The Win-back Email Playbook: Templates and Tips to Re-engage Customers

win-back email with a winning cup

A win-back email is an opportunity to recapture the once-lost interest of your customers. 

Maybe you had it all under control — customers loved your products, gave them ravishing reviews, and stayed loyal to your brand. Then one day, they vanished into thin air, leaving you wondering what you did wrong.

Many marketers face this scenario today, but it doesn’t have to stay that way forever. Win-back emails help you rekindle relationships with inactive subscribers and remind them why they fell in love with your brand in the first place.

This guide will be your one-stop shop for writing great win-back email campaigns. Browse the examples and templates to build your own.   

What is a Win-back Email?

A win-back email is a strategically timed message sent to re-engage subscribers who have stopped interacting with your brand or purchasing products.

They are sometimes referred to as ‘Re-engagement’ or ‘Reactivation’ messages. Although they have different names, their only goal is to rekindle interest and get subscribers back to your business. 

If you think subscribers need more nurturing, you can send them a series of messages, known as a win-back email campaign.

Win-back emails are important for any business type because:

  • They are cost-effective: It’s five times less expensive to win back a lapsed customer than to acquire a new one.
  • They rekindle relationships: A well-crafted win-back email reminds customers why they liked your brand and how it shaped their lives.
  • They provide valuable insights: Win-back campaigns can provide insights into customer behavior and preferences. Analyzing their responses will help you figure out why they disengaged.
  • They help you stay ahead: In a competitive landscape, win-back emails help you stay ahead of the competition by engaging customers with unique email content.

The average email list can have up to 60% of inactive subscribers. This means for every 10,000 subscribers, only 4000 are truly engaged. That’s a lot of lost profit.

However, a proper and well-timed win-back email can potentially re-engage most of these subscribers.

Key Aspects of a Great Win-back Email Campaign 

A good win-back email always consists of these critical components.

Email Aspect What to Do 
Segmentation and targeting Target specific customer groups based on their past behavior (recent purchases, cart abandonment, inactivity)
Subject line Craft a clear and concise subject line outlining the email content
Email content Remind customers of past purchases, address potential concerns, and showcase new offers
Personalized touch Address the recipient by name or reference their past interactions
Strong call-to-action (CTA)Tell the customers what you want them to do next. For example, “Shop now,” “Download the guide,” etc
Value proposition Offer an incentive to re-engage, such as discount or email coupons
Mobile-friendly design Ensure your email displays well and is easy to read
A/B testing Test different subject lines, content, offers, and email timing to determine what works with your audience
Key aspects of a win-back email campaign

Whether you send a single win-back email or a series, ensure to include the critical elements for higher open rates. Tracking your open rates is a solid way to measure the effectiveness of your emails. 

Should You Send One Win-back Email Or a Sequence?

24% of recipients of a win-back email campaign read the first message, and 45% read the subsequent messages.

This means you’d miss out on many people if you stick to one win-back email. if you’re confused about where to start, here’s a table that explains when to use a single win-back email vs. a sequence.

Scenario When to send one win-back emailWhen to send a sequence
Customer inactivity MaybeYes
Reason for inactivity Inactive very recently (within a week)Inactive for more than 3 months 
Goal of the win-back emailRemind customers about their past activity Re-engage and incentivize
Resources Limited budget Willingness to invest in a strategy 
Engagement rates Lower chances of success Higher chances of success
Focus of messaging Limited opportunity to tailor messagesMore opportunities to personalize and customize emails
Overall recommendation Consider one-off remindersIs a more strategic and long-term approach 
Single vs. series of win-back emails

Ultimately, sending a single email or a series of win-back emails will depend on your marketing needs and budget. We recommend investing time in sending a series that increases the likelihood of higher open rates.

Let’s examine the different types of win-back emails you can add to your sequence to make them more appealing.

Different Types of Win-back Emails You Can Send

Every inactive customer is different — grouping them all under a single category, such as “Inactive for the last 45 days,” wouldn’t do justice to your win-back campaigns. 

For example, an inactive customer might open one email in your series and immediately purchase. Whereas another customer can open every email you send them and not take any action. 

To understand them from a data point of view, you must rethink your marketing strategy and understand the different email types you have to send.

That’s what we see in the table below.

Type of Win-back EmailWhat to Include
Personalized offer Include personalized discounts or offers based on the customer’s past behavior or browsing history
ReminderRemind customers about the latest updates and time-sensitive offers and encourage action
Feedback request Ask customers for feedback and request reasons for their disengagement
Exclusive content Provide access to exclusive content product previews or insider tips to re-engage them
Reactivation incentive Offer an incentive just to join you back in the business
Social proof Showcase what the customers are missing when they are away
Product recommendations If you have new product features or updates, recommend them to customers 
Birthday or anniversary emailSend wishes from the date of their first purchase from your brand
Types of win-back emails

We’ll review examples for each email type below. But first, let’s focus on the most important aspect of a win-back email campaign — the subject line.

15 Best Winback Email Subject Lines 

The subject line is the first thing people notice, and it directly impacts your open rates. A straightforward and compelling subject line can increase the likelihood of higher engagement.

Here are 15 must-open subject line examples to use in your next win-back email.

Reignite Engagement Email Subject Lines

  1. It’s been a while [Customer name]. Let’s catch up on the [New feature/product]
  2. Did you forget about us, [Name]? 
  3. We miss you! [Company name] has something special to offer

Exclusive Rewards Email Subject Lines

  1. Just for you [Name]: Special offers to welcome you back
  2. Second chances with 15% off – Don’t let it slip!
  3. Where have you been? Here’s 10% off on your next purchase

Feedback Request Email Subject Lines

  1. We’d love to know why
  2. Your opinion matters. Help us improve
  3. Missing you — share your thoughts and get rewarded

Breakup Email Subject Lines

  1. Our last email to you 
  2. Too many emails? Time to change that
  3. Our final chance to hold on to you

Curiosity-based Email Subject Lines

  1. Don’t miss anything – update your email settings now
  2. Discover what’s waiting for you
  3. Have you heard about our mystery offer?

Now, let’s take these subject line examples and create a proper win-back email for your lost B2B customers.

Sample Email to Win Back Old Customers (B2B)

Give your old customers a strong reason to come back and make it easy for them to take the next action. This is true, especially for B2B audiences who might be busy or may have forgotten about their last interaction with you.

Here’s a sample email template you can use to continue the conversation.

Note: You can simply modify the template/sample to suit your B2C audiences too.

Subject Line: Reimagine (industry challenge) with [your company name or product] – Exclusive Offer Inside

It’s been a while since we last connected, and we wanted to see how things are going at [their company name].

At [your company], we’re constantly innovating to meet [industry challenges]. We’ve recently launched a feature that would help [mention a specific pain point or challenge with the customer’s industry or past purchase]

We understand that priorities can shift and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with you. However, we believe these changes in [product name] will be a game-changer for you and your team.

As a valued past customer, we’d like to offer you a 15% discount on your next purchase.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

  • Link to a blog post or case study relevant to their challenge.
  • Link to a short explainer video about your new product feature.

Ready to chat? Simply reply to this email or click the link to schedule a call at your convenience.


[Your name, designation, and company name]

You can customize this template to suit your changing needs but remember to be transparent about offers or conditions upfront. 

7 Compelling Win-back Email Examples

Let’s review how other companies have used win-back emails to attract lapsed customers. These examples are taken from different industries and backgrounds. 

1. The Reminder Win-back Email

Duolingo, a language learning application, employs a funny email strategy to remind customers to come back and learn. Refresher emails help remind customers why they joined in the first place.

They may have found your brand interesting enough to join your mailing list and soon got carried away with other things. Or perhaps they found something better. Either way, a reminder email gently nudges them to consider your brand again.

If you’ve introduced new products or features, customers likely love to know about how they can change their lives.

Reminder winback email example
Reminder win-back email example. Source

2. The Social Proof Email

Sometimes hearing good things about your brand isn’t enough for subscribers to completely trust you. In fact, 70% of people trust suggestions from strangers

Social proof tells past customers that your brand has evolved and people are successfully using your products to solve a particular challenge. Reviews, testimonials, and endorsements are a great way to instill belief and get customers to take action.

Social proof win-back email
Social proof win-back email example. Source

3. The Product Recommendation Email

Maybe inactive subscribers felt overwhelmed by a sea of product recommendations and chose to give it a break. Or perhaps they were confused about selecting an item. The chances are they needed narrowed options to make their lives easier.

A product recommendation email is your chance to do that. Study your inactive customers’ behavior and send relevant product recommendations. For example, you can upsell a charging case if they last purchased a charger.

Hardgraft uses visually appealing product images to tell customers about the new launch. Notice how the brand uses only images to convey the existing products without distracting users with links or text.

Product recommendation winback email
Product recommendation win-back email example. Source

4. The Incentive Email

Who doesn’t love a good deal? Incentives allow inactive customers to rethink their decision to re-enter a relationship with you. But do this carefully — sometimes an incentive email could backfire if it’s irrelevant or boring.

Don’t just send discounts and email coupons; instead, solve a customer challenge by offering them a percentage off on the order. This way, they can be sure that your product will help them with their current problem, and they get to pay less than usual.

Ensure to mention the terms and conditions in the email. For example, Sometimes Always, a wine brand, gives its customers 15% off on orders above $100. They also include a time-sensitive offer to encourage recipients to purchase within the next 24 hours.

Incentive winback email example
Incentive win-back email example. Source

5. The Feedback Email

Instead of assuming why your customers went cold, why not reach out to them? Sending feedback emails can help you manage customer expectations and find solutions to common brand challenges.

Not all customers are alike; some may leave feedback immediately, while others may wait around to review your brand. Sending the second group of customers a genuine and legitimate feedback email can help you understand your brand performance and areas for improvement.

Keep feedback emails short and explicitly state the reason for seeking their feedback. Withing’s feedback email is straightforward, convincing recipients to take the survey.

Feedback winback email
Feedback win-back email. Source

6. The Last Chance Email

At times, you may notice no response from customers, even after using follow-up strategies. When you have exhausted all other options, the last chance email is your final option to get their attention before you let them go.

Send them emails to remind them about their subscription to your brand and provide opt-out options if they want to leave. Doing this creates fear of losing out on most customers and makes them take the desired action.

Readybag is direct with its unsubscribe email by giving users an option to stay back to hear more about the brand.

Last chance winback email example
Last chance win back email example. Source

7. The Breakup Email

If you’ve done everything in your capacity and still don’t hear back, it’s time to say goodbye to expired subscribers. Having inactive subscribers on your list for too long increases the chances of spam complaints and lower email deliverability.

Plus, all the clutter in your email list is unnecessary. A good rule is to wait around for 90 days before removing them from your list. 

Breakup email example
Breakup win-back email example. Source

The above are examples of single win-back emails that may be a part of a win-back email sequence. 

To help you understand their distinction, we’ll go through how to create a win-back email campaign in detail.

Inspiring Examples for a Win-back Email Campaign Sequence

You can create a logical sequence of win-back emails, giving customers a stronger reason to re-engage with your brand. 

Here’s a win-back email campaign example divided into a series of steps.

Email 1: Reconnection and Reminder

Your first email in the win-back email campaign must remind customers of the reasons they opted in to your email list

Send the reconnection email within the first 1-2 weeks of inactivity. This helps them see the value your brand offers.

Ensure to include the following elements:

  • A friendly and positive tone.
  • Let them know it’s a reconnecting email in the subject line.
  • Acknowledge the time since their last interaction.
  • Highlight something new and exciting. For example, a new product feature.

South Dakota makes it effortless for users to take the next action. In this case, it’s voting for their favorite adventures. 

email 1 in winback campaign
Example of reconnecting email in a win-back campaign. Source

Email 2: Exclusive Offers

The second email in the sequence should help customers feel valued — include offers and exclusive rewards as a note of appreciation. The incentive could be an email coupon, free shipping, exclusive access to VIP content, or discounts. 

This email must instill fear of missing out (FOMO) in recipients and create urgency. 

Email 2 in winback campaign
Example of an exclusive offer in a win-back campaign. Source

Email 3: Customer Survey 

Once you’ve set the tone with the reconnection and rewards, you can ask recipients for their feedback. Keep this email short and explain how their opinions matter to your business.

These opinions can help you understand why customers churn and how to fix it in future email campaigns.

Email 3 in winback campaign
Example of customer survey email in a win-back email campaign. Source

Email 4: Last Chance 

This email will tell customers that you will be unsubscribing them from your list if there’s no action. The last chance email is an important step that will help clean up your email list and retain only the most engaged customers.

Cuisinart uses fun images to let customers decide whether to stay or leave. They also have a customized option if they intend to stay. 

Email 4 in winback campaign
Last chance email example in a win-back email campaign. Source

Email 5: Unsubscribe 

The last email will let the customers know they have been unsubscribed from the mailing list. Include a copy of the most important information at the start and give them a way to resubscribe should they change their minds.

Email 5 in winback email campaign
Unsubscribe email notification example in a win-back email campaign. Source

Not every win-back email will resonate the same way with all your customers. Tailor your win-back email campaigns based on their reasons for leaving.

Below are additional tips to help you succeed with your win-back email campaigns.

Additional Tactics to Win Back Customers

Customer retention is as important as attracting new ones. 

Here are some successful tactics to consider:

  • Understand why they left to create meaningful and wise campaigns.
  • Personalize emails based on customer behavior and data to target the right audience.
  • Send them irresistible offers along with solutions to their common challenges.
  • Ask what they like through surveys and polls.
  • Apologize if there’s been a mistake like bad product quality or poor customer service.
  • Include royalty program rewards to encourage recipients to use existing points and purchase again.
  • Include open-ended questions to encourage participation.
  • Send win-back emails at strategic times based on customer behavior.
  • Stay in touch with customers through email newsletters or marketing promotions.

More importantly, use a dedicated automation system to schedule and send win-back emails at the right time. 

Win-back Customers Through Campaign Refinery’s Powerful Automation System

There’s no one reason why customers become inactive. It could be because of reasons beyond your control, such as changes in customer preferences. But often, the reasons are something you can influence, such as email deliverability issues, sending too many emails, or using bad email marketing practices.

Campaign Refinery understands the importance of clean-sending practices to help clients achieve their desired results. It helps you recapture customers’ lost interest through powerful automation, segmentation, and built-in campaign templates.

Campaign Refinery’s marketing automation lets you create win-back emails that:

Stop losing customers. 

Create powerful win-back emails with Campaign Refinery — Apply to become a client today!

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