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How to Bring Unengaged Contacts Back to Life with HubSpot

Written by Paige Denton

02 | 05 | 18

HubSpot  |  
7 minute read

Does this story sound familiar? A contact has been advancing through the sales and marketing funnel. Everything is looking good and you’re certain that this deal is in the bag. Then, out of the blue, the contact disappears. They’re no longer downloading your offers or opening your emails.




Or you might have a few dreaded one-time sale customers who never look at your content or products again, suddenly becoming harder to contact than the Queen of England.  

These, my fellow marketers, are unengaged, uninterested contacts. Whatever the reason is for them to become unengaged, you need to address it and win back their hearts (or preferably custom).


Create a Re-Engagement Campaign

If you’re struggling from either dilemma above, you need to create a re-engagement campaign. Write out your strategy one bullet point at a time.

  • How will you attempt to re-engage your contacts? 
  • How often will you try before you have to cut the cord and let them go? 
  • How will you actually identify an unengaged contact? 

But don’t worry, we’ll be going through the necessary steps to bring your unengaged contacts back to life with the use of HubSpot, an inbound sales and marketing platform.


Identify Unengaged Contacts

Firstly, you need to identify your unengaged contacts. HubSpot actually has a checkbox option to not send emails to contacts with low engagement (this is called greymail suppression), so HubSpot creates this list of unengaged contacts for you.


HubSpot unengaged contacts image


This is, however, based on HubSpot’s own criteria, which is that a contact has not opened or clicked any of the past 10 emails that they were sent. You can alter the criteria to fit your definition of “unengaged” if you want. Do this by manually creating a smartlist inside HubSpot.

Take a look at the contact’s profile in HubSpot as well. See if it’s just emails that they aren’t engaging with. When was the last time they filled in a form? Have they browsed one of your website pages? If they’re not engaging with email but are still active on your site, it could mean that the emails you’re sending to them are either:

  • Too frequent. 
  • Not relevant to them.
  • They might be happy to be subscribed but not interested in opening emails currently.
  • Or possibly not even reaching them. Review the bounce rate of the emails that you’re sending (The bounce rate benchmark we follow is anything below 5 percent, by the way. Anything over 5 percent can get your account shut off by some email service providers).

To find a contact's profile, head to  Contacts > Contacts > Click on the contact's name 

HubSpot test contacts page image


Determine what you class as “unengaged” and you’re ready to move onto the next step of the re-engagement strategy.


Start Segmenting Contacts

Keep track of your unengaged contacts by building smart engagement lists based on how a contact has interacted with your marketing or website. In doing so, you will be able to target your marketing to your most engaged contacts, attempt to re-engage the least engaged ones, or eventually suppress them and eventually cut the cord!

You can do this by going to Contacts > Lists


HubSpot List image


We recommend creating the following engagement list themes:

1. Email engagement

Consider creating lists based on:

  • Open rate.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Delivered and clicked by a contact.
  • The first and last dates that a contact took an email action.
  • Specific emails that contacts have engaged with.

    2. Website engagement

Consider creating lists based on:

  • A contact’s date of first and last visit.
  • Number of page views.
  • Referral source.
  • Any specific pages that a contact has viewed. 

    3. Blog engagement

Consider creating lists based on:

  • Subscribers and their preferences.
  • Date of first and last visit.
  • Referral source.
  • Blog views.
  • Any specific blog posts that a contact has viewed. 

The contact properties above should already be built into HubSpot, so all you need to do is select the property.

HubSpot Activity List Image



Now that you’ve determined who your unengaged contacts are and have segmented them into smart lists, now’s the time to try and re-engage them. You do this with the power of email.

Here’s a few ideas of re-engagement emails you could send:

Update email preferences

Offer to change the frequency of emails you send to your contacts, or even change the theme which your recipient receives. This will help your contacts who are struggling with an overloaded inbox and irrelevant content.

Incentive emails

Offer coupon codes or freebies to your unengaged contacts. Make sure the offers are relevant to your contacts, though. If they’re not, then this re-engagement email will fall flat on its face.  

Get emotional

This could be a good way to get a contact to start engaging with your brand again. A little “I miss you” can go a long way.

Give a deadline

Alternatively, give your un-engaged contacts some tough love and offer a deadline. This deadline could be for a freebie or coupon, or even asking recipients to opt into your email marketing by a certain date... or you'll "have to let them go."

Which is another great tactic - the break-up email. If a subject line stating, “This is the end of our relationship” doesn’t get them to open your email, nothing will. Inside the email itself, give them a CTA to click if they’re still interested in being subscribed and offer them a link to their subscription settings page too.

Anyone who opens it but doesn't click the CTA, deserves a second chance.

Anyone who doesn’t even open the email is dead to you and can be deleted from your database. 




Re-engagement Workflows

Consider creating re-engagement workflows instead of sending the above as stand alone emails to your recipients.

These automated workflows help nurture a lead into becoming active again, as opposed to flinging out an email fishing hook and hoping for a bite. Instead, these workflows give recipients personalised “next step” emails, creating urgency and giving more value.

Head to Automation > Workflows.

Screenshot 2018-05-16 at 14.26.24

Don’t forget about time delays. You could tarnish your hard work if you spam them too often!


Dispose of the Dead

Sometimes, for whatever reason, contacts will remain inactive after re-engagement campaigns. Don’t be afraid to delete these email addresses. It will save you a lot of time, money and hassle if you do. These dead leads add clutter to your contact database and are simply pointless being there. They also harm your sender score.

Make sure you make re-engagement campaigns a regular thing in your marketing. We advise at least once a year to achieve a neat and healthy database with an abundance of opportunity.


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