How we ran a re-engagement campaign (and you can too)

Re-engagement campaign

To say we’re passionate about targeted email marketing at Klaviyo is an understatement. We’re true believers in making it easy for ecommerce stores to send relevant, behavior-based messages to their shoppers. So a few months ago, we decided to make the emails we send to our customers even more relevant with a new re-engagement campaign.

What’s a re-engagement campaign?

In general, a re-engagement (or winback) campaign refers to emails sent to past customers to “win them back.” In our case, we wanted to reach out to customers who hadn’t used certain features in the previous 30 days — or longer. In some cases, they hadn’t ever tried them out.

The key to our campaign was to send it to only the customers who would be interested in it. In other words, we were contacting customers who weren’t using those features and might be pleased to discover them.

The purpose of the new emails was to make sure that every customer was getting maximum value from their Klaviyo subscription. The more value they got from it, the more revenue they’d make, and the more likely they’d be to recommend Klaviyo. A win-win!

Getting inspired by ecommerce stores

To figure out how to make our messaging for the new emails more targeted, we started by thinking about how ecommerce stores reach out to their customers with targeted messages.

For example, ecommerce stores often send different emails to:

  • First-time shoppers vs. repeat buyers
  • Shoppers who’ve purchased items from one category vs. another
  • Email subscribers who’ve opened an email in the last 60 days vs. those who haven’t

Based on this model, we decided to reach out to select groups of Klaviyo customers who weren’t currently using certain features. We planned to share information about those features and encourage the customers to try them out. By emailing based on usage, we’d also avoid bombarding our customers with emails. If they were already using a feature, they wouldn’t get an email about it.

We also had to decide how to measure success. An ecommerce store generally measures the success of an email campaign by the revenue it brings in. We decided to measure our success by the number of users who started using the targeted features.

Finally, after we sent out all the emails, we’d identify the most successful emails and build them out into automated flows going forward.

With all of this figured out, we had a big question to answer: Which feature should we use to kick off our email project?

Figuring out where to start

We began by looking at feature usage data and put together a short list of features where we saw some opportunity to reach out. With list in hand, we considered two key variables:

Ease of use: How easy would it be for customers to start using each feature? Could a user pop into Klaviyo and start using the feature in a minute or two?

Potential impact: Would the feature be a needle-mover for the customer’s business? We wanted to choose things that would appeal to our users and deliver serious revenue.

Ultimately, we identified four features to focus on:

  • automated winback email flows
  • the sending of campaigns, like promo emails and newsletters
  • automated abandoned cart email flows
  • website forms that automatically feed into a stores’ subscriber list in Klaviyo

Of all four features, winbacks were probably the least obvious choice, because getting a disengaged buyer to purchase again is often the most daunting challenge for an ecommerce shop. But we quickly realized that they’d be the perfect way to start our email outreach campaign.

Why we started with winbacks

So why did we want to start with winback emails?

First, winback, or re-engagement, emails are easy to set up in Klaviyo from a technical perspective. Really easy. If you’re a Klaviyo customer with an integrated ecommerce store, you already have two winback emails built out in your account (and if you’ve accidentally deleted them, you can just go to the “browse ideas” tab and repopulate them).

Turning them on is as simple as setting them to “live.” That’s it. Of course, we always recommend reviewing the starter versions and customizing them. It’s optional but usually a good idea.

But whether you update the copy or not, there’s absolutely no technical know-how needed. So we knew that it would be a giant ask in that respect.

Second, winback emails held a visceral appeal. It was easy to understand why reaching out to people who’d made a purchase 3, 6, or 12 month ago — but not since! — might make sense.

It’s easy to forget about that group of customers. But once our users were reminded that they existed, it would be tempting to reach back out to them.

Building out the emails

We needed to decide what the campaign would look like. In this case, we were inspired by the basic, clean plain-text style emails we were seeing from ecommerce and copywriting experts, so we went with a simple template.

For each message, we’d start with a friendly greeting and include one or two links in the text. Every email also had a button at the bottom (in “Klaviyo green”) that reinforced one of the links.

From a design perspective, the place we spent the most time was on the button. We looked at various combinations of text and button color until we were satisfied we’d found one that was pleasing to look at and offered sufficient contrast.

Where would the button lead? It depended on the email. In some of the emails, we’d take users right into a specific part of the product (or the login page first). For others, we’d link to helpful or inspiring resources related to the feature being discussed.

We kept the tone upbeat and friendly as well. Here’s an example of one of the actual emails we sent out:

Re-activation campaignFor the very first email we sent, we ran an A/B test looking at the effect of image versus no image on click-through rate. After we saw that it had no discernible impact, we stuck to the simple text-and-button format for subsequent emails.

Winback campaign results

We sent out a three-email series to customers not currently using winback emails.

Of course, if a customer started using winbacks after receiving the first or second message, they’d be removed from the list for subsequent emails. That way, they wouldn’t receive additional emails asking them to do something they’d already done.

We also wanted to take segmentation one step further.

We divided our not-yet-using-winbacks users into two groups. In Klaviyo, winback emails belong to a category we call “flows,” or automated emails that are sent out due to actions on the part of the recipient.

Group one had sent automated email flows in the last 30 days, just not winbacks. The second group wasn’t using any email flows in Klaviyo at all.

Segmenting our list gave us the ability to see if the two groups would respond differently. It also enabled us to tweak the emails for the second group to make sure that we explained what flows were.

In the screenshot below, you can see that different versions were sent to the “yes flow” (already using flows) and “no flow” groups. You can also see that these were the emails where we A/B tested the image:

Re-engagement campaignFor the green button at the bottom, we directed users to the same place in the product for all three emails. (For subsequent email series, we introduced more variety.)

So how many people did we expect to not only open the emails about winbacks, but start using winback emails for their ecommerce stores? Based on what our team had seen at previous companies, we predicted a 1% activation rate.

When the results from all of the winback emails came in, we saw that our estimate had been right on the money. Of the customers that had opened the emails, just over 1% had turned on the winback emails in their accounts. Success!

How you can launch a successful re-engagement campaign

So how does all of this apply to ecommerce companies? Let’s look at an example. Imagine that you’re managing email marketing for an upscale beauty products company with an list of 200,000 subscribers.

Your first step is to identify your customers. Let’s say they make up 10% of your list. Next, you want to identify the action that they’re not taking. In this case, let’s say that action is making a purchase — and they haven’t done that in the last 3 months. Potentially 60% of your customer list falls into that category.

Remember: these are people who liked your company enough to sign up for your list, stay subscribed, and make at least one purchase in the past. So if you can hit the right note with them, you may be able to inspire a purchase and bring them back into the fold.

Create a 2- or 3-email series that uses any or all of these proven techniques:

  • Evidence of benefits: Highlight the benefits they’d get from using your products, including social proof
  • Desired state vs. current state: Remind them why they signed up in the first place. Have they really solved the problem that caused them to join? Or are they still searching for solutions?
  • Discount and reminder: Offer a discount with a deadline in the second email, and including a deadline reminder in the third
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve: It’s okay (and sometimes very effective) to lead with subject lines like “We’ve missed you”

If you recall, in our campaign, we inspired just over 1% of our list to turn on their winback email series. That would be on the high side for an ecommerce winback campaign, but with an exceptional campaign it’s well within the realm of possibility.

If you can inspire 1% of the list to make an average purchase of $50, you’ll bring in $6,000 in store revenue simply by sending out these emails.

But don’t stop there.

Set up this email sequence as an automated series that gets triggered when customers hit the 3-month-with-no-purchases mark.

The real beauty of the automated winback email series is that you’ll continue to effortlessly bring in revenue from customers over time as new ones age into this category.

Focusing on your less engaged customers

When we set out to re-engage a portion of our customer base, we weren’t trying to get them to purchase additional features. We just wanted them to get more value out of their existing subscriptions.

But the principles that worked for us translate beautifully re-engaging ecommerce customers too.

The key is to realize that your inactive customers are actually just dormant future customers — or at least, some of them are. Identify them, send them targeted messaging, and welcome them back.


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