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How To Spring Clean Your Email List For Better Deliverability (With Re Engagement Email Examples)

Ahh, springtime at last!

For most of us, this time of year is such a great reminder that new beginnings and growth go hand-in-hand. And if you joined in our live 30 Day List Building Challenge last month, you’ve already started with a great focus on that fundamentally important email list.

But now, it’s time to look at what it takes to maintain that healthy growth.

If you’re a gardener of any sort, you know that most trees and shrubs benefit from a bit of cut-back and pruning. It seems counter-intuitive, but pruning really does help many trees and shrubs to grow better by cutting off dead areas to make room for new sprouts.

The same concept applies with re-engagement email sequences.

Re-engagement email sequences clean out those “dead” subscribers who don’t care about your message anymore (or never cared about it in the first place).

It allows you to let go of the stuff that isn’t working so you can refocus on what is.

Here’s why re-engagement email sequences are so beneficial:

Reason #1: Better Email Deliverability

When a large percentage of your subscribers aren’t opening your emails (or worse still, have marked them as “spam”), your overall email deliverability is going to suffer.

This means that those who are interested in your message aren’t necessarily going to be able to receive it.

Reason #2: More accurate email marketing stats

Struggling with low open rates and conversions?

Those sleeping subscribers are partially to blame. If 20% of your email list is totally uninterested in your message, your email marketing stats are going to be extremely skewed.

Once the uninterested subscribers are removed, though, you have access to real stats and can work towards improving open rates, link clicks, and conversions.

Reason #3: Increased ability to tailor to your tribe

By knowing exactly who’s on your list (and that they’re interested!), you can really start honing in your message for maximum impact.

Reason #4 Increased budget efficiency

The pricing packages of most CRMs fluctuate by the number of subscribers that your list contains. So if you have an extra couple hundred (or thousand…gulp) inactive subscribers, you’re paying for something that you don’t need.

Just because it makes sense doesn’t mean it’s easy

It’s ok to admit this!

List-building is tough in the first place, so even the thought of losing some of those subscribers can be terrifying.

Committing to a re-engagement email campaign can be incredibly emotionally challenging.

I mean, there are so many objections that I can think of off the top of my head when it comes to facing a task like this.

Objections like:

But I worked so hard to build this list!

Maybe if I just gave them more time…

Isn’t it counterintuitive to get rid of my email list?

Those all seem like valid objections, right?

I mean… kind of…

But here are the facts:

But I worked so hard to build this list!

Just because you put effort into building that list doesn’t mean you’ve reached the peak. There’s always room for improvement and growth!

Maybe if I just gave them more time…

The longer you wait to confront sleeping subscribers, the less likely they’ll take any action at all on your re-engagement sequence. Because they’ll have spent that much more time engaging in other areas of life.

Isn’t it counterintuitive to get rid of my email list?

Remember that in no realm of business do big numbers automatically mean better results!

But a small list of engaged subscribers can be exponentially more profitable for your business than a semi-engaged list with tens of thousands on it.

It goes back to one mantra: Do fewer things, better.

So let’s dive in to see some re engagement email examples that work – and how you can implement them in your own business:

How We Set Up Our Re-Engagement Email Sequence:

Identify The Inactive Subscribers

Most email marketing platforms allow you to identify your inactive subscribers. (Check out MailChimp’s tutorial here.)

The number can be pretty scary – especially if you’ve never looked at it before.

We recently cleaned out our email list… and decided our threshold was any user who hadn’t opened up an email in 90 days. That was a long enough time for us to know that they were stale enough to need some prodding, but still fresh enough to resuscitate.

Decide On Your Method of Segmentation for Those Who Return

After you have your list of inactives, it’s time to start crafting the sequence that will either win them back – or expel them from your list.

Since we use Infusionsoft, we were able to create an if/or criteria.

If a user did not click on a link in our emails, they would continue through the sequence to the eventual automatic unsubscribe.

If they did click on the link, they were automatically back in the fold, and wouldn’t receive any more of our re-engagement sequence.

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Determine how many re engagement emails you want to send out

A re-engagement sequence takes time to build up interest, so plan on writing a series of emails.

Write as few or as many as you think fits your style and your subscribers. Then, space these out a bit – maybe a day or two apart. The volume of emails might pique the interest of your subscribers, in the event that your subject lines don’t do the trick.

In general, though, there are 5 phases of a re-engagement sequence:

Phase 1: Tell Them That You Miss Them

Phase 2: Wave Something Shiny Around

Phase 3: Be Honest. Tell Them What You’re Up To.

Phase 4: Last Chance.

Phase 5: Pull the Plug

5 Re Engagement Email Examples:

In a nutshell, here are some re engagement email examples that represent each of the five phases listed above. They’re super similar to the ones we use in our own campaign (but modified slightly to keep it short and clear).

Phase 1: Tell Them That You Miss Them

In this first phase, a direct approach is often best. Keep it short and sweet, knowing that the subject line is going to make all of the difference. Since they haven’t been opening your emails, of course, the biggest thing throughout the whole re-engagement sequence is to somehow break this habit… and get them to open the email:

Subject: Are you okay?Hey {FIRST NAME},It’s been awhile since you’ve opened up any of my emails, so I thought I’d let you know what you’ve missed:

  • Link to great blog post/podcast
  • Link to super blog post/podcast
  • Link to awesome blog post/podcast

But you know what? I totally understand!

You’re busy…

But here’s the thing: Even though travel / family / business matters tend to pop up and get in the way, remember that you signed up for my emails because you were craving practical, actionable tips to help you grow your business.

So, I’m definitely going to send you an occasional poke to make sure you don’t fall through the cracks!

Besides, I’ve been thinking: since we’re all time-starved these days, I wanted to share with you my best recommendations for paper planners. These have helped me to stay sane and focused on what matters the most.

I hope you find them helpful, too!

Nathalie “just checking in” Lussier

Phase 2: Give Them The Benefit Of The Doubt

This second phase of the re engagement email campaign is all about giving them the benefit of the doubt… a way out, if you will.

We chose to do this by asking if maybe we weren’t emailing them in the right place.

Subject: Is this your best email address?Hey.It’s me again.

I don’t mean to bother you … but I noticed it’s been over 60 days since you’ve clicked on any of my emails… and I wondered if you’ve moved on 🙁

Of course, email addresses do change, and maybe you’ve been using a different account?

… but hey, since you’re reading this right now, why don’t you take a moment to quickly update your contact info so that I have your best email address. (You know, the one you check every day!)

Update your contact info here: <>

By keeping your info updated, you’ll be on track to receiving the most heartfelt and insightful info on running an online business… All sent straight to your inbox, each and every week.

So quick! Update your info while it’s fresh in your mind: <>


P.S. Oh, and here’s a quick list of some of the things you’ve missed while you were away. Check them out… if you’re still interested in running an amazing online business!

(include same list as before)

Phase 3: Wave something shiny

If your subscribers are still in the sequence at this point, the sweet and alluring messages haven’t worked. So it’s time to increase your bluntness and spell out what you’re up to. Keep waving that shiny object in front of them, whether a link to some of your articles or maybe a unique download.

Subject: I want you back 🙂Hi.So there’s pretty much no easy way to say what I need to say… might as well go right out and say it: I miss your smiling face.


A while back, it was awesome to have you in on the best stuff by clicking “open” on my emails. But that hasn’t happened in a while – over 2 months, to be exact.

I want you back as one of our polite butt-kicking allies!

And to prove that I mean it, here’s what I’ll do: if you take the time to check out the mystery link below, I’ll give you a gift that’s totally worth your while.


What’s more important, when you click on that link you’ll also be letting me know that you’re still alive!

(In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve set up my email list to automatically remove you if I don’t hear from you in 60 days… sounds a bit harsh, but I really don’t want to be wasting your time or mine if you’re not getting any value from my emails.)

Here’s that mystery link again: << LINK >>

Check it out to get a super cool gift and to fully reactivate your subscription to this email list! Because even more great things are ready to head your way in the days and weeks ahead!

See ya on the other side!


Phase 4: Last Chance.

Ok, so at this point in your re-engagement sequence they know why you’re pestering them and you’re still offering the shiny object to keep them engaged. Now you can add in that element of urgency. Time’s running out if they want to stay on your list!

Subject: Should I Unsubscribe You?Hey, you.Here’s the thing: I’m definitely not the pestering type…but at the same time I don’t want to just lose you!

So I’ll be totally honest with you:

You can either click on the link below to be taken to my special mystery gift for entrepreneurs, OR go ahead and hit the “unsubscribe” button on the bottom of the email.

The magic link is << here >>

There’ll be no hard feelings, whichever route you take!

After all, I understand that interests can change over time.

And since I don’t want to be just another faceless person cluttering up your email inbox, I’ll assume you don’t want me here if you don’t click on the link.

(Totally truthful: I hope you click on the link!)


P.S. If you DO click the link, you’ll find some pretty cool things on the other side! 🙂

Phase 5: Pull the Plug

If they haven’t responded at this point, it’s time to send them a goodbye. Let them know that, because they haven’t taken action, you’re going to assume they’re not interested – no hard feelings!

It’s not a bad idea to include a link to re-subscribe, in case they ever have a change of heart.

Subject: Is Today The End…Of Us?Hey.Sadly, today’s the day.

I really need you to confirm NOW that you’re still interested in receiving my emails by clicking on this link: << LINK >>

Otherwise, you’ll be automatically removed from my email list in 24 hours.

(Sorry if that comes off as harsh!)

Originally when you signed up for my newsletter, you did it because you wanted to see how heart-centered advice and the latest tech tools can transform the life of a modern entrepreneur….but if that’s not the case anymore, I get it.

After all, your interests and priorities change over time. Just like people change.

So just unsubscribe by using the link at the bottom of the email, and I won’t bother you anymore.

Of course, if you’re still interested, click << here >> and your subscription to our list will be reactivated.

Talk soon…hopefully! (And if not – I wish you all the best in life and everything!)

Big hugs,


… and that’s the end of it.

Are You Ready To Prune Your Email List?

Hopefully, those re-engagement email examples gave you an idea of the general workflow that tends to work best… as well as a few ideas of unique ways to implement them in your own online business.

It can be a tough decision to start one of these sequences – but the more consistently you run them, the higher your re-engagement rates will be… Not to mention the subscribers you do retain will give you a higher percentage of conversions, sales, and general engagement.

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a writer, technologist, and regenerative farmer. I founded AccessAlly with my husband in one frantic weekend to solve my immediate course platform issues. Over a decade later the company has grown, and our product has evolved to serve millions of learners across the globe.

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