Breaking up is hard—but losing something you’ve worked hard to build isn’t easy either.
You want your subscribers to open and engage with your emails, but you also don’t want to come off as desperate or pushy. To help hold onto (and build up) the hard work you’ve put in so far, you might need a re-engagement subject line to do the heavy lifting for you.
In this post, we put together some of the best subject lines we could find to help you rekindle old flames without begging for their forgiveness (and business). Each subject line has its own takeaway to give you an idea of how to craft your own.
You’ve probably heard that it’s cheaper to keep existing customers than find new leads, but how does that translate into the email marketing world?
According to research from Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention can make more than a 25% increase in profit because return customers tend to buy more from a company over time.
More good news: marketers consider email the second-best medium for re-engaging customers (right after website pages). These subject lines are the perfect introduction to get your emails opened.
1. “You've been selected to receive $50 of free XLM 🎁” - Blockchain
Blockchain knows how to send a re-engagement campaign. Instead of begging subscribers for forgiveness, this subject line makes them feel like they received something exclusive.
It’s always a good idea to include a nice coupon or discount in your campaigns to entice subscribers. And Blockchain knew what they were doing by including an emoji in the subject line. Emojis in subject lines tend to improve open rates by 56%.
Takeaway: Make your subscribers feel empowered and valued instead of guilted and pressured.
2. “Your free HubSpot account will be deactivated in 30 days” - HubSpot
The average office worker receives 126 emails every day—yikes. That makes for a pretty crowded inbox. HubSpot understands how important it is to get straight to the point when re-engaging professional subscribers.
This email subject line immediately lets the subscriber know that HubSpot hasn’t heard from them in a while and if they don’t log in, HubSpot will deactivate their account. In this case, “deactivation” serves as a power word to entice action.
Takeaway: Write concise copy to break through the noise of inboxes and use power words to grab attention.
3. “[Game] Can you find the toilet?” - UNICEF
Can I find—what? UNICEF has truly stepped up their email game recently and this subject line just begs to be clicked. UNICEF realizes that this headline is so strange that it might scare people off, so they included the [Game] disclaimer to let subscribers know something fun (and not unsettling) is inside.
It’s important to point out here that this subject line is nice and short. Mobile email clients tend to display about 40 characters of subject lines—this one has 34 so it fits perfectly on mobile screens.
Takeaway: Keep your subject lines short. Write something creative and unusual to spark interest.
4. “Last call: 3-year plan for only $107.55” - NordVPN
NordVPN is not a cheap VPN service, so it’s hard to turn down this three-year plan for just over $100. “Last call” creates urgency because it lets the reader know that the offer won’t last for long.
As another bonus, this subject line includes the number three rather than typing out the word three. Including a number in your blog post headlines can improve open rates by 206% and research shows that the same logic carries over into email subject lines. Plus, it can help you hit the 40-character count which NordVPN almost does here at 42 characters.
Takeaway: Create a sense of urgency and let subscribers know the deal you’re offering right away.
5. “(Name): An Update on Your Payment History” - Credit Karma
Email is a pretty intimate method of communication so it’s always a good idea to address your subscribers with their real name. Research shows that using the receiver's first name in your email subject lines can boost open rates by 50% and click-to-open rates by 58%.
Take your personalization a step further in your re-engagement campaigns. Like Credit Karma, you can spark interest by letting the subscriber know about changes to their account—especially when it’s something as important as their credit score.
Takeaway: Personalize your subject lines and copy as much as possible to make sure your content is relevant.
6. “A special coupon to welcome you back” - Guitar Center
Aw, thanks, Guitar Center—you're so sweet! Friendly copy goes a long way for engaging readers. Instead of feeling desperate, this subject line feels genuine and warm.
There’s a brewing debate over whether you should use title case or sentence case. Some experts say that title case improves open rates because it creates a sense of authority. When it comes to re-engagement campaigns, shouldn’t you make your subscribers feel like they’re in control?
In this situation, sentence case seems less demanding and more welcoming.
Takeaway: Use friendly language to let your subscribers that you’re ready to welcome them with open arms. A/B test your subject lines for title case and sentence case.
7. “3 awesome articles are waiting in your playlist” - Umano
Sometimes people just get busy and forget to log into websites they once loved—it happens. Instead of beating yourself up, do what Umano did and let your subscribers know what they’re missing.
We couldn’t help but share the awesome copy inside this email too. The first line is packed full of action telling the reader to listen to their playlist. It also lets them know exactly which articles they previously saved.
Source: Really Good Emails
Takeaway: Remind subscribers about content they once loved and personalize your campaigns based on behavior or browsing history.
8. “(Name), here's what you missed from Google Photos” - Google Photos
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a very real emotion. You don’t need to exploit or scare subscribers, but you can use FOMO to grab their attention. Google Photos does just that with this engaging subject line.
Inside the email, the body is simple with plenty of negative space. They also knew exactly which photos to include: who can resist cute cat animations?
Takeaway: Use FOMO to grab attention and entice readers to open your emails.
9. “We’ve missed you!” - DoTerra
We had to include a classic “we miss you” subject line. Sometimes, it’s just the best plan to let readers know that you miss them and want them to come back. If they were a regular customer for quite some time, they may miss you too. (Bonus if you can add some personalization to this subject line, too.)
Takeaway: Feel free to let your guard down a bit with previous long-term customers.
10. “You appeared in 7 searches this week” - LinkedIn
Have you ever Googled your own name? Of course, you have, who hasn’t? LinkedIn understands the importance of their platform: people use it to find professional connections and even new income sources.
When people are checking you out, LinkedIn knows that you’d like to hear about it—especially if they haven’t heard from you in a while.
Takeaway: Let subscribers know that there’s plenty of action waiting for them on your website or platform.
11. “Surprise — A Profitable Unicorn” - Robinhood
Robinhood keeps it short and simple with this re-engagement subject line. Not only is it well under 40 characters, but it’s also within the recommended three-to-five word limit which is ideal for open rates and engagement.
To top it off, almost every word in this subject line is an attention-grabbing power word: surprise, profitable, and unicorn.
Takeaway: Keep your subject lines five words or less. Use interesting power words.
12. “Have you seen this weird picture?” - The Fix Chiropractic
How can you resist opening this email? Questions are a great choice for engaging subscribers because they tickle your sense of curiosity.
Keep in mind that your body copy has to live up to the hype. If it doesn’t, your email will quickly morph into clickbait. Fortunately, The Fix Chiropractic provides an interesting picture along with an educational explanation to keep readers hooked.
Takeaway: Ask an interesting question and follow up with an equally interesting answer inside.
Sending a re-engagement campaign isn’t easy for marketers in any industry. You want to boost subscriber engagement, but you also don’t want to seem desperate. The best strategy is to find some way to add value to your subscribers’ lives. Keep the following tips in mind when you craft your subject lines.
Get to the point
Make an offer they can’t refuse
Let them know you care
If they still don’t open your engagement campaigns, it may be time to figure out whether or not to end things for good. Don’t beat yourself up—people change their email addresses and abandon accounts all the time. Maybe it’s not you, it’s them.
Do you need some help writing engaging copy that entices your inactive readers to take action? Check out this blog post with examples to get started.
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