And for the people who don’t seem to be excited about the new book, or your newsletter, or even you? The ones who don’t open, click, or reply? First, you try to bring them back into the fold: re-engagement.
All engagement is really about re-engagement. The problem is the people who are simply not opening your emails. You’ve got them, we all do; the key is to try to weed those people out whenever possible. If you can’t get them to open an email, out they go. The interval is up to you, of course, but I try to re-engage and purge twice a year.
There are specific methods to re-engage people who have fallen by the wayside, and they’re actually not the same ones that you use to keep month-to-month engagement with the section of your list that’s responsive.
The most important part of your re-engagement campaign? Writing absolutely irresistible subject lines.
Remember, you’re dealing with non-openers, so you absolutely cannot rely on the content of the newsletter to do the work of re-engaging. Make your subject lines relevant to the content inside. Make them catchy. Give people a reason to open—a benefit or surprise or mystery. Ask a question. If you can get a very short quote from a testimonial, those work great. (There’s a whole section on this in the book.)
The subject line needs to make it clear that there is something really good inside, and that it’s not going to cost them a cent. It’s that simple. Make them absolutely have to open, and give them a really great freebie that no sane person could resist clicking on. (My romance pen name does a bouncy-box giveaway for a Nora Roberts 4-book box set, for example. That’s something like a 50-dollar value.)
If they click, great. They move on to the next part of the sequence, and no more freebies for them. The next email can offer an inexpensive book, even 99 cents if you’ve got one to offer or know of one you can recommend, but you aren’t going to send any more freebies to this campaign. The freebie was solely to get their attention; now that you have it, you’re going to determine if this is the sort of person who ever clicks on something that might cost them money. If they don’t click on your next few emails, don’t open them, or didn’t even open the first one, they’re deadbeats and they have to go.
And what if you’re the reason they’re not engaged? Unlikely but always possible. There are a few different ways you can turn off your list and get you a lot of unsubscribes. Some people will stay on the list, hoping that it might be good again.
If you have existing lists like this—ones that are fallow or that you haven’t been treating right—you re-engage them like any other non-opener. But once they’ve opened that first re-engagement email, you want to shift them into a short little sequence (similar to your onboarding sequence) where you re-orient them to you, your books, and your newsletter; and where you make it clear that this newsletter is about to become awesome, so they should give you another chance.
Treat it like any other relationship you screwed up: say you’re sorry, try to fix it, and then move on if you have to, wiser and determined never to make that mistake again.
This is old hat at this point but answer these questions:
- Look at your open rates. Those folks who aren’t opening — why? Really dig for this one.
- What are you doing or not doing that hasn’t made your emails appealing to them?
- What can you do differently?
- What are some subject lines that would really kill it with your crowd? (If you don’t know, WHY don’t you know?)
- What could you give them that would be irresistible, and what would your next few emails look like?