Are inactive subscribers bad? 

The traditional school of thought is that if your subscribers are inactive, you should remove them from your list. This would ensure that you still have healthy deliverability. And reduces the chances of ending up in the spam folder.

However, we can also argue that every subscriber is a potential source of revenue. And therefore should not be lost without a fight.

If your business practices opt-in for your email communications, then in reality this subscriber was engaged at some point.

Meaning there is every chance they can be re-engaged again.

So, instead of immediately considering an inactive subscriber as ‘lost’ forever. Implement a clever re-engagement strategy and take one last shot at winning them back.

In this blog post, we take you through a 3-step process for reigniting the spark between your brand and different types of inactive subscribers.

Step 1. Identify your inactive subscribers

Not all inactive subscribers are created equal.

In fact, in email marketing inactive subscribers generally fall into 3 categories:


These subscribers were once active and engaged with your brand. But have recently lost contact with you. These have the most potential to be won back with the right email, and should be focused on as a priority.


These subscribers were also once active and engaged with your brand. But have not opened or clicked on an email in a long time. Attempts at re-engagement should be made, however you may also wish to begin ramping down activity for these subscribers.

Never active

These subscribers made a purchase or signed up to your email communications, but have not been active since. Chances are they never had any interest in receiving marketing communications from you. And are unlikely to engage in the future.

Step 2. Segment and send

Now you have identified your subscribers, begin segmenting them into their own categories.

This is so that you can send the most appropriate and relevant communications to the specific segment. Increasing the chances of winning them back.


As these are the recipients most likely to re-engage with you, focus your efforts on this segment first and get a re-engagement campaign sent out asap.

As these subscribers have only disengaged recently, check-in emails are the most appropriate communications to send out, to subtly remind the recipient that your brand exists and what you offer. For instance:

Product recommendations

Use past purchase and historical behavioural data to identify the most tempting products for this recipient, and use dynamic content to populate your email with these items.


This recipient was once interested in your products, so send them a relevant competition or promotion to pique their interest once again. And get them reacquainted with your brand and products.


Everyone loves a discount.

And it might be exactly what these recipients need to tempt them to purchase and begin re-engaging with your brand once again. And if the recipient loves the product they have purchased at a discount. It increases the chances of them continuing to purchase and engage with you, long-term.


These emails work particularly well for SaaS businesses.

If your recipient hasn’t logged into their profile or used your system in a while, give them some encouragement to come back. Either by suggesting they log in, or showcasing the benefits of using your platform again. 


For this segment, you may want to begin ramping down activity. Consider sending some of the same campaigns as the unengaged segment, and reviewing if their engagement begins to spike.

Alternatively, send them a clear re-engagement campaign to get the message across.

‘We miss you’

One of the most popular types of re-engagement campaigns really tugs on the heartstrings.

These types of emails are to the point, and state that the brand hasn’t seen the recipient in a while, and wants them back. Simple but effective.

Image Source – Really Good Emails


A feedback email can be another campaign that is to the point. Tell the recipient that you haven’t heard from them in a while, and ask for feedback. This opens communications with the recipient again, whilst also generating useful insight for the brand.

Preference centre

Your recipients might still be interested in your brand, but just want to hear from you less. Or only want to hear about specific things.

Empower your recipients to control the emails they receive by sending them to their preference centre. Where they can choose email frequency and type.

Image Source – Really Good Emails

Never active

It’s tempting to simply remove these subscribers from your list, but it’s also worth taking one last shot at winning them back.

Last chance email

The key to re-engaging with this segment is to get to the point. Last chance emails state that the recipient hasn’t been active in a long while, and will be removed from the email list unless they take action.

This way the decision is put into the hands of the recipient. And if they truly wish to engage with a brand, they’ll let them know.

Image Source – Really Good Emails

Step 3. Regularly review

Your emails are sent. But the hard work isn’t over.

Keeping on top of your email list and inactive subscribers is an ongoing process.

For instance, if a zombie subscriber starts engaging with your campaigns, they should be moved to your unengaged or even regular email lists.

Similarly, if unengaged subscribers begin engaging less, they should be gradually moved to the zombie and then never engaged lists. Until they may be finally removed.

This doesn’t have to be a fast process. If you are concerned about losing subscribers too soon, let this strategy play out over a longer period of time, whilst keeping an eye on your results.

Are you struggling with inactive subscribers?

Fortunately, we have lots of strategies and tactics to get them re-engaged again.

With the help of our all-in-one AI marketing platform and a Customer Success Team, you can clean up your list, re-engage subscribers, and boost repeat purchasers.

Get in touch today to see how we can help you.