This originally appeared on the Brand Driven Digital blog, 9/19/2013. Written by Marketo's Digital Marketing Evangelist, DJ Waldow. Used with permission.

Unemotionally Subscribed – People on your list who have not opened or clicked an email message from you in an extended (several months) period of time. They have not unsubscribed. They have not marked your message as spam. They either ignore it or take the time to actually delete it every time it lands in their inbox.

Now, it depends on who you ask, but the percentage of your list that is considered “unemotionally subscribed” can be as high as 30%. Yup. Nearly one out of every three folks on your email list are not interacting with your emails … not at all.

As I mentioned in this What Counts guest post, once you figure out who fits this “inactive” criteria, you have a few options:

  1. Immediately unsubscribe or delete them. I call this the “DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200″ approach.
  2. Move to a new list and mail to less frequently. I call this the “I think I need to see you a bit less often” approach.
  3. Send a last ditch “We missed you” type email. If they don’t respond, then do #1. I call this the “I’m going to give you one more chance” approach.
  4. Set up a re-engagement email series. I call this the “I really don’t want to break up, but if you are not responding at all, well, it’s over” approach.

No one method is necessarily better than the other. I’ve seen all 4 executed before. As I often say, the best practice here is the one that’s best for your subscribers (and your business).


I recently came across a great – creative, human, funny – example of #3, the last ditch “we missed you” email. Thanks to Suzanne Oehler who forwarded me this email.

Check out this email from NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network


The subject line – We miss you! - was certainly one that would stand out in many inboxes. The intro paragraph was short and to the point, but nothing crazy.


But then it got fun … and creative.


The first call to action read: “If you’d like to continue receiving NTEN emails, click here by Friday, August 2nd. Yay! This makes us very happy.” Again, they get right to the point. They even add a bit of “human” (Yay! This makes us very happy.) But it gets better. The “click here” link leads to hilarious Happy Dog video. IF you are a dog owner, you’ll love this.


The second call to action read: “If you’d rather not receive NTEN emails, we’re sad to see you go. Simply delete this email and in a short time your account with NTEN will be removed from our systems.” Nothing crazy. Direct. Clear. Simple. However, the “sad” link again goes to a video – this one goes to a Sad Cat Diary video. Warning: some language in this video is NSFW. Then again, if you’ve ever owned a cat, you’ll appreciate the humor.


The third, and final, call to action read: “Of course, if you change your mind, you can always sign up again” with the “sign up” link taking clickers to their email subscription landing page, of course.


Now, fun and creative is one thing. If campaigns like these do not meet their intended goals (getting folks re-engaged), then, well, they are just “fun and creative.”


So … Did It WORK?


I contacted the team at NTEN to see how effective this campaign was. Below is what they shared with me.


They sent this email to a list of 24,000 subscribers who had not opened in email from them in the past year.


For this particular campaign, they reported the following metrics:


Open rate – 38.89% vs. 26.73% “average” over the previous few emails
Click-to-Open Rate* – 47.37% vs. 12.3% “average” over the previous few emails
*in other words, of the 38.89% who opened the email, nearly 50% clicked at least one link


Of those who clicked a link, the Top 4 most-clicked links were:


41.14%: Click Here (Happy Dog … to stay subscribed)
4.91%: Unsubscribe
2.21%: Sign up
2.14%: Sad (Sad Cat … to opt-out)
By all accounts, I’d say this “We Miss You” campaign was a HUGE success? What do you think? Have you tried a “reenagement campaign in the past? If so, how effective was it for you? Drop a note in the comments below!


P.S. The email marketing team at NTEN shared their “lessons learned” from this campaign in this blog post. I love their transparency.

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