- eCommerce

7 actionable email marketing tactics to re-engage your customers

Your customer’s inboxes are always bombarded with emails because email is still among the top traffic sources in eCommerce. This is also the reason why some of your messages might be overlooked by people who subscribed to your list.

If you focus on building an email list to reach a bigger audience with juicy deals, don’t forget that your business growth relies on keeping your subscribers engaged and converting them into happy customers. Lose your customers and you lose your business.

I’m sure that looking through your subscriber list, it’s still easy to find those who subscribed, bought something once, but now they seem to be non-responsive to your messages.

Should you try to win the inactive customers back? You definitely should. Here is why.

What You Will Learn

  • Why re-engaging customers is worth your efforts
  • Why email marketing is an effective tool for customer re-engagement
  • How to re-engage your inactive customers

Why inactive customers are worth your email marketing efforts

Most businesses put all their focus into getting new customers. This is a big mistake. The costs associated with re-engaging existing customers are much lower. Up to five times lower, according to Econsultancy.

What happens after they buy? People who already bought something from you are more likely to buy again in the future. Take advantage of it.

Existing customers are already on some level of relationship with you and email allows you to enhance this relationship. In fact, marketers point to email marketing as the most effective channel for customer re-engagement.

Email marketing                      56%

Social media marketing         37%

Content marketing                  32%

Referral marketing                  26%

SEO                                            13%

Display advertising                 12%

Mobile advertising                  8%

Digital video advertising        7%

Affiliate marketing                  6%

Paid search                              4%

Source: http://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/

Try yourself and invest time in email communication with your existing customers. I hope you will find the following actionable email marketing tactics helpful.

Email marketing winback tactics

  1. Intriguing title gets your email open

It doesn’t matter how much time you put into crafting your email offer, your efforts are wasted if a subscriber deletes your message right after reading a boring or irrelevant email subject line.

Remember that you’re sending a campaign to people who have already ignored your emails. To catch their attention change up your copy style. Be creative, intriguing, informative. And leave some space for curiosity.

All customers want to feel important and valued, and this is certainly true for those who may have been inactive for some time. Use copy that is rooted with psychology and make them feel special and valuable:

  • using the words “miss you” – 13% read rate [Return Path]
  • using the words “come back” – 7% read rate [Return Path]
  • personalization with the name – 126% higher OR [FreshMail]
  • £-off discounts vs %-off discounts – twice as successful
  • scarcity and time sensitive offer – strong effect on email opens
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In re-activation campaign for bd_sklep.pl we used email subject lines of a more direct nature. We also included 30£-off discount. This resulted with doubled Open Rate comparing to regular communication.

Email subject line: You have one day left to use £30 voucher in bdsklep.pl

  1. Right incentive brings back the positive vibe

When people are nice to you, the natural response is to be nice in return. The phenomena is called the law of reciprocity. How can you apply this in email marketing?

Offer your customers a special treat, something “little extra” – discount, free delivery, etc. Make them feel good about their previous purchase. Be careful with giving away too much, you don’t want your customers to get accustomed to lower prices, which in the long term might hurt your income.

The good feelings associated with the purchase which you will introduce in your re-engagement message will compel them to buy again.

This is the simplest email marketing strategy to improve purchase frequency.

Email subject line: WE MISS YOU! Enjoy our best FREE SHIPPING offer

  1. Different sender name can be a game changer

Email is the most direct marketing channel. Always remember to humanize your message. Do you write “newsletter” in the “from” field? That’s far from creating the sense of security…

Check if your sender name establishes trust in your customer’s eyes. In the winback campaign for bd_sklep.pl we tested the new sender – Raphael. Previously for many years emails were sent by Dorothy.

Even such a small change can help you achieve a higher open rate. In our case, customers were mainly women, so the introduction of the male sender helped to increase the Open Rate 😉

  1. Get technical with anti-spam filters

If customers are inactive for a long period of time, let’s say 6-12 months, you always need to be cautious. The low rate of their engagement might send your email straight into the spam folder.

Let’s trick the spam filters and make the email as conversational and human-like as possible. With this method, we will get a bit more technical.

Try to make your message as similar to a transactional email as possible. Again I will show you an example from the bd_sklep.pl winback campaigns:

We used dynamic content to introduce different values in our message. The dynamic content was also used in the pre-header section. All these made the message look like a transactional email, where values change depending on the order number, order value, customers data, etc.

When it comes to communication, email highlighted how successful the retailer was at the moment of send. We included values pointing to numbers of customers reviews, savings in a loyalty program and deliveries completed. All that to re-establish the brand image and customer’s trust.

And finally: we used post scriptum. There’s a lot of truth in the marketing adage “no copy should be wasted copy”. People expect something important in any “PS” and will definitely read it.

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What we did was writing: “For old times sake :)” – as we wanted to remind inactive customers that they already have trusted us once. And… we offered them a voucher of 30£ to spend in the retailer’s store.

  1. Autoresponders will trigger customers to buy more

Imagine the situation that every once in awhile a message from you lands in your customer’s inbox. Repetition of things, here implemented in autoresponders, has a distinct effect and sooner or later customers will develop a habit of opening and engaging with your communication.

With helpful, easy to digest and not sales oriented messages you have a high chance to re-build your brand image. After that, it will be a lot easier to leverage sales.

Let’s see a few situations where drip emails come in handy in winning a sizeable part of inactive customers.

○     Abandoned carts

This is a huge pain-point for every eCommerce retailer. Some customers just need to try one thing a few times to finally decide they want it. Like you’ve never tried a pair of shoes, left and then came back again to get them, right?

Remind your customers they have unfinished business. Dot&Bo also added a discount in their abandoned cart email. You may try this too. High shipping prices might be the causes of cart abandonment.

Email Subject line: Psst… You left something behind!

○     Customer is visiting your site

If you integrate your email marketing system with your Google Analytics account you can easily track your customer’s behavior on your site. Getting your customers back there is a golden opportunity to get them to buy.

The smart way to do it is to show them the products they were already looking at but left without completing the order. This is exactly what UncommonGoods did, take a look:

○     Educational drip program

Remember that only a few percent of visitors coming to your website are ready to buy and just half of them will buy sometime in the future. And repetition will trigger their understanding as it gives time for the penny to drop.

Nurture campaigns for eCommerce will help you educate your customers, show-off the latest trends and prepare them to a buy-ready state of mind. Generally, your inactive customers won’t convert in the first two messages, so prepare more of them and proceed to sales pitches at the end.

If you’re selling shoes your drip program can look as follows:

  • Guide to choose the perfect shoe size
  • The dangerous side of not caring for your leather shoes
  • What your choice of shoes says about you
  • Our customers top picks for the summer season
  • What our customers say about us!
  • Our new collection is in!
  • Don’t miss out… only for 48h! Free delivery starts now!
  1. People change… so do email preferences

What has happened in your life for the past several months? Maybe you’ve changed your job? Got engaged? Got a baby or a pet? Or got a new hobby? Consumer’s preferences might change drastically according to their current needs. To find out if that’s the case in some percentage of your inactive customers, ask them to update their subscription preferences.

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Customers who still want to hear from you will be very pleased to have content delivered on their own terms.

What should you ask in a preference center? Focus on questions that make a difference:

  • ask for the first name for personalisation purposes
  • ask for the birth date to trigger a birthday email
  • ask to choose style or category preferences to deliver relevant content
  • ask about frequency preferences so as not to overwhelm them with too many emails
  • ask on what social platforms they are active on in order to trigger any special promotions
  1. Final move: ask to re-opt in

Having on your list long inactive recipients is not something unusual. If you’ve already tried different approaches, you can try one more thing. Re-permission campaign.

No beating about the bush, simply ask your inactive customers to opt-in again so they can still receive your emails.

Mentioning that you’re going to delete their data from your mailing list, might help a little. People usually react very sensitive if some of THEIR valuable data is being removed.

Instead of writing:

  • You will be removed from the mailing list and won’t receive any promotional messages anymore


  • Your data will be removed from the mailing list and you won’t receive promotional messages anymore

And include two CTA:

Ok, remove my data >>                    Keep my data, I want to receive marketing offers>>

According to Return Path, re-permission campaigns have very low 1.8% read rate. Don’t let that stop you! Retaining customers who opted-in twice is more valuable in the long term than trying to collect new ones.

‘Wrapping It Up’

Having an eCommerce business is a 24/7 job! Among other tasks, running a newsletter is a major help to build and maintain a relationship with customers, and also re-target.

Leaving inactive customers alone means leaving sales opportunities alone. A little bit of effort gives you the chance to bring them back into a conversation with you and perhaps towards a conversion.

If you’re using email marketing in your eCommerce I bet Custora Q1 report results will make you really happy. Email marketing accounted for over 18% of purchases in eCommerce. That is 3% more than during the same timeframe in 2015!

Keep doing a great job! Armed with the personalization and automation tools that email marketing provides, your win-back emails can be extremely successful in re-engaging your customers.

Do you have any of your own tips about how to re-engage inactive customers to share? Please post them in the comments and feel free to ask any questions you have!



This article is a guest post from Maria Wachal, Head of Content at FreshMail. Maria is passionate about digital marketing and content creation. She puts her technical and marketing experience to work towards the goal of enhancing email marketing.

7 actionable email marketing tactics to re-engage your customers

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