6 Dos and Don'ts of Winback Campaigns
It’s a marketer’s worst nightmare: for whatever reasons, a once active customer has stopped engaging with your brand entirely. Maybe it’s been over six months, or maybe even a year, but either way the relationship has gone cold and you weren’t able to save it – or, you didn’t know you needed to.
But there's still hope! Winback campaigns, when executed well, are proven to not only capture your customer’s attention, but also encourage your customer to start shopping again. In fact, a study conducted by Internet Retailer on 33 brands running winback campaigns revealed that 45% of customers who received a winback campaign opened a subsequent message from the brand. The key is crafting a winback campaign that addresses your customers’ individual needs.
Below are six do’s and don’ts of winback campaigns to help you successfully re-engage your inactive customers.
DO: Segment your customers to find out who needs a winback
While it varies from business to business, typically a customer is considered at-risk if they haven’t reached out in 30 days or more, and they’re considered in need of a winback if it’s been over 90 days since their last engagement. When you segment customers based on their level of engagement, you can more accurately determine who to reach out to and in what context. (And it’s worth mentioning that ideally, marketers would do well to reach out during the “at-risk” stage, rather than wait until the customer goes completely cold.)
DO: Ask what went wrong
When all else fails, just ask! Using language like “What happened?” or “Where have you been?” invites your customers to reply describing any concrete reasons they had for leaving your brand – and, in turn, invites marketers to more actively solve those problems that caused disengagement. Not only will you be showing customers that their satisfaction is your top priority, you’ll be able to more directly uncover key insights to re-engaging a previously silent shopper.
DON’T: Treat them like any other customer
When customers haven’t engaged with your brand in over a year, your relationship is almost non-existent to the point where you might almost consider treating them like a new customer. However, the key difference here is that when you’re delivering a win-back campaign to a former customer, you’re reaching out to someone who has a history with your brand – however short. When you already have existing behavioral data on a shopper, you have an opportunity to personalize your win-back campaign based on what you already know about them, thus increasing the likelihood that they’ll respond.
DO: Consider reaching out on other channels
If the majority of your campaigns are being delivered via email, and customers aren’t responding, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re uninterested – it might just mean the medium you’re using for communication isn’t quite right based on where they are. Picture this: the customer who routinely ignores your emails has been regularly engaging via Facebook or Google. Consider delivering a campaign via some other channel to try and re-engage shoppers who are using a different channel or device to shop.
DON’T: Assume winbacks are “if need be”
Only about 1 in 26 unhappy customers – or about 4% – complain. The rest churn. If marketers wait for customers to actively reach out with negative feedback, they’re going to miss the vast majority of customers who don’t bother. Winback campaigns, rather than being “if need be,” are critical to learning more about what went wrong from the customers who otherwise wouldn’t tell you.
DO: Incentivize the decision to return with a discount or offer
A retailer we created an account with as part of our research on the marketing strategies of today’s top brands sent us an email when we hadn’t engaged with any of their campaigns in about 60-90 days: the subject line said “We’ve missed you – enjoy 30% off your next purchase” with a personalized discount code in the email copy. Not only was the brand reaching out while we were still considered at-risk, they were doing so by offering a clear-cut incentive for us to return. Offering customers something in return for revisiting your website works in both the short-term and the long-term, in terms of encouraging them to make a purchase and letting them know you care about their relationship with you.
Winback campaigns need to directly address what went wrong while incentivizing a customer’s return. When you can more directly address the elephant in the room – that your customer has stopped shopping with you – in a winback campaign, you can more actively figure out how to re-engage them. And don’t forget that these customers have shopped with you before – they have historic data that you can use to personalize your messaging and deliver campaigns that are uniquely targeted to them. When done in the right way, it’s not impossible to deliver effective campaigns that resonate with even the customers who’ve been cold for over a year.