Customers can start engaging with your digital product, app or service faster than ever. Signing up for a subscription or placing an order online takes only a few seconds.

But the speed and ease with which they can become your client means they can switch to a competitor or forget about your service just as quickly.

Even if customers have become inactive, you have a 60-70% chance of success to sell to them again, while the chances of success for selling to a new potential customer are only 5-20%. That means you could be 13 times more likely to sell a past customer than a new one.

So what are you doing to re-engage your old customers?

A win back program re-engages customers by offering a reward if they do a specific action, such as re-activating a subscription or completing a new purchase.

This can be used to target old customers who haven’t made in purchase in a certain number of days, people who expressed interest but never bought, or even those who have explicitly churned.

It may seem counterintuitive to focus marketing efforts on those who have expressed disinterest in your company, but re-engaging inactive users can be 5 times more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

Not only is a win back program an effective way to re-engage customers and reduce churn, but when done right it can increase spending frequency, help promote new services, and boost lifetime value of your clients.

Keep reading for five things you need to know about launching a successful win back program.

1. A win back program is worth the investment

Your former customers are your best prospects, and launching a strategy to win them back is more cost-effective than forgetting about them.

Marketing professor V. Kumar at Georgia State University cites several advantages in focusing your marketing efforts on former customers:

  • Past customers demonstrated a need for your product or service at some point in the past. The need they fulfilled with your brand likely still exists, whether it’s about to be satisfied by a competitor, or not at all.
  • They already understand your brand. This familiarity eliminates the need to build awareness from scratch and spend money on advertisements to reach them.
  • They can be easily targeted with customized incentives using data you already have. The historical purchasing and loyalty data you’ve collected about these users helps you tailor rewards that are more likely to drive action.

These reasons, combined with a direct line of communication to their inbox, makes former customers a promising segment.

Blue Apron, a meal-kit delivery service, targets customers who have cancelled their subscriptions by offering a $30 incentive for re-subscribing:

2. Only focus on the “best” lost customers

Your win back strategy shouldn’t aim to bring every single lapsed customer back to your website or app.

Just like with regular marketing efforts, some customers are better to target than others. If a customer doesn’t fit your ideal criteria, has a low lifetime value or offers a minimal contribution to your MRR, they’re probably better off somewhere else.

There’s no point in wasting money on customers who aren’t as likely to stick around the second time.

What kind of customer is more likely to come back – and stay with you?

Data about past customer behavior will offer the best clues into who is more likely to return.

An article in the Journal of Marketing indicates that your most valuable former customers are those who:

  • Have referred others to your brand
  • Left for reasons surrounding price rather than service quality
  • Had complaints that were satisfactorily resolved

3. Your customers left for a reason, but not all for the same reason

While the objective of a win back program is to re-engage old customers, not all of them spent time away from your brand for the same reason.

Differences in motivation to leave call for differences in motivation to return, meaning offering all lapsed customers a 10% off coupon and hoping they’ll bite is merely wishful thinking.

A customer may cancel their subscription to your service or stop making purchases because of product limitations, price barriers, poor customer service, a lack of product understanding, or other reason.

To best tailor your win back strategy, start by answering these three questions:

  1. What is the goal of your win back program?
    More sales? Sales of a new product? Promote awareness of a new feature? Increase cash flow?
  2. What customer action will help you achieve this goal?
    Re-activating their subscription? Placing a new order? Logging back in to your portal? Re-downloading your app? Buying a bulk of credits at a discounted purchase?
  3. Why did your customers leave?
    Too expensive? Bad experience? Product hard to understand? Forgot about your product?

Our model below shows what kinds of rewards work best based on a customer’s reason for not continuing to buy:

Download a copy of this table here!

Don’t be afraid to take your win back incentives beyond simple percentage or cash-based discounts. Send out an offer that can be redeemed for a specific product, a free consultation with a product expert, or even free swag.

Keep in mind that the reward you offer will influence a customer’s behavior once they come back. Discounts on a one-time purchase may not encourage someone to reactivate their subscription, while a discount on their next 5 purchases may help someone reform a strong repeat usage habit.

4. Your win back program can run itself

Your win back program’s rewards can be automatically sent out to the right customers at the right times when you leverage dedicated software, erasing the need for manual monitoring.

This means that you can:

  1. Set how long after a user’s last activity date you would like to automatically send a reward.
  2. Choose the win back reward type and value you would like to send.
  3. Customize the reward notification email sent to customers who have successfully earned a reward.
  4. Start winning back customers!

With a platform like SaaSquatch, the system constantly monitors available customer data to determine whether or not the customer is eligible for the reward detailed in your win back program rules. If they meet the criteria, the customer is notified by email that the reward has been added to their account balance and is ready for use.

Making the reward immediately available to the user increases the likelihood that they will accept it, while you can add an expiry date to instill a sense of urgency.

5. Always be measuring success (and failures)

Tracking the results of your win back program helps ensure you’re putting your resources (both human and financial) to good use when offering and fulfilling rewards.

Look for a platform that lets you report on which customers were successfully won back because of your win back efforts, and how much they spent with you since their reactivation.

A key consideration is measuring how much of an impact a customer has on your revenue after they have been re-engaged, and what kind of lifetime value they now represent. A successful win back program is characterized by customers who are reactivated and remain active for a significant amount of time, as opposed to accepting the reward only to immediately go quiet again.

Try measuring your program’s success with a reactivation rate (%) to understand how well your win back strategy is bringing people back on board. This is similar to how you would use a percentage to track lead conversion.

Access to your program’s data also lets you continuously test and optimize your incentive strategy and experiment with variables like reward value, email copy, and timing to establish a formula with optimal conversion rates.