My New Year’s resolution is to show the email world a better way to manage their recipient engagement. The main focus of my engagement argument is around re-engagement campaigns. These campaigns are traditionally sent to subscribers who do not engage with your email—those you want to “win-back” to being engaged with your product or service.

Re-engagement Emails are Broken

But, the data tells us that re-engagement campaigns are a broken concept. In fact, we have data that shows reengagement campaigns can send an otherwise good sender directly to the spam folder. Re-engagement campaigns target only the least engaged recipients and then send them an email that they never wanted in the first place. So what should senders do instead?

Senders should monitor engagement continuously in their segmentation and email campaign strategies. They should send only the most engaging emails to their least engaged recipients and they should consider the appropriate sending frequency for each recipient. The best re-engagement campaign is engaging emails sent at the right frequency.

7 Notes about Re-engagement Emails

We’ve identified some core issues that support a re-evaluation of the re-engagement email. They’re broken down in further detail below:

  1. The number of recipients who respond in the positive to re-engagement emails is very small. When the majority of people receiving your re-engagement emails don’t engage with those emails, it drives down your aggregate email engagement rates. As ISPs see recipients continue to not engage with your email, they can start sending you to spam.
  2. Spam is in the eye of the beholder. Spam is unwanted mail and your re-engagement emails could be seen as unwanted. Negative engagers should be receiving less email.
  3. Re-engagement campaigns make marketers think they have more control. There is a disconnect between marketers and email deliverability consultants on what the value of a re-engagement campaign is.
  4. You should make it a priority to better understand your data. Recipients are generally very explicit with their behavior—if they’re interested, they’ll engage. If they’re not, they won’t. Adjust your sending frequency according to this interest level.
  5. Engagement predicts engagement.
  6. Produce the best content you can. There’s a big component to email engagement that you don’t control. You can control content. But you don’t control your recipient.
  7. Engagement is set by your recipient and the content. Your job is to listen to the recipient and adjust your sending. So your responsibility is to:
    1. Send your best content
    2. Gauge recipient interest
    3. Send in line with this interest
    4. Monitor and adjust

SendGrid is developing features to help senders harness their engagement data to send their highest quality content at the right frequency. We’ll be excited to share more details around these features in 2015.

Aaron Beach is a data scientist with experience in email services, energy systems, privacy, social networks, mobile apps, natural language processing, recommendation systems and Big Data. He has a PhD in Computer Science and has published over 25 research papers.