Where did the love go?
You had a good thing going—for weeks, months, or even years.
But now, they’re nowhere to be found.
Not in your customer database.
Not in your monthly recurring revenue report.
Maybe not even on your email list.
You might never find out exactly why a customer churned—but that shouldn’t stop you from making an effort to win them back with a re-engagement campaign. Personally, I’ve seen the right messaging and marketing tactics double the average reactivation rate.
And by adding one extra step—a step that most digital marketers neglect—I bet you can do even better.
But first, if you’re just starting to add re-engagement to your marketing strategy, let’s look at some quick best practices.
Automated Win-Back Campaigns: The Basics
If you’re using a good marketing automation system, you should be able to respond to signs of disengagement pretty quickly.
In some businesses, churn is really obvious: a customer cancels their subscription or deletes their account.
In others, you have to make a judgment call.
Has someone effectively churned if they haven’t bought anything in six months? If they haven’t opened your last 12 emails? If they haven’t logged in within the past 30 days? (Hoping that they don’t notice and you can keep billing their card doesn’t count as a growth hack, by the way.)
Once you have a working definition of customer disengagement, you’ll want to set up automation rules or workflows to identify those defecting customers.
And then it’s time to win them back. Rather than simply begging them to return, consider offering:
- An exclusive dollars-off discount if they make another purchase within the next week
- A free add-on product or service with their next purchase
- A heads up about different product or pricing options that might fit their needs better, like this example from Spotify:
One outreach effort is better than none, but consider planning a campaign of several messages spaced out over several months. A 2014 study of win-back email campaigns from Return Path found that 25% of inactive customers continued to read emails 300 days after the initial win-back message was sent—even though the initial win-back message averaged only a 12% open rate.
How to Take Your Win-Back Campaign to the Next Level
Email win-back campaigns have one obvious flaw: they assume that inactive customers are still active email subscribers.
And some are. But others have unsubscribed. Or they’re marking your emails as spam. Or they’re no longer using the account they signed up with—as The Radicati Group’s 2017–2021 email forecast notes, a majority of users maintain multiple email accounts.