It's always been easier to retain existing customers than it is to gain new customers. But retention marketing has been all the buzz in the last few years as ad costs rise and the looming disappearance of third-party cookies threatens the effectiveness of digital ads.

So, ecommerce marketers are doubling down on retention by making sure the customer experience is dialed in and encouraging more shoppers to become repeat customers.

That means ongoing customer engagement through personalized experiences across all channels, including email.

Once a customer buys from you, you'll want triggers to initiate a post-purchase flow that keeps customers coming back. The final stage in this flow is the winback campaign.

A winback email is an automated message sent by a business to try and re-engage inactive subscribers who haven't purchased from the company for some time. Winback emails can be triggered when customers haven't purchased from the company for a certain amount of time, haven't clicked on an email, or after customers unsubscribe from promotional emails.

The win back email campaign aims to remind customers of the company's value and inspire them to make another purchase.

There are many approaches to creating winback emails. But, we recommend creating a series that not only serves to encourage customers to make repeat purchases but also respects their decision to stop shopping with a brand.

Here are six emails to consider including in your winback email flow to drive retention and increase customer lifetime value.

1. Offer a special deal

One of the most common winback tactics is to offer customers a special deal or discount code to win back their business.

You can offer a discount on their next purchase, a freebie for coming back, like a mini version of a bestseller, or a bundle deal only available to existing customers.

Whatever you offer, consider making it different than other deals like your new customer discount. If a customer already took advantage of the new customer deal, it might not be enticing for them to just get the same deal again.

2. Send personalized product recommendations

Beyond discounts, another effective winback email tactic is to send personalized product recommendations based on the customer's past purchases. Personalized win back emails can help reinvigorate their interest in your brand while showing them products they're likely to enjoy.

Customers have likely already seen and passed on your bestsellers. So you're better off curating your recommendations to bring them back.

3. Show off your latest reviews and accolades

One reason customers may not have shopped again is that they don't understand the value of other products you have. So consider including a few of your best customer reviews or accolades from publications you've received in a winback email campaign.

This shows that other customers have had positive experiences with other products, which can encourage more sales. And acknowledgments from publications show that your products are top-notch in terms of quality.

4. Update customers on what they've missed

If a customer hasn't shopped with you for a while, there's a good chance they don't know how your company has grown in that time. Perhaps you launched a new product line, updated existing products with better materials, or have a new free shipping policy. Maybe you've added a product recommendation quiz to your website for easier shopping or have started donating a portion of your profits to charity.

Connecting on what's new can reignite their interest in your brand and show them the new things you have to offer.

5. Ask for feedback

Towards the end of your win back email sequence, if you haven't seen any engagement from an inactive customer, consider asking them for feedback. This may not lead directly to sales, but it does show customers you care. That can do a lot for brand perception and customer loyalty.

So create a short feedback survey to gain insight into why a customer isn't shopping with you. You could send it as a standard customer satisfaction survey that asks for a rating and any context they want to give. Or you could ask more specific questions to surface areas of improvement for your brand.

For example, you can ask about how satisfied they are with the products they already own, if they think they'll purchase from you again, or if they have other issues that have prevented them from purchase, like a bad experience with the website or customer service.

6. Say goodbye

One thing we often don't talk about enough as marketers is the willingness to let go of customer relationships that aren't working. If a customer still doesn't shop with you or engage with your emails throughout your winback email series, there's no point in keeping them on your subscriber list.

You'll just be bombarding the inbox of someone who doesn't want to hear from you. Show customers you're listening and let them go. Your email marketing program will be better for it. You'll be less likely to end up in the spam folders of loyal customers who do want to hear from you, and you'll save money with your email marketing software by avoiding sending emails that aren't being engaged with.

In your goodbye email, be clear that this is the last email you'll be sending them. And give them the option to opt back in if customers decide they're still interested in future emails.

Boost the success of your winback emails with SMS

SMS marketing is a great complement to all your email marketing efforts. SMS messages are usually read quickly and have a high open rate -- estimated at 95% within three minutes. Compare that to email open rates, which currently average 33% for retail, according to ConstantContact. This makes it an ideal channel to prompt lapsed customers to re-engage with their relationship with your brand.

SMS also enables you to get your point across quickly and encourage action. So you can send things like discount codes, product recommendations, and automated surveys as part of your winback series to re-engage inactive customers.

Want to add SMS to your marketing stack? Emotive is a best-in-class text message marketing software for ecommerce brands that want to scale. Integrate SMS into all your automated flows to engage, convert, and retain more customers than you can with email alone.

Book a demo to learn how Emotive can make SMS your next best revenue channel.