Strategies to reactivate inactive subscribers for Black Friday and holidays

by Sabina Gauld Black Friday

Did you know that businesses can lose up to 50% of their newsletter subscribers in a year, either through unsubscription or lack of engagement? Inactive subscribers affect open and click-through rates, as well as the deliverability of email marketing campaigns. But before you take them off your list, give them another chance with a series of reactivation emails.

The good news is that the Black Friday and Holiday season is perfect for this type of campaign, so read on to discover strategies and ideas that are immediately applicable..

What are inactive subscribers? 

An inactive subscriber remains on your email list for a long period of time – from weeks to months or even years – but doesn’t interact with your sent campaigns. A Marketing Sherpa study shows that, on average, 22% of subscribers become inactive over the course of a year, while Marketing Charts claims that almost half of new subscribers will lose interest within the first 12 months. 

Inactive subscribers are a problem because they affect your engagement rate and deliverability, signalling to email services that your newsletters are unwanted. On top of that, they are also a lost opportunity. It costs money to gain new subscribers, and existing ones have already shown interest and can become active contacts and even customers again. 

Effectiveness of subscriber reactivation campaigns

Studies say that between 10% (AgencyAnalytics) and 24% (Uplers) of inactive subscribers read the reactivation email. Another piece of good news is that 45% of those who do continue to interact with subsequent campaigns. Email marketing campaigns sent during the winter holiday season are more effective than other campaigns, according to Inc. Although people are receiving more emails from brands, they are also more likely to open them to take advantage of the many offers during the last few months of the year, so it’s a good time to try to reactivate inactive subscribers.

Segment your subscriber list and personalize your message

The secret to a successful re-engagement campaign is segmenting your database and sending a personalised newsletter. The better you can target the message, the better chance you have of re-stimulating subscribers’ interest. 

First, you need to define inactive subscribers. You can decide that all subscribers who haven’t opened emails in the last 3 or 6 months are inactive. Another way of segmentation is by number of campaigns instead of period. Or by behaviour in past campaigns. You decide the most suitable criteria depending on the specifics of your shop and the data you have. 

Once you have created one or more segments, think about what message and offer would be relevant for each of them. Use the data you have at your disposal to personalise your newsletters, such as name, gender, age, subscription date, location, past orders or any shopping preferences you have observed over time. 

Reactivate detractors segment

When you include a Net Promoter Score survey in your email marketing strategy, you will automatically have a segment of subscribers in the NewsMAN platform who have given low scores to your store, services or products. These subscribers can also be reactivated for Black Friday or Holidays using one or more of the emails suggested in the next section. 

Black Friday and Holiday email sequence

Now that you have your inactive subscriber segments, it’s time to create your reactivation campaign. Our advice is to do a multi-message email marketing automation as follows:

1. The first message should be conversational, direct and use as much as possible personalized data in the email title. You are addressing people who have ignored your last campaigns, so you need to stand out with something. Here are some examples:

  • “[Name], give us one more chance and you have exclusive, Black Friday offers”
  • “[Name], want free delivery on your favourite products?”
  • “[Name], we’ve prepared a special holiday gift for you”
  • “You get an extra 10% discount, just so you know we miss you”
  • “Black Friday is a good time to visit us again”

2. The second message should follow on from the first with a new benefit, while creating a sense of urgency.

  • “Your exclusive Black Friday offer expires today”
  • “Don’t forget, delivery is on us” 
  • “Sure you don’t want our gift? It’s just a click away”
  • “We’ve saved your favourite product and it can be with you tomorrow” 

3. Depending on the activity from the first few messages, you can send browsing or abandoned cart automations, so you can be sure that once you’ve sparked interest, you’re helping the person complete their shopping and stay close to you. 

4. Continue the conversation with subscribers who have interacted with your emails. A few days after the first few messages, you can send them an NPS survey to get a better understanding of what pleases or displeases them and how you can improve the relationship. Encourage them to leave comments, read them and use the information in subsequent campaigns.

5. There will be subscribers who don’t interact with these first emails. Send a newsletter letting them know that this is their last chance to show you that they want to stay subscribed before they are unsubscribed. Explain to them that you don’t want to send them unwanted newsletters and that if they don’t click on a link in X number of days (it could be an offer, a survey, a quiz, etc.), they won’t receive any more emails from you. Keep your word and remove those who remain inactive from your list. 


Keep the sequence short. For those who don’t respond at all, 2-3 emails are enough. You don’t want to annoy them and risk ending up in spam. Keep sending relevant messages to subscribers who interact with your emails and use campaign data and customer feedback to improve future campaigns to reduce the number of those who become inactive.

Ideas for reactivating the inactive subscriber segment

How do you get subscribers interested again? What can you offer them in reactivation emails? Here are some ideas:

  • Personalized Black Friday and Holiday offers that are not in store. For example, if someone has bought a certain product in the past, you can offer something similar or complementary at a discount. 
  • Extra discount codes. Even if we’re in the middle of the season of deals and discounts, an extra discount code can be valuable enough to attract attention and bring subscribers back to the site. 
  • Gift vouchers. The winter holidays are all about generosity, so your subscribers will appreciate a gesture from you. Give them a valuable gift, and they will return the gesture. 
  • Gamification. People are naturally drawn to contests, sweepstakes, wheel of fortune or anything that uses elements borrowed from games. Create a fun mechanism with rewards and pique their curiosity with a newsletter. 
  • Review and feedback. Send regular emails asking for feedback from subscribers. What works? What doesn’t work? What kind of newsletter do they like and what don’t they like? Or, why not, ask them what products they would like to include in the offer. 

For any type of email, you can find newsletter templates in the NewsMAN gallery, which you can customise with your branding and desired message. Here are just a few with a holiday theme:


How to get as few inactive subscribers as possible

You’ll have lots of new customers this holiday season and the chance to build a lasting relationship with them. 

Start things off right and create welcome email marketing automations. These are among the most read types of newsletters and set the tone for subsequent communications. Send newsletters consistently and make sure they are relevant and useful. Don’t just send commercial offers and don’t limit yourself to busy times of the year when everyone wants to sell.

Last but not least, send newsletters through easy-to-use email marketing services that give you the technology to create advanced, professionally designed campaigns that reach your subscribers’ inboxes. NewsMAN helps you with complex features and best practices, so you can send successful campaigns regardless of your level of experience. 

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