How to effectively re-engage inactive users for your SAAS business

| 7 Comments | 2 minutes read



The idea is simple: just ask inactive users to leave.

It could seem extreme, but in fact, it brings you several advantages:

  • keep a qualitative and engaged user base: stay away from the “garbage in, garbage out” effect
  • an opportunity to improve the service, using a customer development technique

“But the number of users will decrease!?”

These users are just noise, the total number of registered users is just a vanity metric.

An inactive user will not pay for your service, never.

So, just take them away quickly!

Is it effective?

I use this trick on TeamMood (a service to track people moods in companies), and it is pretty effective. The results so far:

  • about 55% of email opening

Email opening

  • an email response rate of about 38%
  • and an average of about 28% of re-engagement (awesome!!)


And as a positive side effect, by cleaning up the user base, you’re freeing some resources: in my case, it is less emails to send, so a few euros saved per month.

This trick is particularly effective for SAAS businesses with a freemium model, because in such case, there are many curious (aka inactive) users. So it helps to clean everything up, and to stay focused on engaged people.

This idea came to me after reading an article from D Bnonn TennantWhy Every Smart Email Marketer Should Ask Readers to Unsubscribe. While the article talks about mailing lists, it could be easily applied to any SAAS business.

Why does it work?

I’m not a psychologist, but I guess people do not want to be taken out of the party. By asking them to disable their account, they’ll take time to reconsider the offer, and if they re-engage, they know why.

The implementation details

I use Mixpanel to track user behavior, and in the case of TeamMood, I have a simple metric called “Last Mood” which is the last time a user has given his mood:

Mixpanel properties


Then I set up an automatic notification in Mixpanel, saying that I want to filter users who did not gave a mood since one month:


And here is the magic email:

Reengagement email

As you can see, there are mainly three parts in this email :

  1. The fact that the user does not use the service anymore
  2. Asking if the user want his account disabled
  3. A customer development question in order to get feedback to improve the service

I define the re-engagement as someone who opened the email, and then give his mood later.

How to apply this to your business

The steps just described explains by themselves. Just be careful of what is the definition of an inactive user in your business. The basic definition is just someone who do not connect to your service in the last month for instance, but you have to take a moment to precisely define this.

Your turn: what is your most effective re-engagement trick? Leave a comment and let me know.

Nicolas Deverge Author: Nicolas Deverge

Artisan-développeur tendance maniaque de l'organisation

Ma phrase : "T'as pensé à déplacer ton Post-It sur le Scrum board ?"
Ma définition d'ekito : "Un melting pot de personnalités et de compétences"
Mes hashtags : #agile #leanstartup #playframework #mqtt #arduino"

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  1. GReat tip Nicolas, Some courage is needed but I think that it worth the try, it is very interesting.

    Could you please let me know which tool you use for your mailing campaign?



  2. Nicolas Deverge

    Hello JB,

    The one used for the purpose of the article is Mixpanel.

  3. Pingback: La théorie de l’engagement en pratique - ekito people ekito people

  4. This actually makes sense. Since you were able to remove those inactive subscribers, when it comes to evaluating your SaaS performance you are then only evaluating the ones that are actively using it; hence a positive result. I really liked this topic of yours Nicolas. Brilliant idea. On the other hand, if in case this did not work, others may also try consulting with SaaS experts/support teams available like Lirik –

  5. Interesting idea. I’m curious what you do if the user doesn’t respond to your email? Do you take that as confirmation that they don’t want to continue subscribing and disable their account?

  6. Great post Nicolas – it’s the same principle that gets applied to mailing lists and lead databases, so why treat users any differently?

    It can be kinda demoralising ditching a whole heap of users, but that gets a lot easier when you realise they were simply incorrectly classified in the first place.

    Even then, most investors are smart enough to see vanity metrics for what they are, and it’s DAU and MAU (Daily and Monthly Active Users) that guide most valuation and financing discussions – with the operative word being active!

    Either way – your metrics, investment chances and ability to actually improve growth are all greater by following for your advice 🙂

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