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How to Get Customers to Come Back: 5 Tips for Re-engaging Inactive Shoppers

You’ve worked hard and likely spent a lot of time and money acquiring new customers, which is why it’s tough when someone stops buying or engaging with your brand.
If you’re in this situation, keep reading. In this article, we’ll explore the ways that you can re-engage inactive customers and encourage them to give your a business a second chance.
1. Run (different types of) “we miss you” campaigns
Sometimes, the best approach is to just be direct. Tell your inactive customers that you miss them, and then spell out the reasons why they should come back. Here are some suggestions:
Tell them what’s new
If you’ve introduced new products, styles, or benefits, use them as a hook in your “We miss you” message. Talk about the new stuff that you’ve been up to, and let the user know that you’d love for them to check out all the fresh new things that you’re offering.
Here’s an example from Gilt. In their email, Gilt talks about the new brands, styles, and sizes that they've added, and they share that they've started offering free shipping and faster returns.

Remind them why they love shopping with you
Another tactic is to remind shoppers why they’ve chosen to shop with you. Perhaps you’re selling exclusive brands that can’t be found anywhere else. Or, maybe you provide flexible payment options. Whatever it is, include it in your messaging.
Here’s one example of this tactic in action. Synchrony Financial sends its inactive cardmembers a quick email reminding people about the benefits of having a Synchrony card. 

Run a promotion
If you really want to get certain customers back, consider sweetening up your message with a promotion. Tell subscribers that you miss them and throw in a coupon to get their attention (and hopefully, business).
Check out this email from Tiny Prints, which comes with a $30 coupon. 

Pro tip: for best results, personalize your messages
Running a “We miss you!” campaign is great, but it won’t nearly be as effective if you don’t personalize your messages. For best results, incorporate some level of customization in your emails.
Let’s say you’re sending a coupon. Instead of just writing a generic message with an offer code, why not include content that’s relevant to the recipient?
Let’s go back to the Tiny Prints example above. In their email, Tiny Prints was promoting a baby-centric theme because they know that I used their service to purchase baby shower invitations. Tiny Prints cleverly used my purchase history to come up with a relevant offer.
You can also apply personalization when reminding customers why they love shopping with you. Again, rather than just composing a “batch and blast” message, tailor your emails so they’re relevant to each customer. You could, for instance, talk about the products that each customer previously purchased, to remind them to check out your store again.
2. Piggyback on a special event or occasion
If you’re not comfortable sending re-engagement messages out of the blue, then time your campaign so that it coincides with a particular holiday, special occasion, or time of year.
Check out the following email from Elance (now Upwork). The company sent an email and offer around December to “finish off one last project before year-end.” They used the end of year as an excuse to run a re-engagement campaign. See if you can do similar.

Other occasions include:
  • Customer birthdays
  • Time of the year or season (New year, new season, end of the year, etc.)
  • Federal holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, etc.)
  • Family-centric holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.)
  • Company milestones (Your business anniversary, 500th customer, etc.)
  • “For fun” holidays (May the 4th, Pi Day, etc.)
3. Reward your shoppers
If you’re looking to reconnect with inactive members of your loyalty program, entice those customers by offering additional rewards. Starbucks is a master at this strategy. The coffee company is always coming up with extra rewards to get their existing customers to come back.
Have a look at the example email below. In it, Starbucks introduced "Double Star Day," a day when members can earn two times the amount of Stars on any purchase.
It also looks like Starbucks customized these messages. I personally order their Protein Box all the time, so I found it interesting that they featured that exact product in their email. Coincidence? I t

4. Don’t just do it once
“We miss you” emails work best when they’re part of a series. Bear in mind that people sometimes need multiple nudges or reminders before they take action. For this reason, it’s important to create and schedule several messages when running a re-engagement initiative.
To increase the effectiveness of your campaign, include a mix of different message types. For instance, you could start by sending an email talking about the new offerings that you have. And if the customer doesn’t respond, send another email reminding them of the things they love about you. Then, cap off your campaign with a compelling offer.
5. Be visible on other channels
We’ve talked a lot about email so far, but it’s important to note that sending emails isn’t the only way to re-engage inactive customers. If you really want to get back in the radar of shoppers (and if you have the budget for it) invest the resources to be present in other channels.
One company that does this well is Care/of, a company that sells vitamins and supplements. In addition to sending emails, Care/of also runs retargeting ads on Facebook. This helps them stay top of mind and allows them to generate return visits from customers. 

Another channel to consider? Mobile. The small screen plays a big role in the purchase journey, so make sure to have your mobile bases covered.

SMS could be a good option, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store. A compelling and well-timed text message could be just the thing that gets a customer to come back to your store.
Take a look at this example from Snowflakes, a dessert shop in Southern California.

The key takeaway here is you need to figure out where your customers are spending their time. Which websites, apps, or devices are they using? Is there a way for you to be on those channels? If the answer is yes, then why not test them?

The key takeaway here is you need to figure out where your customers are spending their time. Which websites, apps, or devices are they using? Is there a way for you to be on those channels? If the answer is yes, then why not test them?
Customer re-engagement checklist
You just read some pretty actionable tactics and hopefully, you’re now brimming with ideas to implement in your business. Before you run off to start a re-engagement campaign, take a couple more minutes to check out this re-engagement checklist.
Here’s a quick list of the key ingredients required to run a successful re-enagement program. The more things you can check off, the better your results will. (Items marked with an asterisk* are must-haves.)
Customer data - Having the right customer information will allow you to customize your campaigns and improve your chances of winning back your customers. Some of the most important data points to have are:
  • Name*
  • Email*
  • Purchase history and activity*
  • Date of last visit and/or purchase*
  • Amount of points or rewards they have (if you’re running a loyalty program)
  • Birthday
Marketing tools - The platforms or solutions that you’re using play a critical role in implementing your re-engagement campaign. See to it that you have the features necessary to connect with customers. These may include:
  • Email marketing capabilities*
  • Customer segmentation*
  • Loyalty program
  • Mobile marketing
  • Analytics*
Your turn
Now we’d like to hear from you. What are your top tips for re-engaging inactive customers? Let us know in the comments.