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Customer Winback: How to Reactivate Buyers Who Haven’t Purchased in Months

We all know how tough it is to acquire new customers. But what about those tried and true buyers who used to frequent your business but have fallen off the radar? Winning back their loyalty can be a major boost for sales.


In this post, we’ll explore some smart tactics for identifying and targeting once-loyal customers who haven’t purchased from you recently. With the right approach, you can persuade these lapsed buyers to start purchasing from you again.



Who Are Your Best Customer Winback Targets?

The first step is figuring out who your best targets are for a customer winback campaign. Analyze your records to uncover previous customers who:

  • Haven’t made a purchase in 3-12 months - Focus on those in the 3-12 month range since they’re more likely to reengage than customers who haven’t bought in over a year.

  • Previously made multiple purchases - Buyers who purchased from you more than once have stronger existing relationships with your brand that you can revive.

  • Spent higher amounts historically - Big spenders are valuable to win back versus one-time buyers.

  • Purchased higher-margin products - Make targeting customers who bought your most profitable items a priority.

  • Interacted with loyalty or incentive programs - Take a look at redemption rates for any existing promotional programs you have.

Segment your list based on these attributes to identify your prime customer winback targets. Then you can craft targeted messaging and offers tailored to each group’s preferences and behaviors.


Craft Email Campaigns to Reconnect with Lapsed Buyers

Email is one of the most effective channels for customer winback outreach. Use these email best practices to maximize results:


Personalize subject lines - Segment your list so you can include the customer’s name and/or past purchase details in the subject line. This immediately tells the recipient you’re targeting them intentionally.


Remind them of the value they got - Refresh their memory on their specific past purchases and the value those items brought them. They’ll reminisce about great experiences with your brand.


Position it as a welcome back - Warmly tell them you’ve noticed they haven’t shopped with you recently and that you’re excited to welcome them back. This makes them feel appreciated.


Offer an exclusive promo - A special discount, free gift, or limited-time offer just for returning customers incentivizes them to purchase again.


Make it easy to re-order favorites - Remind them of bestsellers they purchased and provide quick links to repurchase and reorder with one click.


Follow up with multiple touches - Follow your initial outreach with a series of compelling emails to win back lapsed customers over time.


Adding personalization throughout your customer winback emails produces higher open and click-through rates. You know what they’ve bought from you before, so use those insights to capture their attention.


Entice Former Buyers Back with Targeted Promotions

Promotions and sales are tried and true ways to incentivize customer winback. But avoid overly generic offers and instead develop promotions targeted to their past purchasing behavior.


Here are some smart ways to tailor promos to win back former customers:

  • Bundle their favorites - Offer a specially priced bundle of 2-3 items they’ve purchased in the past. This makes it easy for them to replenish favorites.

  • Highlight new releases - If they bought the previous version or edition, spotlight that the new release is now available. Provide an upgrade discount.

  • Remind them of loyalty perks - If they used to be a loyalty program member, remind them of those benefits and offer a special VIP discount for rejoining.

  • Give free shipping - Free or discounted shipping costs can be major incentives, especially for higher-value items and bundles.

  • Offer additional discounts - Gradually increase the discount if they don’t respond to initial promos, until you find the right offer.

  • Set purchase thresholds - Tactics like “Spend $X get $X Off” encourages bigger basket sizes from returning customers.

  • Give free gifts - A surprise free gift added to their order reminds customers of your brand’s generosity.

  • Make it time-bound - Limited-time offers create urgency to take advantage of the deal.

Test alternate versions of your customer winback promotions to determine which resonate best with each target segment. The more relevant the offer feels, the higher the response rate.


Remarket to Reignite Relationships

Remarketing ads help you continue nurturing relationships with one-time or lapsed customers to turn them into regular long-term buyers.


Here are some ways to effectively remarket and win back disengaged leads and customers:

  • Target high-value pages - Remarket visitors who viewed high-priced items, bundle deals, or key pages in your purchase funnel.

  • Keep your brand visible - Display ads remind former customers about your brand while they browse elsewhere online.

  • Use shopping cart retargeting - Ad copy like “Left something in your cart?” inspires abandoned cart customers to complete their purchase.

  • Highlight what’s new - For existing customers, advertise new arrivals or features they might have missed.

  • Offer webinars and tutorials - Educational content is great for remarketing, especially for specialized products.

  • Share new use cases - Demonstrate expanded ways existing customers could benefit from repurchasing and using your product in new ways.

  • Retarget with reviews - Positive customer testimonials and reviews help win back hesitant shoppers.

Design remarketing ads to pick up where website visitors left off and continue nurturing them through the buyer's journey. The more value you provide along the way, the more receptive they’ll be when you eventually promote a repurchase.


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Analyze What Changed to Reactivate Buyers

Sometimes customers stop purchasing for reasons entirely outside your control. Their needs may have changed or they found another source. In these cases, taking the time to understand what shifted for dormant customers is key.


Survey or interview former customers to uncover:

  • Changed preferences - Ask if their requirements or tastes have evolved so you can update recommendations.

  • New priorities - A shift in business needs or personal interests may change purchase criteria.

  • Supply chain issues - Ask if shipping times, stock shortages, or other fulfillment problems impacted them. Then fix.

  • Competitor offerings - See if a rival pulled them away by better addressing emerging needs. Then get competitive insights.

  • Pricing misalignment - Determine if your pricing structure fell out of line with their expectations.

  • Feature gaps - Are competitors now offering key features you lack? Identify must-have capabilities to win back customers.

  • Poor customer service - Bad experiences stick in customers’ minds. Diagnose if service issues were the culprit.

You may not be able to accommodate every evolved need. But simply showing former buyers that you’re listening to feedback and making improvements can help change perceptions.


Continually Earn Back Loyalty with Outstanding Service

Sometimes the best customer winback strategy is reminding disengaged customers what made them loyal fans in the first place - your tried and true service.


Here are some tips for impressing once-loyal customers:

  • Assign VIP support reps - Designate staff who personally handle queries from returning high-spend customers to rebuild rapport.

  • Proactively reach out - Don’t just wait for them to come to you. Have reps periodically check in with resurrected accounts to address any new needs.

  • Make amends for mistakes - If you identify any past pain points that caused them to leave, sincerely apologize and rectify them.

  • Roll out the red carpet - Think over-the-top welcome backs, like handwritten thank you notes. Overdelivering on service creates delightful surprises.

  • Ask for feedback - Get their input on how you could improve. Then actually implement suggestion and share how you’re addressing concerns.

  • Offer exclusive access - VIP events, early access to new products/features, and special content just for recovered top customers makes them feel valued.

  • Share the love - Spotlight delighted returning customers on social media, in ads, and on your website to remind them of the positive relationship.

By doubling down on your customer service strengths, you reinforce what originally cultivated their loyalty so they stick around long-term.


Turning Around Customer Churn Takes Patience and Persistence

Reviving engagement with customers who have gone dormant takes time and dedicated nurturing. But the payoff of higher retention and recovered lifetime value is well worth the effort.


Start by identifying your most promising targets for re-engagement and meeting their shifting needs.


Deploy smartly tailored email campaigns, website retargeting, promotions, and outstanding service to methodically transform lapsed buyers back into your most avid brand advocates.


With the right customer winback approach, you can not only bring wandering customers back into the fold, but emerge with even stronger customer relationships.


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