Every business hopes its customers are loyal, but the reality is, we’ve all lost customers—whether it’s because they went to a competitor or they just stopped buying for no apparent reason. No matter the reason why they left, here are a few ideas you can use to win back former customers.
Put your old customers into buckets
Before anything else, you need to segment your customer list based on purchase behavior so you know who to send to. If you have customer purchase data in a CRM system or e-commerce platform, run a report to find out the last date they bought from you. At the most basic level, divide that list into two: those who haven’t purchased in the last six to 12 months, and those who haven’t purchased in the last 12+ months. You’ll want to target these groups with slightly different messaging to get them back in the swing of things.
Jog their memory in the subject line
Unlike new customers, your old customers are already familiar with you, so use this to your advantage upfront. Personalize your subject line and let them know you want them back. Try something like “(First Name), We Want You Back,” “ We Miss You (First Name)” or “Where Have You Been (First Name)?” This can be a catchy way to get that e-mail opened.
Give them a truly special offer
Make sure you’ve got a really compelling offer for your win-back segments. You might want to start off by thanking them for their last purchase using specifics of when and what they purchased. Then give them a discount that you usually don’t offer, or a free complementary product to whatever they purchased last from you. You want them to remember that great experience they had with your company and encourage them to interact again.
Get feedback on why they stopped
Within the e-mail with the fantastic offer, why not try to find out the reason they’re no longer buying from you? This could be valuable information for your business. Include a link to an online survey with a few questions about their satisfaction with your company. (Make the survey optional, of course.) Leave an “additional comments” box where they can include more details.
Respect those who aren’t coming back
There’s a fine line between a win-back campaign and being aggressively annoying. Don’t send e-mails to people who’ve unsubscribed from you. You might also find that at some point, customers who don’t respond despite multiple e-mails with great offers isn’t worth it anymore. A last-ditch e-mail 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 e-mails.” Then give them the option to stay subscribed (in which case, you could throw in an offer to thank them for that simple action), or to unsubscribe.
As a small business, we’re usually so focused on getting new customers that we forget about the ones we used to have. Let me know if you’ve had any success with winning back old customers in the comments section below.
OPEN Cardmember Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, which provides a full suite of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses and non-profits including email marketing, social media, event marketing, direct mail and online surveys. She's also the CEB (Chief Executive Blogger) of the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog for Small Businesses.