles. “The Basics: What Is a Re-Engagement Email?”

A re-engagement email campaign is a message that aims to do what it says. These email marketing efforts target lapsed customers and attempt to reintegrate them into your audience. Generally, re-engagement emails are sent to individuals that have not purchased from a business. However, win-back emails, a subset of the re-engagement email, are sent to former customers.

While the most obvious goal of a re-engagement email campaign is engagement, brands can also have secondary goals, such as increased revenue or brand awareness.

Re-Engagement Emails Are Not Win-Back Emails

The face of a mechanical kitchen scale. “Win-Backs: Re-engagement campaigns are not the same as win-back emails!”

Now, before we continue, I want to point out some semantics.

Re-engagement emails overlap with win-back email marketing, but these often-compared ideals are not interchangeable.

Re-engagement campaigns target disinterested non-purchasing users. They focus on earning back some viewership; revenue is a secondary concern. Both reactivation and informational campaigns are examples of re-engagement emails.

Meanwhile, win-back emails focus on former customers. These emails primarily focus on profit, gently pushing subscribers to purchase something new. Common examples of win-back emails include subscription reminders and upselling campaigns.

When Do You Send Re-Engagement Email Campaigns?

A Venetian waterway. “Timing: When Do You Send Re-Engagement Emails?”

As with most things in marketing, re-engagement emails work best when you have the data to back your decisions. Savvy brands use A/B testing to craft truly a truly effective re-engagement email flow. However, there are plenty of ways to get a general feel for your timing.

Your company’s industry and customer lifecycle have the greatest influence on re-engagement timing. It’s not uncommon for someone to wait a year (or more) to start investigating new mattress options, but a clothing store should be concerned about the same level of inactivity.

You’ll also want to consider your email marketing strategy. Brands with fewer emails have inherently longer periods of inactivity. For example, a brand setting weekly emails should be concerned about a month-long hiatus. However, a similar company with biweekly email marketing can safely consider a month an acceptable pause.

Using Automation to Your Advantage

A tilted scan of an old postcard displaying a brick building. “Automation: Let your software handle your emails for you.”

This may seem scary, but the process is simple as can be!

Most email marketing software comes with built-in metrics tracking. In other words, your program can detect when people are active subscribers. And, more relevantly, it can flag inactive customers. Once you’ve defined your parameters, you can use these flags to create automated re-engagement emails. If you want to get really fancy, you can even turn those emails into in-depth flows.

Need an example?


Let’s make up a re-engagement campaign.

In our imaginary scenario, we’re running a mattress company. Since most people don’t buy a new mattress every other day, we can safely tell our system to flag inactive customers after three months. We can also break the audience down further, creating segments for inactive customers — those who have made a purchase — and inactive subscribers — who have not purchased anything. Those in the former group will be sent win-back emails; the latter receives re-engagement email campaigns.

We’ve now established a basic re-engagement campaign!

Yup! It was that easy.

The Essentials of a Successful Re-Engagement Campaign

Handwriting on an old postcard. Overlaid text reads, “How It Works: The Essentials of Re-Engagement Emails.”

Okay, so maybe not that easy.

You still need some data to back up your re-engagement emails. You need to find the perfect subject lines and create ways to capture attention and re-engage subscribers. All of that takes time, effort, and brainpower.

The process and results will look different for everyone.

A car salesman won’t send the same pastel pink re-engagement emails as a women’s fashion brand. Why would he? Every company has a unique audience, email subscribers they must cater to, and failing to do so is a waste of everyone’s time!

Fortunately, there are some universal pieces to this complex puzzle.

Every re-engagement campaign is made of the same building blocks. What sets them apart is the final product.

Start Your Re-Engagement Email Sequence With a Goal

A football player celebrates a touchdown. “Goals: Know what you want from your customers.”

The first step of any re-engagement email is planning.

What is your goal?

Obviously, you want to win back that inactive subscriber. It’s right there in the name of the campaign: re-engagement!

And, maybe, that’s your only goal! Sometimes, you just need to boost that engagement to prove your worth to internet service providers. If this is true, then give yourself a pat on the back; you’ve completed the first step.

Everyone else needs to go to the drawing board.

As I mentioned before, these email campaigns have dozens of possible goal combinations. For example, you may want to do any of the following:

  • Boost those metrics and improve click-through rates
  • Improve your email engagement metrics and reduce bounce rates
  • Reactivate inactive subscribers and improve conversion rates
  • Re-engage your subscriber list and boost sales
  • Win back inactive users and improve your sender reputation

I cannot stress enough that your own re-engagement emails will have so many different goals.

However, the key to a successful campaign is a clear vision. Knowing where you want your customers is key to crafting a clear call-to-action, which improves the click-through rate, which improves your sales numbers, and so on. (You get the point, right? Good stuff happens when you have a goal.)

Find the Right Audience

A photo of a group of students, originally published in 1937. “Audience: Know who your re-engagement campaign is for.”

Next, you need a target audience.

Even the humble re-engagement email benefits from segmentation.

Think about it.

If you’re focusing on existing customers, you won’t be sending re-engagement emails. You’ll be pushing out win-back emails. Likewise, your non-purchasing inactive subscribers may be more interested in information-driven campaigns.

Brands with email preferences may opt to have multiple re-engagement email sequences, dedicating each to a unique audience.

Again, re-engagement automation is an essential tool. You don’t want to send these yourself!

Mind Those Metrics

Rows of numbers on a curved display. “Metrics: Watch your results and tweak your campaigns.”

Finally, you need to know why people have lost interest in your content.

Some of the most common causes of engagement loss include:

  • Changes to your sender score
  • Excessive emails
  • Lack of relevant content
  • Repetitive email campaigns

Know, too, that there are causes you can’t control. People may naturally lose interest in your product. (Alternatively, they may find a better option.) Inactive contacts may fill your email list. In these situations, even the greatest of great re-engagement emails is bound to fail. Don’t take it too hard! It’s out of your control, after all.

Amazing Re-Engagement Email Examples

Old handwriting. Overlaid text reads, “Examples: Re-Engagement Emails to Inspire You.”

Don’t start sending re-engagement emails just yet!

You’ll want to check out some of these re-engagement email examples first!

(All of these examples are from my amazing team, too.)

The Mighty List-Cleaner

As much as email marketers hate to admit it, that unsubscribe link isn’t a rare click!

Consumers lose interest in products, and you can’t re-engage everyone. So, instead, you turn that re-engaging failure into a list hygiene win!

An EveryMarket email. The header reads, “We Miss You.” Two CTAs are available: “Yes, please!” and “No, I don’t want great deals.”

This EveryMarket campaign is the perfect example of this strategy.

Now, some people may be opposed to the gentle nudge to inactive subscribers. “No, I don’t want great deals” can be seen as manipulative, but it’s a brilliant call-to-action button. It condenses all those crucial value props into a simple, clickable link and works like an amazing subject line. It grabs your attention and keeps your engagement emails fresh, which means internet service providers are more likely to deliver your campaigns to an inbox (instead of a spam folder).

Notice, too, that email subscribers are urged to think about their next purchase.

The goal of this campaign is list hygiene. Inactive subscribers can opt out of future communications, clearing the way for newer users. This reduces the volume of your marketing emails and may help you save money. It also helps keep subscribers’ inboxes tidy.

The Re-Engaged Win-Back Campaign

Next up is an amazing blend of a win-back and re-engagement email.

An EZ Melts campaign. “Want to Give EZ Melts Another Try? Resubscribe and Get An Extra 10% OFF Your First Order.”

When you’re sending re-engagement emails, think about this combo deal from EZ Melts.

This is more than a re-engagement email. It’s also a win-back campaign! It offers its audience — former customers with low engagement rates — an irresistible value prop. It totes the new features of the product and hones in on those pain points.

Part of EZ Melts’ re-engagement email examples. The CTA reads, “Try EZ Melts Again.”

It also has a secondary purpose!

This simple CTA — “Try EZ Melts Again” — encourages users to re-engage with the brand’s content. Moreover, it asks for earnest feedback, which can be used to boost brand recognition and performance. That information may even be used to create a re-engagement campaign with plenty of personality and storytelling in the future!

Another Marriage of Re-Engagement and Reactivation Emails

Common doesn’t mean boring.

Since reactivation campaigns are so common, I included two real-life examples!

A Farmfoods campaign. The CTAs are “Keep me in the loop” and “Unsubscribe me.”

Let’s break this down using the system we’ve learned…

  • Goals: Obviously, this campaign wants users to stay subscribed, but it’s also meant to promote Farmfood’s list hygiene.
  • Audience: Unlike other re-engagement emails, this campaign has a wide focus. It’s for inactive subscribers and former customers. However, those unengaged consumers are the primary focus.
  • Metrics: Finally, what are the metrics? Here, we see that the email uses casual language and colorful designs. These concepts were proven with A/B testing. It also aims to remind subscribers of the brand’s benefits.

Perfect Your Re-Engagement Emails

Overlapping leaves. “Find the Pros: Let Us Handle Your Emails.”

Think you’ve mastered the art of re-engagement emails?

This post barely scratched the surface! There’s so much more to know about these remarkable tools. We didn’t even discuss re-engagement email subject lines!

You could spend hours teaching yourself the all-important insider tricks. Maybe you decide to hire a team of marketers instead. Either way, you’re investing your precious time and money into a seriously limited resource.

If you want to really amplify your email marketing, you need an agency.

The Email Marketers is a dedicated team of hand-picked professionals. They’ll handle your every need and cater to your unique audience.


Give me a call and schedule a free strategy session. We’ll discuss your needs and plan your brand’s digitally-driven future.o

And don’t forget to check out the rest of my blog while you wait!