Proven strategies that work to win-back lost customers.
Losing customers costs a lot of money! First there’s the lost revenue they were giving you, then there’s the replacement cost to acquire a new customer, along with the lost opportunity that they might refer you to friends and gain you new customers.
So while you should be focusing on loyalty and retention up front, what can you do after you have lost a customer to win them back? Re-engagement strategies should be at a low cost to you, certainly less expensive than acquiring brand new customers. They might include the cost of an offer or very minimal ad dollars.
The following strategies are all about timeliness and being relevant, and can and should be used all together if possible. That doesn’t mean you have to implement all at once - but as you implement each consecutive effort - remember to take into account how it fits in with your other tactics and messaging.
Ultimately the key to re-engaging customers is to solve their problem or help them meet a goal. Somehow, the first time around you either actually fell short of doing this or the customer didn’t realize the value in your service and how it actually did help them.
So, all the timely communications and appealing offers in the world won’t make a difference, unless you can answer this question for them – what will help them reach that goal or solve that problem while making their life easier and more convenient?
Once you've figured out the answer to that question, here are 5 win-back strategies to use to convey that answer to your lost customers.
1. The Automated Immediate Web Offer
The Strategy: Give an offer immediately upon a cancel. In general, this is about asking the customer to reconsider and give you a second chance to “solve their problem”. (Dos & Don'ts)
Why It Works: Because this offer is immediate, you are asking them to re-evaluate why they cancelled and if it is worth the friction of finding a different solution to their needs. Customers may cancel when they are undecided about whether your service meets their needs and you simply need more time to show them.
How It Fits: This is the first of several times the customer will hear from you asking them to give you back their business - you don’t want to seem desperate here - simply helpful and wanting to make sure that they really want to stop getting what you offer.
2. Customer Care Phone+Email Follow-Up
The Strategy: Have your customer care team reach out to dissatisfied customers within a week or so of their cancellation - apologize for the negative experience. Customers often have unreported problems and simply cancel - even when you offer a guarantee. Your team should focus on helping them resolve that negative experience if they hadn’t already, and ask them if there is anything you can do to help them re-engage. (Dos & Don'ts)
Why It Works: This outreach is the most personal - it addresses a problem that the customer had with your service or product. This effort feels like you are going the extra mile (and that’s because you are). This effort is certainly more time-consuming and manual than many of the other efforts, but will pay off in the impression you give customers. Even if they aren’t ready to re-engage immediately - this will influence how they react to other win-back efforts in the future.
How It Fits: This is the second time many customers will hear from you depending on their cancel reason. The tone should be about repairing the relationship, but again not seem desperate for their business, simply that you want that friend back.
3. Timely Re-Targeting Ads
The Strategy: Deliver re-targeting ads to your cancelled customers saying “We miss you”. Start these at 2 weeks post cancel and run through 6 weeks post cancel. Remind the customer about your brand and what they are missing now that they have cancelled. (Dos & Don'ts)
Why It Works: It starts to remind customers when they are away from your site and emails about how they used to engage with you. These ads are timely, regardless of whether your subscription is weekly or monthly, this time frame gives them a chance to re-think that cancellation. It helps them evaluate how they are now solving that problem they originally intended to solve using your service, and whether that is working for them or not.
How It Fits: This is either the second or third time customers are hearing from you, depending on if they had a problem your customer care team reached out about. This effort is simply a reminder; a way to stay present in the customers realm of solutions. While you will likely see lower reactivation from this campaign alone, this is part of the nurturing process that will make your latter outreach that much more effective.
4. Automated Email Series
The Strategy: Setup an automated series of emails, starting at 45 days post cancel, that give those inactive customers a special offer for reactivating. With each email give them a short, concise reason why or how you help them solve their problem. (Dos & Don'ts)
Why It Works: At this point your customers have gotten a taste for life without you; have they found another solution to meet their needs? If they have tried a few other ways to solve their problem, each of these may not have worked for them either - this is a good time for you to swoop back in and help them re-understand how your solution will do it.
How It Fits: This is likely the fourth of the various ways customers might see you trying to re-engage them. It is timely to their personal experience - it’s been long enough, but not too long to ask them for their business again. You want to be seen as the solution they didn’t realize was actually the best.
5. Seasonal Email Campaign
The Strategy: Identify your top season and promote a big reactivation campaign with a great deal to your longer cancelled customers. Add urgency to your campaign by keeping the timeline short. Take this opportunity to give the customer a refresh on why your service solves their problem - some of these customers may have been latent for quite some time. (Dos & Don'ts)
Why It Works: The timing of this outreach should align with a time of year that they need your service more than ever and will remind them of that. The offer is too good to pass up. While they may have come back you on their own, you want to help them feel valued, make them know you want them back and want to help them be successful - you are their partner in solving that problem.
How It Fits: This is one of the longer-term outreach strategies you have to keep customers engaged. It should happen only once per year, at most twice per year, otherwise you will start to see this campaign become less and less effective over time.
Bonus Strategy - This one is a little more costly, but adds a unique touch that will get noticed - use a service like Navistone Personalized Post-Cards to send a timely physical note like “We’re sorry to see you go, but when you’re ready to come back we’ll be here waiting. Thanks again for being our customer.” Timing on this would be most well received within a few days of the customer cancelling.
An Evergreen Strategy for Re-Engagement?
Okay so you might ask - how do I keep latent/lost customers who don’t reactivate in any of these efforts engaged for my next annual campaign. You don’t want to drop off the map only to be heard from once a year. This is where your content marketing comes in. You should be sending these customers, along with your unconverted prospects, valuable content at least once a month. Content that helps them solve their problem or entertains them; gives them a reason to feel a connection with your brand. These emails should have an ever-present call to action to re-activate or subscribe. You will see a few customers trickle in from these communications, but the goal is to use those communications to nurture them throughout the year.
Don’t have the capacity to create this strategy for your brand, much less to implement that strategy - schedule time with an expert in re-engagement.
Next time, we will go deep into the dos and don'ts of each strategy above. Stay tuned for our follow-up blog: "In-Depth Tips on Win-Back Strategies That Work".
For an evaluation of your current customer experience/retention strategies and where to focus, fill in our Customer Insights & Action Plan request. There are often two or three quick wins you can implement within a few weeks to reduce churn or start winning back lost customers immediately. Let’s get started finding some revenue opportunities for you.