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How to Reactivate Inactive Customers (Guide with 9 Examples)

When running a physical business or store and you stumble upon one of your customers whom you haven’t seen at your store in a while, the first thing you would say is "Hey long time no see!". But what if your business is conducted online and you don't get to come across your customers in person? Do you lose those inactive customers forever?

The short answer is No.

That's when your customer reactivation strategy comes into place. Just like maintaining a good relationship with your existing customers, you must have a plan to reactivate lapsed customers.

According to Invesp, re-engaging with inactive customers costs 5 times less than acquiring new ones, hence why customer reactivation is a much more cost-effective approach.


Why should you reactivate your inactive customers?

Acquiring new clients is typically the main concern of most marketers. However, many overlook the fact that retaining clients costs five times less than acquiring them.

Did you know that 20 to 50% of contacts in most databases are inactive contacts?

These inactive contacts are those who no longer interact with your marketing actions, thus impacting your performance:

  • Significant decrease in open rates and clicks

  • Negative impact on deliverability

It seems more relevant and befitting to work on the reactivation rate of the existing base before acquiring new contacts.

Even more so since we know that the transformation rate of an inactive contact is up to ten times more than that of a potential client. 

Your inactive contacts are in fact contacts that not only know of you, but have been partial to your products before. Considering this pre-established relationship, it’s no wonder that they are easier to reactivate and nurture. Indeed, considering their previous knowledge of your products/services, some of the hardest work has already been accomplished

Inactive customers might be:

  • Disappointed ones

  • Weary customers,

  • Or people that have lost contact with you by turning to your competition.

Before setting up your reactivation strategy, the first step is to define inactivity. You could consider one or more of the following criteria to base your definition of the "inactive" status:

  • The last purchase data

  • The last quote requested

  • No online activity

  • Last survey participation

  • Loyalty points progress (whether they stagnate)

  • Lack of response to email campaigns


How to create a customer reactivation campaign?

To reactivate dormant customers, the first thing you need is a tool that manages your interactions with your customers as well as your marketing messages.

It's best to have a tool such as Actito that helps you concentrate your marketing efforts in one place and help you manage your different channels from one platform:

  • Email reactivation campaigns

  • SMS messages

  • Etc.

There's a rule of thumb when it comes to customer reactivation strategies: your campaigns must be automated.

In this day and age, and considering the volumes of customer data available, It's a tremendous waste of time and resources to manage your marketing efforts manually. Few lapsed customers might even slip away without you noticing when choosing the traditional manual way of doing business.

The following scenario illustrates the logic behind customer reactivation in an automated manner with adequate messages triggered at the right time, targeting the right inactive customers.

Welcome (2)

Step 1: identify inactive customers

Marketers can then determine the key moments in the client journey and find reactivation opportunities when the client relationship is at risk.

  • Revolving credit: end of the reimbursement

  • By phone: cancel request

  • Retail / Distribution: usual reordering delay expired…

Particularly when client activity is decreasing (and will probably stop): last purchase, segment downgrading, the loss of client status, etc.

Target your inactive contacts by asking yourself the right questions:

  • Are they really inactive contacts? 

To answer this, you need to clean up your database. For example, use the Charade processing of the database (identifying former contact addresses and replacing them by new ones) and an RNVP processing (restructuration/normalisation/postal validation) before carrying out the qualification of data.

  • Can they still be contacted? 

There’s no use in storing data that is no longer useful. However, under GDPR, companies are under the obligation of deleting personal data that has been inactive for 36 months in a database, which is what the regulation calls the ‘right to erasure’, a.k.a ‘right to be forgotten".

  • Are they still in the target?

To determine whether your inactive contacts are still within your targeted audience, a regular thorough checkup of the database is essential (enriching contacts, attributing an engagement score/contact, etc.)


Step 2: choose your communication channel

Reactivating your inactive clients can and is encouraged to be undertaken through different channels. The efficiency of your customer reactivation campaigns will greatly depend on a defined mix of channels.

  • Email

Consider varying the components of the e-mail as compared to regular campaigns (name of sender, time of sending, subject, offer/template, mailing frequency) by putting an emphasis on messages for inactive clients (we miss you, we're better together, we've made some improvements since you've been away).

  • Text messages and push wallet

To change up the traditional reactivation channels through which you would usually push your marketing messages.

  • Display through CRM onboarding

This could be done via targeted displays on partner sites with links to an offer, game, or contest. The best would be to also include contacts who did not opt-in.

  • Custom audience

This means displaying messages on Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn, with an active targeting for inactive contacts. This can also include contacts who did not opt-in.

  • Print, etc.

Step 3: create content and reach out at the right time

Building a hyper-personalized scenario is key to activating your customer at the right moment through pushing the most befitting content;

Good to know: It’s important to sequence the different waves of contact with the customers (reactivation or targeted marketing). This entails personalising the different offers, messages, and content as well as adapting the communication channels. For example, a reactivation scenario could look be : 

  1. « We miss you »: exclusive offer to attract the attention of an inactive contact.

  2. « Give us your opinion »: request an opinion to understand why the inactive contact no longer opens your emails and have changed (reduced or cut) their purchasing habits with your brand

  3. « There will always be a place for you »: the inactive client is removed from the database but is told that they can come back whenever they want.

Launching reactivation strategies can be carried out in many ways, for example:

  • You could consider using a content-based reactivation strategy by communicating new things about the brand, encouraging customer loyalty and loyalty points, asking for the update of personal details, or by only relaunching people who don't open e-mails, etc.

  • Or consider more commercial offers: discount offer/purchase voucher, personalised promotion according to to purchase history, etc.

  • Or determine the inactivity of the client by asking them to fill out a satisfaction survey (Were you satisfied with your last purchase? Did you face any technical issues when ordering online?) or user preferences so that they only receive messages of interest to them.

Step 4: analyse the impact of your reactivation campaigns

In other words, monitor by measuring the results, to check whether your efforts were fruitful.: 

  • Per channel and content type

  • KPI/ campaigns to consider: deliverability rate, open rate, click rate, reactivation rate, transformation rate, etc.

  • Reactivation scenarios - global KPIs: inactive contact rate, reactivation rate, CTA former inactive contacts, reactivation costs, etc. Analysing KPIs will allow you to conduct tests, vary the parameters of your campaigns (targets, content/offers, tone, graphics, subject/sender, mailing moment), and find out what works best to re-engage your inactive contacts.

NB : Re-engaging inactive contacts can be done using a dedicated scenario, similar to the welcome one. 

  • Thanks:

« Thank you for your visit and welcome back » 

  • Invitation to rediscover the brand:

« repeat purchase offer after reactivation »

And if your database still contains many inactive contacts despite your efforts, feel free to determine who they are in order to stop contacting them.

Your deliverability and carbon footprint will thank you: it's better to have a small reactive database than a large number of contacts, that are mostly inactive ones!

9 Customer reactivation campaign strategies & examples

Let's get to the nitty-gritty and have a look at reactivation campaign examples and how some brands do it. The following examples will be useful for:

  • Reactivating existing customers

  • Re-engaging with inactive ones

1. We miss you emails

There is no harm in showing some emotions to a dormant customer.

Oftentimes, sending a "we miss you" message with a discount/coupon can be enough reason for lost customers to come back.

Even though it might seem like a very typical email strategy, it can significantly increase customer satisfaction rates. Especially those who churned because of pricing.

The below sample is a very effective "we miss you" email example.


2. Time-triggered reactivation emails

Time-triggered emails work like a charm for multiple reasons:

  • They’re automated so sending them doesn’t require manual work and helps you efficiently manage your resources

  • They’re sent to the right contact at the right time

  • They make contacts feel like VIPs

The following is an example of a scenario that is time-triggered (first purchase birthday int his case) and allows to send of automated emails accordingly


3. Abandoned cart recovery emails

It’s no secret that cart abandonment is an issue for most eCommerce businesses are facing nowadays.

In fact, 69.57%% of online shopping carts are abandoned for several reasons. It might be due to a long complicated checkout process, high shipping fees, or simply because the doorbell rang and they had to leave.

As an eCommerce manager, you should armor yourself with reactivation emails to fight cart abandonment and win as many customers as you can.

The following reactivation email sample from Rudy’s entices those who abandoned their cart by offering free shipping.

With the creative copy in the email title and the free shipping, this email has high chance of winning the cart abandonment battle.

Do you have to send every email manually? Absolutely not.

In fact, you can set up automated and personalised cart abandonment emails in Actito where every “cart abandoner” receives a reminder email with the products they left in their cart.

Remember, cart abandonment emails work best when they’re personalised.


4. Reactivation emails

Reactivation campaigns can also be part of your onboarding process.

In the case of SaaS products, some users might start the signing up process and drop off in the middle of it without completing the whole onboarding.

One way to mitigate churn during the sign-up process is to send reactivation emails as illustrated in the scenario example below to remind dormant users that they still have to finish up what they've started.

One best way is to incorporate your customer reactivation strategies into your other email sequences too. Therefore, in case someone drops off in the middle of a sequence, there's a reactivation email that will do the job for you and regain them back, as per the below scenario example.


5. Customer Retention emails

A perfect way to retain your customers is to show them that you care about them and how long you’ve been together.

Consider it as important as a wedding anniversary. Imagine your wife or husband forgets about your wedding anniversary! Not so good right!

The same should be with your customers, partners, users, or even leads. Celebrating such milestones strengthens your relationship with your customers and gives them a reason to stick with you instead of your competitors.

Sending a similar customer retention message would never let them consider divorcing you.

Make your customers feel special and celebrate them. Setting up such an automated email doesn’t take longer than a couple of hours but definitely increases your customer retention rates.

Article_customer-retention email

6. B2B re-engagement email

Reactivation emails are not uniquely reserved for loyal customers who turned inactive. They're used as well to re-engage partners.

Therefore, B2B re-engagement emails should be in your email marketing arsenal to keep your partners close and avoid them choosing competitors over doing business with you.

For B2B companies, the average cost per lead is $198 for all industries.

While it's significantly costly to generate new customers, you can rely on your re-engagement emails to keep your customer acquisition costs as low as possible by digging into your database and sending your best win-back emails.

7. Welcome back email

The re-engagement journey doesn’t end after you send a “we miss you” email.

If your inactive customers keep ignoring your reactivation emails for long, you should consider removing them from your list. 

However, if they respond and show interest towards your email, first of all HURRAY! You made it.

The best course of action in this case is to show them your appreciation and send thank-you note their way or a welcome back email like the example below.


8. Reactivation SMS message

The average open rate of a text message sits at about 99%, with 97% of messages being read within 15 minutes of delivery. 

Then why wouldn’t you re-engage dormant customers via a channel that is 99% efficient?

Alongside your re-engagement email, it’s best to trigger SMS messages so in case your email gets lost in a crowded inbox, the SMS still gets the attention.

9. Retarget website visitors on social channels

In many cases, online shoppers or customers are browsing your website and products and then just leave to be on social media.

Okay, they didn’t opt-in or leave their email address, does that mean you’ve lost them forever?

Absolutely not! 

With help of social media pixels, such as Facebook pixel, you can easily retarget lost visitors and display retargeting ads where they’re spending their time.

I’m so sure that you once looked up a flight and then you’re scrolling Facebook and you’ve seen an ad promoting a discount for those destinations you’ve searched previously that day.

That is exactly how retargeting ads work. You can set up your customer reactivation campaign in Actito and send re-engagement emails and display social ads at the same time.

No need for multiple software, different tabs, and paying for multiple tools. It all can be done in Actito.

Article_Casper retargeting campaign

24 Reactivation email subject lines to win back dormant customers

Your reactivation email copy is a great factor to your email success. But the thing is that your email copy doesn’t work unless your subject line does.

Your email subject line should stand out in a crowded inbox and get the most attention.

To help inspire you, here are some of the best reactivation subject lines that you can use today:

  1. {{firstname}}, it’s been a while…

  2. A message to {{firstname}}

  3. {{firstname}}, we miss you!

  4. Thanks for being our customer

  5. Happy first anniversary to us

  6. Long time no see, {{firstname}}

  7. Let’s Catch Up….

  8. Thank you for choosing us

  9. Are you sure you want to leave this behind?

  10. We Want You Back!

  11. Don’t let someone else snatch up your items!

  12. Do you still want updates from us

  13. Are we on the same page?

  14. 20% off. Just because we miss you ❤️

  15. We still miss you. (And you still have 20% OFF!)

  16. ✨ We miss you! ✨ We’re singling you out for this: 20% OFF expires TONIGHT

  17. A good deal is always good news (in your inbox)

  18. We want to help meet your goals. Let’s reconnect.

  19. Do you still want to hear from us?

  20. You haven’t read our recent messages. Should we stop emailing you?

  21. We’re wondering…

  22. Are we still welcome in your inbox?

  23. Busy bee? Let us help.

  24. Your relationship with XYZ Company is important to us

By now we've all reached the conclusion that it's more costly to win new customers. 

Instead, you can put your focus on your existing customers and prevent them from churning or have effective re-engagement emails to wake those dormant customers in your database.

To sum it up, remember to always:

  • Trigger your messages at the right time

  • Target the right people

  • Personalize your content and communication

  • Use the appropriate channels

About the author


Isabelle Henry

Head of Inbound and Growth

Always on the lookout for new skills and always ready to launch new marketing projects at Actito, I rely on my personal experiences but also on everything that is happening in the digital world to continue to learn, educate and share with you through inspiring content. My little extras? Video editing and photography!

Do you need any assistance with your client reactivation?