Win-Back Email Campaigns — How to Successfully Regain Lost Customers and Boost Revenue

Win-Back Email Campaigns

(Updated September 2017)
What’s one of the easiest and most effective ways for a business to increase revenue? By implementing win-back email campaigns. Here’s why and some tips to get you started.

Why Are Win-Back Campaigns So Effective?

As every marketer knows, it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one. How much cheaper? Depending on the industry, it typically costs between 4 and 6 times more to gain new customers versus keeping them. After all, you’ve already established a relationship and level of trust with your current customers, so convincing them to purchase from you again requires significantly less work than finding and wooing entirely new prospects. And that’s why win-back campaigns can make a huge impact on a company’s bottom line.

For example, here are some findings from an Adobe Digital Index report on the ROI generated from marketing to existing online customers:

  • In the United States, 40% of revenue came from returning customers (who have made 1 previous purchase) or repeat customers (who have made multiple previous purchases); yet these customers represented only 8% of all website visitors.
  • U.S. marketers must bring in 5 shoppers (who have made no previous purchases) to equal the revenue generated by 1 repeat customer.
  • Conversion rates for returning and repeat customers were up to 9 times higher than those shoppers (who have not made a previous purchase) and accounted for most of the improvements in ROI.
  • Repeat customers accounted for even more of the revenue during the holiday season.

Study Shows How Effective Win-Back Email Campaigns Are at Converting Lapsed Customers Into Active Customers

In a recent study, Return Path looked at win-back email campaigns sent by 33 companies to learn how effective they were at converting lapsed customers into active customers. Here are some of the performance results:

  • 92% of the win-back emails made it into inboxes
  • The read rate for the win-back emails was 12%.

Some of the most interesting results in this report, however, happened in the months after the win-back emails were sent:

  • 45% of recipients who received the win-back campaigns read subsequent emails from the retailers
  • Of the 45% of recipients who read subsequent emails, only 24% had actually read the win-back emails
  • 57 days was the average length of time between when recipients received a win-back email and when they read a subsequent email from the retailer
  • Emails that simply tried to get inactive customers to opt in to receive emails again had a low 1.8% read rate; however, for win-back emails with the phrases “miss you” or “come back” in the subject line, the read rate jumped to 13%.

Example of What a Win-Back Email Campaign Can Accomplish

Take a subscription business, such as newspapers, as an example. In a typical scenario, about 80% of customers will renew their subscriptions. So, focusing a win-back email campaign on the 20% who don’t renew can have a profound impact on a newspaper’s revenue. If a newspaper’s win-back emails could recover just 5% of $100,000 in lost subscriptions, for instance, the cost would be far less than having to acquire $5,000 in new subscriptions.

8 Tips for Creating Effective Win-Back Email Campaigns

As you set out to create your own win-back email campaigns, here are eight key tips to increase customer retention and ensure success:

  1. Segment your email list. In addition to how long a customer has been inactive, examples of other simple segments could include low- and high-value customers. If you’re aware of customers who had negative experiences, put them in another segment, as well. Then, you can create a more relevant and engaging win-back email message for each group. To create win-back emails that both capture attention and generate more sales, be sure to check out FulcrumTech’s latest article on email segmentation: “Email-Marketing List Segmentation—Give a Lift to Your ROI With These 5 Best Practices.
  2. Remind them why they loved you in the first place. You can accomplish this by demonstrating the value of your brands and products. In addition, highlight what’s new since they’ve last made a purchase.
  3. Don’t send just 1 email. Develop a marketing strategy that involves sending a series of win-back emails over a period of time and that tests a variety of approaches to reengage your inactive subscribers. In addition, find ways to integrate your email and social media marketing strategies to extend the reach of your campaigns.
  4. Personalize the emails. Leverage the customer data you’ve collected to personalize your e-commerce email campaigns. In addition to names, examples of collected customer data include demographic information, website browsing behavior, and purchase history. When appropriate, create personalized win-back emails that cross-sell or upsell products based on customers’ previous purchases.
  5. Give them options. Provide customers with an opportunity to customize their relationship with you by giving them options on how frequently they want to hear from you, as well as updates on their specific interests in terms of products and content.
  6. Provide an opportunity to give you feedback. Why hasn’t a customer purchased from you in a while? Is there something you aren’t doing that would make a difference? Give him or her a chance to tell you in your win-back series. It may yield valuable information about ways to improve your overall marketing strategy.
  7. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. In the ReturnPath study, win-back emails that included “$ off” discounts in the subject line had double the open rates compared to emails that included subject lines with “% off” discounts. Furthermore, keep in mind that people are quickly trained to wait for the best deal. Save your sales incentives as a last-ditch effort (e.g., the third email in the series); that way, you won’t send a win-back email with a discount to a customer who was ready to buy anyway.
  8. Continuously test and optimize your win-back campaigns. Besides optimizing copy and design elements, subject line, preheader, the sender’s email address, calls to action, and privacy policy, testing helps you find the most effective frequency, cadence, incentives, and timing of offers for your win-back series. This is important for motivating action and boosting your engagement email metrics, including opens, clicks, and conversions.

Need help creating and implementing an effective win-back email campaign? Contact the email-marketing experts at FulcrumTech (or give us a call at 215-489-9336), and we’ll work with you to develop a winning win-back email strategy to reignite interest and connect with those customers and email subscribers you haven’t heard from in a while.

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