worst practices in reactivation campaigns

Reactivation campaigns are a popular way of rescuing "lost" address records that unquestionably cost a lot of money and of re-engaging "sleepy" customers. Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Along with the positive aspects, however, there are also risks. This article tells you what they are and how you can avoid them.

1 + 1 = 2 ?

For many marketers, it’s still a simple calculation; the more email you sent, the more people are reached and, therefore, the higher the revenue. Sadly, it’s not quite as simple as that. 

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User feedback + list management + setup = reputation

Deliverability can interfere considerably with this calculation. If emails land in the spam folder instead of the inbox, reach suddenly becomes much lower. Reputation becomes a core aspect. And this requires communications to be created as creatively as possible, i.e. only writing to recipients who want to receive the emails and interact with you (e.g. read them and click on the links they contain or even reply to you).

The demands of relevance, however, also means deactivating inactive addresses at some point.

What needs to be considered when running an email reactivation campaign?

It’s important to note the date of the last communication. With addresses that haven’t even been written to for more than 6 months, it’s best not to communicate at all. Along with the lapsed permission, the primary risk is that, in the meantime, the address isn’t even being used by the recipient and that the provider has transformed it into a so-called spam trap. To the sender, the email appears initially to have been delivered but the reputation will have been damaged considerably.

Reactivation campaign - inactive email addresses

Furthermore, a low opening rate and high bounce rate – inactive addresses that aren’t (yet) spam traps – can be expected, both of which are factors that damage reputation.

Best not to reactivate at all?

Not at all, but you should take the following tips to heart:

- Ask yourself: What would cause the recipient to become active again. Tailored content? Or a voucher? Pose the question of relevance and tailor the content to it!

- Define a schedule: How often do you want to communicate with someone before finally ruling them out? And in which circumstances? The recommendation would be a maximum of 3 attempts over a maximum of 2 months – and then delete the contact, preferably permanently to avoid any temptation.

- NO GO with reactivation: Unsubscriber – you no longer have permission to write to the address and therefore risk legal steps by the recipients (and anger with the mailer).

- Stretch the transmission out: Send smaller numbers of mails in parallel with the normal campaigns and with slower transmission speeds (per hour). That minimizes the negative effect on the reputation.

- React to openers: Only those that actually react to the campaign by opening or clicking have actually been reached. Observe the further opening / click behavior of these addresses in future.


Don’t expect too much from reactivation. The effort and potential damage is mostly higher than the benefits of ea few re-engaged customers. Ideally, when you reactivate, work closely with your service provider – they can give you valuable tips and help you protect your reputation.