Marketing Automation Platform  

6 Easy ways to win back customers with an email

  • On 05/07/2019

It happens to all of us; every once in a blue moon, some email subscribers become inactive. There’s nothing wrong with that and this is something every business experiences occasionally. However, just because some customers become inactive, it doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. There are some easy ways in which you can recapture their attention with targeted, personalized (how we like to call them) win-back email campaigns.

Why should you focus on winning back your inactive customers?

The answer to this is rather simple; it’s a lot easier to convince someone that bought something from you to buy again than convincing someone who never bought anything from you to buy something for the first time. Are you wondering what should you say in those messages and how to get your customer’s attention? Here are a few tips to help you create effective win-back email campaigns.

1.   An offer they can’t refuse

win-back email

One advantage of this approach is you already have some information about your past customers and you know what might interest them and what might not. For example, if someone placed more orders in the past, that means they are frequent buyers of that product, whether they buy it from you or someone else. Knowing this, you can offer them free shipping or a discount on bulk purchase. Additionally, you can also try to use a sense of urgency. Try encouraging your customers sooner by adding deadlines to the deal. Nothing can wake up an inactive subscriber like a good discount offer.

2.   Try creating a “discount ladder”

The first approach mentioned here is effective but the problem with it is that you’re offering all of your customers a hefty discount regardless of the actual discount that you would need to offer to get them back. The solution to this is the so-called “discount ladder”. This is a system that connects the magnitude of the discount to the likelihood that the customer will NEVER come back. To put it into practice, this means starting with a smaller discount that keeps increasing over the course of the next few campaigns.

For example, you start by sending your inactive customers a 10% discount. In the next couple of weeks, some of them will use that discount and can be removed from the group of inactive customers. After this, you can keep targeting the ones that remained passive by sending an offer of 15%, etc. This “ladder” works because customers go through phases. In the beginning, they’re engaged with your emails but as time passes by, they get into the apathetic phase. This is followed by the detached stage where they no longer care at all. Your inactive customers will be somewhere in between the last two groups but you can’t know who belongs to which group. The answer to that question lies in the discount ladder.

3.   Get personal

tabellarius work

Don’t forget that you already have some kind of information about your past customers. Use it wisely. For example, take a look at products from their purchasing history and send them offers about similar, related, or complementary products. It’s a great way to nudge your sleepy customers and motivate them to make another purchase.

Another approach you might use is reconnecting with your customers by sending them a special offer for their birthday, email sign up anniversary or some other special day. Whether that’s a nice discount, a gift card or even a mere congratulations email, your customers will probably appreciate it.

4.   Offer a free gift for returning customers

Talking about getting personal, it doesn’t get better than offering a free gift for returning customers. Nothing can incentivize a customer come back like a freebie. It might even cost you less than a discount but (sometimes) it’s even more effective.

5.   Use the Fear of Missing Out


The fear of missing out is one of the most powerful concepts in email marketing. If you see a customer hasn’t visited your website for a while, make sure to target them with a campaign letting them know what’s new and what are they (potentially) missing out on. This approach has proven to be especially effective when combined with a personalized email and a good discount offer.

6.   Ask customers to update their email preferences

People change as time passes by. It’s only natural for email preferences to follow that trend. If you see a group of inactive customers, send them an email asking them to update their preferences or let you know what would they like to see more often. You can’t go wrong with this approach and the probability of getting action is very high; you’ll either get your inactive customers to change their preferences or respond or they’ll unsubscribe and this will help you eliminate email addresses that are negatively impacting your open and click-through rates.

Bonus tips

Segment your list

tabellarius segmentation

Use the information you have about your customer as much as you can. If you know which ones of your customers aren’t happy, target them with a second-chance email. Alternatively, if you don’t know why some of your subscribers are becoming passive, try to target them with some of the approaches explained above.

Use a strong subject line

No matter how good your offer is, it won’t get opened unless the subject line is appealing. Don’t forget that these customers haven’t been opening your emails for some time and you’ll need a compelling subject line to change that. Make it short, clear, relevant, and personal. Here are a few examples:

What did we do wrong?

Let’s catch up?

Where have you been?

We miss you!

Is this goodbye?

Was it something we said?

Experiment with your content

Having fresh, relevant content is one of the best ways to prevent your customers from turning inactive in the first place. In order to find the right formula, it’s important to experiment with different types of content and analyze the results, thus learning what kind of content do your subscribers like the most. Send promotional offers, run newsletters, consider starting a company blog, run an educational drip campaign about something your customers might be interested in, etc.

Finally, don’t panic when customers turn inactive or even unsubscribe. If there is a chance to get them back, you’ll certainly do that if you apply some of these techniques in the right way.



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