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.
If email is the only tool you have to win back customers, you’re going to lose a lot of customers.
So what can you do if you no longer have access to a customer’s inbox?
You can show up in their mailbox.
Remember that Spotify win-back email up above?
Pretend I never got it. It’s sitting in my Promotions folder inside an old email account I never remember to check and have forgotten the password to.
But now pretend that Spotify’s automation platform has been waiting for me to act on that email—and if I don’t, it will automatically send out a postcard with a great offer. Maybe even the same offer I didn’t receive via email, swiftly turned into a postcard using direct mail software like Inkit.
And if I still don’t act on the win-back offer?
Even now, there’s hope. In this case, the win-back campaign is centered around a family plan. So say I toss the postcard on my mail table and leave it there—but my partner thinks it’s interesting and sticks it on the fridge, and then my kid sees it and starts bugging me to try it so she can have her own daily Spotify mix, uncontaminated by my old-person musical taste.
Adding just one automated postcard to the re-engagement sequence multiplies the company’s chances to win me back.
Imagine what you could do to your churn rate if you paired each re-engagement message with a piece of direct mail.
What You’ll Need to Add Direct Mail to Your Re-engagement Sequence
Interested in trying it for yourself? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Mailing addresses for your inactive customers (duh)
- A way to routinely identify who’s become inactive, ideally through a marketing automation platform like HubSpot
- Direct-mail software that integrates with your automation platform, like Inkit
While automation will make everything easier, you can upload a CSV file of inactive customers to Inkit yourself and launch your postcard re-engagement campaign from there. Start with a small initial campaign, and see how your reactivation rate responds.
If it’s looking good, congratulations—you’ve got an entirely new channel to salvage customer relationships and re-earn their love.