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How to win back old customers via email

Janine Popick
How to win back old customers via email Janine Popick

I'm sure you are great at what you do, but I bet at some point you lost customers to a competitor or they just vanished without so much as a "goodbye." It happens to the very best of businesses. Although companies large and small should always focus on getting new customers, we often don't think about trying to win back those who we used to do business with.

We've seen businesses who have "won back" as much as 2 percent of their clients given the proper segmentation, messaging, and great offers.

I firmly believe that having a strategy to win back former customers is important for the majority of businesses. Getting past customers back in the door can be easier and less expensive than finding new ones; after all, you've got some history with them.

Here are five ideas you can use to win those customers back using email marketing.

Get your list in order
The first step is to get a firm grasp of your customers' behavior and figure out when they stopped buying from you. If you've got your list of customer purchases in your CRM system or your e-commerce platform, run a report on all of your customers to find out the last date they've purchased. Then segment your list based on how much time has passed since their last purchase. At the most basic level, I'd suggest grouping them by those who have not purchased in the last six to 12 months, and those who have not purchased in the last 12-plus months.

Personalize your subject line
Here's where your history together can work to your advantage. Show your former customers that not only do you know them, but you miss them and want them back. Use personalization in your subject line. Examples include: "[First Name], We Want You Back," "We Miss You [First Name]," "Where Have You Been [First Name]?" or "How Are You Liking the [Product], [First Name]?" This can be a catchy way to get that email opened.

Entice with a truly great offer
Make sure you've got a once-in-a-lifetime offer for your win-back segments. You might want to personalize again and thank them for their last purchase of [insert product] on [insert date]. Then offer a nice percentage off of great complementary products to the ones they've purchased. You want them to remember that great experience they had with your company and encourage them to interact again.

Ask for their opinion
Within your email with your fantastic offer, you might want to give your customers the opportunity to tell you why they haven't ordered from you, which can be really important information for your business. Include a link to an online survey with a few questions you want to ask about their satisfaction with your company. Make sure you leave a box where they can include "other" information in a free-form fashion so that you can read through the comments. You might find that you now offer something they were looking for that you didn't in the past, and you can follow up with them and let them know via phone or a separate email marketing campaign.

Be frank
Sometimes it's best just to know whether or not it's time to cut the line. Unresponsive subscribers who remain lifeless despite multiple highly targeted win-back campaigns might not be worth the time, effort, and money to resuscitate. A simple, last-ditch email could say something like, "We noticed we haven't heard from you in a long time. We don't like spam either, so let us know if you'd like to keep getting our emails." Then give them the option to stay subscribed (in which case, you might want to throw in an offer to thank them for that simple action), or to unsubscribe.

Businesses can get so focused on getting "new" customers that they forget about keeping the good ones around and getting them to be more active. So start those win-back campaigns now; you may be surprised at what a little reminder can do.

Janine Popick is CEO and founder of VerticalResponse.

On Twitter? Follow Popick at @janinepopick. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.


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