As previously enthusiastic subscribers grow dusty and unengaged, marketers will generally abide by one of two practices: keep the subscriber indefinitely or cut them from the list entirely. In a recent blog post—Saying Goodbye to Increase Your ROI—the importance of cutting unengaged subscribers is evaluated in depth. The crucial (yet potentially painful) takeaway is that in order to ensure best in class deliverability for your engaged subscribers, you have to learn to say goodbye to those that have slipped away. While cutting your unengaged subscribers may be necessary to keep your inbox placement and IP reputation strong, there is one final life preserver you can throw these addresses: the winback campaign
While often underutilized, sending your subscribers a winback message (or series) before removing them entirely is a great way to facilitate one final opportunity to convert. If you are able to pique your subscriber’s interest and entice them to open, click, or better yet purchase—you will be saving these subscribers from transitioning to the dreaded inactive file. Doing so will increase the lifetime value of that individual subscriber, and will soften the blow of removing those other addresses that just couldn’t be saved. After all, what reasons do you have not to leverage this juicy opportunity to target your subscribers one final time? If you do so creatively and carefully, sending a winback campaign comes with minimal risk and the potential for a high return on investment.
When it comes to winback campaigns, what you want to avoid at all costs is your prized message getting lost in your subscriber’s inbox. Since these subscribers have already shown disinterest in your regular promotional offers, you do not want this campaign to blend in, you want it to stick out like a sore thumb. When putting together the content for your winback campaign, consider these three items to maximize the success of your campaign:
Looking for creative inspiration? The three brands below do a fantastic job of making their winback campaign compelling, both with and without an offer:
Paul Mitchell – “We Hate Goodbyes.”
Paul Mitchell keeps their subject line short and to the point with this example. While they do not employ an explicit offer in their campaign, they successfully re-iterate the benefits of their program in a unique way as spoken through the voice of the subscriber. Coupled with a clever image and a clear call to action—this is a A+ example of a winback campaign.
Saks Fifth Avenue – “Let’s Stay Together.”
Saks Fifth Avenue is best in class when it comes to showcasing the value of their brand. While not going so far as to overwhelm, they clearly outline the exact reasons that subscribers would want to be a part of their email program. Their subject line clearly indicates the purpose of the message, and expresses a heartfelt desire to maintain the relationship. Bonus: they even use a model in their creative that looks as though she is feeling sad!
Skillshare – “Come See What’s New!”
Similar to Saks Fifth Avenue, what really stands out about this email is the thorough explanation of subscriber benefits. Skillshare both re-iterates the features of their (premium) program, as well as gives subscribers a taste of what they may have been missing out on. Their subject line relies on the subscriber’s curiosity to open the message, an alternate tactic to relying on emotion. Additionally, Skillshare provides a compelling ($) offer to encourage subscribers to renew their premium subscription.
Now, once you have created a campaign you are sure will have your subscribers hooked, you’ll want to make sure you are closely and consistently monitoring your winback results. After all, no matter how good your winback campaign is, it will have no impact if it is not reaching your subscriber’s inbox. Leveraging both Return Path and your Email Service Provider will provide you with the most complete data picture needed to continually gauge whether you are hitting the mark.
In addition to monitoring engagement metrics such as opens, clicks, and conversions, there are several key deliverability metrics that you should keep a close eye on:
Ultimately, you’ll want to use these guidelines to ensure your winback campaign itself is successful, while also verifying that the rest of your mail remains strong. Already a Return Path client? Talk to your Account Manager or leverage our robust Help Center to learn more about how to get a winback campaign going for your program. Not yet a client? Request a demo today!
Riley is a Technical Account Manager in Return Path's Colorado office. She is passionate about uncovering hidden trends within data and piecing together the puzzle that is deliverability. Ultimately, her goal is to help her clients exceed expectations and become heroes within their organizations. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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