9 min read

Win-Back Email Campaign

Dec 20, 2021 6:58:00 AM

Everyone likes to be missed. It’s the equal and opposite sensation to FOMO. Knowing you’re wanted is an incredible impression that makes you feel validated and acknowledged. Psychologically speaking, it’s up there, which is why it makes for a pretty compelling marketing strategy.

But businesses miss customers a little differently. For one, what they’re actually missing is the sale rather than the just pleasure of a customer’s company. 

Still, the sentiment still stands. Customers like to be missed — it makes them feel valued. So what do you do when a customer lapses? How do you make a one-time customer into a lifelong buyer?

Answer: Create and execute a win-back email campaign.

Pop over to your inbox’s promotions tab right now, and you’ll likely see these emails. The subject line usually includes language like, “We’ve missed you,” or “Remember us?” They can seem a little desperate when viewed in a vacuum, but in fact, win-back email campaigns are powerfully successful. A little nudge can go a long way.

Are you looking to implement a win-back email campaign for your business? 

We at QuaGrowth have put together a comprehensive look at the type of campaigns in your toolkit, plus a list of tips and best practices to make your campaign soar.

What are Win Back Email Campaigns?

Win back email campaigns are the marketing equivalent of a text from a long, lost friend. 

Brands send these emails to customers that qualify as lapsed or inactive, depending on a series of variables that they can set to segment their audience. 

The goal of a win-back email campaign is right there in the name: Brands are hoping to win back the customer and turn a single or lapsed buyer into a returning and loyal one.

Why target customers who have already made a purchase? It comes down to their customer lifetime value. 

A retained customer is actually far more valuable to your business because your brand can rely on their revenue when their buying cycle becomes stable and reliable. 

That relationship is vitally important to your bottom line because, according to research from Klaviyo, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. 

Repeat customers are the type of relationship email marketing works so hard to sustain. Regular nudges and reminders from a brand can go a long way for customers who already have some positive affinity towards the brand.

To the most cynical among us, win-back email campaigns may seem like a fool's errand — which is really going to come back to a business based on an email alone? 

It’s a good question, but in this case, the Klaviyo data is on our side. The average open rate for win-back automation is over 29%. 

Research shows that 45% of subscribers who receive a win-back email will go on to open future emails from your brand. 

Sometimes, all people need is a little reminder of what they left behind and the positive feeling that comes from being missed.

Types of Win Back Email Campaigns

No win-back email campaign (in fact, no email campaign ever) should be one size fits all.

It’s really important that the contents of your email be specific and personalized to the existing relationship and behavior of each customer. 

As such, there are a number of different win-back email campaigns that you can deploy. We’ll outline a few of the most popular below, but the sky is the limit on what these emails can say and achieve. 

Remember, a single win-back email does not make a campaign. You have to deploy multiple emails, each with their own strategy and goal, to really recoup the most reward from a win-back campaign.

Cart and Browse Abandonment: 

Perhaps the industry’s most famous automated email, cart, and browse abandonment emails technically qualify as win-back emails. 

They’re attempting to solve the problem of buyer indecision or apathy. When a customer browses through the site or adds items to their cart and then ultimately leaves, brands send them an abandonment email. 

These often include images of the product or content they interacted with. Sometimes, brands will offer discounts on these products to help encourage the sale. This can go a surprisingly long way. 

Research indicates that cart abandonment emails can earn back 3%–14% of lost sales, with an average revenue per recipient of $5.81.

A Simple Hello:

One tactic in re-engaging lapsed customers involves a less aggressive approach. 

Saying hello is a solid strategy for a customer who has perhaps made a single purchase and has potentially forgotten about your business (and all the great products and content featured on your site). 

In that case, a simple hello can be a great way to reintroduce yourself without laying on a marketing message too thick. 

This is the win-back email that most resembles actual human interaction.

Last Chance: 

Scroll to the bottom of any email marketing, and you’ll see the most dangerous word in the industry: Unsubscribe. 

Customers can opt-in and out at any time, which has led to a restless night’s sleep for email marketers. 

Your business must honor customers’ desires to unsubscribe. There’s nothing worse than a brand that isn’t getting the message. 

That said, there is some opportunity to turn a bad thing into a good thing. Reaching out to an unsubscribed customer and offering them some sort of incentive to come back is a great way to let them know they were not just some data point on a spreadsheet. 

Again, these campaigns are all about making the customer feel valued and heard.

Asking for Feedback: 

On that note, that brings us to our last example, the feedback route. 

Sometimes customers need a softer sell with win-back email campaigns and the smartest strategy can be to avoid the topic of products and discounts altogether and instead focus on the quality of the relationship. 

Language in a win-back email will often sound like this, “We noticed you haven’t come back in a while. Would you be willing to tell us why?” 

If it feels like a long journey from that feedback loop to a future sale, you may be right, but consider how valuable that data and information can be to informing how you reach out to that customer next. 

If you see a pattern in this feedback, receiving the same message from a wide customer base, you can address it immediately. 

Customer relationships are not all that dissimilar from our actual friendships. They’re predicated on trust, proximity, and value. 

A business that prioritizes getting and keeping new customers will always win out in the end. That’s the kind of marketing strategy that earns the ever-valuable word of mouth from customers, sharing what they love about your brand with friends and family.

In other words, your business actually can’t afford to lose repeating customers. They’re too precious.

Tips for Optimizing Your Win-Back Campaign 

Now that we’ve covered the various types of win-back emails and what makes them so effective, let’s discuss how to plan a successful win-back campaign. 

There is a difference between a satisfactory win-back email campaign and an excellent one.

Win-Back Email Campaign Tip #1: Choose Your Recipient Wisely 

Marketing automation helps your business to constantly send out win-back emails, depending on a variety of triggers that would classify a customer as lapsed. 

But what are those variables, and how should you prioritize them?

There are a number of tools you can use to segment your customer base. We at QuaGrowth often work with Klaviyo. 

Data and analytics tools like Klaviyo can identify the ideal recipient for your various win-back email campaigns. 

Perhaps you’re looking to aggressively go after holiday shoppers who stopped by one time for a gift and then forgot all about your brand. 

Perhaps you’re looking to re-engage customers who haven’t looked at your site for six months. 

Or perhaps you’re trying to learn from customers who used to buy from you all the time. 

All of these situations are variables that you can track and send appropriate messaging to.

Win-Back Email Campaign Tip #2: Segment Your Message 

That brings us to segmenting the messaging. A broad-scale win-back email campaign where every customer, regardless of behavioral history, is receiving the same message will never be as effective as a more personalized message. 

Segmented emails regularly receive higher open and click-through rates. One recent study put those statistics at 14.31% and 100.95% higher, respectively.

Your customer’s profile is a vital component to what message they should receive and when. Use the data at your fingertips to send personalized, specific content. 

One customer may respond better to a simple hello. Another may need to see an image of the product they left behind. 

Regardless, these messages should never feel too “cookie-cutter.”

Win-Back Email Campaign Tip #3: Keep Your Message Simple 

A win-back email campaign can be complicated for both the brand and the business. So it’s important to keep the language extremely simple. 

Don’t wax poetic about how much you’ve missed them. Simply express that idea and tell them what they need to know about how you’d like to address the situation. 

Do this whether it’s with a discount, a product they’d like, or when you’re just sending a reminder that you exist.

There can be an understandable desire in marketing boardrooms to say “we miss you” differently than any other brand, and we get that. 

The fact is, more often than not, customers don’t notice that kind of thing. What they do understand is how you make them feel. 

Writing unique copy can sometimes get in the way of saying what you actually want to say.

In both subject lines and within the body of the email, make it a priority to keep the copy straightforward and honest. 

You’re already asking a lot of the customers by requesting that they come back and make a purchase. There’s no need to make it harder for them with a half-baked metaphor on friendship.

Win-Back Email Campaign Tip #4: Remind Recipients of Your Existing Relationship 

We believe that context means everything. That same philosophy is why we’re so bullish on segmenting your audience with hyper-personalized messages. 

Another thing to consider is your existing relationship with the customer. Were they very engaged in the past or just passing through? 

Did they rate any of your products well? 

Did they consider joining a loyalty program? 

All of this information can help you craft a win-back email that truly speaks to the customer on a one-to-one basis.

The tactic here is the eCommerce version of how nice it feels when a barista remembers your order.

No one wants their money and business to be expendable. Remind a customer how well you know them, and they’ll soon be returning.

Win-Back Email Campaign Tip #5: Incentivize Your Offer.

It’s no secret that discounts work, especially in the email marketing space. Klaviyo found that win-back emails with subject lines containing “Discount” see open rates of 20% on average. 

You can offer money off orders when a customer spends a certain amount, offer a percentage off the final purchase, or offer free shipping. 

Whatever the case, incentivizing your win-back email is a great way to tell the customer that you don’t take their business for granted and are willing to work for it.

It also makes being a subscriber to your email list inherently more valuable for the customer, which is ultimately what this whole subset of marketing is about. 

Win-Back Email Campaign Tip #6: Test Relentlessly. 

Many are inclined to set and forget their automated win-back campaigns, but we can’t emphasize enough how much this move could hurt your sales. 

Hands-on, constant testing is required to make a win-back campaign shine. Experiment with lookalike audiences and a/b testing to see what message, what style of email, and what incentive is working the best and then regularly optimize to keep that momentum going.

You can also use the data to discover your brand’s sweet spot when it comes to the number of win-back emails you’re sending. 

While we do encourage a multi--email approach to trickle out messaging, too many emails can overwhelm your customer and lead to them unsubscribing.

The point is, treat your win-back email campaign like a never-ending project. Customers will always lapse in engagement, and you will always have the opportunity to earn back their business. 

Last Word 

Ready to spruce up your win-back email campaign? We’d love to help you design a strategy that will meet your business and your customer’s needs. 

Visit QuaGrowth to learn more about email marketing automation.



Winback Email Campaigns Your Customers Won’t Be Able to Resist | Klaviyo

Recover Lost Sales: 16 Amazing Abandoned Cart Emails | Shopify

The Anatomy of a Perfect Win-Back Campaign | Smart Mail

Written by Jason Boehle