How to Create Win-Back Emails That Actually Win Customers Back

Effective win-back programs are the simplest way to increase revenue and profitability. Once the acquisition costs have been reclaimed, retained customers are the most profitable segment in a company’s database. I often wonder why every business doesn’t have an aggressive campaign in place

Creating and implementing effective win-back programs is the simplest way to increase revenue and profitability. Once the acquisition costs have been reclaimed, retained customers are the most profitable segment in a company’s database. I often wonder why every business doesn’t have an aggressive campaign in place.

The typical win-back program consists of an email or two that declares, “We want you back!” with no acknowledgement of the recipients’ buying history or relationship with the company. It’s as if the marketers think that changing the subject line and mentioning that the customers have been missed is enough to make people come running back.

Generic win-back emails come from B-to-C and B-to-B companies. The first example is from 1800PetSupplies. There are three mentions about wanting the customer to buy again. The first is in the subject line. It reads, “Psst! Come Back for 25% Off Your Entire Order.” The two other mentions are in the body. They are, “We Miss You! Come Back & Save 25% Off Your Entire Order!” and “We Miss You! Come Back & Save!” There is something missing from this email. While you are thinking about what it could be, let’s look at the second example.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek sent an email that looks like it might be designed to win subscribers back. The subject line reads, “Welcome Back Rate – Save 88%” but there is no other mention of wanting the recipient back in the email. The message is personalized with [insert name here] technology, but there is nothing about the subscriber’s history.

What Is Missing From Typical Win-back Campaigns?
People stop buying, subscribing or donating for a reason. Knowing why they left is the first step to getting them back. The typical win-back campaign is missing the personalization that entices people to come back. It’s very hard to convince customers that they were missed when you don’t recognize them.

Creating personalized emails designed to engage recipients’ requires detailed analytics and business rules that insure the right message is delivered. How much more effective would the 1800PetSupplies email be if it mentioned the recipient’s name and pets before noting that she was missed?

Information in an individual’s buying history can be used to create detailed emails designed to bring people back. Win-back campaigns that limit selection criteria to last purchase date can do more harm than good. Customers who leave because of service issues respond negatively to “we want you back” messages that don’t acknowledge the problem. The best win-back programs are designed to speak to individual needs. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start the win-back campaign as soon as the first order is fulfilled or donation is received. Customize the marketing message to include follow-up information from the first transaction. A soft win-back approach keeps people from leaving.
  • Separate people who have had issues from everyone else. Winning back an unhappy camper requires special care. The investment in TLC will pay off because people who have negative experiences resolved to their satisfaction are more loyal.
  • Build the program from the ground up. Adding some personalization to a generic campaign doesn’t deliver results like creating one designed to optimize reactivation. The better the foundation, the higher the return.
  • Develop a multi-level program. It is much easier to retain a satisfied customer with a recent transaction than one that has been dormant for months. It also costs less. Save the big incentives for the last resort.
  • Continuously test and improve. People are easily trained to wait for the best deal. Include activity patterns and seasonality in your segmentation so the big incentives aren’t offered when your customers are already scheduled to buy.