Feeling ghosted by your customers? Win-back email campaigns can help you reignite your relationship with shoppers that have pulled a disappearing act.
With every highly engaged customer and brand loyalist that keeps coming back, you’ll also have a few lapsed and unengaged customers who haven’t interacted with your brand or purchased in some time. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; every business has them.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on these subscribers.
What is a win-back email?
A win-back email is a message you can use to reach out to inactive subscribers — someone who previously engaged with your company (they’ve made a purchase, engaged with your emails, visited your website, etc.) but, for some reason or another, they’ve stopped doing so for a certain amount of time.
How to determine if a subscriber is inactive
What does an inactive subscriber look like? There are a few ways to identify these shoppers:
■ You can generally consider a customer inactive after six months of them not engaging with your brand, but it’s different for everyone.
■ You can consider engagement either making a purchase, interacting with an email, visiting your website, or all of the above in the time frame you choose.
■ The timeframe for customer inactivity could be months or years depending on your brand, the products you sell, and your customers.
When should you deviate from the six-month recommendation? Consider your customers and their buyer journey.
For example, if you sell mattresses, you wouldn’t consider someone inactive after a year of not making a purchase since you most likely manufacture your product to hold up for a few years.
But if you sold coffee, it would be more reasonable for your customers to make repeat purchases more closely together since they’re probably going through coffee more frequently.
Pro tip: If you’re just getting started with a win-back series, consider experimenting with the amount of time you use as a threshold before sending a win-back email to customers.
Why should you consider sending a win-back email?
Simply put, if you’re not sending dedicated win-back campaigns, then you could be ignoring potential customers and missing out on sales.
On the other hand, if you’re sending the same emails to your entire email list without segmenting your customers based on inactivity, that could negatively affect your deliverability.
The major benefit of win-back emails is that they encourage people to make repeat purchases. Think about it: if a customer makes one purchase and never makes one again, or they used to purchase frequently and stopped, there must be a reason.
Whether they stopped buying because they replaced your product with a competitor’s, stopped using it altogether, or had a bad experience with your brand, a win-back email can help you speak directly to some of these concerns.
But why should you put your time and energy into creating win-back emails and trying to recoup past purchasers?
■ The average open rate for win-back automations is over 29%, according to Klaviyo data.
■ It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.1
■ Research shows that 45% of subscribers who receive a win-back email will go on to open future emails from your brand.2
Pro tip: Win-back emails can also increase customer lifetime value (LTV), or the amount of money someone spends with your brand in their lifetime.
Win-back email strategies to win-over your customers
Once you identify win-back campaigns as an important part of your email marketing strategy, where do you start?
Consider the subject line, the number of emails in your campaign, and the content in order to see the best results.
1. Captivate subscribers through your subject lines
A smart win-back email subject line can help you to hook your customers and inspire them to hear you out.
Many brands have seen success with using language like “We miss you,” “Come back,” or “It’s been a while”— anything to personalize the message and suggest your brand is speaking to the customer.
Subject line tips for high engagement:
■ Win-back emails with subject lines similar to “It’s been a while” see open rates of 27% on average.
■ Win-back emails with subject lines similar to “We miss” see open rates of 24% on average.
■ Win-back emails with subject lines containing “Discount” see open rates of 20% on average.
2. Experiment with more than one email
One of the trickiest parts of a win-back campaign is deciding how many emails to send. You could just send one win-back email, but there’s a chance the recipient could miss or decide not to open it, especially if they haven’t opened one of your emails in months.
That’s why many marketers experiment with an email series — two or more win-back emails using time delays in between — in order to increase the odds, the recipient will open, engage, and hopefully, make their next purchase.
Because you’re sending to unengaged subscribers, you’ll want to be careful here. If you over-send, you risk hurting your sending reputation, especially if recipients unsubscribe or mark your message as spam.
Tips for deciding how many emails to include:
■ To gain the most out of your win-back series without risking your sending reputation, send between 2 and 5 emails.
■ Consider segmenting your win-back campaign series. For example, you could send out a single email to any subscribers who you consider inactive, then trigger a second and possibly third email to those who still haven’t made a purchase.
■ If you notice revenue per recipient starting to drop after the first win-back email, that’s a good indicator that you can pull back on the number of emails you’re sending.
Additionally, if your deliverability is in a stable place, consider pushing the send limit on your win-back series. The top-performing 50% of Klaviyo customers have a median of 14 emails in their win-back series!
3. Add irresistible content
The goal of your win-back emails is to convince an inactive subscriber to return to your website and make a purchase, which means you have to include showstopping content if you want to stop your subscriber’s scroll.
Win-back email content suggestions:
■ A common way to get any customer’s attention is to offer a discount or other incentives such as free shipping. Experiment with the timing of this offer and consider including it later in your series in case your customer doesn’t need to be persuaded into purchasing.
■ Alternatively, ditch the discount and focus on content by promoting best sellers, new products, and social proof in order to entice customers to shop with you again.
■ Use this opportunity to address any potential issues by educating customers on how to get the most out of your products, explaining how they can get in touch with customer service or asking for feedback.
Keep in mind that while win-backs can be an incredible tool for engagement, your customer may have already moved on. And sometimes if you love something, you have to let it go.
If your subscriber endures an entire win-back series without purchasing or engaging, consider sending a final message with the option to unsubscribe in order to maintain a clean email list.
Win-back email campaign examples
What do strategic subject lines, send time, and content look like when they all come together in a win-back email campaign?
Take a peek at a few win-back email examples to gain a better understanding of the strategies you can use to entice your subscribers to come back to your brand.