A guide for reactivating churned customers

Customers come and go, that is the nature of any business. However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept that all those that have left are gone forever.

By implementing a series of key customer strategies, you can reduce the number leaving and reactivate more of those that have already left.

In this post I will show you how to protect churning customers, and reactivate more of those that have churned.


The first step is to define what makes a dead customer from your perspective.

Is it someone who hasn’t bought from you in over 1,3,6 or 12 months, someone who hasn’t logged in in a certain number of days, weeks or months etc.?

This will inform you of who sits within the audience segment you want to target.

Additionally, using RFM, what characteristics do churning customers share? For example, is it a group that spends 30% less month on month relative to your customer population.

Once you know this you can pick out the customers who have fallen into that cycle.

Finally, be clear with what you want them to do. Is it to login, start another trial, buy one or more products…?

This will then dictate how you approach them and what you ask them to do. You’ll also be able to benchmark success for future campaigns.

Once you know who they are and what you want them to do, you can start to do something about it!

Stop them before they churn

Apply an onboarding strategy

User onboarding is the idea that successful customers are happy customers, and they stay with you longer and spend more.

In a nutshell, your challenge is to do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for your customers to get set up and use your product, and then become a success.

Popular ways of doing this include:

  • Welcome email with login link and steps for getting started
  • Set-up checklist in their control panel that shows progress
  • An animated walk through when they log-in for the first time
  • A user guide/manual

I covered this in more detail in a previous post. Read more in-depth coverage of creating a user onboarding strategy.

Target new, inactive signups

Email users who haven’t logged in again or bought anything within 24 hours of signing up.

The longer someone leaves it to buy, the less likely they are to do so.

If they sign up and haven’t logged in within 3 days email them asking if they need any help.

If they have purchased but haven’t started using your service within 3 days, email them with links to support articles or getting started guides/videos.

Customer satisfaction survey

Use NPS surveys to flag customers who are unhappy, and trend your general customer satisfaction performance.

Use this data to contact customers who fall into the detractor pot find out how you can help.

This will push them in to the promoter group almost every time, or at least the passive.

Stop customers falling down the RFM table

I know from personal experience that Ikea apply this strategy (read more about that here).

If you have customers dropping out of your top group (1,1,1) keep their buying habits going with targeted offers based on their previous purchases.

Despite all of this, you will always lose customers. Here are some ideas to help win them back…

Reactivating dead customers

There are a couple of steps you need to take before you get started communicating with your churned segment:

  1. Make sure you are using their history to inform all your marketing. Using historical transactional and behavioural data will result in far more effective marketing than one size fits all messages/offers.
  2. Create a control group to measure how successful your actions are. Take a sample of 10% and don’t send them any marketing. You can then compare this group with your action group to see if there is any difference.

Go back to square one

Stop thinking of these people as your customers. Start treating them in the same way you you do with cold prospects.

In all your marketing, remind them of all the key USPs and UVPs that attracted them in the first place.

Educate them

A percentage of your customers may have churned because they didn’t understand how to successfully use your product or how it can benefit them.

Creating educational content on how to become successful in their field (using your product naturally) will help draw people back.

Bribe them, but not too often

Special offers are always the most effective, the more aggressive the better. You are trying to change their behaviour so it has to be worth their while.

Go beyond a one off discount, and create an offer that requires repeat consumption to start building a habit.

Snack company Graze target me regularly with various offers to reactivate me. These range from a free box, discounted multiple boxes or my 2nd and 4th box free of a 5 box order.

However, the trap they have fallen into is sending me offers too regularly and I now expect them and in fact wait for them.

Remarketing through Google AdWords

You don’t have to use Google AdWords to bid on keywords or attract new visitors.

You can also show adverts on websites to previous visitors and customers as they move around the internet.

I would strongly recommend you set up a Google AdWords account and remarketing tracking on your website.

Using their remarketing service you can show tailored messages to this specific audience. e.g. “Come back and get X% off!” or “New features added”.

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