Using Data to Build Effective Winback Campaigns

Jul 14, 2022
Jeff Haws

Winback campaigns are some of the most important ones marketers run because they’re the last defense against a truly lost customer. And when it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, that’s a hugely pivotal moment for enterprise brands. An effective winback campaign might have one of the highest ROIs of any type of email marketing.

Because of that, it’s worth putting some real thought into winback campaigns and not just sending generic emails out to lapsed customers. Putting your customer data to use here could make the difference between attracting recipients back and having them drift even further away. So we wanted to go into some examples of how you might use data to better personalize your next winback campaign and make lapsed customers feel like you’re talking directly to them.

But first, what’s a winback campaign?

It’s worth taking a moment to talk about what a winback campaign is. This is where you attempt to re-engage customers who were once engaged with your brand but who haven’t engaged meaningfully in some defined amount of time. What “meaningfully engaged” means and how long to wait both depend entirely on what makes sense for your business.

In many cases, you could define “meaningfully engaged” as making a purchase, but it could also be RSVPing for an event, downloading some content, watching a video, following you on social media, or many other customer behaviors. Likewise, the amount of time you wait could be as little as a couple of months if you sell products meant to last a week or so, or it could be well over a year if you sell expensive, long-lasting products.

However you define a lapsed customer, you’ll place them into their own audience, and try to find a compelling way to get them to come back. You might offer them discounts, remind them what they’re missing, or offer them help with your website. The point is, you want to earn their business again. And personalization could be the key to doing so.

Highlight previous purchases

If a customer purchased from you at some point in the past but hasn’t now in a while, your data on what they bought previously could provide a great way to get their attention once again. There’s a reason they purchased something from you before, so maybe they will this time too. You just need to remind them.

You can use that previous purchase data to pull in images of those same sorts of products — along with complementary ones — that could get them thinking positively again about your brand. Tell them you hope they’re enjoying these, and you wanted to tell them about these other cool products you think they’d enjoy. This is a great way of showing this email is unique to them, and that’s the experience customers are looking for from your brand.

You might also take into account that they could have not had a positive experience with your brand the first time, so you might also include a note about how to contact customer service, and stress that you’re here to help. That also could give them the nudge they need to re-engage.

Talk about new features they’re interested in

We’ve talked about the power of zero-party data before, and this is another opportunity for it to help you shine. Send a survey to your customers asking what sorts of products, services, or new features they’re interested in from your brand. What would they like to see you do in the future? What sorts of new stuff would they like to hear about? Then store that data away. The winback campaign is one place where it can come in really handy.

That’s because you now have a great excuse to reach back out. The customer already told you what sorts of things they’re interested in. When you have something new that fits that category, send them an update. You might even put the lapsed customers into a different audience than engaged ones for these sorts of updates so the language can reflect their lapsed status.

If you’re lucky, this sort of message might be enough to remind them what they liked about your brand in the first place and pique their curiosity to come back and see what’s new.

Use location if you’re opening a new brick-and-mortar

There can be lots of excitement surrounding opening a new brick-and-mortar spot for your company, and that can easily spill over into your winback campaign. Any lapsed customers who live within a reasonable distance of the new location should get a special email inviting them to pay a visit. Offering them a discount for doing so might be enough to do the trick.

The fun around a new opening can be a great way to get them re-engaged and excited about your brand. You might even be doing some cool events on opening weekend, with food trucks, music, or free stuff. If you can get a lapsed customer to come by, that’s the environment that’s conducive to getting them back into the fold.


Because winback campaigns have such potential for high ROI, there’s no excuse for not putting your customer data to use as you think about how to enhance them. These are just a few ideas for how you can do it, and there are plenty more. Get creative, and re-engage customers with an experience that will surprise and delight.

About the Author

Jeff Haws

As MessageGears’ Senior Marketing Manager, Jeff is focused on producing engaging and thoughtful content that resonates with enterprise marketers, helping them to better understand how MessageGears makes their jobs easier. He’s passionate about understanding the way data impacts messaging, and he’s also hopelessly obsessed with baseball.