7 Steps to Creating an Irresistible Winback Campaign

Think of your brand’s relationship with a customer like a love story. 

Your first communications with them are a first date. You continue to nurture that relationship over your subsequent emails, ads, website copy, and SMS. When you land a big sale, that’s a proposal. 

And a winback campaign is when you sing “Baby, Come Back” or stand outside their window holding a boombox over your head, playing your song. 

Are you ready to win back lapsed customers? Here are 7 steps you can take to bring back customers who haven’t purchased in 60 to 90 days.

1. Personalize your emails.

Let’s continue the love story metaphor from before. You would never address a love letter with “dear sir or madame” or “to whom it may concern.” You would call them by name. 

A winback campaign is between you and a past customer. You have an existing relationship to draw on, so don’t treat them like a stranger. Use personalization in your winback emails to tap into that history. 

Include their name in subject lines, salutations, or body copy when you want to grab their attention. Reference their past purchases. Make it clear that you value this customer specifically, that your customers are not faceless, nameless numbers in your email list.

Tip: Try formatting your personalized sections so that they make sense even without a first name in your database, just in case. Greetings like “Hey [first name or ‘friend’,]” are still readable even if something goes wrong and there’s no personalized info to include.

2. Acknowledge your customer’s absence.

There’s no need to play coy and pretend that everything is business as usual with your lapsed customers. One of the most effective things you can do in a winback campaign is acknowledge they’ve been gone.

By calling attention to the fact that your customer hasn’t purchased in a while, you set the tone for the email. This isn’t just another sales campaign—this is an old friend trying to get back in touch.

Tip: Get creative in your subject lines and headlines. Try phrases like “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” “We miss you [first name]!” “Where did you go?”

3. Give your customers an incentive to purchase.

If a customer has lapsed to the point that they are receiving your winback campaign, your usual communications probably aren’t going to interest them. Your regular newsletters and promotional emails haven’t done the trick, so you need to give them extra value. 

You need to give them a great offer (more on those here).

Include a discount code, cash back, freebie, or other offer that will encourage lapsed customers back into the fold. But don’t start with your most generous offer—you’re saving that for later on in the campaign. 

Once a customer makes a purchase using your offer, be sure to exclude them from any further winback emails. They are now once again part of your active subscriber base!

Tip: Try offering a flat discount code that can be used across your entire store. It’s a versatile offer that provides value no matter what your lapsed customers may be interested in buying.

4. Let customers know what they might have missed.

In the last several months, have you launched new products or services? Have you made some major changes to your website or customer experience? Are you active on any new social media channels? 

Customers in a winback campaign haven’t purchased in a while, so they’ve probably missed out on some of your big news. Your winback campaign is an opportunity to fill them in.

If you don’t have any big news to share, recap your best selling products or services and the benefits they provide your customers. Remind your lapsed audience why they were interested in your brand in the first place.

Tip: Consider connecting your update to your offer, like suggesting customers use their discount on your latest product, or offering a BOGO or GWP deal with that new release.

5. Set a hard deadline.

One of the best motivators you can use in your winback flow is FOMO and urgency. Set a deadline on your offer, and make sure your customer knows they have to act now, before it’s gone.

Your offer should only be valid for 24 to 72 hours. Any longer than that, and the deadline will feel too distant to be urgent.

Send at least 2 emails within the deadline, introducing the offer and emphasizing the increasing urgency. Depending on how long until your deadline, you may opt to send more emails, at least one a day.

Tip: To ramp up the urgency in your emails, try using a countdown clock that hits 0 when your offer expires.

6. Sweeten the deal.

If your first offer isn’t enough to win over a lapsed customer, it’s time to sweeten the deal. 

Customers who don’t respond to your first offer should receive a second one 7 to 10 days after the first one expires. Up the discount percentage or dollar amount saved. 

Just like with your first offer, set a hard deadline of just 1–3 days. Send at least two emails, one introducing the offer and one shortly before the deadline. You can use similar language and visuals to your earlier winback emails, just with the updated offer.

Tip: Be generous! This is your big moment, your last chance to bring a lapsed customer back into a relationship with your brand. Don’t hold back.

7. Make it easy to unsubscribe.

Sometimes your best offer isn’t enough to get a customer to purchase again. Sometimes, your business isn’t a good fit for that customer at that point in time. 

There’s no need to drag things out. At the end of your winback campaign, ask customers who still have not taken action if they’re ready to unsubscribe from your list.

If your business isn’t what that customer needs, then there’s no reason for you to be in their inbox. By making the option to unsubscribe clear and simple, you avoid ending things on a sour note.

Tip: It should always be easy to unsubscribe. But at the end of a winback campaign, you might want to move it from the fine print to the body copy.

Let’s re-engage your lapsed customers together! Creating a robust winback campaign is just a fraction of what we can do for your brand’s digital presence. Schedule a call, and we’ll talk about how we can gain you new leads, retain customers, and grow your business.

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