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How to Convert Old Customers Into Current Ones

Allan Dib
Allan Dib
Founder/Owner of Successwise at Successwise

Here are three ways to revive inactive customers.

One of the quickest ways for your small business to increase sales is to get past customers to buy from you again.

Research shows that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. And since you only need to increase customer retention by 5% to increase your profits by 25% to 90%, it's a strategy worth pursuing

While it's not always easy to pinpoint why a customer stopped buying from you, there's usually a reason. It could be the result of a poor experience (it only takes one hiccup to lose a customer), your competitor was better priced, they moved areas, or you just haven't given them a compelling offer worth acting on.

The good news is that as long as the customer is in your database, you can still reach them. You've already done the hard work of getting these customers to know, like and trust you. Now you just need to entice them to come back.

Here are three reactivation ideas to implement into your business marketing campaign.

1. Use snail mail to surprise and delight.

Contrary to popular belief, direct mail is not dead. It's actually one of the most important and underutilized forms of marketing.

Unlike email and digital marketing, which is hotly contested and overcrowded, snail mail is reasonably clutter-free and cost-effective. It has an average response rate of 9% for house lists, whereas e-marketing, as well as social and paid advertising, only garners 1%.

It performs better because there's a massive difference between receiving a virtual gift and a physical one. A digital coupon to put toward your next purchase is the norm, so it's forgotten as quickly as it's used.

Direct mail is more memorable because it's becoming almost unique. In an age where everything is digital, receiving an unexpected package in the mail is exciting and intriguing. Most customers can't wait to see what's inside, and best of all, they want to share this experience with friends and family.

So when everyone else is bombarding their customers' inboxes with special offers, be different. Surprise them with a hand-delivered package and personalized message. They'll be back shopping with you in no time.

2. Pique their interest with a compelling offer.

The key word here is "compelling." You need to strategize an offer that's too good for your customer to refuse. Basically, it overrides any pre-existing feelings they have toward you. Once you've axed that barrier, they'll start doing business with you again.  

Typical examples would be a buy-one-get-one-free offer, a gift card or a coupon to put toward their purchase. How you deliver that offer is up to you.

Direct mail and email are both effective and complement each other beautifully. In fact, a study found that 59% of customers' purchasing decisions are influenced by email marketing

Here are a few effective subject lines for reactivation emails:

  • It's Your Anniversary!
  • Because We Can, Here's a Gift.
  • Can We Spoil You?
  • We're Celebrating You Today.

Make sure the campaign's message and gifts are personalized. This is your chance to show the customer you've taken the time to know what would appeal to them. If you give them something they'll never use, you've lost a golden opportunity.

3. Lay it all out.

Sometimes you've just got to set aside your ego and swallow a bit of humble pie. Drop them an email and ask where you went wrong.

Here are some popular reactivation email subject lines:

  • We Miss You.
  • Have We Done Something Wrong?
  • Long Time No See.
  • We've Made Some Changes We Think You'd Like.

It could be that your product's features didn't fulfill a need they had, so describe what changes you've made since they stopped buying from you and what they can expect going forward. It also helps to throw in a few customer testimonials.

Perhaps an unfortunate incident resulted in bad public relations and lost customers. Own it. Say you're sorry and explain the measures you've taken to prevent something similar happening in the future.

The goal here is to show them that they matter to you. It's why you've taken the time to send them a personalized email. If they start buying from you again, follow up with something to make them feel extra special.

Trying to find new customers requires far more work than making up with dormant customers. Go through your database, pick out those customers who haven't bought from you in a while, and strategize how you're going to win them back. Then make it happen.

Image Credit: Stockfour/Shutterstock
Allan Dib
Allan Dib
business.com Member
See Allan Dib's Profile
I’m a serial entrepreneur, a rebellious marketer, and the bestselling author of The 1-Page Marketing Plan (Amazon’s #1 global marketing book). I’ve started, grown, and exited several successful businesses, one of which was named in Business Review Weekly’s (now AFR) Fast 100 List. I’ve made it my life’s work to provide clear and simple frameworks for marketing success. As a marketing business coach, I help entrepreneurs worldwide to find new and innovative ways to leverage technology and marketing to facilitate rapid business growth.