Email Marketing: Compliance-related re-engagement campaign messaging increases conversion 49%


A name in a database does not a customer make.

You need customers and potential customers who actually want to receive email from you. To do that with your current email list — either for legal compliance reasons, like the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), or to win-back unengaged subscribers (like CNET did) — it may make sense for your company to run a re-engagement campaign.

We recently ran a re-engagement and reconfirmation campaign for our Canadian subscribers of MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa. The challenge for me when writing these emails was finding which messaging would be most compelling to subscribers.

At MECLABS, a challenge like that is a great opportunity to run a test, and then share the results with you on the MarketingExperiments Blog to help with your own campaigns.

To the splitter!


Treatment #1. Value of subscribing to the list only

Treatment 1 offered a reminder of the value our newsletters provide before asking the recipient to continue receiving these emails:


Treatment No. 1



Treatment #2. Value plus anti-spam legislation

Treatment 2 offered a reminder of the value our newsletters provide plus mentioned CASL and explained why we were asking subscribers to reconfirm their subscription.

This treatment brings up a key point. It’s important to understand not just your messaging, but also what other messages your audience is exposed to.

We were not sending this email in a vacuum. Many other companies were sending similar re-opt-in emails as well, and we questioned if CASL backlash would hurt the performance of an email that referenced CASL:


Treatment No. 2


Treatment #3. Incentive [did not run]

We had decided not to run a treatment with an incentive for subscribing, such as a free ticket to MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 or a free MECLABS Email Messaging Online Course.

We did not want to run three treatments because we wanted to make sure the experiment reached statistical validity.

Aside from that, our goal was to keep truly engaged subscribers — the people who want to receive our newsletters about marketing case studies and experiments for the content in and of itself, not to win an incentive.

This isn’t to say that sweepstakes and contests aren’t effective. We have many case studies that show they are.

Try to consider the conversion actions you would like your subscribers to take and their motivations behind those actions. If your incentive is tightly tied to the reason they should subscribe to your email list, it may be an effective way to build a list of engaged subscribers.

If, however, you are mixing motivations, your list may be built on people who are more interested in the incentives you provide instead of your company’s email messages. An unmotivated subscriber list will be unlikely to take the conversion actions you will send them on a regular basis, which is the whole point of having an email list.





Adding in the compliance copy (Treatment 2) produced 49.82% more reconfirmations at a 99.9% level of confidence.

“I think our readers were more inclined to double opt-in when they understood why we needed them to do so,” said Beata Bordas, Marketing Manager, MECLABS. “In Treatment 1, we opened the email with a spiel about why MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments are so great, but Treatment 2 got straight to the point that CASL will prevent them from receiving our promotions if they don’t click through. I think that shows us that clarity, rather than persuasion, will ultimately get the click.”

I agree with Beata, who ran this project.

But a word of caution for your own campaigns: Mentioning CASL could have been more effective for us because our audience — savvy Canadian marketers — was likely very familiar with and interested in the legislation. A lay audience may not be as familiar with specific terminologies or care about them. You’ll only learn that by testing with your own audience.


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Subscribe to the MarketingExperiments newsletter [Receive the latest in marketing research and exclusive offers from MarketingExperiments]

Subscribe to MarketingSherpa newsletters [Receive case studies and marketing charts about email, B2B, B2C and inbound marketing]

Email Deliverability: Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list [More from the blogs]

HubSpot unsubscribe video [Winning back email recipients who choose to unsubscribe is another way to re-engage inactive subscribers on your list. Here’s a very funny video from HubSpot’s unsubscribe page that attempted to win-back email unsubscribers by having them engage with social media channels.]

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  1. Kostas Chiotis says

    Hi Daniel, I fund this really interesting. I’ve never really thought about running a re-engagement campaign before so this has given me a lot to think about!

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