How to create a sunset flow

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Learn how to set up a sunset flow that is designed to phase out customers who are no longer engaging with your brand. You can use this flow as a last-ditch effort to win back their business, and then delete or suppress anyone who is not responsive. This will help you maintain a clean list and prevent you from sending to unengaged subscribers and possibly harming your deliverability.

When to sunset subscribers

Continually sending emails to subscribers who never open or click them signals to email providers (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) that you are not a reputable sender. Eventually, these providers will begin placing your emails in the spam folder. To avoid this, you must regularly clean your lists. Before giving up on these contacts completely, try to re-engage them using a winback flow and then offer them a last chance to remain a subscriber via a Sunset flow.

Before creating a sunset flow, set up a winback flow, which attempts to draw lapsed customers back in. Typically, this flow offers promotions and high-quality content to grab the reader’s interest as well as a prominent unsubscribe/manage preferences link. For more details, check out this Guide to Creating a Winback Flow.

Unlike with a winback flow, which typically targets previous customers only, a sunset flow is often sent to any unengaged subscriber — i.e., someone who has signed up for messages from you but hasn’t interacted with them for a certain period of time. The latter flow will offer such contacts a last chance to keep receiving your messages. Setting up your sunset segment and flow also makes it simple to clean your list of anyone who is no longer interacting with your brand.

For this flow, you need to know who is considered “inactive” for your business. This largely depends on your sending schedule. If you send daily, three months of inactivity is a good indicator that someone is unengaged, while six months is better if you’re a monthly sender.

Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), which was released with iOS15 and updates to other Apple devices, may lead to inflated open rates due to changes in how we receive open rate data.

If you are triggering flows off of opens themselves, we suggest creating a custom report that includes an MPP property to review these affected opens. You can also identify these opens in your individual subscriber segments.

Set up a sunset segment

A sunset flow is triggered by being added to a particular segment. Your segment should be defined by the following engagement criteria:

Example of a sunset segment that checks if a profile has not opened and has not clicked an email in the last 90 days

These conditions are designed for those who send daily to their subscribers. If you don't send every day, extend the timeframe from 90 days to a larger number, like 180 days.

If you have a winback flow, you need to add another condition to this segment. However, which condition you use depends on whether you want people to use the winback and sunset flows together or separately. If you want to use them together, you must make sure recipients have time to completely go through the winback flow before they enter the sunset flow. In addition, add a condition to include only those who have received the last message in the winback flow.

Example winback segment with the added definition 'Received Email at least once over all time where Flow equals Winback'

Alternatively, you could exclude those who have entered the winback flow from receiving the sunset flow. In this case, add an AND connector and specify that someone has received a winback flow email zero times over all time.  

Example winback segment with the added definition 'Received Email zero times over all time where Flow equals Winback'

By capturing people who have engaged in the past, but not recently, you'll be able to weed out anyone who is totally unengaged and unlikely to respond to your content. Anyone who has been on your newsletter list for more than 90 days and has never opened or clicked an email should simply be suppressed. They do not need to go through a Sunset flow since they are highly unlikely to respond and sending more emails to them may negatively impact your deliverability.

You may want to add an OR connector to the segment outlined above that includes people who have placed an order at least once over all time. This makes the segment more similar to a winback flow, and if you add this condition, consider combining the two flows into a single re-engagement flow.

Example winback segment with the added definition 'Placed Order at least once over all time'

Set up a sunset flow

After setting up your sunset segment, you will need to build a flow that is triggered by being added to your sunset segment. We recommend using a pre-built sunset flow from the flows library.

  1. Navigate to the Flows tab.
  2. Click Create Flow to view the flows library.
  3. In the searchbar, search for "sunset" to see Klaviyo's pre-built sunset flow.
  4. Click on the pre-built "sunset unengaged subscribers" flow.
  5. In the trigger dropdown, select your sunset segment.
  6. Click Create Flow at the bottom on the modal.
  7. Customize the message content to match your brand.
Create a sunset flow from scratch

If you'd prefer to create a flow from scratch:

  1. Navigate to the Flows tab.
  2. Click Create Flow.
  3. Click Create From Scratch in the top right.
  4. Name your flow and click Create Flow.
  5. In the Trigger Setup sidebar, click Segment.
  6. In the dropdown, select your sunset segment.
  7. Add flow filters to exclude anyone who opens or clicks an email since starting the flow. Anyone who engages your sunset email (or any other email you send them while they're in the flow) will automatically be removed from the flow and will not be tagged for suppression. See the screenshot below for reference.Sunset flow with trigger filters to check that a profile has not opened an email and has not clicked an email since starting the flow
  8. Add one to three emails that prompt customers to unsubscribe if they are no longer interested in receiving emails from you. It is best to limit this flow to be no more than three emails because you don’t want to repeatedly contact people who are unengaged, since this can hurt your deliverability. Anyone who unsubscribes will be suppressed automatically, with no further action needed on your (or their) part.
  9. After the last email, drag in a short time delay to give recipients a grace period to open or click the email. Here, the grace period is three days, assuming a daily sending frequency. If you send less regularly, push the grace period to be a longer time period, such as 7–10 days.Example of a time delay set for 1 day after the flow trigger
  10. Drag in an update profile property flow action. This will tag those who do not engage with the email and thus are passively indicating that they would like to unsubscribe.
  11. Configure the tag to specify that these contacts should be suppressed. You can do this by creating a new boolean profile property where the value "Suppress" is "True."Example of an update profile property action at the end of the flow which sets Unengaged property to True

Thanks to the flow filters, anyone who opens or clicks an email will exit the flow before this action, and the tag will not be added to their profile.

Once unengaged subscribers are tagged as Suppress = True, they will exit the flow.

Flow content best practices

We recommend using plain text and being as personal as you can in the email by using the {{ first_name }} tag and a from address like "Marissa from Klaviyo." Include content about any new products that have been released since they've become unengaged and consider offering a discount to entice them to buy. 

You will want to include prominent unsubscribe and manage preferences links, in case subscribers want to update their settings rather than unsubscribe completely. 

Message content editor with a message containing language appropriate for a sunset email

In the email(s), give recipients the option to browse your site or otherwise interact with you if they do want to remain subscribed. Below is an example from Princess Awesome.

Example sunset email with links for customers to set their email preferences

In addition, indicate in the email subject line that you will say goodbye to these subscribers if they continue to not engage (e.g., “Is it time to say goodbye?” or “We miss you already”). For instance, the email below from Framebridge has the subject line: “Goodbyes are hard…”

Example sunset email with a link that a customer can click to keep them on the subscribe list

Create a suppression segment

Create a new segment that leverages the tag you give to unengaged subscribers who go through your sunset flow and have not opened or clicked a message lately: 

  • Properties about someone > Suppress equals true AND
  • What someone has done (or not done) > Opened email zero times in the last 90 days AND
  • What someone has done (or not done) > Clicked email zero times in the last 90 days

Example of an unengaged segment that checks to see if a profile has Unengaged property set to true

You will need to monitor and periodically suppress this segmentDo so whenever you perform your regular list cleaning at least two to three times a year is recommended. To do this:

  1. Click the Manage Segment dropdown.
  2. Select Export Segment to CSV. The Manage Segment dropdown found at the top right of a segment
  3. Navigate to the Profiles tab.
  4. In the upper right-hand corner, click Suppressed Profiles.
  5. Click Upload File to upload this CSV file.  The suppression list where profiles can be added or exported
  6. You can also exclude this segment from all of your campaigns in the interim to ensure that you don't email anyone who is not engaged.

Additional resources

Read about similar flows in the Klaviyo Help Center:

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