Email Reactivation: Subject Lines and Subscriber Habits » Stellar Marketing Activity
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email reactivation 1According to, email open rates are highest in the first hour after they land in the recipients inbox. With 23.63% of all subscribers opening emails within that time. The rate declines dramatically over the next few hours, with only 4.8% of subscribers opening your email at the fourth hour after receiving it.

But what do you do about all those people who don’t open your emails at all?

Put the kettle on, make yourself a cuppa as we're going to dig deep into the wonderful world of reminder emails or reactivation emails as they're sometimes known. This is where you capture the biggest percentage of subscribers who haven’t yet clicked – the ones that often end up being the biggest percentage of actual “opens” for your email marketing campaign.

Subject Lines and Subscriber Habits

Have you got your timing right? Let’s start with cold, hard facts: According to, 38.7% of all emails are sent between 6 a.m. to noon, yet the largest number of opens actually occurs between noon and 6 p.m. After factoring in a number of variables, concluded that the best time to send your emails is actually around 9 a.m. in the morning or in the early afternoon.

You also have to be aware of time zones, especially if you're in the UK. subscribers who have their email delivered to their phone tend to get a little unhappy when your email arrives in their mobile inbox at 5am. You can solve this by using an autoresponder that is able to send your messages at the recipients local time.  For example, GetResponse has a “Time Travel” feature to make sure subscribers all over the world receive your email at the right time. No more 5am email pings.

But what’s really happening at the other end of that email you just sent – at your subscriber’s house?

People aren’t statistics, shocking I know, but the same things that stop you opening an email minutes after it arrives in your inbox… Well, they're the exact same reasons your subscriber doesn't. They don’t open your email for a multitude of reasons – everything from the dog just threw up to they have to leave for a dentist’s appointment in fifteen minutes.

So if only one quarter of your subscribers opens your emails – and that’s actually an idealistic figure, based on all conditions being right and your emails performing powerfully (most people would tell you they have more like a 2-7% open rate), what do you do with the other 75+ per cent?

And what about subscribers who opened your email, glanced at it and thought: “I’ll get back to that later”?

That’s where your Reminder emails come in.

You need to do the following things, when you write Reminder emails:

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Let people know they only have a finite amount of time to respond
  • Let them know clearly:
    • Who the email is coming from
    • What it’s about

Fortunately, it’s extremely simple to do this. For starters, begin your subject line with the word “Reminder” or “Courtesy Reminder”.

The word “reminder” in itself creates a sense of urgency. The natural tendency of most people is to read a subject line beginning with the word “Reminder” and say to themselves: “Oops, I’d better read this. It might be something important” or “Better check it out, it’s my last chance and I don’t want to kick myself later.”

What most people miss is that the word “reminder” is up-front  and direct.

People seeing a reminder know they are going to be presented with a simple fact and have to make a decision.

  • It’s not going to be spam
  • It’s not going to be a long, convoluted email to wade through
  • It’s not going to turn into a dangerous distraction and suck time away
  • It’s not going to annoy them by being misleading

It’s the sender is being helpful – he or she is simply sending a reminder.

Taking Subject Lines and Subscriber Habits to the Next Level

That’s a great start – but you can make your Subject Lines even better. Put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes. What does she think when she gets your email?

That all depends how you’ve worded it:

  • If you’ve written “1 hour till your webinar” – you’ve created a 15% chance your subscriber might have a look to see which webinar she’s forgotten
  • If you’ve written “1 hour till your `Income Tax for Freelance Writers’ Webinar – you’ve created a 70% chance that freelance writers will open your email – even if they are in the middle of something else

Don’t get me wrong: Even a generic Subject line like “1 hour till your webinar” will likely have a significantly higher open rate than your initial email. But if you make it specific and let your subscriber know your Reminder is highly relevant to her, the open rate triples – and your actual conversions and click-throughs sky-rocket too.

Let’s break down that all-important subject line into “must-have” components. Keep in mind that every component you include increases your chances of having your email opened by a highly-motivated, well-aligned reader.

Let’s look at this subject line:

email reactivation 1

Now let’s break it down into its individual components.

 email reactivation 2

  1. It starts off by instantly telling the reader what it is (a reminder).
  2. One glance tells the reader exactly what they’re in danger of missing (the event – and what type of event it is)
  3. It concludes by letting them know how much time they have left before the opportunity is gone (“5 p.m. EST today”).

Finally, note how the sender creates even more incentive to open the email by not just giving the time, but also:

  • The time zone – so the reader can instantly glance at the time and know whether or not she has missed the event already, or if there is still time to register
  • Immediacy jog – that it is immediate: I.e. “today”

It might seem counter-productive to add the time zone, eliminating the need for the reader to open the email, but you will actually create more conversions (and goodwill) by including the time zone in your subject line. Those of us in Europe will love you that little bit more for your consideration.

Look for opportunities in all your emails to increase urgency while giving your subscriber the exact information she needs and you'll find your emails start to perform better than before.

Like this? Then you will love my email marketing challenges webinar. It's free to attend and shares with you lots of email marketing gems. Book in  now.