7 Great Winback Emails That Actually Bring Customers Back (+Examples)

The winback email is an age-old tactic to re-acquire lost customers for a brand. Here are some of our favorite examples of excellent winback campaigns.

  • Jerrel
  • June 7, 2022
  • 12 minutes

Sometimes the best way to increase your profit isn’t by acquiring new customers.

It’s by generating more profit from your repeat customers.

A winback email campaign is one of the best ways to leverage your list of email subscribers for more revenue.

But before we get into just how, let’s talk about exactly what a win-back email sequence is.

What is a Winback Email Campaign?

A winback email is an email you send to subscribers who’ve stopped opening your emails.

The goal of a winback email is to re-engage lapsed subscribers with the aim of bringing them back to your business. Winback emails usually by gently reminding subscriber that your exists and/or offer an incentive to return.

Winback emails are usually created as email automations in your email service provider. This means they send automatically when a a subscriber achieves certain criteria (e.g. hasn’t opened an email in 3 months).

We’ll get to some winback email examples in just a moment. But first, let’s talk about the benefits of setting up a winback email campaign.

Why You Need to Send Win-Back Emails

Why would you want to win back a subscriber who ignores you? I mean, in your personal life, you’d almost certainly not waste time contacting people who aren’t interested in you, right?

Well, when it comes to your business, things are different. See, as you know, acquiring a customer costs a lot of money. In fact, the data tells us that it costs a whopping five times more than it does to retain one.

And when you consider that 45% of winback email recipients will open your future emails, setting up a winback campaign is a no-brainer.

A win back campaign is a simple automation that can rekindle customer interest and encourage lapsed customers to start buying from you again

7 of The Best Winback Email Examples We’ve Seen

So, we’ve gone over the why. It’s about time we get into the how.

Let’s jump into some of our favorite winback email examples and discover how you can use these strategies to bring customers back to your brand.

1. The Reminder Email – You Don’t Always Have to Sell Products to Re-Engage Customers

Re-engagement and winbacks aren’t always about direct sales or advertisement. We’ll get to incentives in a minute, but you don’t want to give away precious revenue when a simple reminder will do.

Sometimes, it’s just about giving a small nudge to inactive customers to revisit the store. Here’s a great example from Grammarly:

grammarly email that avoids selling

Grammarly aren’t trying to sell customers on the next best product or plan. Instead, they just a send gentle reminder to come back and keep using the app.

These reminder-style emails aren’t necessarily about getting customers to buy right away. Instead, they’re reminding them about your brand, so when they do want to buy, you’re the first one to pop into mind.

πŸ‘‰ Key Takeaway: Reminder emails re-introduce your brand to inactive subscribers. They’re not spammy and don’t giveaway unnecessary revenue via discounts. Use them as your first-line of defense to re-engage lapsed customers.

2. The Light-Hearted Email – Use Humor as a Marketing Tool in Your Win Back Campaigns

Marketing doesn’t have to be stone-cold. In fact, showing a human side is one of the best ways to connect with your customers.

One brand who incorporates this principle into their win back email is Typeform.

Typeform’s winback campaign focuses on re-engaging customers who don’t use the product. Notice how they give a reason for users to re-engage by sending them a link to thier templates gallery.

But Typeform also includes a link to a cute Space Invaders-style game they’ve created (what about that for a hook?)

humor email

While the game isn’t available to play anymore, the point still stands – Instead of coming off desperate for users to come back, they add a spice of fun to the mix.

In your own emails, showing your brand’s human side can be a great way to connect with your audience and form long-term customers.

πŸ‘‰ Key Takeaway: Email marketing works best when it’s not boring. People are social creatures, so adding a human element or light-hearted comedic flair to your email marketing is a great way to warm up otherwise stone-cold emails.

3. The Discount Email – Use Discount Codes to Lure Customers Back

The discount winback email attempts to re-engage lapsed subscribers with an enticing discount.

Instead of simply asking customers to return to your store, it can be useful to give an incentive for them to do so.

Discount codes and promotions are some of the simplest ways to winback lost customers for your brand.

For example, language learning Busuu, offers subscribers a tempting 50% off to reactivate their account.

discount-based winback email

But instead of just offering blanket discounts, make your offers even more compelling offers by customizing them for unique audience segments.

For instance, if one of your inactive customers previously bought multiple products from a fall-themed jewelry line, offer them a discount on more fall-themed products if they come back to the store.

Another great example? Abandoned Cart Emails.

Customers who’ve abandoned their cart provide great opportunities because you already know the product(s) that they’re interested in.

And sometimes, all it takes is a simple 5% discount to bring those customers back into the fold.

πŸ‘‰ Key Takeaway: Discount codes and promotional winback emails are excellent to entice customers to return to your store. They’re especially effective when paired with an email segmentation strategy.

4. The Content Winback Email – High-Value Content to Prevent Customer’s Lapsing

Growing your brand is just as much about giving value as it is about receiving it from your customers.

By giving value, we’re not referring to sending paychecks. Instead, you should aim to help that audience achieve its wider goals, whatever they may be.

For a company like Grammarly, those customer goals revolve around writing, productivity, and marketing. So to help customers achieve those, they created a newsletter they call “The Margins.”

grammarly newsletter

This newsletter does a few things for Grammarly:

  • It grows customer loyalty audience-wide by providing high-value content for no extra cost.
  • It helps keep them at the top of mind with a regularly scheduled content flow.

In your own brand, using high-value content to help inform customers on how to use your product or achieve goals is a great way to bring them back into the fold or keep them in it.

πŸ‘‰ Key Takeaway: High-value, relevant content emails keep your brand top of mind and can prevent customer’s from lapsing in the first place

5. The Feedback Email: Figure Out Why Customer’s Are Lapsing

Social proof is as good as gold when it comes to the world of ecommerce.

And the sad truth?

The vast majority of your customers aren’t going to leave reviews right after they get the product. Not only will it take them time to test it out and form an opinion, but in that time, they’ll likely forget to return to the site to leave feedback.

Which means that the vast majority of ecommerce brands are losing out on tons of potential 5-star reviews

Amazon has a simple tactic to catch some of those lost reviews, a feedback email flow.

review request email from Amazon

A couple weeks after you make a purchase on Amazon, you’ll get an email that looks like the one above. The email asks for a review on your most recent purchases, it’s super easy to leave a star rating, and you can type a review in further detail if you’d like to.

This is a super effective tactic for practically any ecommerce brand because it’s a super low barrier to entry for customers.

Instead of having to remember to come back to the store, leave a review, and write down feedback- This email flow allows them to just click a few buttons to leave it without going out of their way. But that’s not all…

Feedback emails serve another significant purpose for ecommerce brands too.

See, one core part of re-engaging lapsed customers is understanding why they lapsed in the first place.

“Subscribers lapse for a number of reasons,” says Andrea Arras, Account Manager for Hustler Email Marketing Agency. “the typical culprits for lapsed subscribers are deliverability, poor engagement, weak subject lines, design, content and, more.

Once you’ve solved that puzzle, you’ll be able to tailor your campaign to your audience and offer them what they’re looking for.”

Using feedback collected from these email flows, you can identify common root causes for your inactive subscribers and tackle them directly.

Bonus points if the email allows customers to leave feedback without visiting your site.

πŸ‘‰ Feedback request emails allow customers to provide social proof without going out of their way. This means they keep you at the top of mind and collect social proof for future marketing all in one swoop.

6. The Opt-Out Email – Give Inactive Subscribers an Easy Way to Opt-Out from Future Emails

Some of the inactive subscribers on your list are going to stay that way, and that’s okay.

Whether they’ve lost interest in the brand, moved on, or just forgotten, you’ll need a way to clean up your list to have a more accurate measure of your audience.

And if you can remind the customers who’ve just forgotten about your brand at the same time? You’re killing two metaphorical birds with one stone.

One of the best ways to do that is by following Urban Outfitters’ example:

an opt out email

Notice how easy this email makes it to opt-out of their email flow.

While some people might avoid an opt-out button at all costs, it’s actually a great idea.

First, it shows that Urban Outfitters is confident enough in its brand to let go of uninterested customers.

And second, it allows customers who are still interested to opt-in to receive more emails, while anyone who isn’t interested in the brand can easily remove themselves from the list.

This means that Urban Outfitters consistently has a much more accurate email list and has an automated flow to remind lost customers to come back all in one.

πŸ‘‰ Key Takeaway: Using opt-out or “last chance” emails is a great way to keep your email list clean. The finality of this email is also a great way to nudge lost customers back into your regular audience.

7. The Urgency Email – Add Urgency to Increase Your Winback Email Conversion Rate

Adding urgency to your offers is among the oldest selling tactics in the book, and for plenty of good reasons.

Urgency encourages your customers to make purchases out of FOMO(fear of missing out). If they’re considering buying anyway, they might as well buy before the sale runs out.

Urgency-based winback emails are a great way to bring back lost customers because they’re already effective marketing pieces. Here’s an offer from the Baltimore Sun:

winback email example from baltimore sun

It’s not just a $6 membership for a year, it’s $6 for a whole year’s subscription only until midnight.

In your own business, consider using urgency to add a bit more power to your marketing messages. It’s especially effective in winback campaigns where customers have already shown interest in those products.

πŸ‘‰ Key Takeaway: Use urgency to force customers to take action. Combining urgency with email segmentation means you can create personalized, limited-time offers to bring customers back.

Win Back Email Examples: How to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line

We’ve just covered some winback email examples to inspire your own. But we’re still missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.

No email is complete without a good subject line.

Good email subject lines are critical because without them, ain’t nobody click ingthrough.

Here’s some great winback email subject lines to show us exactly what to write, and what not to write, in your own campaigns.

DO: Generate Initial Interest Using Clever Email Subject Lines

There’s no ultimate formula for writing an email subject line. But one great tactic is to withhold some of the details to generate interest from your audience and entice a click.

“you’ve been waiting for this…”

In this subject line, Saucey uses that tactic to encourage customers to click.

I’ve been waiting for what?”

In your own win back campaign, consider leaving out some crucial details or using vague (yet still interesting) subject lines to generate interest.

Keep in mind though, there’s a fine line between withholding just enough details and not giving enough information in the subject line.

DON’T: Write Wordy or Confusing Subject Lines

If a subscriber gets confused or lost by reading your subject line, it probably won’t result in any clicks.

The same can happen for an overly-wordy subject line.

Writing too much can lead to customers losing interest before they ever even click. Here’s a great example of this:

Be prepared for the outdoors with a watch that lasts. Shop for a Sport Watch now!

Not only is the recipient (me) not interested in watches, but the subject line has to be re-read once or twice for someone who’s skimming their inbox.

In your own emails, remember that most subject lines are meant to be kept short and sweet.

DO: Offer High Benefits for Low Costs

Another great tactic for writing email subject lines is to offer high perceived value for low investment. here’s a great example:

“Ends today: $6 for 1 YEAR”

It’s not just $6 and it’s not just a year’s subscription, it’s a 1 year subscription for just $6.

The difference is subtle, but it’ll make a huge difference in your open rate.

In your own emails, try to find great selling points with grand value statements, and offer those with enticing numbers like in the email above to generate FOMO from customers who might’ve previously passed the email up.

DON’T: Use Spammy Tactics or Unnecessary Emojis

Emojis are a great way to catch the eye, but only when used correctly.

The reality is that consumers are becoming more numb to traditional eye-catching tactics, and including too many emojis or sales-y subject lines can cause subscribers to skip your email, even subconsciously.

πŸš— It’s time to get that car coverπŸ‘€”

While emojis can be used for good, overusing them or filling your subject lines with buzzwords can lead to low open rates.

In your own campaigns, ensure that each word and emoji is there for a purpose. If you find that much of the line is made of “fluff,” thin it down until it isn’t so overstuffed.

How to Tell if a Customer Needs to be Won Back

With all this being said, how do you tell the difference between a customer who just hasn’t bought in a while and one who needs to be won back?

Ultimately, that’s going to change from business to business. If your average loyal customer only comes back twice a year to buy from your brand, it’ll take a while longer before any of your subscribers are considered lapsed.

Whereas if you run a monthly subscription service, you could consider a customer lapsed the moment a customer ends their subscription with your brand.

With that being said, for most eCommerce brands, a customer is completely lapsed after around 9 months of inactivity.

And most customers are well on their way towards lapsing after around 3 months of inactivity.

Once a customer hasn’t interacted with your brand (i.e., opened or clicked through to emails, made purchases, etc.) for around 3 months, it’s likely that period of inactivity will stretch out even further if you don’t take action.

The Best Time to Send a Winback Email

Once a customer hits 3 months of inactivity, it’s time to target them with a winback email flow.

From the first email, each follow up should be equally spaced out, anywhere from 1-3 months between each.

Generally, it’s best to start each flow with top-of-mind style emails rather than trying to sell them on high-ticket purchases. As the drip continues, you’ll want to send reminders, promotions, and eventually, an opt-out email.

Remember, the longer it takes to start your winback flow, the less likely your customers are to re-engage with your brand.

It’s Time to Start Sending Winback Emails & Re-Engaging Lapsed Customers.

No matter how great a business is, customers will slip away.

Whether that’s because they’ve forgotten or interest is low, it’s important to recapture some of those customers, otherwise, you’re letting cash slip away with no resistance.

Winback email campaigns are some of the best ways to do just that. From content-based emails that keep your brand at the top of customers’ minds to urgency-based flash sales, each one has its own uses and benefits.

If your brand doesn’t have a win back email sequence in place by now, it’s probably time to start building one.

And if you found this guide helpful, make sure to check out some of the other content on our blog!

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