Effective Win-Back Email Campaigns for 3 Stages of Customers

Effective Win-Back Email Campaigns for 3 Stages of Customers

Today’s online shoppers have high expectations and more choices than ever before. That makes it challenging for ecommerce store owners who are battling for their attention. The competition intensifies when it comes to winning repeat buyers, since they contribute significantly more to the bottom line.

Win-back email campaigns are a proven, cost-effective strategy to get buyers to return, no matter where they are in their journey with your store.

Crafting win-back emails start with segmentation. Use your customer data to separate customers based on the stage of their buying lifecycle. Look at purchase frequency and buying behavior data to segment customers into the following categories:

  • Active Customers
  • At Risk Customers
  • Lost Customers

Once you segment your customers, follow these tips and techniques to effectively win each group back. I’ve included win-back emails from my own inbox that caught my eye, and in many cases, tempted me to return and buy.


Active Customers

Post-Purchase Emails

Sending an email after a purchase is a great way to increase customer loyalty and encourage repeat visits. Consider sending content about the product the customer just purchased, including information that helps them make the most of what they’ve paid for.

A post-purchase email is also a great opportunity to start a social relationship. Encourage new and active customers to connect with your social channels by including social links and incentives to follow.

Offer coupons in a post-purchase email and make it personal. I received this email coupon after a recent online purchase at LOFT. I couldn’t help but notice my name in three different places. I understand that it’s all automated, but it still made me feel like I was getting my own personal message.

Post Purchase Emails


Abandoned Cart Email

Even active customers like to shop around. Use emails to win back customers who abandoned their cart before checking out. Studies show 69% of shoppers abandon carts so you have a big opportunity here.

Send a clever and personalized message encouraging shoppers to pick up where they left off. Don’t forget to include a product photo and, if possible, a link directly to the shopper’s cart.

This one worked for me. I honestly forget how many online stores I searched, looking for a wall wine rack that also held glasses. After getting distracted, I put it off for another time. A message in my inbox a few days later reminded me about the one that just happened to be my favorite. Deal done.

Abandoned Cart Email


VIP Programs

Active customers are great candidates for VIP programs that can be introduced in an email campaign.

You may want to further segment your active buyers for this email by analyzing shoppers with high average order values. Check out one of our recent blog posts for tips on how to identify VIP customers.


At Risk Customers

At risk customers are shoppers who haven’t visited or purchased from your store in several months. Reaching them at the right time with the right message can keep them from moving to the lost category.

The lapsed customer timeframe may vary from store to store. Your marketing team and customer data will be able to identify the window of time where at risk customers fall.

Special Offer or Discount Email

Nothing gets a shoppers’ attention like a good deal. Send at risk customers an email coupon or discount that is big enough to get their attention. Include the amount in the subject line to increase your open rate.

For customers with a history of higher average order values, it may be worth offering a larger discount to get them to return to your store.

Create a Sense of Exclusivity and Urgency

Limited time offers create a sense of urgency that can tempt even at-risk shoppers to take advantage of a deal that may not be around for long.

Make it more appealing by making it sound exclusive. A study by Experian found emails with the word ‘exclusive’ in the subject line had open rates above 35%.

Create a Sense of Exclusivity and Urgency


Secret Reveal

Nothing piques the curiosity of a shopper like a secret deal. In this email from Overstock.com, I couldn’t resist clicking to find out how much my coupon was worth. Admittedly, I didn’t end up using the discount (12% off). But engaging buyers and starting the conversion process is always a good first step.

Secret Reveal


Highlight Best Sellers

Send at risk customers an email featuring your best selling items, trending products or top sellers that are specific to the category that have purchased from in the past. This subject line from Sole Society was too tempting not to click.



Target Repetitive Behavior

By analyzing at risk shopper data, you may uncover trends that show customers buying from you during specific holidays, seasons or events. Use a remarketing campaign that matches the time of year they usually buy from you as a reminder to come back.


Lost Customers

Don’t give up on customers you think may be lost. Unlike finding new buyers, lost customers have already demonstrated a need for your products and are familiar with your brand.

More importantly, lost customer data allows you to personalize win back campaigns with precision. Use this to your advantage by tailoring campaigns that appeal to their personal taste, style, age group or location.

Lost Customers


Be Bold

According to Return Path, win back emails with “Miss You” in the subject line received a 13 percent open rate, messages with “Come Back” achieved a close second at 12.7%. Include these phrases and make it personal. If my inbox is any indication, it’s a strategy that’s working.

Be Bold


Of course, give shoppers a reason to return by adding a coupon or discount code. Discounts for lost shoppers should typically be worth more than what you would send your regular or active customers.

Be Bold


Point Out What They Are Missing

Re-engage inactive shoppers by introducing them to new products or services in your online store.

Point Out What They Are Missing


Get Creative

Use win-back emails as an opportunity to get creative encouraging lost customers to return. You have nothing to lose, right?

Include emojis and use a fun, conversational tone in your subject line.

Get Creative


Re-Permission Email

Re-permission campaigns are usually a last resort. These emails are used to ask lapsed customers whether they still want to hear from you. They also help keep your email list healthy and improve deliverability.

Re-permission emails can be a good time to use humor, like this example from Urban Outfitters:

Like every other marketing tool and strategy, test every element of win-back campaigns to see what works best for your unique and segmented audience. You may want to test the timing, content, and subject line performance before you launch a full campaign. And of course, analyze campaigns on a regular basis to optimize emails, grow your repeat customer base and master the art of the win-back.


Keep Learning

Want to find strategies to minimize your abandoned shopping carts? Download our free guide!
7 Marketing Strategies to Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts

Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts

Download the Guide

Enter your contact info below to get this guide.