You’ve committed time and effort to craft an impactful email marketing campaign. Yet, the response hasn’t lived up to your expectations. Now, you’re thinking of resending emails to non-openers, but you’re not sure if this solution is worth the effort.

In short, yes: this is probably worth your while. Your target clients and customers are receptive to marketing messages if they’re sent under the right circumstances. 

This was clear in a recent email marketing trends report from TechnologyAdvice, which suggests that “the majority of American adults are open to receiving emails from businesses.” However, most readers are discerning about which emails they open.

According to this survey, most people read at least some of the emails they receive, but only 12.8 percent read more than half of them. With stats like these, you might feel discouraged about constantly crafting emails that so many respondents won’t open. With resends, however, that can change.

Keep reading to learn how resends work and when they’re worth a try.

Why should you resend unopened emails?

It’s perfectly normal for a significant share of emails to go unread. Marketing guru Neil Patel highlights several examples of businesses that have struggled with open rates around 20 percent or lower. In an especially notable case study, a company with a 20 percent open rate boosted this stat to over 29 percent simply by adjusting the subject line and resending it to those who previously didn’t engage.

You’re not alone if you’re skeptical about resending unopened emails. This reluctance is perfectly natural, as you’ve been continually reminded of the need to engage readers with fresh and original content. 

In reality, however, resent emails can streamline your marketing efforts without boring or bombarding readers. They also provide an ideal opportunity to test different subject lines without forcing you to expend extra effort on new content. 

If you’re worried about bothering recipients, remember: automation helps you avoid sending contacts the same emails on multiple occasions. As such, you can take confidence in knowing that those who open resends will view the recycled content with fresh eyes. 

How to resend an email campaign

Resending is one of the best-kept secrets of today’s most efficient email marketing campaigns. Despite this, you might initially feel nervous about reusing content. 

As you proceed, remember: the goal is to work smart, not hard. Follow these simple steps to make the most of this opportunity. 

1. Only resend select emails

While it’s possible to automate the process so that all emails are resent regardless of content, this quantity-over-quality approach could make your emails feel spammy. 

This strategy is a lot less effective if it’s applied consistently across all types of messages. Instead, limit resending to the most impactful emails.

Struggling to determine which emails qualify? Instead of worrying about one-time clicks or opens, consider any email’s long-term implications. Which are most likely to build a powerful connection with your target market? 

For example: If you want to build a deeper connection with qualified leads, a resend involving a free ebook or webinar might produce more goodwill than one advertising the latest newsletter or sale. Ultimately, it all comes down to what your contacts crave and how you satisfy those cravings.  

2. Wait several days before resending emails

Once you’ve determined which emails to resend, you’ll need to optimize the timing. When you resend an email, it may have even more influence than the content it contains.

Even if they didn’t open recent emails, recipients may recognize the subject line or pre-header. This is more likely if they receive the same email twice within a few days. Resend too soon, and contacts will assume that your emails are spam. They may even hit that dreaded unsubscribe button. 

Give it time, however, and few customers or clients will realize that they’ve seen certain emails twice. So, wait four days before resending. In most cases, four days will be the sweet spot.

3. Try a new subject line 

Recipients are unlikely to notice recycled content if they’ve neglected to open the original email. That said, they’ll be much quicker to spot reused subject lines. Thankfully, this is an easy fix. And it’s a great opportunity to improve on your previous subject line. If you discover that a new subject line dramatically alters open rates or other email metrics, you can use your new approach to inform future subject line selection. 

If your previous subject line wasn’t living up to its full potential, keep these considerations in mind when resending emails:

  • Keep it short and sweet. Aim for a maximum of seven words. If you’re improving on a previous subject line, try to cut back by at least a few words or characters. 
  • Skip the sales-y language. Avoid language that comes across as overtly promotional. Phrases like “buy now” do not belong in the subject line. Be wary of all caps and numerous exclamation marks, as these are also associated with spam.
  • Use humor. Depending on your target audience, humor could build enthusiasm among otherwise skeptical readers. It may also reinforce your brand’s perception as lighthearted or relatable.
  • Try open-ended questions. If your previous subject line failed to pique readers’ curiosity, your approach may not have been interactive enough. A simple question may entice readers to open the resent email. 
  • Use recommendation tools. It takes a lot of inspiration to produce engaging subject lines continually. Thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone. Subject line recommendation (or generation) tools provide excellent ideas to adjust your subject lines to better reflect your audience and email content. 

While your new subject line should be different from its predecessor, it still needs to reflect the tone and purpose of your original email. If you’re not sure which types of subject lines will be most effective, use A/B testing to gather insight into your contacts’ preferences.

4. Decide whether you need to adjust the pre-header

If you alter the subject line, it may be worth your while also to switch the pre-header. This is the text that immediately follows the subject line. As with the adjusted subject line, the new pre-header could make the intro to your re-sent email feel fresh. 

Both intro elements should be punchy and succinct. However, pre-headers can be given a little extra leeway. These may be as long as 250 characters but tend to be more successful when they remain under 90 characters and ten words.

The pre-header should be consistent with the new subject line’s style and existing email content. This can be a tough balance to strike. Together, however, they should convince readers to get involved by opening your emails and following through on your calls to action. 

A new pre-header isn’t always necessary and may not be available if you automate the process. This should only be changed if your new subject line is substantially different and causes the original pre-header to seem off. 

5. Automate the process

Resending emails doesn’t have to be time-intensive. Once you discern what needs to be changed, use automation to make the sending quick and easy. 

With email automation, you can prompt certain emails to automatically resend when specific types of recipients don’t open them. 

With automated resends, you can segment your list to determine exactly who you want to receive emails on the second go-around. Furthermore, you can schedule strategically, so contacts don’t see resent emails too soon. 

Resend automation could save you the effort of constantly analyzing who should be receiving these emails. In the meantime, you can continue to gather insights about which resends have the greatest impact and make adjustments as needed.

6. Never resend emails more than once

Success in resending is all about knowing what you can get away with — and when you should back off. This means adopting a strict policy of resending any given email only once.

A single resend is unlikely to bother most recipients, especially if they neglected to open the original version of the email. Keep sending the same email, however, and your campaign is more likely to be perceived as spam.

If readers fail to open the same email on two separate occasions, chances are they’ll continue to shy away after the third. That time and effort would be better dedicated to crafting new, more effective content. As experts from Forbes point out, this content should align with overarching campaign strategies to create a cohesive marketing initiative.

Subtlety should be the ultimate goal of any resend campaign. To accomplish this, limit resend frequency and aim for a policy of quality over quantity.

What about resending to everyone on my email list?

We’ve answered the what, when, and how of email resends, but a strategic approach is just as essential when determining who should receive these emails on the second try.

Resends should never involve your entire email list. Resending to everyone could quickly backfire or confuse those recipients who’ve already opened your initial email.

If you want to send another email out to everyone on your list, make it a reminder email and be clear that it’s a follow-up to the original. This will help clarify things for the original openers as well as potentially induce FOMO in the original non-openers, who may then read this email just to find out what’s so important that you reminded everyone about it. Again, however, make sure to use this tactic sparingly and only for the most important email campaigns. Otherwise, no one will feel like they’re missing out, and you’ll likely end up in the spam folder

What to do if people still aren’t opening your email

Resending emails can make your marketing workflow more efficient, but this strategy won’t make up for a lackluster campaign. It needs to be accompanied by strategic improvements to other aspects of your marketing initiative. 

For example, it’s possible that email content needs to be more personalized to readers or feel more authentic to your brand. Resends might help a bit in the short term, but the changes will need to go deeper if you desire genuine, long-term improvements.

If open rates are consistently low and re-sent emails make little difference, it’s time to rethink your approach. These suggestions may help:

A/B test subject lines 

As we discussed earlier, strong subject lines and pre-headers can make all the difference as you strive to pique readers’ interest. 

Follow these best practices to ensure that your A/B tests produce accurate and actionable feedback:

  • Analyze the original subject line. Before proceeding with A/B testing, reflect on what is problematic about the original subject line. Does it need to be shorter or more engaging? Is it too sales-y? Define the problem and then strive to correct it with the new, A/B tested subject line before resending emails. 
  • Draft two different subject lines. Every A/B test begins with distinctive subject lines that hold some obvious difference. One subject line will be sent to half of the selected contacts, with the remaining receiving the second option. 
  • Select test contacts. Now, it’s time to decide who will receive your test emails. A larger group of contacts will give you more accurate insight into the efficacy of your subject lines. When possible, strive for at least 1,000 contacts. 
  • Wait for a declared winner. Before the A/B test begins, select a period of time to wait for results. You can also decide whether to begin the test immediately or to schedule it for the future. As soon as the test period ends, you’ll learn which subject line produced the best response.
  • Resend the winner to the rest of your email list. After the test is complete, the email with the winning subject line can be sent to contacts not included in the test population. 

Confirm that your content resonates with readers

If you’re not confident that readers are interested in your email content, it’s time to reach out and learn what they think of your messages and where they believe improvements are needed. 

The easiest way to gather feedback? Send a survey via email. Use online survey tools, which can be embedded within future marketing messages. Craft questions that delve into the types of emails your contacts hope to receive.

The Springfield Thunderbirds minor league hockey team gathers feedback with an easy-to-find survey and a promise of a quick process.

Keep each survey short and easy to navigate, ideally with simple multiple-choice queries or sliding scales. As results arrive, look closely at both individual responses and general trends. Do you notice any patterns? 

Based on survey results, if you decide that your content needs adjusting, be sure to A/B test the new emails to determine whether they have the desired impact. 

Monitor other metrics

Open rates only tell part of the story. Other metrics also deserve attention. Some may indicate your emails’ success more than open rates alone. 

Your goal when resending emails isn’t exclusive to readers opening your emails but rather to convince readers to take action. Open rates could help you determine if you’ve succeeded with that critical first step, but they won’t necessarily produce a strong return on investment (ROI). 

What’s more, open rates aren’t all that accurate anymore. This shift was largely driven by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), which gives users extensive oversight regarding when or whether they receive marketing emails.

Under the new MPP system, Apple pre-loads email data, even when users haven’t opened messages. As such, it’s possible to see open rates increase dramatically — but these altered metrics might not reflect actual opens.

With these caveats in mind, it’s time to expand your analysis and seek additional sources of information. 

Instead of focusing exclusively on open rates, look closely at the key metrics highlighted below. These should provide a more accurate assessment of your email campaign:

1. Clicks and click-through rates

While clicks and click-through rates technically represent separate metrics, they are closely linked. 

Measuring clicks simply means determining how often clicks occur within an email. For example, readers may click links to landing pages or social media platforms. Meanwhile, click-through rates determine what percentage of email recipients actually click through to your site. 

Don’t forget your click-to-open rate, which references how many contacts open a message and click on a link within that email. This integrates takeaways from multiple metrics and can be a solid answer to the opens vs clicks debate.

2. Conversion rate

Getting email recipients to your website is far from the final step in the sales funnel. Your email’s content can also influence how leads behave once they arrive at your site. 

Conversion rates are by far the most useful metric for measuring this. This rate references how many recipients complete a specific action. With ecommerce marketing, the goal typically is to drive purchases. Other conversion metrics may measure event RSVPs or completed surveys. 

3. Bounces and successful deliveries

The term ‘bounce’ refers to all the people who do not receive emails you’ve sent. Various issues, such as incorrect email addresses or strong filters, can prompt bounces.

Successful deliveries occur when recipients receive emails in their inboxes as intended. This doesn’t mean they’ll open your emails — but they’ll at least have the opportunity to do so if desired.

While it seems obvious, it bears repeating: open rates will remain low if intended recipients never actually see your emails in their inboxes. This may be a greater issue than you realize, but you won’t know until you examine bounce rates and successful deliveries.

Common practice is to aim for a bounce rate of 2 percent or lower.

And, as Search Engine Journal points out, it’s just as important to keep an eye on your website’s bounce rate, especially if the goal of your resend is to get readers to convert on a landing page.

Increase engagement with strategic email resends

It’s not always necessary to create new email campaigns from scratch. By properly resending emails to non-openers, you can improve conversions while boosting marketing efficiency. This could produce an impressive ROI. 

If your non-open rate is higher than you’d like, strategic resending can make a world of difference. So, take full advantage of this impactful and easy-to-adopt solution by outlining your resend strategy today. Be sure to include A/B testing some new subject lines, and you’ll likely be amazed at how quickly your open rates, click-throughs, and conversions improve.