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4 Tips for Re-Engaging Past Clients

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks

Increasing your customer retention rate by 5 percent can raise profits five times or more.

As you deal with your customer base – particularly those who have done business with you in the past and moved on – you’ll discover that there are some general steps you can take to move them to action. Let’s check out a few of them.

While you probably have a few clients that are repeat customers – returning over and over again to purchase your products – it’s also highly probable that you have past clients who did business with you and then walked away. Can you find a way to re-engage this valuable group of customers?

The cost savings of re-engaging

Hanging on to existing customers is always going to be cheaper than chasing down new customers, but by how much? The most commonly cited statistic says it’s six to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. This makes sense when you consider:

  • Repeat customers have already purchased from you in the past, which means they know how to find you and are aware of what you sell.
  • You already have the customer’s information, which makes it easier for you to reach them with targeted marketing and advertising.
  • The average customer is more comfortable purchasing from a company or brand that they’re familiar with than a brand new one.

But it’s possible that the previous statistic is on the conservative side. According to research gathered by Amy Gallo for Harvard Business Review, studies show that acquiring a new customer can cost as much as 25 times more than retaining an existing one. Even more illuminating is the fact that increasing customer retention rates by just 5 percent has been shown to inflate profits anywhere from 25 to 95 percent for the average business.

If you aren’t currently doing it, it’s important that your business seeks to better understand what’s happening in this area of the company. Specifically, you need to know what your churn rate is.

According to the research in the Harvard Business Review, the churn rate refers to the percentage of customers that no longer engage with a business within a specified period. Most churn rates are measured in years, quarters, or as short as months.

The formula for getting the churn rate is simple. Based on the time period you are measuring, simply take the number of customers who stopped engaging in your business and divide it by the total number of customers in the beginning.

Once you understand this number, you can work on ways to actively reduce the churn rate and drive repeat business (which significantly increases profitability).

4 practical ways to re-engage past customers

Every customer is unique on a singular basis. However, you’ll also find that groups of consumers tend to exhibit the same behaviors and respond to similar stimuli. As you deal with your customer base – particularly those who have done business with you in the past and moved on – you’ll discover that there are some general steps you can take to move them to action. Let’s check out a few of them.

1. Identify the candidates

The first thing you have to do is identify which past customers are candidates for re-engaging. Just because someone did business with you in the past, doesn’t mean they’re worth pursuing again.

Generally speaking, look for customers who show signs of being good candidates. For example, it makes more sense to go after people who have opened your emails multiple times over the past six months than people who haven’t. You’ll also have better results targeting customers who made multiple purchases in the past versus those who’ve only been involved in a single transaction or deal.

2. Reach out on special occasions

You don’t want to overdo communication with past clients or make them feel like you’re invading their privacy by contacting them too much. Having said that, you should always be looking for good excuses to put your brand in front of them.

One piece of advice is to reach out on special occasions, such as holidays, big industry events, anniversaries and seasonal events. Using a tool like Smilebox, it’s easy to plug your logo and content into predesigned email templates and then distribute to your customers.

3. Start a drip email campaign

In order to have a good chance of re-engaging past customers, you need to stay on their minds. The more familiar they are with you, the more likely it is they’ll think of you when they experience a need or want.

One of the best techniques is to run a simple email drip campaign. A drip campaign is simply a series of emails that you send over a period of time – typically many months – with the goal of slowly building trust and moving the recipient to action.

Using a tool like Yesware, you can send strategically timed emails to past clients so that you’re constantly on their mind. While every business is different, one or two emails per month is a good starting point. You can then increase this number as you study analytics and identify trends in open and read rates.

4. Give customers a reason to return

At the end of the day, you have to give customers a reason to come back. The onus is on you – not the customer – to prove value. This can be done in any number of ways, but most businesses like to initiate some sort of deal for repeat customers.

This article has some examples of effective email re-engagement campaigns. Consider modeling a campaign of your own after one of these.

Editor’s Note: Looking for email marketing software? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

What will you do?

While there’s no secret formula for re-engaging past customers, there’s ample data to support that past customers are much more profitable than new customers. If you want to lower expenses and increase your margins, it would benefit you to prioritize re-engagement moving forward.

In this article, you’ve been supplied with a number of specific and practical ways to re-engage past clients. Identify a couple that you believe are most applicable in your situation and act on them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Image Credit: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock
Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
Staff Writer
Chad Brooks is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of media of experience. He has been with Business News Daily and for the past decade, having written and edited content focused specifically on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Chad spearheads coverage of small business communication services, including business phone systems, video conferencing services and conference call solutions. His work has appeared on The Huffington Post,,, Live Science, IT Tech News Daily, Tech News Daily, Security News Daily and Laptop Mag. Chad's first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.