Skip to main content ↓

Gone, but not forgotten: 5 ways to recapture inactive customers

Smart business owners and sales reps know that it’s necessary to focus on customer loyalty at least as much as on customer acquisition.

That’s because it’s much easier to sell to existing customers rather than attract new ones. Businesses have a 60-70% chance of selling to existing customers and only a 5-20% chance of selling to a new one. Existing customers are not only more likely to buy, but they also spend on average 31% more than new ones.

When customers stop responding to marketing efforts, many businesses abandon them. But why abandon a customer who has already done business with you? Even if a customer hasn’t responded for a while, marketing dollars are still better spent courting dormant customers than acquiring new ones.

In fact, it’s 3-10 times more expensive to acquire new business than it is to reactivate unresponsive customers. [Tweet this] Here are some tools and strategies that small business sales teams can use to successfully recapture inactive customers.


Powerful email marketing, minus the headaches

Nutshell Campaigns plugs directly into your CRM data, so you can create highly targeted audience segments, track the impact of your emails in real-time, and manage all your communications out of a single tool. Get started for free!


1) Email retargeting

In email retargeting, your company uses a retargeting cookie to trigger ads on the web pages that your customers visit, after they click on the emails you send them. But what if your customers aren’t clicking on your emails? What if they’re ignoring them completely?

In this case, you can create a specific email list with all your inactive users and start a campaign just for them. By uploading this list to the retargeting program, the people on that list will start seeing your ads across their web pages and/or social media pages even without having to click on your email.

This strategy has delivered some impressively high ROIs for companies like BustedTees, which employed an email retargeting strategy that displayed ads across the web to customers who made a recent purchase. Their ads generated an ROI of 390%, renewing brand interest and increasing conversions.

2) Personalized messaging

Sometimes the lack of customer activity is your fault. If you haven’t automated your marketing outreach and are sending sporadic messages or no messages at all, then the customer has nothing to respond to. When a customer makes a purchase, make sure you follow up with targeted messages that reflect their preferences and add value to their experience with your company.

The entire point of collecting data is to find out what makes a customer buy, and cultivate a marketing campaign that targets their interests. With existing customers you have the benefit of knowing their purchase history and habits. Remind them how much they liked a certain product by sending them a message with a discount for that product.

Suggest new products that they might like based on their past behaviors. Use geo-targeting to message them when they’re in range of the store. And always use their name when sending them a message. The more relevant your marketing approach is, the greater your chances are to recapture their business.

3) Text messaging

SMS is a great lead capture tool for many reasons. Texting is a popular form of communication with Americans sending and receiving an average of 32 texts per day. Text messaging is also convenient, since messages are sent and received on a mobile device that customers can look at and respond to in any setting and at their leisure.

Texts also have incredibly high open rates—at least 78% higher than email. And, unlike email, text messages don’t run the risk of being stored in spam folders. [Tweet thisIn this case study for Henry Insurance Agency, owner Ken Henry noticed a difference between the results of their email marketing campaign versus their text marketing campaign:

“I was amazed that people ignore my call and email, but will reply to a text. This is especially true for younger consumers. Now we text first, then follow up with a call or email.”

SMS can be used to re-energize stalled customer relations when email and app messages aren’t yielding results.

4) Deep-linking

When trying to re-engage dormant customers, you want to make it as easy as possible for a customer to take a desired action. When doing in-app marketing, don’t forget to include deep-linking, which provides a shortcut link to the exact product page the customer has expressed interest in without them having to go the homepage first and then search for the product.

For the recipe app Yummly, deep-linking helped increase their user retention rate by 35 percent. With customers who haven’t been responsive to your marketing, it’s even more important to remove all the obstacles from their path to purchasing a product. Even if a customer hasn’t responded for a while, sending them an app notification or SMS message with an exact link to a product they were previously interested in could push them towards conversion.

5) Good old-fashioned mail

When your digital marketing isn’t working, putting something physical into non-responsive customers’ hands can pay off. Create a segmented list of unresponsive customers and send them something unique in the mail. Dimensional mail, as opposed to flat mail, gets 20 times more penetration and as much as 75% higher demand generation.

Mail also has incredible response rates, raking in 600% higher response rates than all digital marketing channels combined[Tweet thisReceiving a marketing gift in the mail is the stuff of VIP treatment and can ignite a lapsed customer’s interest by making them feel valued.

Re-engaging dormant clients is absolutely worth the investment, and with a few strategies and tools, you can woo some of them back to life. Retargeting campaigns, personalized messaging, SMS marketing, deep linking, and direct mail can all make unresponsive customers active again.


Tracy Blanchard is an experienced writer and content editor. She has written extensively about customer engagement, business productivity, and communication, and is an avid reader and yoga practitioner.


Need to Warm Up Your Cold Outreach?

Follow this step-by-step outbound campaign template to get on your contacts’ radars before you start dialing.



Join 30,000+ other sales and marketing professionals. Subscribe to our Sell to Win newsletter!