5 Captivating WinBack Campaign Ideas and How to Get Started

Churn is part of every business, especially the SaaS world. If a customer disengages with your brand, should you give up and let them walk away?

Not exactly. An inactive customer doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. In fact, you can change their minds with a winback campaign. 

Maybe you’ve seen a winback campaign in action. Or, perhaps you have no idea what “winback” even means. 

Good news! We’ll give you the details about winback campaigns and how to get started. 

Let’s get to it! 

What is a Winback Campaign?

A winback campaign uses targeted email messaging to “win back” customers who’ve lost interest in your product.

Email Winback Process

You know a customer has “ghosted” you when they:

A. Cancel their membership after a free trial.

B. Stop using your product for an extended period. 

C. Disengage with your messaging.

With that, every business uses its own model and metrics to define when a winback campaign is needed. For example, 30 days of inactivity will trigger a winback campaign for one company. But for another, it may take over three months of inactivity to start.

If every case is different, you might be wondering when you should execute a winback campaign.  

Do You Need a Winback Strategy?

A key strategy for winback campaigns is avoiding them in the first place. It’s easier to retain an existing customer than to chase someone who has already left.

Gary Amaral, co-founder, and CPO of Breadcrumbs adds, “Winback campaigns are still worthwhile, especially since they’re much cheaper than acquisition. However, your best strategy is to focus on retention and expansion into your customer base and avoiding the awkward attempts at rekindling a broken relationship.”

If Gary recommends retaining and expanding active customers, why would you need a winback strategy in the first place? 

Your winback strategy is like a lifeboat—you only use it when you have to. On that note, don’t be like “The Titanic”, which boarded fewer lifeboats than people on board (Yikes!). Prepare for emergencies with an action plan. 

The question isn’t, “Do you need a winback strategy?” but “When should you implement one?”

3 Steps to Setting Up a B2B Winback Email Campaign

Setting up a winback email campaign doesn’t have to be a headache. The following three steps will help you execute a successful campaign. 

1. Define Your Inactive Customers with Revenue Opportunity Scoring

Revenue opportunity scoring identifies your churned customers, assists you with a personalized winback strategy, and accelerates more revenue. Not to mention, it also helps you decide which customers are worth retaining.

Gary shares how “Timing will depend on your product/market but in general, there are three inflection points for triggering win-back campaigns.”

1. After users churn: Before the alternative has become fully entrenched and the cost to switch back is relatively low.

2. The standard renewal point (i.e., if your industry usually requires one or 2-year commitments): Clients will consider other competitors around the renewal stage. Take advantage and create a wedge between you and other competitors. 

3. Opportunistically: In the case that you’ve introduced some major innovation that sets you apart from competitors.

A quick tip: As you identify disengaged customers, make sure to communicate these reasons from marketing to the engineering team. Solve the problem holistically so you don’t come across it again.

2. Segment Customers

Now that you’ve identified inactive users, you can divide them into segmented email lists. Below are some ideas: 

1. Product: Segmenting by each product works if you offer numerous solutions. 

2. Length of inactivity: Group customers by how long they haven’t responded.

3. Monetary: Their lifetime value. 

4. Purchases: The number of purchases within a period of time. Or how long they’ve subscribed. 

3. Execute an Email Campaign

Now it’s time for execution—writing the emails. But what do you include in a winback email? Is there any strategy for it? We’ll show you five copy-worthy examples below.

How to Win Lost Customers Back: 5 Winback Email Examples

As you look through each winback campaign example, consider which one your customers will like best. 

Let’s dive in! 

 1. Check-In with Customers

Customers can sense if you care about their well-being or if you just want their money. With that said, a salesy email isn’t the best way to start your winback campaign. Instead, offer help and guidance. Show interest in your customer.

An Email Describing Winback Campaign Idea Example: Check-Check In With Customers

In the example above, FreshBooks makes their intention clear: to check in with you. Checking in isn’t as simple as asking, “How are you doing?” You should also offer resources. 

FreshBooks, for example, encourages users to schedule a 1:1 demo. Demos are a great way to get your customer’s eyes on your product again. Plus, you can show use cases that fit best with your customer’s needs.

Another example we have is from Venngage.

An Email Describing Winback Campaign Idea Example: Check-Check In With Customers

Here, they’re targeting a problem new customers face: understanding how to use Venngage. 

This email is straightforward. Venngage emotionally connects with the customer and offers a solution right away. 

So what makes this simple approach so effective? 

Let’s look at the stats. 66% of customers expect companies to understand unique needs, yet only 34% of companies do this!

Our point: Check-in emails should target specific issues about your product. 

Are you aware of your customer’s needs, and how can you target them with a check-in email? For Venngage, it’s using the product correctly.

But for you, it might be:

  • Payment failures
  • Pricing
  • Poor customer service

Understanding your customer’s struggles helps you go one step further in meeting their needs. FreshBooks and Venngage make it clear that you can offer help before your customers ask for it.

2. Ask for Feedback

You’ll always reap the benefits when you listen to your customers. Why not open the door to re-engagement with feedback? 

Unbounce shows you how it’s done with an “end of free trial” email. 

An Email Describing Winback Campaign Idea Example:ask For Feedback

When a free trial is about to end, Unbounce jumps in and asks, “How can we do better?” 

Feedback is rewarding in two ways. First, you can collect valuable information for future purposes (i.e., email marketing campaigns, ads). Two, you invite users to express their feelings about your product.

Do you want to know the best part? You can use this strategy for multiple scenarios—trial cancellations, low click-through rates, and cart abandonment. Feedback is powerful! Use this information to tweak your winback campaign, customer support, and overall product.

 3. Send Personalized Product Updates

How many times have you signed up for a new service, only to forget about it days later? 

You’re not alone. We, humans, love novelty. We’re constantly looking for the latest gadget, cars, and yes—software! It’s easier than ever to sign up for a new and shiny SaaS product and forget it ever existed in one week. 

This is where a product update comes into play. Bluehost lets users know what’s up and coming with an update email.

An Email Describing Winback Campaign Idea Example: Send Personalized Product Updates

Updates are great at keeping users in the loop. But what if there was a way to personalize even further? 

There is!  

GrooveHQ takes customer-oriented marketing to a new level. Rather than sending a mass update to every existing customer, they send specific updates to customers who requested them in the first place. 

An Email Describing Winback Campaign Idea Example: Send Personalized Product Updates

GrooveHQ followed up with every customer who requested a “Snooze/Follow up” feature in the email above. 

They mentioned how this approach was a success in terms of winning back customers, “Some of these emails have brought back former customers who left Groove because we didn’t have the feature they were looking for.”

So how can you personalize your update emails? 

It’s easy. Collect customer support tickets and group them by request in a project management tool (GrooveHQ uses Trello). When you complete the request, send those tickets an update.

4. Write Captivating Email Subject Lines

You can have the best email copy, visuals, and CTA, but your emails may never get read if you don’t have a captivating subject line. 

Get this: 47% of email recipients decide if they should open an email based on the subject line—that’s almost half of your email list! 

If you’re putting so much effort into winning a customer back, it shouldn’t go to waste. Dedicate more time to crafting the perfect subject email line.  

An Email Describing Winback Campaign Idea Example: Write Captivating Email Subject Lines

So what makes a good email subject line, anyway? 

The best email subject lines are personal and enticing.

Personal: Use customer research and segmentation to target your reader’s interest. What would they want to see in a subject line? 

Enticing: Think of your subject line as a cliffhanger and leave them wanting more. You can get started with the following email subject lines:

  • Incentive: We miss you. Here’s 20% off.
  • Sense of urgency: You don’t want to miss this, (Name).
  • Emotional: Is this the end?
  • Feedback: We need your help.
  • Product update: We have great news (name).
  • Abandoned purchase: Want $10 off?

The overarching goal is to catch your reader’s attention before they open your email.

 5. Address Free Trial Abandonment

Raise your hand if you’ve signed up for a free trial, only to forget about it three days later. Yep! It happens all the time.

Here’s the good news: You can take advantage of this abandonment for your winback campaign.

How so? 

First, figure out why customers abandon your free trial. Then, address the problem with an email sequence. 

LinkedIn, for example, found that Premium users weren’t taking advantage of noteworthy features. They highlighted this issue in their email below. 

An Email Describing Winback Campaign Idea Example: Address Free Trial Abandonment

Emails like above encourage customers to sign back into their accounts. In LinkedIn’s case, trial users have another chance to test every feature.  

LinkedIn captured disengaged users with a “best features” list, but your company might use a different approach. 

Ask yourself, “Why are customers abandoning my free trials?” Your answer might be a lack of customer support, minimal product knowledge, or something else. Regardless, your answer will be the bedrock of your trial abandonment email. 

Ready to Build a Winback Campaign? 

At some point or another, you’ll have to launch a winback campaign. Preparing now will result in a seamless winback strategy. 

As you brainstorm ideas, consider the examples we went over in this post: 

  • Checking in 
  • Asking for feedback 
  • Sending product updates 
  • Writing good email subject lines 
  • Addressing free trial abandonment 

Oh, and don’t forget to identify churn users with revenue opportunity scoring! Our intent-based scoring system pinpoints your inactive users before it’s too late. Check out how Breadcrumbs can help you get the ball rolling! 

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