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The Ultimate Guide to Writing Win Back Email

A pink page featuring a woman and the words "we miss you," offering an ultimate guide to writing win back emails.

Marketers often focus on attracting new leads, but retaining your current customers can be even more important. Existing customers spend 31% more money than new leads, so you should do everything possible to keep subscribers engaged with your brand.

This article will cover everything you need to know in order to develop effective win back email campaigns and reduce unsubscriptions. Re-engaging even a small percentage of users is one of the most powerful ways to increase average lifetime customer value.

1. What Are Win Back Email Campaigns?

Win back emails are designed to regain a subscriber’s interest after he or she has stopped opening or clicking through on your messages. Existing leads are incredibly valuable, and too many businesses let customers go rather than trying to re-engage them before it’s too late.

Effective win back strategies can substantially decrease your unsubscribe rate and turn lapsed readers back into loyal customers. Of course, the right tactics for your business depend on a variety of factors including your typical sales cycle and your audience’s unique preferences.

2. Why Do Subscribers Stop Opening Emails?

We all want to keep subscribers engaged, but some readers will inevitably lose interest in your content over time. Understanding why your audience stops reading your messages will help you develop more relevant win back campaigns and bring more customers back to your brand.


Most users already receive more emails than they have time to read, and sending too often is one of the most common reasons why subscribers start to ignore newsletters. On the other hand, not sending frequently (or consistently) enough can have a similar effect.

You can optimize email frequency by performing a few tests or asking subscribers how often they’d like to hear from you when they sign up.


Users may also stop opening emails if they feel like your content is irrelevant. Every message should contain a unique value and offer a sense of urgency that makes readers want to learn more.

Fortunately, contemporary email marketing tools make it easier than ever to create relevant content that’s personalized for each subscriber. Email automation may sound generic, but it offers all the tools you need to build emails based on customer data.

As with email frequency, you can always ask new subscribers which types of content they’re interested in. This gives readers more control over the emails they receive and helps you keep them engaged with more relevant messaging.


Some users will scroll past your emails, but others may not see them at all. Spam filters are more sophisticated than ever, and your messages may be filtered out before reaching the recipient’s inbox. Deliverability refers to the percentage of emails that make it through spam filters to the target inbox.

Filters can be triggered for a variety of reasons including poor engagement, inactive recipient addresses, and a lack of permission to contact subscribers. While you should do everything you can to win back disengaged users, deleting inactive subscribers from your list will increase both deliveries and opens.

3. Developing a Win-Back Email Campaign

The ideal win-back email campaign responds to customer concerns and gives readers a reason to re-engage with your content. You should target inactive leads with a sequence of several messages before deleting them from your list.


First Steps

Some readers may still be interested in your content even though they haven’t been opening your emails. A quick notification is sometimes all it takes to remind customers why they subscribed to your newsletter in the first place.

The first email in your win back sequence should contain basic information about your brand along with some reasons to re-engage. You can also take this opportunity to highlight any changes or adjustments you’ve made in the last several months.

Readers who usually ignore your content probably don’t want to spend much time reading them, so try to edit out as much copy as possible. This message should only include the most relevant information, and it should be easy to skim through in just a few seconds.

Providing Motivation

After this reminder, the next step is to give subscribers an additional incentive to come back. Exclusive offers are often enough to win them over, and they’re a small price to pay for an ongoing customer.

Your incentive could be anything from a discount to free shipping or rewards points as long as it’s enough to give readers fear of missing out. It’s better to win customers back without an offer whenever possible, so this email shouldn’t be the first item in your sequence.

Keep in mind that readers are more likely to respond to exclusive incentives that create a sense of urgency. Limited times and quantities, for example, make subscribers feel like they need to act now to benefit from the offer.


Gathering Customer Data

Customers want to feel like they have a voice, and audience feedback can be incredibly valuable. Asking readers what you could improve is one of the most effective ways to identify weaknesses in your customer relationships.

Subscribers disengage when they feel like a company isn’t providing what they’re looking for. Without gathering feedback, you won’t be able to learn what’s driving your readers away. This email also demonstrates that you take customer satisfaction seriously.

As with other emails in the sequence, you can generate better open and response rates by offering an incentive. That said, this message should be primarily focused on feedback rather than sales.

Marketers often ignore or delete disengaged leads, but subscribers can offer valuable information even if they never make another purchase. Don’t underestimate the impact a feedback email can have on your long-term marketing results.

Preparing to Unsubscribe

After three attempts, it’s time to start the unsubscribe sequence. Keeping inactive readers on your list can hurt both engagement and deliverability. The fourth message lets users know that they’ll be unsubscribed unless they ask to continue receiving emails.

A few readers may reconsider, so give them a week or two to rejoin your email list. That said, it’s better to have users opt back in rather than letting them opt out since some won’t open the message.

While you can include a reminder of your newsletter’s benefits, this email should be kept as short as possible. This is your last chance to win back users who have stopped opening or clicking through on your emails, so it needs to be one of your top priorities.

Unsubscribe Confirmation

Unfortunately, some users won’t respond to any email in your win back sequence. At this point, all you can do is let them know that they’ve been taken off your email list. Some readers may come back after seeing this email, but it shouldn’t contain any promotional materials.

Keep in mind that someone who unsubscribes now could come back later on. Include a link to resubscribe and ask for feedback in case they could provide any actionable information. If you have options for frequency or content type, remind them that they can adjust their preferences without unsubscribing.

It can be tempting to continue trying to re-engage inactive users, but they’re doing more harm than good by reducing the quality of your email list. Every user should be automatically unsubscribed if they’re still disengaged at the end of your sequence.

4. When Should I Send win back Emails?

There’s no perfect definition of a lapsed lead, and the right time to target inactive users depends on your approach to sales. Understanding when to start your win back sequence is critical for maximizing long-term engagement.

For example, you could measure subscriber engagement by monitoring opens, clicks, or purchases. If you sell relatively affordable items that customers buy frequently, opens or clicks might not be enough to consider a lead active. On the other hand, blog owners may be satisfied when readers click through to read their content.

In general, subscribers who go more than three months without engaging based on your preferred metric are quickly becoming inactive. Six to nine months may be too long to wait as some readers will be completely disengaged. The longer you wait, the more time you give your audience to move on and forget about your brand.

5. Best Practices for Win Back Emails

Every campaign has room for improvement, and the top marketers are constantly experimenting with new strategies and looking for ways to differentiate their brands from the competition. This section will cover a few of the most effective ways to improve your approach to win back emails.

Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation is a crucial aspect of virtually every campaign, and it’s highly effective for re-engagement. Segmenting your email list gives you more in-depth control over your strategies and helps you provide more relevant content to each subscriber.

Just as each business has its own definition of an inactive lead, no two customers are exactly alike. Someone who typically makes a purchase every week needs to be targeted sooner than someone who occasionally visits your site. Similarly, your most loyal customers are worth pursuing for longer than those who have only made one or two purchases.

Email Segmentation Shopping behavior

Strong Subject Lines

The subject line is the first thing readers see when scrolling through their inboxes, and a great subject line can help you achieve a substantially better open rate. It’s arguably the most important element to consider when developing a win back sequence.

Every subject line should get straight to the point and convince subscribers to open the email and learn more. It needs to stand out from the rest of the messages in their inbox and create a sense of urgency. Try to edit your subject lines down to 40 characters or less.

If the email includes a discount or other exclusive offer, this should be clearly communicated in the subject line. You can also add personalization by including the recipient’s name or addressing them directly—readers are much more likely to respond to targeted content.

Omnichannel Engagement

Some users will lose interest in your content, but others simply don’t want to engage with you via email. Subscribers are interacting with brands on more channels than ever, and it’s vital to provide a cohesive experience across multiple platforms. This is particularly relevant given that most inboxes are already overcrowded.

Instead of expecting readers to match your marketing practices, give them the option to engage with you on their terms. Businesses of all sizes should try to build a consistent web presence across as many channels as possible. Start by performing customer research to determine the right platforms for your unique audience.

Some important omnichannel statistics

A/B Testing

Even the best marketers can’t always predict which strategies will be successful, and A/B testing gives you the opportunity to identify your most effective tactics. Split tests should be a consistent part of your approach to digital marketing across all types of campaigns.

Subject lines are a perfect place to start split testing. They’re closely tied to your open rate, so stronger subject lines will almost always lead to better results. Increasing open rate puts your emails in front of more readers and gives you more chances to bring users back to your brand.

6. Win Back Email Examples


This re-engagement email uses a discount to incentivize users to stay on their list. Its visual design communicates a significant amount of information while making the message easy to scan. Quotes from customers give readers an additional reason to consider the offer.

Notice that the call to action includes a link to stay on the list along with one that allows users to manage their subscription preferences. While the unsubscribe option is still clearly displayed, it’s underneath the two desired actions in a much smaller font.


This ad from Starbucks offers a no-strings-attached gift rather than a discount that has to be used on a larger order. Offering something for free is much more likely to win back users who have already disengaged.

Of course, subscribers will need to present either a Starbucks card or the mobile app in order to redeem their reward. Downloading the app or buying a gift card increases the chances that a customer will continue to interact with the brand and make purchases. One free item is a small price for Starbucks to pay to bring back a returning customer.


While this message doesn’t contain an exclusive offer, it still provides readers with a number of reasons to re-engage with Sears. After welcome back, the template focuses on three new benefits that the reader may not be aware of.

On the other hand, this email has a relatively simple visual design compared to other examples, with almost everything in black, blue, or white. There are also several distracting elements at the top which draw the reader’s attention away from the call to action.


This example illustrates an effective unsubscribe warning that gives readers the option to opt back in. It’s primarily aimed at list cleanup, so it doesn’t contain the overt sales messaging you would expect earlier in a win-back campaign.

This message only includes a few sentences since disengaged users don’t spend as much time reading emails. While all email content should be as concise as possible, this is especially important near the end of your re-engagement sequence.

Unfortunately, the message doesn’t tell recipients when they’ll be unsubscribed. Try to include a clear time frame so that readers know how much time they have to opt back into your newsletter.

It’s almost always cheaper to keep an existing lead than to find a new one, and win back sequences are the best way to re-engage inactive subscribers. These tips will help you craft more targeted win-back campaigns that respond to audience concerns and maximize lifetime customer value.

This article was originally published by our friends at Omnisend.

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