Higher education

City Lit harnesses the power of automation to re-engage dormant contacts

  • avg. open rate

  • dormant contacts re-engaged


City Lit’s email database rose sharply due to increasing numbers of students and courses. It soon became clear that ‘batch and blast’ would no longer be effective; the brand was in need of highly segmented campaigns based on subject preferences.

A key challenge was to identify and distinguish between subscribers who had dropped off the radar and those who had never engaged before.


City Lit used several Dotdigital features to help achieve its goals, including program builder to trigger automated campaigns and pages and forms to build a preference center.

1.Segment: the number of unengaged contacts based on the pre-defined criteria was identified

2. Survey: segmented contacts were asked to either submit their subject preferences or take a temporary break from emails.

3. Automation: the “we miss you” campaign linked to the preference survey and was a ‘last chance’ for people to remain subscribed.

4. Engagement: contacts that had filled out the survey would stay opted in. If they provided their subject interests they’d be enrolled onto the brand’s course preferences program in conjunction with their submissions. Further afield, this would allow City Lit to use survey data, web insights and buying history to tailor emails.

5.Timeout: those wishing to take a break were enrolled onto a separate program and held there for a delayed period of time before receiving emails again.

6. Feedback: non-responders were automatically removed from the database and sent a triggered email as confirmation. Sticking to best practice, City Lit offered inactive contacts the chance to either resubscribe or provide feedback on their experience.


City Lit’s winback campaign targeted contacts classified as ‘unengaged’. Its ‘we miss you’ messages led to a healthy 30% open rate and led to over 1,500 dormant contacts being re-engaged.

About City Lit

City Lit is where London learns, the capital’s ultimate destination for inspiring daytime, evening and weekend courses for adults. The brand welcomes thousands of learners every year, offering a wide range of courses taught by expert practitioners – from one off sessions to year-long programs in areas such as performing arts, languages and business.