How To Re-Engage An Old Email List

If you’ve got an email list that’s looking a little dusty and unappreciated, you’re not alone. Plenty of my clients have been in the same position: busy firefighting, working on their social media, and putting off getting their thoughts together enough to send out an engaging email.

And the longer you put it off, the harder it is, right?

Because what if no one remembers you? What if they all unsubscribe? What if no one opens your email?

These are all very real possibilities. Which is why I’ve put together some key actions on re-engaging your list thoughtfully, as well as preparing you for getting it going again (because getting your head and heart in the right place is always a good idea).

Why bother re-engaging an old email list?

Before you write off your email list because it’s too old, or thinking they’ve probably forgotten who you are, it’s worth giving these wonderful humans a chance to reconnect with your brand.

  • You’ve already done the work. Whether you had a thriving list a few years ago or have just been collecting emails at checkout, you’ve already put effort into collecting email addresses. Time for it to pay off!
  • It’s about who stays. You’ll get some unsubscribes, and we’re going to clean your list in a few weeks, too. That’s okay. It’s about who stays – they’re your people.
  • It’s great practice. If your aim is to cultivate a thriving email list, this is a great place to practice emailing your audience, and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  • What’s the BEST that could happen? You might make some sales, or get some valuable feedback. You might make such a great impression that your customers start sharing your brand. There’s so much potential…

Getting in the right mindset

Before we get into the nitty gritty of content and what to send, I want you to take a moment to connect with why you’re interested in having an engaged email list.

The energy you bring to your emails – the tone, the content, the imagery, the style – is what cultivates connection between you and your audience members.

Your email list is one of the greatest assets your business can have. Unlike many other marketing channels, you have unique and sole ownership over the email addresses you collect. These are real humans who have actively chosen to hear more from you!

They’re saying YES to receiving updates about your wonderful products and services. Which is basically business gold.

When you send out an email to your list, it’s an opportunity to start or continue a conversation with them. You can talk to them on an individual basis, showing them that you know them, and helping to make their lives better. Your emails are a window into your brand. Imagine them like the doors on an advent calendar, each revealing something exciting and beautiful, something that enriches your customers’ days.

So it’s not just about chucking some products together once in a blue moon. It’s about cultivating relationships, creating narratives and stories you can share together. It’s about inviting real humans into your world (they’ve already RSVP’d after all).

How to re-engage your old email list

  1. Write your emails. Yep, there’s an s on the end of emails. You’re going to write three emails to your old list. (More on that in a minute.)
  2. Schedule your emails. Schedule your emails a week or two apart (but no more). We want your audience to remember you!
  3. Clean your list. If, at the end of this short email sequence, they’re not opening your emails, we’re going to say farewell, even if they haven’t unsubscribed themselves.
  4. Keep going. Once you’ve gone through this step-by-step, keep sending weekly or fortnightly emails. Build your narrative, share your stories, and feature your products.

Email 1:

  • SUBJECT LINE: It’s been a while…
  • Include a recognisable image of you or your brand – use bestselling products and strong brand features.
  • Remind them that they signed up, but it was probably a while ago.
  • Share a bit about who you are and what you do. What are the must-knows about your brand?
  • Call to action: Follow us / Discover more / Your turn to share!

Email 2: (a week later)

  • SUBJECT LINE: What’s been going on lately…
  • Share a brief story about what’s been going on for you and your business lately.
  • Include a very similar image as your first email for consistency.
  • Remind them about the ways you help to improve your customers’ lives.
  • Call to action: Shop now / See the full collection
  • Share a recent review or testimonial.

Email 3: (a week later)

  • SUBJECT LINE: It started with a {product / story}
  • Share your origin story: how did it all begin? What was the moment you knew you wanted to run your own business?
  • Include then and now images.
  • Feature two or three key products: a long-term customer favourite and a newer piece.
  • Call to action: Shop now / See the collection / Join the {product} club
  • Include a testimonial or review.

You might also like to check out the 30 Email Subject Lines free download for more inspiration, too!

Now clean your list

A few days after your last email has gone out, log in to your Email Service Provider and find all the people on your list who haven’t opened a single email. You’re going to unsubscribe those people.

This helps to keep your email list healthy, and also prevents your emails looking like spam to other subscribers.

(And you can feel free to do this every three months or so from now on. Go on, pop a reminder in your calendar.)

Then keep going!

Now that you’ve re-engaged your list and hopefully seen a few opens, click throughs, and maybe even some sales, KEEP GOING! Email them every week or fortnight (monthly isn’t often enough), and keep telling your story.

Want more inspiration and support?

If you liked this, you’re going to love the email support in The Better Business Collective, which opens for registration next week.

Want the re-engagement emails pretty much written for you? They’re in there. Plus you’ll get weekly emails ready to plug and play from September to January – yep, all through Christmas. Be the first to know when it opens up.

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