Don’t Give Up On Past Customers, Re-Engage Them With These Tips

Let’s face the facts: customer lifecycle marketing is hard. Traditionally, the acquisition stage of the customer funnel kept marketers busy, but it appears the tides are turning — the majority of marketers interviewed in a recent 2014 State of Marketing survey said retention and re-engagement are now a key focus. So, how can we re-engage […]

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Let’s face the facts: customer lifecycle marketing is hard. Traditionally, the acquisition stage of the customer funnel kept marketers busy, but it appears the tides are turning — the majority of marketers interviewed in a recent 2014 State of Marketing survey said retention and re-engagement are now a key focus.

customer engagement

So, how can we re-engage our past customers? There are a number of authentic and mutually beneficial ways to reach out and reconnect with those customers that have departed — cancelled their product subscription, uninstalled your app, etc. Let’s jump into some of the more popular ones.

Survey Them

While most companies have a survey on their cancellation page, don’t forget that you can also email past customers and request more feedback. You can ask them why they cancelled or what suggestions they might have for your company. Members that cancelled have a wealth of knowledge that can help steer your product and engineering efforts.

In addition to getting valuable feedback, you’ll be reminding them that you do genuinely care about them. Keep your surveys short and to the point, and thank them for their time. You will add another touch point to their lifecycle and leave a good last impression. You’d be surprised how valuable that is when they reconsider your service or product down the road.

Encourage Them To Join The Community

Too often, marketers see the subscription or product side of the business as separate from the community. Our communities should both be feeding our funnels and keeping them full. After a customer cancels, consider sending an email thanking them for their time as a customer. Apologize for not being what they need, link to a feedback form and then encourage them to join your community. You can call out the benefits your community gets: great resources, educational content, and updates on your company and product.

By thanking them for their support and encouraging them to join your community, you are saying, “We would love to stay in touch” — and we find that this can go a long way. Past customers are still great community members; and, who knows? If you stay top of mind, they might just become a customer again.

High-Touch Reach Out

This might seem a bit crazy, but a trend we’re seeing more companies try is sending a personalized email to a customer that recently cancelled and setting up a phone call. This might seem impossible to scale, but it works in so many ways. Often times, this outreach process is handled by a dedicated employee who lives on the customer service or retention team and is referred to as a “customer champion” or “customer specialist.”

The company sends out an email inviting the past member to jump on a call and walk through what they liked and didn’t like, ultimately aiming to solve those problems. These calls are not short and can take up serious resources, but it’s this sort of “above and beyond” type approach to customer loyalty that is really driving results. Again, even if you aren’t successful in getting them to re-engage with your product, you have left them with a great feeling about your brand.

Invite Them To Join Your Customer Advisory Board

In the past, I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of building a customer advisory board (CAB). Inviting members that have cancelled to join your CAB is a great way to stay in touch, leverage their knowledge and ideas, and remind them of feature updates and improvements. It keeps the conversation going even after they’ve cancelled.

While most people think a CAB should only have current members on it, I beg to differ. It’s important to diversify your CAB and have people that use competitors, people that love your product, and people that have cancelled. By hearing all of their opinions and suggestions, you really are at an advantage to move faster and build beautiful, competitive products.

Winback Promo

This is probably what most marketers think of when they brainstorm “re-engagement” campaigns. While we believe you should have more than one trick up your sleeve, we can’t deny that winback promotions do work. This involves sending your recently cancelled customer an email inviting them to try the product again at a discounted price or for another incentive.

While winback promos can refill your funnel fast, you need to be careful that you aren’t just hurting yourself in the long run. Keep in mind that customers re-engaging off a low price point alone tend to be your least loyal group, and lack the stickiness, so they are likely to churn out quickly again. Also, if you depend too heavily on winback campaigns to get customers, you can actually dilute your margins significantly. My suggestion is to lace in winback campaigns sparingly.

Introduce A Loyalty Program Or Campaign

We are seeing more and more of this these days, as customer loyalty takes center stage. One of the best ways to engage a customer after they have cancelled is to give them another reason to engage with your brand other than their subscription or membership. Inviting them to join a loyalty program or to participate in a loyalty campaign gives them a new way to benefit from your brand.

This can be done through an email campaign, an on-site experience, or a mobile experience. By acquiring them into a loyalty program, you encourage them to visit your site more, explore your content, and engage at a deeper level with the promise of relevant and unique rewards. Who would say no to that?

These are some great ways to re-engage customers that have tried your service and cancelled. As lifecycle marketing continues to evolve, we find more channels and opportunities available to us, and it’s our responsibility to leverage them.

The key thing to remember is, oftentimes a cancelled member can become one of your biggest sources for product feedback, brand advocacy and – maybe – even one of your best future customers.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Joanna Lord
Joanna Lord is Chief Marketing Officer of ClassPass, the world's largest fitness marketplace. Prior to that she was the VP of Marketing at Porch, a leading consumer marketplace connecting homeowners and home professionals. Prior to that, she served as Chief Marketing Officer at BigDoor, a loyalty software provider and VP of Growth Marketing at Moz (previously SEOmoz), a leading inbound analytics software. She’s an expert in brand marketing, acquisition models, engagement tactics, and retention marketing that drive business growth. Lord is a global keynote speaker on the future of digital marketing, a tech advisor, as well as a mentor to a variety of tech incubators including Techstars, UpGlobal and Startup Weekend. Lord recently relocated from Seattle, WA where she taught Advanced Digital Marketing at the University of Washington, and was recognized as a Seattle 40 Under 40. She nows live in NYC where she drinks way too much coffee and talks marketing with anyone who is up for it.

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