The 10 Most Effective Tips for Customer Reactivation

Are you looking for the best ways to reactivate dormant customers and reduce churn? Here’s a roundup of the 10 most effective practices today, in both business and consumer markets. Consider which of these may be the most applicable to your business, your customers and your objectives.

  1. If they last bought an ordinary product, offer them a superior version.
  2. Special service levels. Invite them into a special class of customers. Status and privilege go a long way to attracting a lapsed customer.
  3. Affinity products. Cross offer a product related to a prior purchase. A carrying case for that laptop, for example.
  4. Lifecycle stage. Look at where the customer is on the lifecycle continuum. A new customer will respond to a different offer than one that attracts a longstanding customer. A birthday or anniversary message works wonders.

6. Optimize Your Reactivation Program With Testing

Testing can be applied at many points to improve results. Split-test new offer ideas. Test creative, personalization, the cadence of your touches, timing, media channel, as well as refinements like email subject line and from line. Once the customer is reactivated, test to find the optimal the cadence and frequency of ongoing communications that will keep them engaged. In short, without testing, you’ll never know the full potential of your reactivation effort.

7. Clean Up Your Data

Consumer and business data degrades fast. A maniacal focus on data hygiene will pay off in all areas of customer management, especially in retention and reactivation. If your customer’s email address has changed, you need to keep up. In fact, in some cases an address change may underlie the apparent inactivity in the first place. Your database marketing partner can help you keep your customer records up to date. Quarterly refresh is recommended.

8. Focus Your Messaging on Winback

The most effective creative strategy for reactivation campaigns is to be direct. Use messages like “We miss you” and “We want you back” in the subject line, on the outer envelope, or in the headline. Promote your offer prominently. Enhance your message with a sense of urgency, to motivate quick action. Examples: Act now. Limited time. Last chance.

9. Make It Easy to Respond

Anything that’s in your customer’s way will reduce response. Look for ways you can remove obstacles. For example, eliminate the number of clicks required. Pre-populate the webform with the customer’s information. Provide the user name and password in case they’ve forgotten it. In short, streamline the process end to end.

10. Convert Customers to Auto-renewal and Negative Option

One of the most effective methods to prevent churn is to eliminate the repurchase decision entirely. For frequently purchased products, consider offering an automatic replenishment program. Subscription businesses can add auto-renewal to their offers, either at enrollment or as an upsell.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, and was excerpted from the white paper “How to Reactivate Dormant Customers.”

Author: Ruth P. Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

Ruth is a guest blogger at Biznology, the digital marketing blog. Email Ruth at, follow her on Twitter at @RuthPStevens, or visit her website,

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