Return of the Living Dead: How to Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers


Return of the Living Dead: How to Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

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Carena Marchi
Oct 26, 2022

We’ve all been there: Sorting through an inbox brimming with email campaigns we won’t look at from brands we barely engage with.

When it comes to email marketing, it’s not easy to ensure that subscribers will continue to engage with your content after receiving that initial welcome email offering 20% off their entire purchase. Guilty! I’ve let my inbox fill up with emails from companies that:

  • I’ve lost interested in but haven’t unsubscribed
  • I’m semi-interested in, mostly on the off chance I’m going to shop there after I get a great offer
  • I’m interested in but breeze through without paying attention to the content

That’s where your brand can distinguish itself. As the cliché goes, quality over quantity. While many marketers are focused on growing their email lists, an audience size means nothing without engagement. Gaining new subscribers to increase open, click, and conversion rates is a half-strategy. Consider your existing audience, an audience that’s interested enough in your offer to stick around, and nurture that email list.

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So in the spirit of this Halloween season, we are going to show you how to raise the dead! (Your dead email subscribers, that is.)

This blog will explore how to re-engage dead email subscribers, discuss why re-engagement efforts are important to your email marketing strategy, and provide a long-term email marketing strategy to re-engage your list so those revived subscribers remain alive for years to come.

What Makes Email Re-Engagement Worth It?

A slow and low engagement rate doesn’t mean your email subscribers are done with your brand. Think about re-engaging your email subscriber list as an investment strategy. When you invest in your email marketing campaigns, you’ll see a return in the form of higher open, click-through, and conversion rates.

Sometimes, investments can falter, but the last thing you want to do is give up or start over. By creating a re-engagement strategy for email marketing, you’re actually saving money, time, and effort in the long run.

Aside from being extremely cost effective, re-engagement email campaigns can also reduce your email list churn rates and boost incremental engagement. Additionally, re-engagement emails can help you make informed decisions when it comes to keeping a clean CRM.

You should consistently clean, scrub, and segment your email lists to neutralize engagement rates when the problem of inactive subscribers arises. A re-engagement email campaign can help give you an extra sense of assurance that you’re only emailing quality prospects and engaged customers. This ultimately improves the health of your email lists and overall email marketing strategy.

How To Re-Engage Dead Email Subscribers

There are a number of strategies to re-engage dead or inactive email subscribers. Let’s take a look at five of our best re-engagement tricks.

  1. Determine which addresses on your email list are inactive.

The first step in this quest for quality is to define “inactive” for your brand. Before you think about how to re-engage your email list, you need to determine which subscribers on your list have stopped engaging with your content.

For most marketers, an inactive subscriber is an email address that’s stopped engaging with your content for the past few months. They haven’t responded, opened, clicked, or acted on any email sent to their inbox.

However, the amount of time it takes for a subscriber to become inactive depends on your sending frequency and your product or service. Inactive subscriber definitions vary, so it’s up to you to determine the exact definition for your email subscribers.

  1. Ask your subscribers to update their information.

Asking your subscribers to update their information before you consider them “dead” addresses gives them the benefit of the doubt. Confirming updated addresses and other contact information with email subscribers shows that you care. A customized marketing experience adds personalization and displays empathy that other brands can lack.

In addition to updating for email addresses and basic profile information, you can implement customizable email settings catered to your audience’s potential preferences.

  1. Find out why your subscribers stopped engaging with your content.

Feedback is one of the most important and useful strategies, especially in email marketing. In order to re-engage dead subscribers, you need to know why they’re disinterested in the first place.

Without understanding your subscribers’ wants and needs, it’s difficult to find areas to improve. You need insightful, clear data to show how you can better your email marketing strategy and create content that connects and keeps your subscribers engaged.

Creating a feedback survey is a great way to identify aspects of your email marketing strategy that need work. The best strategy to find out what your customers want is to ask them point blank. Your customers likely want their voices to be heard, because at the end of the day, they’ll benefit from your improvements. This email marketing strategy also displays empathy by showing subscribers that their input is valuable to your company. It creates a conversion that says, “Your opinion matters to us.” That goes a long way in customer retention.

Additionally, you can offer them a little something extra for their time and effort, which helps increase subscriber engagement.

  1. Remind subscribers why they engaged with you in the first place and that they’re valued.

When you’re always focused on the next email marketing campaign, it’s easy to forget about the big picture. Likewise, your subscribers may tend to forget, too. Think about how cluttered your inbox gets. A lot of emails look the same, and over time, this can be overwhelming and disengaging for subscribers.

An email re-engagement strategy should remind subscribers why you’re in their inboxes and reinforce the overarching goals and values that convinced them to originally subscribe to your content.

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This simple email from wellness brand Sakara reminds subscribers of the company’s mission and encourages engagement by highlighting a helpful resource available to answer questions and move the buying process forward.
  1. Offer your subscribers a fresh reason to engage with your email.

In addition to reminding your subscribers of your brand’s mission, complement the strategy by providing them with a new reason to engage.

Promote your email content using incentives and special offers alongside your re-engagement campaign. Incorporating these features in your email marketing strategy will keep subscribers excited about what’s to come. Give them a fresh new reason to look forward to seeing your content land in their inboxes.

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Groupon, a company that famously relies on email marketing to showcase daily deals, incentivized engagement with a discount code. Now, I’m more likely to open future emails from Groupon to see if there are any offerings I’d like to use my 30% off coupon on.

Keeping Subscribers Engaged in the Long-Run

Once you take the time to re-establish a relationship with your subscribers, make sure that they’re there to stay. Here’s how to keep email subscribers engaged with your email content:

  1. Drip Campaigns

Drip campaigns are great for helping you achieve specific goals throughout your email marketing strategy. These singular campaigns consist of a series of emails that go out over a predetermined span of time with the help of marketing automation workflows. Applying this to your email marketing strategy creates a more streamlined window of opportunity for connecting with subscribers.

Additionally, by automating the process, you save time and money without losing important data from your subscribers. Drip campaigns are especially effective when you’re targeting specific audiences in your email subscriber list. They allow you to create more customized campaigns based on your audience’s various needs and interests.

  1. Customer Journeys

Mapping your customer’s journey throughout their buying process allows you to determine the state of your campaigns. Understanding the actions that your audience is likely to take ties sales, marketing, and operations strategies together. Customer journey mapping ultimately keeps subscribers engaged. Defining your customer journey also gives you clear-cut data to when you develop new campaigns and create content for your emails.

  1. Workflow Automation

Workflows feature a series of activities that are assigned to a particular segment within your organization. An automated email workflow can help you determine a pattern of engagement activity and allows you to streamline the process between your sales and marketing teams.

Ultimately, utilizing workflow automation for email marketing results in improved communication and organization between you and your email list, which is the foundation for consistent subscriber engagement.


Inactive or dead subscribers are not a lost cause. A solid email re-engagement strategy defines what inactivity means for you, re-confirms email addresses, and asks why they’ve gone radio-silent. It reminds them why they’re there with a bit of creativity or even incentivization. You can guarantee increasingly positive engagement metrics for your email marketing efforts.

For more information about email marketing strategies, download the white paper from Mirabel’s Marketing Manager:


Watch an overview to learn how B2B marketing automation by Mirabel Technologies can help you increase traffic, optimize your funnel, drive more leads, improve conversions, and boost ROI — at a price you can afford!

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