Reengagement email marketing set to Motown
Has anyone ever used the lyrics of The Jackson Five to demonstrate the importance of reengagement email marketing before? I highly doubt it. There may be a good reason for this; or maybe this is what the marketing world has been waiting for and I’m about to be showered in industry awards. Only time will tell. Here goes…
When I had you to myself, I didn’t want you around. Those pretty faces always made you stand out in a crowd.
What I think they are saying here is that, as marketers, once we have successfully converted a lead into a customer, we have a bad habit of losing interest in them and going on the hunt for the next shiny new lead.
Then someone picked you from the bunch, one glance was all it took. Now it’s much too late for me, to take a second look.
It doesn’t take much for our competition to tempt our customer away from us once they feel unloved and neglected. When this happens, it makes it that much harder to convince the customer that we’ve seen the error of our ways. But is it actually ‘much too late’? More on that later.
Oh, baby give me one more chance, to show you that I love you. Won’t you please let me, back in your heart?
In order to be in with a shout of ‘one more chance’ to show your customer that you love/value them, you have to work out what went wrong in the first place, so that you can rectify it and not make the same mistake in the future. That’s where reengagement campaigns come in.
Reengagement email marketing can relight the fire
I don’t need to go through the whole song, do I? Fundamentally, the message is that repeat customers are an incredibly valuable asset to our business. Yet a shockingly small amount of effort is made to win back customers who are showing signs that they are losing interest; when, in reality, recognising the signs and taking preemptive action is an easy win. Far easier than attracting their replacement (and far less costly to boot).
The aim of this guide from here-on is to show you how reengagement email marketing can, and should, be used to win-back at-risk customers and reignite the spark they felt when they first started their relationship with you. I’m sorry to inform you that there will be no musical references (sniff) – but there will be extremely useful stats and tips (hurrah).
The whys and wherefores
Firstly, let’s explore some of the reasons that customers might disengage:
- They had a bad experience the last time they bought from you
- Your marketing messages don’t resonate with them anymore – they’re irrelevant or offer little value
- They only buy when you have great offers so they have no loyalty to you as a brand
- Their circumstances have changed – for example, they’ve changed jobs or moved house
- Their interests have changed – for example, they used to be super into running but they now love rock climbing
- Their interests are the same but your business focus has changed so you’re no longer relevant to them
- They don’t hear from you very often so they’ve forgotten that they opted in to your list
- They hear from you too often so your key messages get lost in a sea of white noise
- They actually prefer to engage with your brand via another channel – for example, they don’t read your emails but often click through from your Facebook posts
As with any customer analysis, it’s rarely black and white. Some of the reasons are outside of your control; and that’s fine. Losing a few customers is to be expected – we can’t please all of the people all of the time. However, for the reasons that are within your control, you are missing out on potential revenue by not addressing them.
According to the smart folks over at Hubspot, on average marketers lose 22.5% of their active email list every year. Essentially, if no action is taken, 25% of your subscribers will stop engaging with your brand, which means fewer open and clicks – but, ultimately it means fewer purchases. Crucially, customers that have severely disengaged from you won’t even care enough to unsubscribe. They’ll just do….nothing. This can seriously damage your inbox placement rates which can, over time, lead to ISPs flagging your emails as spam.
Thankfully, there is a solution (let’s face it, this would be a terrible best practice guide if there wasn’t). That solution is email.
The all-important strategy
It may seem counter-intuitive to tackle lack of email engagement with more email, but the stats show that it works. In fact, 63% of marketers surveyed by Salesforce consider reengagement campaigns to be ‘very effective’. Furthermore, 45% of recipients who read a win-back email go on to read subsequent emails. Bear in mind though that only 24% of disengaged customers will read the first reengagement email, leaving 76% that won’t. Therefore, your campaign strategy should extend beyond one attempt.
What could a win-back strategy look like for you? I’m glad you asked. The first thing you need to do is segment your list. Decide what an ‘engaged’ customer looks like to your business. The most common way to do that is by using an RFM matrix:
- Recency from their last purchase
- Frequency of purchases over a specific time period
- Monetary value of the customer based on lifetime and average order value
The figures will be entirely based on your particular business – what you sell and the average buying cycle of the product. For example, a car manufacturer would be unwise to consider a customer to be lapsed if they haven’t purchased within 6 months; yet a leisure club might be at risk of losing a customer if they haven’t visited in the same timeframe.
Map the matrix against your email marketing engagement data and, once you have completed the analysis, you will be left with a number of lists that may look something like this:
- Highly engaged: frequent purchaser – they read your emails and buy from you regularly
- Highly engaged: lapsed purchaser – they like your marketing but aren’t converting anymore
- Disengaged: frequent purchaser – they never open your emails but are purchasing anyway
- Disengaged: lapsed purchaser – they used to read your emails, and bought from you often, but haven’t done either for a while
- Lost causes – they bought from you once, a long time ago, but have never engaged with your marketing
With group 1, it’s happy days. What you’re doing is working so there is no immediate action required. However, don’t get complacent. Keep monitoring, and maintain the quality of your content, to ensure that nobody slips into another group.
For group 2, you have the data to tell you what they engage best with, and they are likely to read what you send to them, so try tempting them with a personalised offer that’s too good to miss.
Group 3 might seem like you don’t need to take action, but beware! Their lack of interest in your marketing means they aren’t engaging with your brand which puts them at risk of being tempted away to a competitor. Test different content with them to find out where they perceive the value of your offer to be.
Now, group 4 is where the real potential value of reengagement lies. They used to be good customers but are showing clear signs of losing interest. Caught early they should be the easiest to tempt back. Use your communication to remind them of all the great times you had together. A simple “We miss you” may be enough. If not, follow up with an offer and reinforce the benefits of purchasing from you. A final opt-in message to let them know that you won’t be in touch anymore if they’re no longer interested will let you know where you stand.
As for group 5, you can certainly try to tempt them back but don’t waste too much time and effort on them. An email to let them know that you’re planning to unsubscribe them from future communications unless they respond is a good tactic. Ensure that if you let them know they’re about to be unsubscribed, you actually follow through with it. Don’t keep them on the list for the sake of vanity metrics. This group poses you the highest risk for being flagged as spam and damaging your sender reputation.
The best practice examples
Now let’s take a look at a few brands that are doing win-back email really well to see if you can’t get some inspiration for your own campaigns.
Retail – Female fashion
We’ve established that some of the top reasons people disengage from emails are frequency, interest, and volume. To avoid this you should let your subscribers control those factors. Having control over the emails they receive can help to retain those customers because they feel like they’re choosing to receive those emails.
This campaign would work well with Group 3 – by getting them to tell you the kind of content they want to receive from you, you increase the chances of their future engagement in your marketing and make them feel as though their input in your brand is valued. It also has the benefit of giving you tips and ideas for future content if you offer a free field text option.
An industry relevant tip reinforces the message that you know what you are talking about and positions you as a thought leader within your sector.
Travel – airline
JetBlue are in the list because of this great example of a win-back email. One of the best ways to retain subscribers is to ask them to confirm they no longer want your emails in a light or humorous way, and JetBlue take great advantage of this by retaining their playful brand tone. Coupled with a catchy subject line, this will serve to remind customers why they fell in love with their marketing in the first place.
The eye-catching header reinforces the key benefits of keeping in touch which is useful to reiterate if the customer hasn’t engaged for a while.
The messages feel personal and sincere, even though they are sent to an entire segment of customers, which makes the customer feel important and as though they have been specially selected to receive the email.
Three clear options tell the customer that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; the choice of the customer is a clear indication to jetBlue of their wishes and allows the customer to feel as though they are in control of the relationship.
Finance – online bank
FOMO can work particularly well in reengagement email marketing. The acronym, which stands for “fear of missing out”, refers to the psychological anxiety we feel when we’re not involved, and is commonly used in marketing strategy. We like to gravitate towards, and replicate, what we perceive the actions of our peers to be. If people are saying good things, we trust that and want to be involved.
Rather than the ‘we miss you’ angle, Mint takes the FOMO approach to their win-back messaging – the power of word-of-mouth should not be underestimated in getting customers to reengage.
They combine social proof with reviews from trusted news stories to add gravitas. They aren’t directly bragging which comes across far more appealing in the eyes of the customer.
Deals – discount vouchers
Reminding a customer that they used to show interest in what you had to offer is never a bad thing. At some point, they wanted to hear from you. After all, that’s why they subscribed in the first place. You need to understand why they have disengaged before you can do something about it.
VoucherCodes pose the question ‘are we doing something wrong?’ in order to force the customer to think about why they have disengaged from the brand.
A text and visual section provides two versions of the same tactic – to get the customer to self-select for future communications and reengage with content that they actually want to receive.
Retail – Homeware
If a customer has lost interest in your email marketing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have lost faith in your brand. Savvy marketers should consider using all of the channels at their disposal and drive customers to an alternative in order to ensure that they don’t miss out on keeping them informed.
‘Offers’ being subtly highlighted in the navigation sends the message that there are always deals to be had if you’re a customer – without coming across as overtly salesy.
This exceptionally visual win-back email offers Facebook as a suitable substitute for staying in the loop, which informs the customer that they’re cared about.
Food and drink – Coffee shop chain
Giving lapsed customers a tasty deal to encourage them to buy again is a well used tactic. The incentive should vary based on their purchase history. Low spenders will react well to money off their next order; whereas higher average order value customers may respond better to a non-monetary incentive, like free p&p or an exclusive preview to a new product. If they don’t respond the first time, try again but add a time limit to create a sense of urgency.
The lack of imagery in Starbucks’ email makes it feel more like a personal reach-out than a promotional or marketing driven message.
The use of the offer as a CTA is very trackable and helps with future segmentation as you can easily tell if they’re a true loyal win-back, or the type of customer that only responds to offers.
Leisure – Cycling community
If a once loyal customer has gone missing and has stopped visiting your site or opening your emails, let them know that you’ve noticed. Reassert your brand story to encourage activity and remind them why they loved you once upon a time.
This is a good example of a Group 4 win-back email from Chain Reaction, but it would have been even better if it was personalised.
The key brand benefits prompts the reader to remember why they decided to become a customer in the first place. This is especially important if they’ve been disengaged for a while as that could indicate that they’ve found an alternative supplier, and it’s your job to make them think about whether they get the same perks from them.
The fifth benefit makes the customer feel special and ‘in the know’. If they want to maintain the feeling, and be the first to see these important changes, they will reengage with future campaigns.
Another key change I would advise is to keep the offer in your pocket for a follow-up email if this doesn’t have the desired effect. Remember: one email, one goal.
B2B – Lead targeting software
A different option to the social version of FOMO is to create the same feeling by letting a customer know about all the things they stand to miss out on in the future if they remain disengaged. We want what we think we can’t have, even if that thing isn’t particularly valuable or necessary at the time.
This variation on the FOMO tactic from lead targeting software brand, Padiact, disguises itself as a feature feedback survey. Letting the customer know that new developments are being worked on, and making the customer feel as though their views have an impact on future releases, subtly encourages reengagement.
These examples are split by industry in order to demonstrate that every brand can, and should, be making us of reengagement emails. In this era of H2H marketing, any of the tactics employed in the examples should be considered and tested for your own campaigns, regardless of industry.
Hungry for more best practice advice?
There are some additional tips I can offer to make your reengagement email marketing the best it can be.
Firstly, test your subject lines. Research shows that a short, snappy subject line is the most effective for win-back emails; and a study by Return Path tells us that the words “we miss you” achieve a 13% read rate, while “come back” achieve 12.7%.
Secondly, the same study from Return Path shows that customers respond better to discounts and offers with a monetary value, rather than a percentage. Consider an A/B test to see if this is the case with your customers.
Thirdly, monitor the success of your reengagement email marketing strategy by checking if there is an increase in active users in your database. As a result, there should be a decrease in your spam complaint rate and you will see your deliverability rates improve (this is a longer process though so don’t assume your reengagement efforts are a waste of time if you don’t see immediate improvement).
Lastly, check the sources that are generating the most inactive subscribers. Did they find you originally from a one-off promotion that was too good to miss but hasn’t been repeated? Did they come from a list that you purchased (of course not, because you are mature and responsible marketers!). By knowing the source, you can take steps to rectify and reduce future inactivity.
Key takeaway for your reengagement email marketing
Don’t let customers go without a fight! Decide on the timeframe that deems your customers as at risk and then establish a dedicated win-back workflow to bring them back into the fold. You won’t win them all; and that’s ok. Let the ones go who have completely disengaged and offer you no future value as they are are the biggest threat to your sender reputation. But making the effort to reengage with customers that you already have a relationship with is a valuable investment. Let them know that you value them and want them back before your competitor reaps the benefits of your neglect.
This best practice guide was commissioned by Pure360 and written by Nicola Webster; it is used on this website with their kind permission.