Every business has its lapsed customers. These are the clients who’ve dropped off the radar, for many reasons.
A customer may have stopped buying your products or services because they were unhappy, or because they received a better offer from your competitor. There may be no a particular reason that they’ve started to look elsewhere.
All too often, businesses simply let these customers slip quietly away. They let their lapsed customers drift off, focusing their efforts instead on sales and marketing to secure new customers.
This is a big mistake.
Bringing your lapsed customers back into the fold is much more cost effective than getting completely new customers on board. Finding new markets and building new relationships with a completely new customer is incredibly expensive. In fact, bringing a new customer on board can cost five times as much as than retaining your existing customer.
So how do you bring these lapsed customers back into the fold before you lose their business forever?
Here are 7 creative and unique ways to follow up your lapsed clients.
1. Reach Out with a Special Offer
Sometimes the best way to address a lapsed customer is to tackle the issue head on. If you have a customer who has gone a long time between purchases, get in touch with them and say “we noticed you haven’t bought anything in a while”. By segmenting your email list you can easily reach out to lapsed customers.
This could be as simple as a phone call or email that remind the customer you exist and showcases your current product offering. However, if you want to make this outreach more effective, you should sweeten the deal a little. Include a discount off their next purchase, a gift certificate, or some other special offer.
You can even be upfront and say that you are giving your customer this special deal because you want to get their business back. This won’t reflect badly on you. On the contrary, it will show that you value their business and are willing to fight to hang on to it.
For example, if you run an ecommerce businesses, send an email all customers how haven’t placed an order in the last, say, three months. On the email, tell them you want their business back and you’ll give them 10% off their next purchase with a promo code. Alternatively, you could offer a special price on a specific, popular item.
With one simple email, you’ll have turned a lapsed customer into an active buyer.
2. Give them Valuable Content
The above tactic works because it is an honest and open attempt to win back their business. Many people will appreciate this direct approach, but others will resist the hard sell. That’s where this next technique comes in.
The idea is to keep in touch with your customers but not try to sell them anything. Build a mailing list of past and present customers and send them content. But not just any content: something that of real value to them. This means articles, videos, infographics or podcasts that are interesting and informative, on subjects your customer base is interested in. This doesn’t have to be limited to online content, you can also provide your customers with interesting and relevant physical items, such as laptop stickers.
Remember when we said that you don’t try to sell the customer anything in this tactic? We meant it. That’s right – literally nothing. Avoid linking to your latest products at the bottom of your blog or newsletter, or adding a CTA in your video.
The idea is to provide something for your customer without asking for anything in return. This will build trust over time. This is a long game, and requires significant investment of time and effort before you see any results.
However, eventually your customer will come to you and ask to buy your product. What’s more, you’ll have a strong relationship and they’ll be unlikely to lapse again!
3. Wish them a Happy Birthday
One of the most important parts of engaging with lapsed customers (and all customers for that matter is to be personal). This applies to all aspects of communications. On the most basic level, you should be addressing your customers by name rather than starting emails with “dear customer”, for example.
One fantastic and very personalized approach to engaging with lapsed customers is to celebrate their birthday. Just about everyone loves birthdays, and they’ll be happy that you remembered theirs. Every business should have a database of their customers with essential information about each, including their date of birth, so it is not difficult to track.
The way you do this will depend on your business model and the relationship with your customers. For most businesses, an email or e-card to wish them a happy birthday will be perfect. You can value add to this but including a special offer as discussed above.
On the other hand, if your business is something like a consulting firm with a limited number of clients, you may want to go a step further and send lapsed and current customers a gift on their birthday.
4. Acknowledge your Mistakes
Customers often leave is because they were unhappy with your product, your customer service, or some other aspect of your offering. This is ok: we all make mistakes. The most important thing is acknowledging these mistakes and do something about it!
Furthermore, if you want to bring these customers back, you’ll need to show them that you’ve changed. The best way to do this is to launch a campaign that publicizes how you’ve addressed issues with your products, or with your processes. This will not only show that you’ve fixed an issue in your business, but also that you listen to your customers.
Take to social media and talk about the previous issue, and what you’ve done to address it. Send an email to lapsed customers to let them know you’ve changed. Even if this isn’t related to the reason that a customer has lapsed, this is the perfect opportunity to show a previous customer what you now have to offer.
5. Ask for an Introduction
Another creative way to engage with lapsed customers is by reaching out to them to ask for an introduction. This may seem counter-intuitive to ask a customer who hasn’t been in touch for a while to recommend you to a friend or family member. However, you’ll be surprised how often this works.
Give your customers a call or send an email to ask them if they know anyone who may be interested in your products or services. You can offer them a bonus or incentive, either for making the introduction or once their contact signs up or makes a purchase.
This is a great way to get in touch with lapsed customers, and give them an incentive to come back to the fold. Furthermore, this tactic has the additional benefit that you may secure new leads for your business.
6. Create a Custom Audience on Facebook
You can also harness the power of social media to engage with your lapsed customers. Social media is a great way to keep your customer base engaged. It is even more effective when you use it to target specific sections of your audience and tailor the content to them. On Facebook, you can do this with the custom audience function.
A custom audience on Facebook allows you to target specific people by using their names and addresses. Upload the names and emails of your lapsed customers into Facebook, and from there you can launch a campaign specifically geared to lapsed customers. You can follow similar approaches to the tactics used above, such as ads that offer a special offer if they come back, or telling them how you’ve fixed past issues.
7. Ask for a Review
Asking for customer feedback is vital for businesses. It helps you to know what you’re doing right and, even more importantly, what you’re doing wrong. You can use it to improve and refine your processes, and it may even give you ideas for new products and processes.
Many businesses ask for immediate feedback, such as straight after a sale. However, you don’t need to leave it there: you can check back with lapsed customers to ask them to share their opinions. You can send an email or a message asking them to rate their last site visit or the last product they bought from you, even a while down the track.
You don’t need to limit yourself to asking about the customer’s own experience. You can also reach out and ask them what they think of a new product, or something else you have going on at the moment. Not only does this provide valuable market research, it’s also a great way to follow up lapsed customers!
Your customers are too precious to just let them walk away. Your lapsed customers are an important resource, a potential gold mine in future sales.
Don’t let this potential slip away – engage with your lapsed customers in creative and interesting ways to encourage them to come back to you!
Tom Buckland is a digital marketing consultant specialising in content marketing, technical SEO and strategy. He’s worked in the digital marketing sphere for over a decade and loves helping businesses profit through smart, data-based digital marketing strategies.