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5 Ways to Re-Engage Your Email List When It’s Been a While


For 59% of B2B marketers, email is their most effective channel for generating revenue.

The direct nature of email beats social media, ads, and any other form of marketing for conversions, and for good reason: Unlike other channels, email is perceived as a one-to-one interaction.

Landing straight into someone’s inbox means your message is far more likely to be seen (and considered) by the target audience than it would on a social media feed or other, cluttered platform.

But, in order to succeed in email marketing, you need to be consistent.

However, many businesses open up direct communication with their followers sending several emails in the early months, but then get sidetracked, fade out, or give up.

If you haven’t emailed your list in a while, re-acquainting yourself can seem like a daunting task. So, we put together a list of tips and ideas to help you better engage and delight your mailing list when you’ve gone MIA for far too long.

  • Remind Subscribers Who You Are

The truth is, it’s not uncommon for a person to forget how and why they joined a specific mailing list. After all, the average person receives around 90 emails a day.

Email Inbox Breakdown

If you haven’t reached out to a specific list or segment in a long time, reintroducing your company may be a great idea.

In this type of re-engagement email, you want to gently remind your audience who you are, why they subscribed to your list, and why they might want to continue getting your emails.

Sample Email

Keep it short and simple and allow for both positive and negative conversions:

  • Be sure to include a clear Call to Action (CTA) for relevant users who are ready to accept your offer
  • Give users the chance to opt out of communications if your services are no longer relevant to them

It’s better to maintain and grow a small list of engaged subscribers than to keep a massive list of irrelevant contacts. Blasting messages to irrelevant and disengaged contacts is a surefire way to destroy your email deliverability.


  • Offer a Discount or a Freebie

Fact: People love free things.

If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to your subscribers without some sort of special offer, you can sweeten the deal with a discount or freebie.

It doesn’t have to be something that costs you a lot; it could be something as simple as a webinar, downloadable, or free quote.

Everyone likes to feel special and an exclusive offer will make them feel like they want to stay a part of your community.

Even if you don’t have the resources in-house, you can always share an external resource or discount that’s relevant to your audience:

  • A related webinar
  • Free, useful online tools
  • A discount for a complimentary service

Pro Tip: Check an updated list of spam trigger words prior to sending. “Deal, offer, free” and many related words can land your message in the promotions inbox.


  • Share a Really Valuable Piece of Content

Your emails should always provide value, and this is especially true when you’re emailing your list after an extended period of silence.

Showing up with nothing to offer isn’t going to retain your subscribers and sharing a less-than-stellar piece of content won’t do you any favors.

Remember, your email will be one of many that they receive that day. If they don’t see the value in it, they’re not going to spend the time reading it or engaging with it.

This is where you need to bring out the big guns.

Focus on providing a piece of content that has real value for your subscribers – something useful and actionable that can be implemented immediately:

  • A solution to a major problem
  • DIY instructions for a value-add initiative
  • An effective tip list

If putting together an epic piece of content just isn’t something you have the time for, you can always share a valuable blog post or video from another source that will be highly relevant to your subscriber list.


  • Ask a Question

Engagement is a two-way street. Firing off multiple one-sided emails won’t encourage your list to interact with you.

Whether it means replying to your emails, clicking a link, or ultimately buying from you, it’s critical that your emails spur meaningful engagements.

But when you haven’t sent an email in a while, you may want to start small.

Rather than asking people to fill out a questionnaire or click through to a link that might be time-consuming, keep it simple.

Why not send a super short email that ends with an easy-to-answer question?

You might ask them what they’re struggling with at the moment, or what they’re most looking forward to this month. Whatever you ask, the goal is to get them to hit the reply button and share their answer with you.

Once your subscribers have had that initial interaction with you, they’re more likely to open your emails and engage with them in the future.

Pro Tip: Plain-text emails disguised as personal messages are a great approach for these types of campaigns.


  • Use Segmented Re-Engagement Drip Campaigns

Sometimes it takes a little more than one email to win your subscribers back. In this case, it’s worth planning a re-engagement campaign where you re-introduce your brand to specific list segments over a series of emails.

This approach has two benefits:

  • Your subscribers get used to hearing from you regularly, allowing you to increase the frequency over time
  • Segmenting your target audiences based on previous engagements allows you to tailor the messaging, boosting conversions and retention while minimizing churn

It’s up to you what you want to get out of your campaign, but you might decide to have the first email as a reminder of who you are, the second offering a sweet little discount, and the third linking out to an awesome piece of content.

Pro Tip: Segment your list based on last activity date. The further back the last activity, the harder you’ll need to work to re-engage the segment.

The Great Debate: Plain-text vs. Branded HTML

There’s been a bit of debate in the past about whether it’s best to send HTML emails to your subscribers or plain-text emails disguised as one-to-one messages.

As a general rule, plain-text emails don’t get flagged a spam nearly as often and they come off as more personal. That said, most consumers report preferring HTML emails.  

If your emails are going straight to your subscriber’s spam folders instead of their primary inbox, you’re already losing out. Switch to plain-text immediately.

If HTML emails are converting well, there’s no reason to change.

As a general rule, the campaign, audience, and previous deliverability metrics should dictate which approach to use.

Pro Tip: Always send a plain-text version with your HTML emails. This will improve deliverability and allow you to reach customers on mediums that do not support HTML (i.e. smartwatches)

Keep Your Email List Sweet

Email continues to be one of the best ways to build an audience and generate sales, and that won’t change any time soon.

Sure, it’s difficult to stick to a tight email schedule, but if you struggle to keep on top of things, don’t fret as you can always re-engage your list.

These people signed up to hear from you in the first place, so the chances are high that they will want to continue hearing from you in the future. Your job is simply to remind them of the value you can offer and how you can help them solve their key problems.

If you can do this, your subscribers will want your email to be one of the 90 they receive a day.


Learn more about ways to make your business more profitable with Credibly.


Author Bio:
Ryan Gould – Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.

Ryan is known for taking complex marketing and business challenges and developing solutions that simplify processes while driving customer outcomes and business value. He also thrives on guiding Elevation teams toward the execution of strategies that help companies succeed in new verticals, while staying true to core values and brand integrity.

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