There really isn’t a ton to say about email that hasn’t been said already, so we’ll spare you the elevator pitch of how it’s remained a cornerstone of digital marketing even during the mobile revolution. Instead, we’d rather focus on email’s role in relationship preservation. The first touch with your target audience is one of the most meaningful success metrics. However, the ability to reach your audience consistently is the key to a truly scalable business model.

We’ll be exploring some email re-engagement strategies that directly address and repair those user relationships who have slipped between the cracks or momentarily drifted away.

Until the final opt-out, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.

Author’s Note on User Relationships

As we mentioned, at the heart of every successful email re-engagement campaign is a strong relationship with your audience. In the mobile space particularly, where competition grows and attention spans dwindle, proactively nurturing this relationship with users reinforces the fact that your brand understands how and why they chose your business in the first place.

The last thing you want to do is make your users feel like a lost transaction. People are more marketing-savvy now than ever before and completely desensitized to the token and transparent “Come back to us!” sentiment.

Ultimately, users who feel recognized will be less likely to churn and the best way to prove you’re listening to your users is curated relevance. So where do you start?

Re-Kindling Engagement Through Segmentation

Your users make up a large and diverse audience with vastly different interests, preferences, and mobile usage habits. Sending a generic email blast and hoping something sticks is a recipe for wasted time, irrelevant clutter in users’ inboxes (ew), and, most importantly, tepid engagement results at best.

For a moment, don your most dapper Sherlock Holme’s attire and play detective with us. If we’re treating formerly active, now dormant users as a missing person’s case, we must pick up the trail where we lost them in the first place.

Utilize your mobile data analytics to pinpoint the last interaction your inactive users had with your business. This could include their last purchase, last content viewed, or any other meaningful engagement regarding specific features within your app or site. Create email segments based on the most frequent final interactions you find, grouping users together whose engagement took a nosedive after sharing similar behaviors.

For instance, you might have audience segments like:

  • Recent Shoppers
  • Content Explorers
  • Product Enthusiasts
  • Free trial users
  • Webinar attendees
  • Tutorial viewers
  • Cart abandoners
  • Frustrated players

Go a step further. Dive deeper into each segment to understand the common pain points or challenges these users experienced that motivated their exit. Are they hesitating to make a purchase? Did they encounter any issues during their last interaction?

Create targeted in-app surveys or customer feedback processes that inquire about these user experiences.

Analyze social media feedback or customer support interactions, such as emails, chat transcripts, and support tickets to uncover overlaps between common complaints and your identified exit points.

Conduct A/B testing to compare hypothetical variations of your platform or content to help confirm your insights into UX elements that resonate vs. UX elements that irritate.

While we don’t have space to adequately touch on every mobile app pain point and how to solve it, the following list represents the most common pain points that serve as easy targets for email re-engagement:

  • Users are not leveraging (or understanding) the core value proposition of your tools or app features
  • Users are experiencing a stagnant experience due to a communication gap regarding updates or stimulating content
  • Users constantly run into bugs or glitches that hinder their experience on your platform
  • Users are constantly peppered with spammy or irrelevant notifications leading to message fatigue
  • Users churn at the paywall, subscription or otherwise, not believing the perceived value of your premium service or in-app purchases

By taking this time to adequately segment your email re-engagement efforts based on users’ last activities within your app (or on your site) and based on their friction points, you not only get answers as to why they’re leaving, but you get a much clearer picture of how to win them back.

Craft Personalized Messages

You now know who you’re aiming to re-engage with your reactivation email campaigns. It’s time to decide on what to say to them. Using the information you uncovered during your segmentation research, we suggest a similar two-pronged approach to writing your re-engagement email copy:

  1. Follow up on the user group’s last interaction with your business
  2. Provide actionable next steps that directly address their pain points

Let’s look at a few of your user segments, with their potential pain points, to put together re-engagement emails designed to win them back.

Recent Shoppers

For your "Recent Shoppers" segment, your objective is to address the disconnect they may have experienced due to a lack of post-purchase engagement. Your re-engagement email should begin by thanking them for their recent purchase. Remind them that they have already decided to give you their business — this is the foundation of your existing relationship with them, no matter how small!

Within the body of your email, include personalized recommendations based on their recent purchase, whether it be complementary accessories or trending products within the same category. Couple this personalized recommendation with an exclusive discount on their next purchase as an incentive to return. Keep this email copy casual, positive, and conversational. This user segment won’t need over-exaggerated or overly apologetic messaging, as they most likely drifted away due to forgetfulness.

For the cherry on top, consider closing the email by encouraging them to join your loyalty program (if you have one) or to subscribe to your push notifications for an instant heads-up of future offers and benefits. Let them know how easy it is to receive relevant, personalized offers just like the one in this email.

Read our guide on how to grow your mobile push notification subscriptions to increase engagement!

By thanking users for their recent purchase, providing personalized recommendations, and providing easy access to future offers, you reinforce the positive connection already fostered during their first purchase and demonstrate that your brand understands that purchase decisions hinge on their individuality. Coupled with providing an effortless path to continued re-engagement through your other channels, you set the stage for boosted retention through top-of-mind brand awareness!

Content Explorers

For your “Content Explorers” segment, your objective, most likely, will be to address either their disinterest or message fatigue caused by irrelevant notifications. This segment will require a bit more effort to win back, so the tone of this email should be less enthusiastic or pushy and a bit more humble in nature. We suggest leading off by acknowledging their preferences and apologizing for any potential inconvenience caused by sending them the wrong kinds of content.

This is a good time to remind these users about your customizable notification or email frequency settings to help better tailor their content updates. A user preference center is a key component of mobile marketing, carrying several benefits:

Read our guide on user preference centers for a full breakdown of how giving users the power of choice can positively impact your ROI!

Once you’ve made it a priority to refocus their content relevancy, take the extra step of proving it. Offer a preview of curated content based on their specified interests. This not only gives them a reason to pick up where they left off with your content but also gives them a chance to re-evaluate their initial content preferences. To close out the email, provide an option to opt-in for less frequent, personalized updates.

This email from the blogging site provides helpful direction at the bottom of their curated article emails, encouraging users to choose the kind of experience they want.
When it comes to managing user preferences and improving content engagement, sometimes a half step back is better than trying to force three steps forward.

Free Trial Users

Your “Free Trial” user segment is missing the value of your paid or premium service. Use this reactivation email as a way to remind them of the benefits they experienced during their free trial, but also what they’re missing out on by neglecting to upgrade. Where push and SMS notifications deliver real-time updates in a punchy, impactful way, this free trial use case is tailor-made for email re-engagement.

You want to adequately showcase additional premium features available with a subscription or in-app purchase, so you’ll need the content real estate and flexibility that email provides. This is your chance to incorporate rich media, gifs, videos, or feature cards with a heavier emphasis on attention-grabbing design to direct users’ attention to your platform’s key value drivers. Your email copy should lean on enthusiasm, urgency, and FOMO, using any behaviors or preferences you’ve collected about this segment to address their interests.

Get a refresher on using psychology in marketing to give your re-engagement emails an emotional edge!

Acknowledge and address common concerns about subscription costs and highlight your differentiators. Include testimonials or success stories from satisfied premium users, specifically highlighting the benefits of upgrading beyond the limited free trial. To cap it all off, throw in a limited-time discount or extended trial period as a sign of good faith and to encourage the conversion!

Your free trial user segment is already in the mindset of “try it and see” — a tentative and non-commital headspace. An incentivized offer addressing this upgrade hesitancy is often just the nudge they need to come back to the table.

Tutorial Users

For your “Tutorial Users,” you must make the core value proposition of your app or site crystal clear. Don’t get caught up in the weeds of detailed walkthroughs about getting the absolute most out of every feature. These are users who bailed on your brand either during or shortly after the onboarding process. Consider offering links to in-depth video tutorials for a more visual understanding or point them to the best, low-friction place to get started with your app or site. The tone of these re-engagement emails should be reassuring, confident, and simplistic. Winning back intimidated users takes a light touch, not overzealous cross-feature instructions.

Streak’s onboarding email breaks next steps down into bite-sized pieces

You may even consider sending this user segment a series of tutorial emails with step-by-step guides, each focusing on a single feature. These re-engagement onboarding emails should be personalized to reflect and remedy the specific point in the onboarding sequence that they abandoned. If users became inactive right after landing on the “profile validation” welcome card, this email is an opportunity to convey the benefits of confirming their account with helpful links to complete the process. If users became inactive after viewing the “social media sharing” portion of your welcome flow, this email is a great place to provide these users with testimonials and links to all your social media platforms to get them involved with your community.

End this re-engagement email by encouraging them to reach out for personalized assistance or support with a clear-as-day CTA (call to action) and all relevant support info.

Ready to fine-tune your onboarding experience to maximize user engagement? Our Ultimate Guide to Mobile User Onboarding Across All Channels walks you through everything you need to get the job done right.

Frustrated Players

With your “Frustrated Players” segment, the objective is success enablement. Mobile games are only as engaging as they are beatable. Yes, too easy and the experience quickly becomes a bore. But too difficult, and you run the risk of causing frustration, habitual defeat, and a negative association with your app experience. This is one of the most common causes of mobile game churn.

This re-engagement email should begin by acknowledging their gaming achievements and progression thus far in your app. Frustrated players would benefit from some visual encouragement to remind them of how far they’ve already come and what they have to show for it. Badges, level milestones, and personal records would make this message feel like a personal hall of fame for uncertain players.

The bulk of the email should offer exclusive in-game rewards or power-ups as an incentive to return with newfound strength, along with tips and strategies for overcoming the specific challenging level they may be hung up on. Provide a clear path of success and if applicable, highlight any upcoming app updates or modifications to address difficulty concerns.

Learn the four most effective player retention hacks for mobile games to increase the longevity and loyalty of your user base.

Not sure how to end your re-engagement email? Invite players to join your community, either via in-game events or external social media channels for shared support. The more players see others absolutely acing the more challenging aspects of your game, the more attainable the goal will seem for themselves!

Mobile Re-Engagement That’s Never Generic

OneSignal has been in the game long enough to understand that one-size-fits-all messaging is a dead-end path. Mobile users expect timely, relevant, and highly personalized content, regardless of the channel they’re receiving it on. That’s why we’ve taken an omnichannel approach to push, in-app, SMS, and email to deliver a customer engagement solution with the tools you need to retain. We’re no-code, integration-friendly, and free to try.

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