Filtering data for re-engagement campaigns

Posted on November 24, 2016 at 10:40 am Written by

I love shoes. I love emails. So it naturally figures that I love emails about shoes.

Big shoes, little shoes, all the in-between shoes. Flat shoes, stilettos, wedges, kittens and stacks. They’re all worthy and in need of a home. My home! If I could (eg. if I was single) I’d put them on the wall as works of art, to be gazed at, dusted and generally adored. That said, I am blighted by a practical head and half the time I don’t even open emails about shoes, just in case it’s love at first sight. I say to myself “maybe after my next pay day” and do the honourable thing and save my money for the sensible necessities in life… like food and, um, gin.

So when I had an email from shoe retailer Sarenza the other day with the subject line “Unsubscribe from our newsletters. We’ve come to say goodbye.” my heart quite literally skipped a beat.

I broke out in a cold sweat for the following two reasons:

1. No no no, don’t stop sending me shoes!

2. Oh and by the way, I now feel terrible that you think I don’t love or appreciate your shoes!

But most importantly …  and yes I promise am getting to the point now, really I am!… it prompted me to open the email. Avoiding all the useful links that the email included to confirm the un-subscription, I clicked instead to open their website and browse for my next investment. They got me, fair and square. I re-engaged, their work was done.

My re-engagement email from Sarenza

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Now far be it from us to encourage this type of calculating (yet genius) marketing ploy, but it is just the type of thing you should be thinking about as part of your ongoing database maintenance. Housekeeping of data is key to maintaining a fresh and current list of contacts. You’ve probably worked hard to gather contacts over the years and if your campaigns are not engaging your subscribers, you need to think firstly why not. What is it about your relationship which has gone stale? Your subject lines,  your content, your offering? If a Subscriber hasn’t opened or clicked for a while, but they haven’t unsubscribed, you’re still in with a chance to win back their affections.

Trying different strategies is something to seriously consider. It could be as bold as the email above (and we know, this kind of tack does take nerve – actually encouraging someone to unsubscribe, are we mad?!) or it might be by running your next campaign in two different formats. One regular style which you send to all your active subscribers and one with pretty much identical content but with a much more attention grabbing subject line for your inactive subscribers. Employ a theme that reflects the fact that it’s “been a while” and is honest about your aim, that you’re trying to re-engage.

It might even include an added incentive offer, a link to pick what types of email they’d like to receive by means of subscriber preferences, or a short survey asking what they’d like you to do differently.

In practical terms, how do you go about putting this type of “Do you still want to hear from us?” exercise in motion?


You might create Group based criteria of who to send to:

  • Create a new Group based on history of sends & opens e.g. Subscribers who have been sent an email(s) in the past ‘X’ days but haven’t opened any of them. Or if you feel that an ‘open’ isn’t enough of an engagement to gauge a subscriber’s commitment to you, base this on a history of sends & clicks instead.

This data can be gathered from your campaign reports but bear it mind that grouping is what we call a static method of organising data. Subscribers appearing in the new group will be a snapshot of the behaviour at the specific time that you looked up the data from a past campaign(s) – making the group less useful as time passes, and as some of these subscribers open and click after a period of abstinence.

So when basing a re-engagement email on grouped data it’s advisable to get everything in place for your campaign before collating your data and creating the Group to send to.


Alternatively, a more dynamic approach is to use segmentation:

  • Create a Segment based on a particular Group (or all your Subscribers) and their history of sends & opense.g. just the same criteria as the Grouped example above, but the data will only be collated using dynamic filters at the exact moment you click to send the re-engagement campaign. This means that there’s no awkwardness of emails going to subscribers who have opened one of your campaigns since you collated data.

A segment based on the opens of subscribers who have been sent an email in the last 120 days


Note: Just like the grouped example above, if you always send each email campaign to all your subscribers, then you could cut out the “Sent to” filter completely.

Depending on whether you want to leave it with one re-engagement campaign or if you want to do a series before calling it a day, this segment would be one one you could re-use.


Running more than one type/topic of email from your account?

Then you can go further by specifying not just “any past email” but email ‘X’.

  • Create a Segment based on behaviour after receiving  a particular email campaign. e.g. narrow down the criteria to behaviour which followed a past send.



Campaign Picker

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You’ll find more information on Grouping, Segmenting and Filtering with NewZapp’s subscriber management tools in our Help Centre:

Download our guide to Segments from our Help Centre
Download our guide to Filters from our Help Centre
Download our guide to Groups from our Help Centre
Download our guides to Public & Private Groups from our Help Centre

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Read my other design related blog posts here.

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