Use Email Win-Back Campaigns and Find Your Lost Tribe

Email campaigns, no matter how good, typically engage only a small subset of subscribers. A larger percentage of subscribers receive your message, but don’t open the email or click on any of the links. Those who are not active for 6-12 months we call the “lost tribe!”

When you blast a normal promotional marketing message to your entire list, the number of subscribers from the lost tribe responding is quite low. However, when marketers take the time to craft and send a special win-back message, or series of messages to the lost tribe segment, the conversion rate can jump to between 6% and 10%.

This tells us that marketers can generate two to three times the ROI on email outreach to inactive subscribers when you make the extra effort to segment your list, and create a special win-back offer or message that targets the inactive segment directly.

And customers that buy once are much more likely to buy again, so they stay engaged.

Here are some win-back campaign tips:

  1. Define the reason for the attrition so you can craft your message appropriately
  2. Determine if the tribe has been lost for a long or short while
  3. Create offer-based campaigns (ex: 3 emails over 2 weeks)
    • Aggressive
    • Limited duration
    • Exclusive coupons
    • Survey
  4. Test non-offer-based campaigns:
    • Useful content to build relationships

Examples of win-back campaigns that work:

    1. Free consulting service. A business consultant appealed to high-value customers with the subject line, “We’ll evaluate your marketing plan at no cost!” The call to action was, “Click to download our sample marketing plan, absolutely free!” The campaign can be made of 3 emails each addressing different business pain points.
    2. Large discounts (40% or more) on the order total, optionally with a dollar limit on the discount. A retailer for vitamins, paired “Feel young again with 40% off,” with the call to action, “Get 40% off any order of $100 or more (sale items excluded)” in the body copy.
    3. A single deeply-discounted item with broad appeal. For example, a women’s activewear retailer promoted the popular consumable, socks, with the subject line, “Your new favorite socks, 80% off!” The call to action? “For a limited time, get our best-selling workout socks for $1.99 a pair, or three pairs for $4.99.”

Keep in mind that these win-back offers only target the inactive part of your list, so net margin isn’t so much of a concern. The goal with these campaigns is to reactivate inactive customers and raise their customer lifetime value, not to generate a lot of up-front revenue. This is a long term strategy and a good one!

And remember, you can’t win them all. If you get no response after your win-back campaign, isolate the “dead wood,” mark them as inactive, and don’t send them anymore email.

Good luck and let us know if you need some help strategizing and creating your win-back campaign.

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