Tim Watson

Chances are you probably have some – if not plenty – experience with email marketing. Then you know the frustration of unopened emails and inactive customers.

Tim Watson from Zettasphere, is an email marketing guru with more than 12 years of experience, and he recently explained to me the principles behind win-back emails – the technique that’ll get your customers back and improve your opening rate!

Here are the major takeaways from the Tim Watson interview:

  • Know what type of people you are trying to win back. They don’t all want the same things.
  • Reevaluate your subject line when you try to win back customers. If you always include your brand name, try not doing so.
  • Find out why they stopped engaging with you in the first place and create an email that will tell them you have improved

So this post is all about winning – winning them back! Read this and find out how to get your valuable yet inactive customers back in the game.

Easy-to-follow checklist that will win back your customers

Do you have issues with customers not opening your emails or not engaging in your brand anymore? Or do you simply want to get some of your inactive customers back in the game? Get your hands on the checklist that will help you win back your customers.

Free Downloadable Bonus
Download Tim Watson’s win-back checklist.

The amazing journey of email marketing – or maybe not?

According to Tim Watson, email marketing hasn’t really changed at all. Everyone is still trying to provide timely, helpful messages that people want to receive. It is still all about providing customers what they want – communication, information, offers, content.

What has changed is the methods that are available for being timely and relevant. We are now able to see people’s activity levels and their purchase history and, then, use the data to target the content appropriately for the receivers.

What is win-back?

Win-back emails serve primarily to win back your audience. Have a look at the people who have lapsed and try to get them to re-engage with your brand. If you have a subscription service, and some of your customers have let their subscriptions lapse, give them reasons to come back and start a new subscription.

So how do you do that?

If you are in retail, and they haven’t purchased anything lately, tell them about your product changes or just go with an exclusive offer to entice them to come back.

The best win-back practice

Be conscious of what audience you are trying to win back. There are a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to identifying the right audience to win back. Listen to Tim Watson explain what to avoid:

The most valuable information you have is the date when someone last took an action with you.

And why is that?

That is when someone last opened an email, clicked through an email or made a purchase. That way, you can make the segmentations quite quickly. Look at the average time between their purchases. Sometimes, it’s normal to see long periods of time between their purchases. Compare their latest purchase to the usual frequency to figure out when they are inactive.

A winning subject line

Tim said that the subject line is interesting because it has a much bigger impact on win-back emails. It will affect your open rates on your active audience but far more on your inactive audience.

When you are creating the subject line on your win-back email, curiosity can be a good approach. Try to be less sales oriented than with the active audience. When composing a win-back email, it is best if you change your tone of voice to be more casual. Here is Tim Watson with some great examples:

It’s not them, it’s you

So what have you done wrong? And what should you do differently? If you have been using your brand name, and they have been ignoring you, then mix it up and use something different from your brand name in the emails. The win-back technique is all about changing what you are doing if it doesn’t work.

Try using more personal names, maybe without any brand. Tim acknowledges that it disobeys the idea that people have to understand what brand you are coming from, but when winning back, it is all about getting that bit of attention. Try to understand why people have disengaged, and find the antidote.

If you are a fashion brand and someone stopped because they thought your collection is no longer up to date, do content that proves them wrong, and let them know you have updated your collection. Offers are going to play a part as well, but you will have to do more than just offers.

Get the look

So, what does a great email look like when talking texts, fonts, graphics, and colors? There are billions of ways to do it. Hear what Tim recommends for you when you are creating an email for your inactive customers:

The tips and the tricks

  • Change what you are doing – whatever it is. If you always send out emails Monday morning, send Wednesday afternoon, alternate your from names, and if you have personal information, use that in a subject line.
  • Acknowledge that some people aren’t to be won back. Not every person on the planet is your ideal customer, and that person might have engaged with you by mistake in the first place.
  • Keep sending them offers and information. It is not a good strategy to just leave them be and then contact them after a long while. The ultimate trick: Tim’s favorite email marketing trick is to go for very simple emails. Get rid of all of the stuff, keep it simple, and remove the clutter.

Here’s an example of what Tim would do.

If Tim were to do a win-back campaign, he would set up an offer for a limited period (say, seven days) and then send three emails over that period. The first email would contain a few products and browse stimulation. In the second email, he would reduce the amount of content, and then the very last email would just have the information that the offer is about to end.

Click through

What should your CTA button say to get them actually to click through and land on your site?

Tim says that it has got to explain what the customer gets once they hit the button, and you have to consider what they want and where they are at in the customer lifecycle, as they might not be ready to purchase anything yet.

Free Downloadable Bonus
Download Tim Watson’s win-back checklist.

Wrap up

Tim’s forecast of email marketing is that we are going to see a blend of broadcast-type messages and automated messages. The automated messages will be based on people’s interaction with your site, and the higher personalized messages will be based on interests and personal data, so the emails will continue to become more and more based on behavior.

What surprised you the most? Comment below and let everyone know!

Emil Kristensen
Emil is the CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote. When he’s not busy with writing awesome content and building the Sleeknote brand, he spends his time reading and watching vlogs on YouTube (big fan Gary V). Fun fact: between the co-founders he is the fencing champ.

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  1. Yet another great post.

    It surprised me that a less sales oriented subject line is the best way to win back customers, but I’ll give it a try. Thank you for the tips.

  2. Awesome win-back checklist!

  3. Hi Sleeknote. I’ve been searching for ways to re-engage with our customers for a while now. This post was really helpful, Thank you.

  4. Nice post, this is really very positive and motivating!
    Thank you for sharing.
    Visit BetaPage for various email marketing tools.


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