Winning back customers who have turned somewhere else to fulfill their needs can be a challenge, but it's not impossible. With the right approach, you can add former customers to your loyal customer base. Let’s explore some effective, proven win-back strategies to get your lost customers back.
7 Proven Strategies to Win Back Customers
A lost customer doesn’t have to stay lost, but they’re unlikely to come back and find you on their own. You can win back lost customers and improve your customer retention rate by implementing the following proven win-back strategies.
Send out relevant offers and updates
“Out of sight out of mind” is true when it comes to your brand. Customers who only made one purchase may not have returned simply because they forgot about you — not because they had anything to complain about from their first purchase.
Maintain top of mind awareness and don’t let customers forget about you by having a solid brand awareness strategy in place. Part of this strategy is targeting previous customers through email and SMS.
When it comes to winning back those one-time purchasers, and keeping your brand above all others in their mind, be sure to send out relevant offers and updates. Relevant is the key word here, as you don’t want to come off as spammy.
For example, Natural Life launched an SMS program to better connect with their customers, and they send out relevant offers every two weeks with the Friendbuy/Attentive integration. This quickly became one of their top revenue channels.
“Don’t be afraid of frequency,” says Carolyn Grana, the Director of Digital Experience at Natural Life.
“We’ve always been cautious of over messaging, over emailing, and over texting our customers. But with the way things have changed the last few years and an increase in distracted consumers, multiple touchpoints aren’t a bad thing.”
PRO TIP: We recommend sending quarterly referral email blasts to keep customers engaged with your brand.
Getaway House sent an email blast to existing customers in their referral program just to say that they could earn even more toward their next booking if they continue to make referrals.
ILIA does something similar by reminding customers what they loved so much about the brand to begin with: clean products and impressive discounts.
Take it from Carolyn Grana of Natural Life: don’t be afraid of frequency. Just be sure to offer them something they actually want to see often.
Give special, personalized discounts
Giving out freebies or discounts is almost a surefire way to win back lost customers. Add a personalized touch by sending them offers that are catered to their previous spending habits.
Take a page out of FIGS’ book. They send out a custom email on each customer's anniversary with product suggestions tailored just for them. Even though this method isn’t specifically a win-back strategy, you can employ the same ideas. Give customers personalized product suggestions coupled with discounts for the best chances of success.
If you do want to offer some discounts with your personalized suggestions, then the type of offer you send out plays a huge role in your chances of winning customers, according to Harvard Business Review. Determine if that’s a discount, upgrade, bundle, or tailored offer based on customer segmentation and reach out appropriately.
Image Credit: HBR
Keep in mind that a one-off coupon might not be enough to win customers back long-term. Offering a smaller discount, but one that’s applied to multiple future orders, could be a better approach to keep customers thinking about your brand and your products or services.
Improve your customer service
Even if you pride your brand on having exceptional customer service, one bad encounter can push a customer away. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost — while 33% of consumers say they’d switch brands after one poor customer service experience, 78% of consumers also said they'd forgive a brand if they received excellent customer service.
Figure out which of your lost customers left due to poor customer service experience, and take responsibility for the negative encounter. You have the potential to win these customers back if you take an empathetic approach and offer something in return.
Friendbuy customer Athletic Greens takes this very seriously and has the customer base to prove it.
This will show that you have no problem going above and beyond to rectify any mistakes or poor experiences. Even if this doesn’t convince a customer to come back, it ensures that the last interaction they had with your brand is a positive one, which is key.
And if you have your online reviews prominently displayed to begin with, then you may be able to pacify upset customers until your support team has a chance to rectify the situation.
Re-engage customers through cross-selling
Re-engage customers who only made one purchase by personalizing outreach through SMS or email. Based on a customer’s order history, you can suggest other products they might like. This is a great, personal way to re-engage them and incentivize them to make repeat purchases based on your recommendations.
Do some research to determine a good product purchase to target when you’re re-engaging customers. If you offer a baseline product that is a good jumping off point for similar products, then target customers who purchased that initial product but haven’t made a purchase since.
ILIA Beauty specifically targets customers who purchase their skin tint product and then guides them through the process of building out their regimen. This personalized outreach increases the LTV of these customers, as they are more likely to continue purchasing products from ILIA.
This form of cross-selling is similar to a “customers also bought” suggestion on your ecommerce website, but the personalization and intentionality behind the outreach makes it a great tactic to win back lost customers..
Invite customers to join your loyalty program
What better way to encourage customers to keep doing business with your brand than by rewarding them for their loyalty? 79% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with brands.
Give consumers a reason to be repeat customers. Customers might’ve missed out on your loyalty program, so put it right in front of them. Send them an offer they can’t resist that educates them about the value behind your program.
A loyalty program lends your brand additional value and will help you stand out among competitors. Whether you’re using loyalty points, have a tiered program, or a value-based program, customers will be more likely to shop with you when they see your brand as more valuable than others.
To really sell your loyalty program, and turn a one-time customer into a repeat purchaser, offer loyalty points just by signing up for the program. Fusion does this, giving customers 500 reward points when they join.
Make the most of personalized touchpoints
Every single interaction you have with a customer is an opportunity to uplift your brand’s image. Personalized touchpoints are a smart way to engage customers and spark a line of communication with inactive customers.
Duradry keeps track of when it’s time for customers to re-order products. With this information, they have the perfect excuse to outreach via email or SMS to remind the customer to purchase. For further incentivization, they offer a special discount.
This is a great idea to try out, even on customers who have only made one purchase in the past. It lets them know you’re thinking of them, and, who wants to say no to a special offer?
You can also make the most of touchpoints by asking customers to review products and rewarding them for completing the action. Tailor the rewards to each specific customer and you’ll increase the chances of them becoming repeat buyers.
Engage customers before they churn
Rather than trying to solve a problem, it’s better to be proactive and not even let the problem occur. Keep your customer churn rate low by winning customers who are thinking about leaving, but haven’t yet. This is the most cost-effective method because you’re targeting returning customers and encouraging them to remain loyal.
Keep customers happy with loyalty or referral programs that provide added value to your brand. This is the first step to ensuring long-term business success. Unfortunately, these programs aren’t enough to keep every customer happy. Those that aren’t interested in joining — and are showing signs of churning — need to be appropriately engaged.
Identify which customers are likely to churn soon, and get to them first. Spanx sends out a clever email that tells consumers they’re in need of a new bra (based on spending habits) and offers free shipping to go with it.
Similarly, Mint Mobile also frequently offers great deals to customers. Those that are nearing the end of their plan, and haven’t renewed might be more tempted to do so when presented with a personal email and a discounted offer.
FAQs About Winning Back Lost Customers
Winning back customers can be a tricky process, and it's important to understand when and how to approach the situation. Knowing the answers to the following frequently asked questions can help you build an effective customer retention and win-back strategy.
At what point should I “win back” a customer?
Re-engaging “lost” customers is worth the effort. Brands have a 20–40% chance of winning back a lost customer compared to a 5–20% chance of converting a prospect into a new customer, according to a Marketing Metrics study. Your lost customers are already aware of your brand, they’ve already demonstrated a need for your product/service, and it’s easier to personalize your communication based on their purchase history and behavior.
This isn’t to say you need to focus your win-back efforts on every lost customer. Make an educated, data-driven decision when you’re deciding who to target and how to target them. What’s important is ensuring that customers have a positive perception of your brand, so even if you can’t win a customer back, make sure they had a good experience interacting with you.
What are the most effective methods for winning back lost customers?
Everyone loves a freebie or discount, and offering up personalized offers over email or SMS is one of the most popular ways to win back lost customers. Taking responsibility and apologizing if a customer experiences poor service also goes a long way. Ultimately, showing your customers that you understand them and care about them is what it takes to win them back.
The most effective methods will depend on why the customer left in the first place. Do some research to fully grasp that information, and then you can implement the right win-back strategy for each scenario.
How can I find out why customers left in the first place?
The best way to get a definite answer is to ask. Send out a well-crafted customer feedback survey that will give you valuable insights. The data you get from this will help you determine how to segment your lost customers and the best course of action to take. It’s also a great opportunity for you to show off your exceptional customer service.
Keep your survey short and to the point. It’s the research phase, not the pitching phase, so make sure it’s free of any sales connotations. Send out a survey via email that asks former customers some of the following questions:
- Why did you choose our company to begin with?
- What company did you shift to to better meet your needs?
- What made you decide to go with this company instead?
- Is there anything we can do to earn back your business?
- Are you still interested in learning about our new products/services in the future?
How can I prevent customers from leaving in the future?
The right customer retention methods can decrease customer churn, keep customers engaged, and add new customers into a growing loyal customer base. Referral programs and loyalty programs are two great ways to make customers feel valued.
Keep your customers happy and increase customer loyalty by showing gratitude, providing benefits for every purchase, and building a useful community for your customers. Remember, poor customer service will send consumers running in the opposite direction, but excellent customer service will encourage them to stick around. High customer churn rates aren’t inevitable — they’re even avoidable.
Is it possible to win back all customers, or should I focus on certain segments?
It’s not possible to turn every inactive customer into an active one. Instead, focus your efforts on customers whose prior behavior suggests they could be interested again in the future. You may lose customers to competitors, and if you can understand why they chose the competition over you, you can make the necessary changes to win them back.
There are four different types of lost customers you should try the hardest to win back:
- Customers who never had a complaint
- Customers who participated in a loyalty/referral program
- Customers who left due to price
- Customers who had a complaint successfully resolved
How can I make the customer experience more personalized to win back customers?
The key to winning back lapsed customers is to understand why they left in the first place and then personalize your outreach. A generic email isn’t going to convince anyone to come back. Personalize email and SMS outreach by offering discounts relevant to their purchase history or use cross-selling to show lapsed customers that you understand them and want to help.
Avoid bland copy throughout your customer win-back strategies. Just as you want any marketing campaign to represent your brand’s voice and style, that same tone should be reflected in your win-back strategy.
Grow Faster with Word of Mouth Referrals
Don’t ever let a customer go cold again. Friendbuy can help you build a referral and loyalty program that will keep customers coming back.