How to Attract Your Past Customers to Increase Your Sales and Revenue

If you’ve been with us for a while now, you may have come across this statistic before in our Ecommerce facts that will blow your mind post:

It 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

The same fact holds true with your past Ecommerce store clients – these “lapsed” customers are the ones who already purchased from you but have not made any subsequent purchase within a certain period of time.

Past purchasers are considered to be low-hanging fruits in your e-commerce marketing.

Think about it: you’ve already spent your time and money with them, you’ve given them several promotions and you’ve even made an effort to make them feel special and valued.

  • They already bought from from you, so you know their purchase preferences and buying habits.
  • And since you have access to their direct line (email or phone number), you don’t need to do lead generation anymore.
  • Plus, you can customize your promotional offers to them based on past data.

And if you’re not reaching out to them, then you’re leaving a lot of money off the table.

Want to be more like the top Ecommerce companies who get 76% of their revenue from repeat customers?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can reactivate your past purchasers and boost your Ecommerce website’s sales:

1. Identify your reactivation candidates

Retention and reactivation are different.

You need to use customer retention techniques on those who did business with you more than once, while you need to use reactivation strategies on those customers whose business you’ve lost, because they did business with you only once.

Will you target only those customers who bought from you a month ago? Or are you looking into marketing to past customers from six months ago? Decide on a time frame you want to target.

A customer is still a customer, no matter how long ago they bought from you. It’s your job to make them a repeat customer.

It makes more sense to reactivate customers who have opened and clicked on your email within the last 12 months as they pose a lower deliverability risk when you do your reactivation campaign via email.

2. Know why these customers stopped doing business with you

Remember these words:

Know the “why” of inactivity, so you can devise the “how” of your re-activation strategy.

Reach out to your inactive customers and give them an incentivized survey about their inactivity, just like the one you can see in the image below:

inactivity survey

There could be many reasons why they decided to stop doing business with you:

  • Maybe they left because of your product pricing
  • Or is it because they aren’t fans of your current product selection?
  • Another angle you can look at is the content of your newsletters – are they too promotional or sales-ly?

Make sure to include a compelling offer as to why they should fill out the survey form you sent them.

The key here is knowing and getting answers, so you can offer a something valuable like a free product, or free consultation for their relevant responses.

While you’re at this step, you may also want to consider computing the churn rate of your Ecommerce business.

That way, you can discover the percentage of users that will never come back, and devise an strategy to reactivate them.

RJMetrics’ blog post on “E-commerce Churn Rate” is a valuable resource you can refer to as a helpful guide for beginners.

3. Identify what you want to get out of your reactivation strategy

Naturally, the tangible end-goal of your reactivation strategy is to get additional sales so you can boost your Ecommerce store’s revenue.

You need to be specific in your goal, though.

How exactly do you plan this get increased sales?

The reason you need to pinpoint on this is because your specific goal dictates the majority of the content that you’ll be sending to your inactive customers.

Depending on your personal goals, you could take on any of the following strategies to reactivate your past customers:

  • By re-introducing past product offers: An effective email subject would be “Come Back and See What You Missed: Receive $10 Coupon.” According to Experian Marketing Services, up to 66% increase in revenue was observed on email campaigns that used a subject line of this nature.

Adding a time-limit to your offer can create a sense of urgency and prompt inactive customers to check out your deal, just like Groupon does:

past product offers

  • By giving the chance to buy upgrades of previously bought products: If this is your purpose, you can use the data of past purchase history to give a personalized and targeted offer that is relevant to your inactive customer.

An email subject such as “We Miss You! Upgrade Your Subscription And Get 50% Off!” can encourage them to consider your offer.

Additionally, you can use this to convert them from a free user to a premium customer, just like Spotify does:

premium users

4. Use direct mail to reach out to your inactive customers

Direct email is a classic approach to reactivating past purchasers.

That’s because reactivating your past customers is an on-going work in progress, and the flexibility of email messaging gives you the option to execute an email campaign that can convince past purchasers to come back.

A word of caution: sending consistent emails to bad addresses (accidentally entered incorrectly) can give you, the sender, a negative reputation.

Also, sending emails to an uninterested subscriber can lead them to marking your mail as “spam”, so review your subscribers’ permissions.

5. Emphasize your purpose for interacting with your past customers

Take a look at your inbox for a while – it looks noisy over there, doesn’t it?

In a digital world bombarded by different discount deals and product offers, you can stand out from the crowd and create a meaningful engagement with your past purchasers by giving them a strong and compelling subject line – hopefully something with a “free” offer included in it.

Don’t just stop at the subject line, though. An actionable content is needed as well.

You can choose among the following options to implement in your reactivation strategy:

1. Offer discount codes: In sending discount codes via email, you need to show your past purchasers that you understand them. To add to the above example, you can express this by including a product to your discount code offer.

Let’s take a look at the following email from Shoemint.

discount offers

As Kevin Hill puts it, “There’s no merchandise feature.”

Use your past purchase behavior or recency, frequency, monetary (RFM) data so you can pinpoint the product that you want to include in your offer.

Since this tactic may give you high click-through rates, and may convince past purchasers to do business with you again, keep in mind that this may not successfully convert these bargain hunters into full-price buyers.

As such, here are other reactivation methods you can implement:

2. Invite them to change their email preferences: A direct approach like “Do you want to be taken off the list?” can shock your past purchaser and take the necessary action to keep their place in your newsletter list.

It’s an unexpected question that may cause them to say, “Wait, I like receiving product catalogs from this company!

Most of the time, your past purchasers may still want you to keep them updated, although not as frequent as weekly. Encourage them to update their email preferences.

You can also decrease the frequency or number of emails to the customer in a given time frame – if you mail once weekly, why not mail your inactive customers once monthly with your strongest and most compelling offer?

3. Send lifecycle-oriented messages: Tie an occasion (or “trigger”) to your clients’ past purchase history.

For example, if they bought a product from you as a holiday gift, there’s an increased possibility for them to buy from you for the same reason.

Go ahead, make them feel special and send that customized email offer.

lifeycle emails

4. Give relevant updates: This can come in the form of creating educational content such as this “Did you know?” email from Pinterest.

relevant updates

5. Ask for their opinion on your product development: And make sure to give them an incentive for responding!

6. Make it amazingly easy for your lost customer to return to you

Whether you want your customer to go and check out your Ecommerce store, complete a survey, fill out their account or make a purchase from you, make sure to remove the friction and allow them to access their information easily.

For example, if you want them to access their (long forgotten) account, why don’t you send their username and password so it’s easy and interactive?

If you want them to share your email, include easy-to-find and clickable sharing buttons in your content.

If you gave them a discount coupon, prominently display it on the message, and give clear instructions as to where they need to input the code.

As much as possible, remove areas of customer frustration and make it amazingly convenient for them to come to you.

7. Consider other communication channels when interacting with lost customers

If 75% of shoppers looking for customer service online went to another channel when a brand’s website disappointed them, it makes sense for you to interact with your lost customers via phone.

Another interesting channel you can turn to is Twitter. Yes, it depends on your brand’s customer demographics, but it’s been found that the possibility of achieving match rates between Twitter and your company’s email list is between 9%-18%.

Here are two useful guides on using omnichannel marketing to expand your reach and successfully reactivate your brand’s lost customers.


With the costs of acquiring a new customer and the possibility of boosting your store’s revenue, reactivating your lost customers should be a priority.

A progressive reactivation strategy of your Ecommerce business is helpful in staying top-of-mind and promoting customer engagement – both important in maximizing your Customer Lifetime Value.

Have you ever tried to reactivate your past purchasers? If so, what was your experience?

Please share your experience in the comments below.

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