A winback campaign is your last effort to reignite the relationship with inactive customers who haven't purchased in a while. It's your last chance to win back a customer before bidding them adieu.

And why does this matter? It's always been easier to retain existing customers than acquire new ones. But over the last few years, rising ad costs and the loss of third-party cookies have threatened the effectiveness of digital ads — which means getting your ads in front of the right audience is harder, and it's more expensive to do it. So, once you've converted a customer, you want to do everything you can to keep them around.

Today's ecommerce marketers are doubling down on owned channels like their websites, blogs, email, and SMS programs to build stronger relationships with customers and encourage more shoppers to become repeat customers. And the backbone of their success? Automated email and SMS campaigns based on customer behavior.

According to Klaviyo, email flows blast email campaigns out of the water. Automated flows that respond to customer behavior have four times the click rate and 21 times the conversion rate of standard email campaigns.

So it's crucial to have all of your automated campaigns dialed in. That includes your winback campaigns.

Here are nine tips every ecommerce marketer should keep in mind to set up winback campaigns that drive retention and increase customer lifetime value.

1. Create a winback series instead of a single message

To win back customers, you'll have better results if you create a series of messages instead of sending just one. Take different approaches with each message you send to draw customers back.

Consider these messages to create a successful winback campaign:

  • Special offer: Include a special offer, like a discount, gift, or exclusive bundle, to win back customers.

  • Personalized product recommendations: Showcase products your lapsed customers may be interested in based on their past purchases.

  • Social proof: Use customer reviews or quotes from major publications to show former customers that other customers value your products.

  • Company update: Tell customers what they've missed, whether that's a new product line, product updates, or new policies that benefit them.

  • Feedback request: Ask customers why they stopped engaging with your brand. This one may not lead to sales but can improve brand perception and customer loyalty by showing you care.

  • Sunset: Let inactive subscribers know you're getting the hint and will stop contacting them. But give them the opportunity to opt back into messages if they want future emails or texts.

This is just a brief overview of the types of winback messages you can send customers. Learn more about each win back email campaign.

2. Incorporate SMS into your winback flow

SMS has open rates up to 3.8x higher than email, allowing you to reach more of your existing customers.

And it has the second highest ROI of marketing channels after direct mail -- meaning it wins out over email. In fact, Emotive customers experience an impressive return of $27 for every dollar spent on SMS marketing -- a clear indicator that this channel is worth investing in.

Plus, it's a great channel for quick messages that inspire customers to take action. So if you send over a discount code or a single product recommendation, that can easily be conveyed by text to remind customers of your value and encourage a purchase.

3. Add your winback campaigns to your post-purchase flow

While you could launch winback campaigns periodically to past customers, you don't want anyone to fall through the crack. So incorporate winback messages into your post-purchase flow.

That will ensure your messages are sent in a timely fashion based on a customer's most recent purchase instead of waiting too long and risking lost customers.

Of course, you'll only want to send win back emails and texts if a customer didn't make an additional purchase. So be sure to have repeat customers automatically filtered out of the winback portion of your post-purchase flow when they purchase again.

4. Tailor win back campaigns based on customer segments

You'll want to tailor your win back strategy to target different audience segments so you can send relevant messages to each.

For example, if a lapsed customer has purchased from you numerous times, you'll want to engage them differently than someone who has bought from you just once.

The multi-purchase customer might receive more messaging around new products they might not know about and loyalty points they've racked up. In contrast, a one-time customer might receive more social proof to show the value other customers have seen.

At the same time, a customer who has purchased many times with your brand might receive more total winback messages than someone who has just purchased once.

A customer who has purchased many times is more used to engaging with your brand. So it makes sense to send more messages. On the other hand, a one-time customer has less history with your brand, so it could feel off to receive too many messages.

5. Master subject line copy for winback emails

Your subject lines are crucial to the success of your campaigns. They'll determine whether or not customers open your win back messages, so you want to nail that copy.

Here are a few example subject lines you could use for inspiration:

  • "We've missed you! Get 20% off your next purchase."

  • "Ready to come back? We have a special offer just for you."

  • "It's been too long. Here's what's new."

Keep your subject lines short and clear. If you're offering a discount in the email, tease it in the subject line.

6. Use customer data to personalize your winback campaign messages

Personalization makes all your marketing efforts better -- winback emails and texts included.

Send personalized product recommendations based on a customer's purchase history, quiz answers, and other zero- and first-party data you've collected.

Use that customer data to inform your images and copy, too. For example, if you sell games and know from an on-site quiz that they typically like to play games with friends, you might feature imagery that shows people having fun together and accompanying copy. In comparison, someone who buys games to play with family or for solo entertainment would receive different photos and copy.

7. Present a clear call-to-action

Customers shouldn't have to hunt for your CTA. They should know exactly what you want them to do next and be able to find that button easily. Otherwise, they won't take action.

So don't hide your CTA at the bottom of a long email. Make your buttons large and create space around them to stand out. Use action words like "Shop now," "Add to cart," or "Learn more" so they know what to expect when they click.

8. Respect customers' decisions to stop shopping with your brand

By the end of your series, be prepared to say goodbye to customers who aren't engaging. It'll feel better to your audience if you take the hint instead of bombarding them with messages they don't want. And it'll ensure every email campaign has a better chance of reaching active subscribers' inboxes instead of going to spam.

In your final email or text, let customers know you won't contact them anymore unless they opt back in. It shows you respect their attention and ensures you keep a positive impression with customers.

9. Optimize winback campaign performance for maximum impact

Like with any marketing campaign, don't set it and forget it. Test everything about your winback series and analyze metrics like click-through rates and conversions on an ongoing basis to ensure your win back strategy is working as best it can.

You'll want to test the number of emails and texts in your flow, how long you wait after a purchase to consider a customer inactive, and the copy, subject lines, images, and CTAs you use in each customer win back email or text.

It's natural to expect more unsubscribes in this series than other automated flows because you're dealing with disengaged customers. But you'll still want to maximize customer engagement and conversions and limit unsubscribes as much as possible.

Win back more customers with Emotive

A successful winback campaign will include multiple messages and take advantage of email and text to reach and re-engage customers. So you'll need the right SMS platform for the job.

Emotive is a best-in-class SMS marketing software specially built for ecommerce brands. Segment customers and launch flows that convert. Conversational SMS enables automated two-way conversations. And Emotive's white glove services can help you get your SMS program off the ground with defining strategy, writing copy, and campaign optimization.

Emotive even integrates with your email marketing software for a seamless winback series.

Learn how Emotive's best-in-class SMS features can make texting with your customers your next best revenue stream. Sign up for a demo today.