3 Steps to Reactivate Churned Customers

Authored by Kayla Brehm
Published on April 20, 2015

We live in a society that places a lot of importance on proven concepts. Take pop culture and media for example. How many films have you seen in the last few years that have been sequels? Probably a good amount. In business, it’s not that much different. We look to our past customers for reviews, referrals, and even to see how we should shape our product for the future. Their business and feedback is invaluable.

According to RJ Metrics, top ecommerce companies get 76% of their revenue from repeat customers. If you’re not communicating with past customers, you’re missing out. But how do you reestablish a connection with customers who have been inactive for a few months? A year?


1. Define your audience

Who are you targeting? If your goal is to reactivate an inactive user, create a definition for who qualifies. If a customer has been silent for three months, are they inactive? Six? A year? It’s also important to target customers who have churned, or are no longer subscribed to your service. Once you’ve narrowed down your audience, it’s easier to form a plan of action for communication.


2. Perfect Your Off-boarding Process

A lot of how you plan to communicate and re-engage depends on where you left things with your customer. It’s paramount that you have a smooth off-boarding process- especially if you’re reaching out to a churned customer.

Why did they leave? Was it because of a product feature or account management relationship? By not surveying, you lose all opportunity to find these issues and potentially save an account. Create a template of questions to ask or survey your customer during your off-boarding process. Examine all aspects of your relationship to determine the key reason for their departure.

  • Examine customer history
  • What did the sales team notes say?
  • Was the buyer also the primary user?
  • Were there support or feature requests?
  • Why are they ending their service?
  • What did they like about the product?
  • What didn’t they like?

Codeschool’s Director of Digital Marketing, Corey Rabazinski, suggests examining what you hope to get out of the off-boarding survey process.

“You should have a clear goal for off-boarding your customers. If you're looking for actionable suggestions to improve your product, I've found that an open ended question is the best method. It allows users to tell you exactly why they decided to leave your product rather than only allowing them to select from a group of choices that you've predetermined.

On the other hand, if your goal is to eventually re-engage these customers a survey is ideal. The reason being that you can use that data to send more personalized and specific emails to win them back.


User selects 'I canceled because you don't have enough JavaScript courses'. We can send them an email each time we release a new JavaScript course.

Better yet (and what we're moving towards at Code School) is a combination of the two. Ask a quick survey immediately following a cancellation and sync that data to your customer database. Then, a day or two after, send email genuinely asking for help to improve your product. Something along the lines of 'What could we do better?'. This gives you the data to re-engage later and the anecdotal information that you need to improve your product.”

3. Reconnect!

Personalize it

Forget about “Dear Valued Customer” - now is not the time to copy/paste. Take the time to introduce yourself and make it clear that you’re a human. Make the experience more personal by including the customer’s name in the greeting and include specific account details throughout the email. Think about your experiences as a customer. Would you be more likely to respond to an email if included a generic greeting or if it mentioned you by name?

Look through details of their off-boarding report. Did they request a feature that you now have? Make sure to mention it! Approach it from a feedback perspective. Let them know they were one of your first customers to request the specific feature and that you’d really value their feedback.

Email Template:

Hi [ customer name],

I hope this finds you well! I know you’re no longer subscribed to x, but I wanted to reach out and see how things are going. The last time we chatted, you mentioned that you’d like to see X feature. We really value your feedback and have been working hard to improve our product to fit your needs.

With lots of hard work from our team, and input from awesome folks like yourself, we’re happy to announce that we’re now offering x feature. If you’re interested in taking a look, or chatting in general, I’d love to hear from you.

All the best,


Humor works

Humor, as well as personalization, is a great way to attract your customer’s attention. Salesloft is a great example of a company known for creating a genuine account management experience. I chatted with Salesloft Sales Executive Kevin Walkup, who has found success by sending one of his favorite gifs during follow-up.

chris farley


“If someone is persistent in their follow up, they may or may not get a reply. If someone is persistent in their follow up and also funny at the same time and make the customer laugh, chances are they are much more likely to get a reply. I've sent that gif a good amount of times and think I have only not received a reply one time from it.

Who doesn't like humor? If someone doesn't like to laugh, maybe I don't want to do business with them in the first place!”

As always, use your best judgement! You have a unique vantage point to the customer’s experience with your product. Use that knowledge to discern the best approach.


Offer Discounts

Discount-based emails are always a great way to attract attention. Like Corey mentioned above, use the data you received during the off-boarding process to target the likes/ dislikes of your userbase. Did they want more Java courses (and you now have that capability)? Let them know!

B2C companies have this down. See below. After a small leave of absence from one of my favorite fitness studios, I received an email offering a discount for my next purchase if I were to return. Incentivize the user.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 10.36.51 AM


Milestones are also a great time to reach out to customers who have either gone inactive or churned. Customer Experience and Marketing Enthusiast, Adrian Swinscoe, wrote about the method’s effectiveness in his blog. As a self-proclaimed inactive user of LinkedIn, Swinscoe was surprised to receive LinkedIn's milestone email (100 million members!) citing him as customer 286,115. The email served as a reminder for him to re-engage with the platform. From company anniversaries to corporate holidays, take advantage of the opportunity to let your customers, new and old, that they are appreciated.


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