"Inactive users" and "unsubscribes" are three words that no marketer wants to hear. Especially when it can cost up to 5x to acquire new subscribers, compared to retaining them.
Inactive users not only mean high churn risk and hidden costs — they can also harm your SaaS email marketing campaign performance.
High numbers of unengaged users or high unsubscribe rates can harm your sender reputation and email deliverability rates. This makes retaining and acquiring other users even more difficult.
So how can you re-engage inactive users and subscribers?
Keep reading to find out exactly how SaaS companies can re-engage users with targeted email campaigns. We'll also throw in real-life examples of customer win-back emails for you to get inspired.
What are SaaS re-engagement emails? Why do you need them?
SaaS re-engagement emails are a sequence of emails targeted to unengaged subscribers and customers with only one purpose: to reactivate.
Re-engagement emails are crucial in your email lifecycle.
With an average number of email marketing databases naturally losing about 22.5% of their subscribers every year, any effort you make on your reactivation emails will be well worth it. Here are the two main types of reactivation SaaS businesses have on their hands:
- Re-engaging inactive mailing list subscribers; and
- Re-engaging inactive product users
Both are important, but they'll have a slightly different approach.
The good thing about re-engagement emails is that they provide a win-win situation. They allow you to either reactivate users and improve SaaS customer retention, or they help you clean your mailing list.
Having inactive users means that your engagement metrics will fall. They can also harm the rest of your email marketing metrics, affecting your click-through-rate and open rate, or causing you to be sent to the spam folder — an email marketer's worst nightmare.
A good re-engagement campaign can help you:
- Clean out your mailing list
- Win back subscribers
- Reduce churn rate
- Increase list retention
- Increase customer satisfaction and success
- Maintain inbox replacement rates
Here are some of the most important elements to consider when designing a re-engagement email campaign, according to Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl:
- The subject line is critical for getting customers to open the email. Ensure it is clear, concise, and reflective of the content inside.
- The content of the email should be tailored to the customer's individual interests and needs. Generic messages are less likely to be effective.
- Timing is also important for re-engagement email campaigns. Make sure to send messages at a time when customers are most likely to be receptive.
- Finally, include a strong call-to-action that encourages customers to take the desired action, such as answering an email or logging into the product again.
Now, let's explore reactivation email examples from real software companies.
20+ email examples to inspire your re-engagement email strategy
These emails have been specifically sourced from the SaaS world so you would have a better idea of what a campaign must have — and improve — in your niche.
We've divided the examples into two categories:
- SaaS product re-engagement emails: targeting inactive product users
- SaaS mailing list re-engagement emails: targeting inactive subscribers
Each has their own differences in copy, CTAs, and the value they provide to the user or subscriber.
After that, we'll give you a checklist with re-engagement best practices — and some of the common mistakes to avoid according to industry insiders. This way, you can be sure you're always sending the most effective emails to win back those customers.
SaaS product re-engagement emails
Close is a sales CRM platform for small and medium-sized businesses.
Subject: Jane, it's been a while
This email encourages the user to come back on the platform by letting them know about the free tools they've launched this year. This is a great example of "leading with value" for reactivation.
Ranking Raccoon is an SEO tool that helps you get genuine backlinks from vetted websites.
This email is short and straightforward. Aside from letting the user know they can reactivate their account, it also gives them the option to delete the account if they don't need it anymore.
We like how they use the "soft" sense of urgency — polite and gentle — to induce activity in the account.
Hired is an AI-driven recruitment services platform designed to match tech and sales talent to companies worldwide.
This email encourages users to re-engage with the platform by showing how close the user is to fully receiving the benefits of the product.
Grammarly is a cloud-based writing assistant software that proofreads the text and uses AI to provide possible solutions.
This is an email that stands out through its copy — as it is to be expected from Grammarly. It's genuine, funny, and shows humility. The phrase "back to when you were really into writing things on the internet" hits an emotional trigger and can re-activate the user.
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform that focuses on bringing creative projects to life.
This email encourages the user to need the product again. If subscribers don't have projects, they simply don't need the product. However, if they're encouraged to create projects that need funding, then they'll use the platform.
It provides useful and inspiring elements in an email that could have been the typical "We've missed you. Come back."
Segmentation is a key aspect in re-engagement emails. With this email, LinkedIn will improve segmentation and be able to improve the targeting of future emails, making their users more likely to re-engage with their emails or product.
Ryte helps you analyze, optimize and monitor your website to increase SEO traffic, usability and conversion rates.
Ryte asks the inactive user what's the reason they're inactive without pushing them to become active again. It focuses on providing the user what it really needs, not just on pushing for activation.
SalesHandy is a cold email outreach tool that has advanced cold emailing and high deliverability features to achieve maximum results.
This is a sequence of re-engagement emails sent from Saleshandy to Nidhi Kala when she didn't use the product on her free trial.
Here, we can see how the first email welcomes the user to the free trial. The second sends informational resources so the user can use the free trial. But after seeing there's no activity from the user, it asks if the problem is the pricing.
Typeform is a tool that specializes in online form building and surveys.
This re-engagement email offers a discount to encourage the user to get each of the different plans of the product — depending on what the user needs. This would indicate that user research has shown that price might be a common friction point for new users — a great way to act on what research shows.
Nightwatch is an all-in-one SEO tool that helps you grow your organic traffic and drive more sales with its rank tracking, site audit, and reporting features.
This example was contributed by Benjamin Boman.
Nightwatch sends this email to users who haven't fully taken advantage of their free trial. It lets the user know that they've improved the product and how these could benefit them.
They also included the next steps that the user can take: restart the trial, watch a demo video, and/or book a demo call with their team.
Webflow is a web design software that helps users create their dream sites without writing a single line of code.
In this example, we can see the use of social proof, one of Cialdini's six principles of persuasion. It understands that humans are social beings and as such can feel the "pressure" and "reassurance" of knowing others are using their product.
Additionally, this email points out the value of the product to inspire the user to come back.
SwipeWell is a tool dedicated to helping marketers save, organize, and reference marketing examples — so they never lack a good source of inspiration.
This example was shared by Corey Haines, the founder of SwipeWell.
They send this example after a user hasn't made any 'swipes' in seven days. They target the main problems a user might be having that's made them stop using the product.
SavvyCal is a scheduling tool that helps you share your calendar and find the perfect time to meet and connect with others.
This is the email that gets sent to re-engage a user that started the onboarding process but didn't finish it. By mentioning that it only takes 15-minutes or less to complete the set up, it encourages even the most busiest user to give it a try.
Eversign is a free tool that allows users to send, manage and sign — legally binding — documents from anywhere and on any device.
This email gives the user multiple options about what to do next. This way, they manage to target each problem that the user might be having and that's keeping them from using the product.
Additionally, they focus on explaining how to use the product, not just saying 'go use it.'
This re-engagement email really insists on the value the user is missing out on by not using the app. The templates it offers are very visual, helping the recipient get familiar with the product UI, and thus encourage action from the user.
Duolingo is a language learning app that allows users to practice vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and listening skills based on a reward system to encourage learning.
In this example, we can see how to use emotion to trigger the user into coming back to the app — no one likes to see the Duolingo mascot shedding a tear!
It further engages the user by mentioning the short time frame to start using the product again — only five minutes.
Help Scout is a customer communications management software that offers shared inbox, help center, and live chat features.
This email example could definitely use some improvements. It gives the option to extend the trial, but doesn't provide information of why the user should extend it. There's no real mention of the value the product brings to the user.
HootSuite is a social media management platform that allows you to schedule and manage your posts on different channels.
Although the email explains product value and encourages the user to use the product again, its CTA fails to deliver. "Login" is not specific enough and can lead to those already unengaged users to remain as they are — unengaged.
Asana is a work and project management tool designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work.
In this example, we can see two things that are important in a re-engagement email: making it visually appealing and to the point.
SaaS mailing list re-engagement emails
HubSpot is a customer relationship management tool (CRM) that allows users to manage contacts, sales, pipeline, digital marketing, lead nurture, and more.
HubSpot does not target the fact that the subscriber has been inactive. It's more of a notice rather than a proper re-engagement email that tries to solve the reason why the user is inactive.
Additionally, with an already inactive subscriber, you want to go straight to the point and not be so text-heavy.
Talking Shrimp is the copywriting resource center enterprise founded by Laura Belgray.
This example shows us how to use copy in the subject line and in the email body to attract the attention of the user without being pushy. Additionally, it gives options to unsubscribe — remember re-engagement emails also help you clean your mailing list!
Tara Reed is a tech marketer and entrepreneur that founded Apps Without Code, and has been featured as one of Forbes 30 under 30 in the education category.
This is another re-engagement sequence. The first email just gives notice, the other is a final goodbye. It's succinct and engaging — which is usually an effective way to deliver reactivation messaging.
It's important to see how she has personalized the email, both in addressing the user and in signing off the email. The subject line is also direct and to the point.
Animoto is a free, cloud-based video maker and editing tool.
In this example, we see how to provide the reason why reactivation of the mailing list would be beneficial for the user. It also allows the user to update email preferences to improve segmentation.
Email re-engagement best practices
In order to tick all the boxes of what your re-engagement emails should do, you need to take into account the following elements:
- Urgency: without providing some urgency — in terms of benefits the user will lose from the app, discounts, insider knowledge and resource — there will be no interest in re-engaging quickly enough
- Timely: send your re-engagement emails at times that are convenient for your audience
- Positive tone: avoid criticism, frustration, and sounding desperate in your emails – nothing will put-off your audience quicker
- Personal and segmented: use customer data and segmentation to make the email targeted for each user in terms of how you address them, and the content in the email
- Clear messaging: don't use confusing language, instead, get straight to the point
- Consistency: in all of your emails, you should try to be consistent to build trust and credibility in your audience
- State expectations: be clear with the user so they know exactly what you expect them to do – this includes clear and relevant CTAs
- Catchy subject line: if the subject line is not attractive enough, you'll miss your chance of your users even opening your re-engaging email
Corey Haines, founder of SwipeWell, says:
"One of the most important elements of a successful re-engagement campaign is the subject line. You have to convey a sense of importance and urgency without sounding spammy or desperate. If it never gets opened, it never has the chance to get someone back into the app and re-engage."
There are also some common mistakes you should avoid, according to industry insiders.
According to Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl:
"If you bombard your recipients with too many messages, they will likely become annoyed and eventually tune out your campaign altogether. The best way to avoid this is to send a few well-thought-out emails rather than a large number of generic messages."
Augustin A, senior digital marketer at SyndicationPro says:
"One of the main mistakes that I see in SaaS re-engagement emails is the lack of a call to action. It's so important to have a call to action in an email that invites people to take a specific action."
Gauri Manglik, co-founder and CEO of Instrumentl says:
"I think the biggest mistake when it comes to re-engagement emails is not understanding a customer base. Re-engagement emails are all about understanding your user and what they need, so you can give them the right information at the right time. If you don't know who your users are and what they need, then how can you give them the most relevant information?"
From the examples we saw, you might think it's easy to write a compelling re-engagement email. However, that's only half the task.
When it comes to segmentation and sending the email at the right time and to the right user, you could use some help — and Userlist is right here!
Userlist allows you to properly segment your user base and to send behavior-triggered or scheduled emails — let SaaS email automation do the heavy lifting for you.
Seize the potential of re-engagement emails
Re-engagement emails present you with a unique win-win opportunity: re-engage inactive users, or clean your mailing list of those that no longer want to be there.
In order to seize the opportunity, you need to craft a compelling and effective re-engagement campaign. As we've seen with real-life examples and best practices, it's no easy job — but it isn't rocket science either.
Write the perfect email re-engagement campaign with these examples and finally activate those users that you worked so hard to earn — you deserve it.