Use This Simple Trick To Re-Engage With All Your Inactive Email Subscribers

You’ve worked hard to build that email list and you’re able to convert a lot of users into paying customers, but one of the hardest things to do is to keep them engaged. The truth is that most people tend to stop checking your emails regardless on how many offers you send them. Whether you believe it or not, your contact database is full of leads who are ready to get back in touch with you. A big email list means nothing if half of your subscribers are inactive.

According to HubSpot, the average email marketing list loses 22.5 percent of its contacts every year. So what can we do about it? In this guide, I’ll be sharing a simple trick that you can use that will help you re-engage your list of inactive subscribers.


intercom slipping away

This is the hard and tedious part of re-engaging with your email list of inactive subscribers. You have segment out the users on your list that haven’t been active. There isn’t a “correct” way to do this. Every company does it differently depending on your product.

Let’s say you’re a SaaS company and you’re using Intercom. You can segment out your list based on their activeness. Intercom has a segment for users that are “slipping away”. You want to tag the users that are slipping away and export a list for your re-engagement email campaign.

If you have a huge email list built within Aweber/MailChimp or another email service provider, you might want to look at the date that they’ve subscribed to the list. There are a couple ways you can segment your list of inactive subscribers if you’re using a service like MailChimp.

One of the best ways would be segmenting your list by campaign activity. When you segment by campaign activity, you identify subscribers who received recent campaigns but didn’t engage with them. You can choose to show subscribers who didn’t open or click all of the last five campaigns, any of the last five campaigns, or all recent campaigns. For a detailed guide on how to do it within MailChimp, check out this article.

Most email service provider platforms will have a way for you to create a new list based on the segments that you tagged your subscribers as. Regardless of the method you choose, just make sure you create a new list of inactive subscribers so that you can start the re-engagement campaign.

The 9-Word Email Method

Perfect! Now that you’ve set up your list of inactive subscribers, it’s time to re-engage with them. In this guide, we’ll be using the 9-word email method. The 9-word email is a fast and easy way to re-engage your email list of inactive subscribers while also testing the quality of your contact database. It is a quick and effective tactic for turning your list of inactive email subscribers into active ones again!

The process is quite simple and it works like a charm. Here’s how it works. You’re going to send a simple email to them that looks something like this:

  • Are you still looking for a customer feedback tool?
  • Are you still looking to convert more paying users?
  • Are you still looking to improve your onboarding experience?
  • Are you looking for a better way to re-engage your leads?

This does not need to necessary 9 words. It can be 8 or it can be 10, but 9 words is the rule of thumb. The whole goal of this “9 Word Email” tactic is to re-engage with your user with the simplest way possible.

9 word email

In our case, we generated this sim9-word email by using our own one-click survey feature. The whole process took me less than 2 minutes to set up. All I did was log into YesInsights and created a regular survey. I also used our “auto follow up” feature, which I’ll be explaining a little later in the article. After creating the survey, I just simply paste the survey into my email service and YesInsights will track all the responses as well as their email address and name. If you’re using YesInsights, you can embed this within Intercom, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Convertkit, Drip, and over 30 more!

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You can use this for any type of business you are running. It doesn’t matter if it’s an e-commerce business, SaaS product, or digital products. If you’re running an e-commerce site, make sure you apply this to all your emails that you send out for everyone that abandon your cart.

Right after the user answers a survey, I trigger an automatic follow up email offering them a discount code to thank them for answering my survey. Here’s how the email look:


This creates what I call a “Double win”. I was able to successfully re-engage with the lead as well as offer him a free discount. This makes the customer feel good and they’ll be more willing to apply the discount code. You can get creative with this by triggering a free eBook or a referral code for them to refer their friends to your platform.

Why does this work?

The reason the 9-word email works is because it’s short, personal, and expects a reply. It jumps right to the decision making step for your recipient by honing in on your ultimate value proposition.

Another reason this works so well is because it creates curiosity for your prospects. They wonder why you are asking and this and if they are still remotely interested in what you have to offer there is a good chance they will reply. Psychology comes a long way 😀

Another strong reason why this works is that it is a one-click survey that usually receives 4-6x higher response rate compared to traditional long form surveys.

When Kapost sent a survey to 23,310 marketers, only 1.1% of people completed it.


That’s a horribly low response rate, but it’s actually very common. Most surveys are blasted to everyone on a huge list with little context. Customers don’t care enough to respond.

There are 3 big advantages of using inline email surveys:

  1. It feels like a natural part of your email content
  2. Customers can respond painlessly with one click
  3. You don’t have to send extra emails asking leads to take a survey

It’s literally the most scalable, yet nonintrusive way to get customer intel.

And if you ask the right questions, you can actually get people to recommend your product even if they never convert to a paid customer. It’s very powerful.

Take one of our customers Ben as an example. He runs a car tuning education site that teaches car enthusiasts how to tune their vehicles. Originally Ben had a list of 40,000 inactive subscribers. After using this simple trick, Ben was able to re-engage 10,000 of them. That is huge! Here’s the exact survey that Ben used in his funnel to re-engage his inactive subscribers:

ben yesinsights

It’s so simple that it works!

Want another case study of this 9-word email trick? Check out this podcast interview on how a woman received 750 responses after emailing 1,200 people on an inactive list (a 62.5% response rate!). To drive home the point, a listener sent the 9-word email question to his audience and reported back:

Okay so I took the 9-word email question, sent it out to my main market. I started freaking out when I received 300 responses before the show was over. I had failed to think the process all the way through. I hadn’t thought about what they hell I was going to say to them when they responded. lol. Wasn’t expecting that quick of a response. Especially since I sent the message out on Thursday morning at 1:10am EST. Thanks for the info.

This is the most effective 9 words you’ll send!

But I’m afraid to send an email

A lot of people tell me that they don’t want to bug their customers with questions, but you shouldn’t fear this.

When you send this email 3 possible things can happen:

  1. They don’t respond – Which is fine! At least you tried.
  2. They reply and say no or not interested – You might be able to reply to them to figure out why they’re not interested and narrow down their pain point some more.
  3. They say Yes I’m interested – Jackpot? Double win!

A key when sending emails to prospects is to take things slowly and not try to force everything in at once. This 9-word email trick keeps things simple and it’s worth a try. Just make sure that you track all your results and talk to your customers as much as possible.

I hope this article helps! 🙂

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John is the Marketing Lead at YesInsights. John is motivated by a desire to make other's lives easier, particularly through digital means. He is fascinated by seeing other businesses grow, and that's how John landed at YesInsights.

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