5 Email Marketing Formulas to Bring Back Lost Customers

It’s more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to retain and nurture an existing one. But holding on to your nurtured prospect can pose a challenge. How can you bring back a shopping cart drop off, or regain a past buyer? Here are five email marketing formulas to bring back those lost customers.

1. Stimulate loyalty and repurchase with Upselling and Discounts

Why has your customer stopped buying? Have you satisfied what they think is their current need? Send out emails to upsell. Or get customers back with an immediate email discount offering.

Send out segmented, personalized emails to tell customers about:
● product add-ons
● related products based on past purchases
● additional services you offer
● events or webinars your business is hosting
● product upgrades
● exclusive discounts

Timing matters in triggered emails. When a customer has abandoned your shopping cart, send out a quick email, to drive them back to your ecommerce store.

In this example from kate spade, not only are they connecting with their lost prospects shortly after they’ve dropped off the sales funnel, they’re offering an enticement of 15% off, and making it a limited-time offer of 2 weeks.

Offering other enticements such as coupons or referral programs can also work. Impulse buying seems like it would only work well for low-priced products. But that is a common misconception. A previous article shows tips for triggering your VIP customers to buy on impulse with email marketing.

For instance promotions are a part of a restaurant email marketing strategy, it is not that people need a discount or promotion – or that most people are comparing prices all the time.
A great pricing strategy for a restaurant would leave enough margin to allow it though. A discount then makes that you are back top of mind again and give your patrons a great excuse to eat with you.

2. Show You Understand Your Customer Needs

In today’s email marketing, you are competing for your consumers’ attention within a limitless amount of personal, highly targeted communication.

To make your message stand out, you need to connect emotionally. Selling is still about the human touch, no matter how much technology we’re using to reach each other. You need to show how well you understand your customers, and how your product or service is best suited to solve their problems.

Highly personalized and personal emails are a must when following up.

Use personalized emails that for instance include your recipient’s name, but also details about the last purchase or time frame of last purchase. Of course aiming to keep it personal and touch on the consumer’s own interests.

● additional products they may be interested in (based on past behaviour)
● additional gifts they could give (if they gifted their previous buy)
● add-ons to their recent purchase

Additionally, write your email body to create a friendly, personal tone. Use pronouns like “you”, “me” and “us” to deepen your connection and trust. Treat your recipients like an individual walk-in customer – even if you are sending the email to 10,000 people or more.

Keep building your personal, personalized relationship. Show that you understand a person’s needs, and that you are willing to do what it takes to ease their problems – that lost customer is more likely to return.

3. Are Your Parts Working Together?

More than half the battle in getting your email clicked-through, and bringing back your customer, is making your email marketing message consistent.

Is your catchy subject line aligned with your body? Is your landing page visually cohesive with your email? Does it stay on message, with the next step your clear call to action (CTA)?

Your body needs to be just as appealing as your subject. Your landing pages need to be consistent with your email messages. Cohesive messaging and images increase conversion rates.

Here’s how the Gap used consistent messaging to lure back past customers. Note they used the same CTA visuals, and kept it above the fold on their shopping cart landing page, making buying from them easy.

Keep in mind current trends in emails, too. Your customers are reading their email messages on mobile. Test your email body with “just the basics” vs. responsive email design. If your demographic is cutting edge or trend-seeking, try out video emails too.

4. The Who are They and Why Are they Here List

It goes without saying, but if your goal is to bring back customers you need to know who on your email list is no longer buying from you.

You also need to hone your marketing smarts to figure out why that person stopped purchasing from you, and how you can bring them back. Or perhaps they attended an online event and if you have the right webinar software, you can enrich your database with tags to their interests. 

To give you a leg up against your competition, segment your database and find clues about your drop-off consumers’ behavior. In addition to the standard gender, interests and age, set up your database to segment for:
● sales cycle drop off
● purchasing frequency
● date of last purchase
● items purchased

Take it further by doing an analysis on, for example, your customers’ purchasing frequency. You can ask questions such as:
● Is there a trend in consumer behaviour you can use?
● Do they stop buying after one purchase?
● Is their purchasing frequency related to the items they bought?
● Did they stop a second purchase part way through the shopping cart? (If so, where?)
● Does your customer have a problem with your customer service/ product/ website design?

Once you have a better understanding of your customer behaviour, you can connect with them on a much more personal level and create a highly targeted email.

5. Don’t Lose the Sale

Automate your emails to prevent lost customers. Set up a triggered drip campaign to start immediately after a customer has abandoned your shopping cart.

Marketing Sherpa produced a case study on Boot Barn. The US based outfitters set up a three part email campaign to retarget lost customers in their shopping cart process.

The three stages in this triggered drip campaign were:
Email 1: Asked for the customer ‘why’, to find out what went wrong in the sales process. The email was sent just 20 minutes after the customer left their site. Open rate: 46.04%
Email 2: Showed the benefits of shopping from Boot Barn. It was sent 23 hours after the shopping cart was abandoned. Open rate: 40.04%
Email 3: Gave a warning to customers that they were about to lose their saved shopping cart items, with a clear CTA to click through to the site. This email was sent one week after the prospect left their cart. Open rate: 27.45%

These triggered campaigns are easy to set up with the right email marketing automation tools, and they are an effective marketing method to restore sales to your shopping cart results.


Put these five methods into use to increase sales, and retain your customer prospects. And remember to always test your emails to get the best return on your email marketing investment.

Krista Bunskoek

Krista Bunskoek is a Content Marketer at Wishpond. She has written a number of popular online marketing ebooks. Wishpond makes online marketing campaigns easy - run social contests & coupons, make online ads, generate leads and nurture sales conversions with email automation campaigns.