How to Bring Back Customers with a Winback SMS Series

Customers go cold. It’s simply a reality of doing business. Even the most loyal of your repeat customers will often end up going cold and no longer purchasing from your store. 

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. With the right customer retention strategy, you’ll win back a good portion of these lapsed customers, transforming them once again into loyal customers. 

And one of the best customer retention strategies is an SMS winback campaign. 

Just like your winback email series, an SMS winback campaign is an incredibly powerful way to reactivate and reengage with customers who have gone cold. 

That’s when your campaign is planned and executed well, though. 

So let’s take a look at what makes a successful winback SMS campaign and why it’s one of the most important SMS automations you can set up for your store.

The importance of customer retention 

While you might think winning back your inactive customers is next to impossible, consider this: It’s 6 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

Remember, every inactive customer was once an engaged, active customer. You’ve already won them over once. The hard work has already been done. 

Unlike people who have never purchased from you before, these customers know what to expect from your store. They know what your customer service is like. 

Because it’s so much easier (and more cost-effective) to make an additional sale to a past customer than convert a brand new customer, even a modest 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by up to 95%.

This is why no business should neglect customer retention.

The importance of SMS marketing

So now that you have an understanding of why winning back customers should be a vital part of your marketing strategy you might be wondering: why SMS?

Unlike other marketing channels, SMS has a unique ability to cut through the noise and ensure your customers receive your message. 

SMS enjoys an astronomical open rate of 98% (compared to roughly 20% for email marketing) and more than 60% of customers will read your SMS message within 5 minutes of receiving it.

This is largely because SMS is a much more personal channel. That means the flip side of these impressive statistics is that SMS marketing requires a light touch. 

If you spam your customer base with too many text messages, you’ll just annoy them. 

That’s why you’ll want to be strategic with your SMS winback campaign to unlock its full potential without falling into any of the all-too-common pitfalls. 

So let’s take a look at how to set up an SMS winback campaign.

How to structure your SMS winback campaign

Create a subscriber list of lapsed customers 

It might sound obvious, but when it comes to setting up your winback campaign, the first thing is to identify your lapsed customers. 

What qualifies a customer a lapsed will vary from business to business.

If you sell pet supplies and customers typically buys pet food every month, if someone goes 2 or 3 months without making a purchase then it could be fair to say they’ve gone cold. 

If you sell jewelry or apparel, then you’ll likely want to give customers more time before considering them having gone cold. 

Whatever the appropriate timeframe is for your business, you’ll want to create a segment of lapsed customers that you can target with your winback campaign. 

Edit at risk subscribers segment for sms

Remember to only add customers to this segment who have given their consent to receive SMS marketing campaigns.

Create your SMS messages

Your segment of lapsed isn’t going to achieve much if you don’t have some SMS messages to send them. 

Creating SMS winback messages is also the point that makes or breaks many campaigns. So here’s how you’ll want to go about it. 

First, it’s a good idea to send a typical-looking SMS promotional message. Your customers don’t need to know they’re only receiving it because you’re trying to win them back just yet. 

The key purpose of this message should be to get them to come back with an enticing offer. The winback SMS example below from Jangaroo does this well. 

SMS example to Nora from Jangaroo with discount

What this message does is provides the customer with a limited-time discount code framed in a way that makes it seem unique and exclusive. This is achieved with copy such as “loyal customers” and the inclusion of a unique-looking discount code (it doesn’t have to be actually unique). 

The message also follows SMS best practices such as identifying themselves and including a way to opt out. 

By sending something similar to this, you’ll make your customer feel valued and hopefully remind them of why they converted into a paying customer in the first place. 

Automate a follow-up message

While your first message will win back some customers, the reality is that it won’t work for everyone. 

After all, it almost certainly took a lot more than just sending a single text message to get the customer to make their first purchase. The fact that some customers will be won back with just a single winback SMS demonstrates just how effective a customer retention strategy is. 

So for the lapsed customers who weren’t won back with your first winback message, you’ll want to automate a text follow-up a couple of weeks later. (Remember you don’t want to send too many SMS messages). 

In this message, you can be more upfront about it being a winback message. Such as in the follow-up winback example from Jangaroo below. 

sms campaign follow up with offer reminder

One last attempt

Obviously not everyone is going to convert from these two text messages. 

Even after receiving the second message, there’ll be plenty of people who won’t end up coming back to make a purchase. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to. Perhaps they just don’t have the money at the time, they might be taking an extended holiday, anything is possible. 

While there’ll be some cold customers you simply won’t be able to win back, for these customers where it’s just not the right time for whatever reason, it’s worth one last attempt. 

This doesn’t mean sending another promotion coupon in a few weeks. A few months to half a year is a more realistic timeframe so they have a better chance of converting. 

During this time, you’ll also want to be still sending them email campaigns as a more cost-effective way to keep your brand in mind. 

Conclusion

A winback SMS campaign is a simple and effective way to deal with one of the realities of doing business: customers going cold. 

While you won’t end up winning back every customer, the return on investment of winning back a portion of these lapsed customers compared to focusing exclusively on generating new customers is something you cannot ignore.  

With SmartrMail, it’s also incredibly easy to automate a winback SMS campaign and combine it with your email marketing strategy. 

If you’re already a SmartrMail user, you can learn how to do this right here. Otherwise, you can install SmartrMail for free right here.

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