The Re-Engagement Strategies 4 Marketing Leaders Find Most Effective

A snappy subject line, compelling content and awesome freebies aren’t the only aspects to a successful re-engagement email campaign.

Written by Adam Calica
Published on Mar. 23, 2021
The Re-Engagement Strategies 4 Marketing Leaders Find Most Effective
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Each year, approximately 25 to 50 percent of a brand’s customers become inactive, according to a report by sales and marketing automation platform SharpSpring. 

While customer loss is part of the process, according to Hubspot, the cost of acquiring new ones has increased by almost 50 percent in the last five years. 

Statistics like these highlight just how crucial an effective re-engagement strategy is. Whether it’s through texts, emails or surveys, the goal is always the same: to rekindle that brand-to-consumer flame (and keep it burning). 

To get a quick pulse of the re-engagement strategies their teams are implementing, Built In connected with four marketing leaders from companies around the country. They shared strategies they’ve had success with and what they learned throughout the process. 

Key Re-engagement Strategies to Keep in Mind

  • SMS Texting
  • Personalized incentives
  • Relevant customer journeys
  • Delivering value to cold leads or former clients

 

Zen Planner

Matt Verlaque

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

“Commission breath” is a sales term to describe someone who wants to close a deal so badly that you can smell it on their breath. However, Matt Verlaque, executive director of marketing at Zen Planner, said he’s also seen marketers running re-engagement campaigns who have commission breath. That’s why Verlaque recommends marketers take things slow and don’t rush to turn a cold lead into a customer all in one go.

 

Tell us about a specific re-engagement email or campaign that you had a lot of success with. What went into crafting it, and what were the results?

One of the campaigns that I’m most proud of is called the “UpLaunch Reactivation Framework.” It’s a campaign we launched for our gym owner clients to help re-engage former members that hinges around creating abundant value for a few months followed by a simple prompt designed to elicit a reply. For instance, it would seem counterintuitive for a gym owner to send you a list of at-home workouts after you quit their gym — however, that’s the point! When delivering value to a cold lead or former client, you need to send something that gets them to say, “I can’t believe they just gave me this for free.”

After a few months of that, we send a simple email that asks a variant of the question, “Are you still interested in improving your fitness this year?” The replies fly in every time, and this campaign has helped thousands of people rejoin gyms. The impact has been amazing.
 

My goal with re-engagement emails is to foster a conversation, to get the lead to reply to you in an honest and authentic way.


What’s a best practice you've found to be really impactful when designing re-engagement emails? What impact have you seen from doing this?

Too many people get “commission breath” during re-engagement emails. They want to go from cold lead to customer with a single touchpoint, which is generally unrealistic at scale. My goal with re-engagement emails is to foster a conversation, to get the lead to reply to you in an honest and authentic way. If you’re doing a good job listening, they’ll tell you exactly how to help them, at which point the sale is a foregone conclusion.

 

Tell us about a re-engagement email or campaign that wasn’t so successful. What happened, and what did you learn from this experience?

Going in straight for the sale with extremely cold leads. Especially when marketing for service-based businesses, deprioritizing the relationship in lieu of quick revenue will miss the mark. I quickly learned that relationships are the key to everything in life, including business, and helping people produce those relationships at scale has led to our biggest successes.

 

DHI Group, Inc.

Andrew Strom

MANAGER, CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT MARKETING

Andrew Strom

To Andrew Strom, manager of customer engagement marketing at DHI, re-engagement is all about research and relevance. Instead of placing all users into a few big buckets and hitting them with slightly tweaked versions of the same campaign, his team creates user personas complete with custom customer journey maps. While this takes time, Strom said the increased relevance has produced major results.

 

Tell us about a specific re-engagement email or campaign that you had a lot of success with. What went into crafting it, and what were the results?

In 2020, my team focused on bringing a more relevant, timely and personalized experience to our users. We launched a front-end site tagging tool to track user behavior on Dice.com and fed the data into our CRM tool, which allowed us to create user personas and better understand the goals of our audience.

As a result, we were able to better segment and re-engage users through the creation of highly relevant journeys triggered by a combination of the new behavior information and our legacy profile data. These journeys include messaging crafted around solutions to critical technologist pain points, job recommendations, insights and tools to support the job search and help in gaining visibility with employers through the Dice platform.

By increasing relevance for our users, we saw a 35 percent lift in email engagement, 26 percent more users getting back to the site and an on-site conversion rate that was 46 percent better. The shift from the lifecycle-driven, more generic re-engagement campaigns clearly impacted unsubscribe rates and user satisfaction, in addition to helping us reach our primary engagement goals.
 

I start by determining the goals of the campaign, then use my knowledge of our product to define the many routes a user could take to complete those actions.


What’s a best practice you've found to be really impactful when designing re-engagement emails? What impact have you seen from doing this?

I’ve found it best to take the extra time to do as much research as possible at the front end as it helps me put myself more squarely in the customer’s shoes. It sounds like common sense, but if you don’t understand who you are marketing to and what they are trying to accomplish, it’s nearly impossible to re-engage them. The first steps include a lot of brainstorming and exploration. I start by determining the goals of the campaign, then use my knowledge of our product to define the many routes a user could take to complete those actions.

From there, I create personas of users who have already completed this action and determine the approaches they took to reach the outcome. Using these findings, I segment my audience and craft user journeys, matching a new user to an existing persona and walking them through the same steps and behaviors other users took to reach our desired action. While the “research first” approach has led to slightly longer time to market for some of our campaigns, the more relevant user experiences have also led to better overall performance.

 

Tell us about a re-engagement email or campaign that wasn’t so successful. What happened, and what did you learn from this experience?

We recently decided it would be best to send emails immediately after a particular action was taken. Our hypothesis was that, in re-engaging the user as soon as possible, we would keep their attention and entice them to stay on our site for longer. Well, we were wrong: Shortly after launch, we actually saw an initial decrease in engagement metrics and performance of these messages over previous campaigns. 

We acted fast and started testing and tweaking the triggers, timing and messaging of these campaigns. By testing each behavior and re-engagement campaign independently, we found that our error was in treating the trigger the same across the board. While sending a communication one hour after an action may work for one type of re-engagement campaign, another will perform best when sent a full day after the action is taken.

Through this process, we reaffirmed that there is a constant need to test and iterate and that no campaign is likely to be perfect right at launch. What ended up being most important was agility, and our ability to identify the issue and adjust, which helped us correct the campaign performance fairly quickly.

 

Vibes

Cami Bartel

CONTENT MARKETING MANAGER

Cami Bartel

Software company Vibes enables marketers and e-commerce professionals to acquire, engage, service and transact with consumers through a variety of mobile channels. When designing re-engagement campaigns, Content Marketing Manager Cami Bartel said she relies heavily on personal and targeted incentives to really pique consumer interests. 

 

What’s one re-engagement strategy your team has had a lot of success with? 

SMS texting is by far the best opportunity for re-engagement. Email is fantastic for longer, rich visual content. Given how attached most of us are to our phones, SMS intimacy lends itself to quick attention capture and concise, timely messaging. The accessibility and open rates of SMS are impressive as well, with a 98 percent open rate within the first 90 seconds of delivery. 

A Vibes customer recently utilized automated SMS messages to target consumers who needed an incentive to purchase again. Based on recent engagement, the customer sent out two subsegments of rewards: an offer for 25 percent off for disengaged consumers, and an offer for 10 percent off for consumers who recently purchased. The campaign averaged above 6 percent click-through rates over the course of a year and incrementally increased the brand’s revenue.
 

A targeted strategy will lead to higher engagement, increased likelihood of re-engagement and ultimately higher revenue over time.”


What’s a best practice you’ve found to be really impactful when designing re-engagement emails? 

Personal and targeted incentives perform best when designing re-engagement campaigns. Blanket offers are convenient. However, only the most loyal subscribers utilize them. To re-engage other subscribers, you need a personal and targeted strategy to pique their interest. Brands should look at usage, last engagement dates and activity, as well as buyer behavior. For example, a consumer may only purchase in fall and spring. 

A targeted strategy will lead to higher engagement, increased likelihood of re-engagement and ultimately higher revenue over time. 

 

What’s one re-engagement strategy you’ve found to not be successful and what did you learn from the experience? 

If we see areas of improvement for any of our customers’ campaigns, they are usually tied to sending blanket offers without any form of segmentation (i.e. all the recipients get the exact same message). Without thoughtful segmentation to provide a personalized experience, these campaigns are often hit or miss and create lower ROI impact. 

Working with leading brands like Ralph Lauren, Dollar General and Dick’s Sporting Goods, we’ve seen that best-in-class mobile engagement uses strategic and intelligent targeting to drive the kinds of ROI that makes mobile marketing such a powerful addition to a program. Consumers want personalized offers based on their interests, behaviors and shopping goals. Brands who are able to satisfy that demand will see the rewards.

 

Arrive

Jack Seney

DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

Jack Seney

Arrive is a transportation technology company that connects drivers with a network of parking spaces. Because people are driving less as a result of the pandemic, Director of Marketing Jack Seney said that they’ve pivoted their marketing strategy to one that’s more focused on content that supports how customers can best use their services when they do have parking needs.

 

What’s one re-engagement strategy your team has had a lot of success with? 

In May, we launched an essential workers campaign in an effort to support those who answered the call every day to keep people safe and healthy. The program provided essential workers across major U.S. cities with 10 to 50 percent off parking at locations near medical centers. The communication to our customers was ongoing through email, and the program allowed essential workers to find and book parking through our website and/or app. 

A lot went into organizing and communicating this initiative. We worked with our parking operator partners to curate select locations and pricing. Then we partnered with Waze to surface the curated inventory in their app so it was accessible to essential workers both through ParkWhiz and Waze. We had immediate adoption and on average we saw approximately a 20 percent increase in essential worker bookings for each week during the initiative.

 

What’s a best practice you’ve found to be really impactful when designing re-engagement emails? 

Messaging parking during a global pandemic is challenging. We had to scrap our content calendar and pivot to being agile and adjusting on the fly. Before COVID-19, our email communications focused on parking use cases that our customers would find valuable. When offices closed, sports leagues paused, stay-in-place orders occurred and our everyday lives changed, we pivoted away from the use-case messaging and focused on content that supported how our customers can best use our products and services for when they did have parking needs. 

Our new messaging highlighted our touchless parking options such as Tap Pay Park and the ability to find, book and pay for parking with your phone. This pivot has been effective for our customers who relied on this messaging to help make driving and parking a safe transportation option. The practice forced us to be nimble in adjusting our email content to fit our ever-changing consumer needs.

 

What’s one re-engagement strategy you’ve found to not be successful and what did you learn from the experience? 

Early in the initial re-emergence from stay-in-place orders, we attempted to incentivize our audience offers and discounts. But because of the bifurcation that occurred within our audience — people with a mobility use case and people without — we had to readjust on the fly. We discovered that pushing incentives to our complete audience didn’t gain traction because a large proportion of people no longer had a need for parking.
 

The pandemic forced us to be nimble in adjusting our email content to fit the ever-changing needs of consumers.”


Over time, we’ve been able to learn a lot from campaigns that came up short. They have helped guide our email communications to be more personal around use cases and to showcase additional value that’s important for when our users do need parking.

 

 

All responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via respective companies. Header image via Shutterstock.
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