“There’s no one right answer when it comes to email marketing. What works for one business might not work for yours. Testing is everything…so why not try it?” – Val Geisler

Val Geisler, founder and CEO (Chief Email Officer) of Fix My Churn, spoke at Content Jam 2019 about the “spookiest” of email list subscribers: the disengaged customer.

There are three types of disengaged customers on your email list:

  • Vampire customers: Like a true vampire, they suck: They are the type of customer that will suck your customer support team dry. Not all customers are ideal customers.
  • Ghost customers: They sign up for your emails or trial but then ghost your business, and never interact with any communications you send them.
  • Zombie customers: They’re out there, looking for a solution to their problems. They used to interact with your brand, but have stopped.

It’s one thing if a customer has never interacted with your business at all, but what about those “zombies” that used to be engaged customers?

This type of lapsed customer may have stopped interacting with your brand because:

  • They couldn’t figure out how to use your product
  • They may have forgot it’s available to them

Val Geisler loves zombie customers. Why?

You can win zombies back.

Val presented 3 under-utilized zombie win-back strategies in her Content Jam talk: Mastering Email Marketing: How to Keep The Customers You’ve Already Attracted Through Better Email.

Under-utilized strategy #1: Support beyond the Customer Service team.

Does your customer support team tag lapsed customers as soon as they lapse? They should. Marketers can start those customers on a customized win-back campaign.

Retention statistics emailA win-back email campaign is vital because it costs 5 times more to get a new customer than it does to keep a loyal customer you already have.

Why do you need to customize emails for zombie customers?

Email blasts don’t work on zombie customers. They are already familiar with your business and are giving you a second chance. How do you make the most of that second chance?

Send emails specific to need. Email marketers need to create custom messaging for various groups, based on why they became disengaged.

Once you attract a zombie customer back, remember: they don’t want the same onboarding they’ve already gone through when they were a new customer.

  • Let them choose what emails they opt-in to get
  • Warm them up before you ask them to buy from you again. Send them
    • content like:
    • Value ads
    • Updates
    • Newsletters
  • Keep it concise. Long-form content is great for existing, engaged customers — but for zombies? Not so much.
  • Ask questions. If they’re freshly lapsed, there’s still a chance to bring a zombie back. You can’t do that though if you don’t talk to them. Feedback requests can be key: If they reply, they’re still interested.

Under-utilized strategy #2: Human with a capital H

Are you talking to your customers about themselves?

Zombie customers want to feel seen and heard by another person. That’s why it’s important to ask your customers about themselves with surveys, phone calls, or feedback requests.

Val uses a framework she calls “Jobs to be Done.” The framework is a list of questions which work together to answer “What do our customers need our brand to do for them?”

Ask your customers questions, like:

  • What’s your role at work?
  • What were you just working on?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What led you to our product?
  • What made you decide to purchase at the time?
  • If you didn’t make a purchase, what had you nervous?

If you listen to what your customers have to say about themselves, you’ll better understand what they need from you.

Under-utilized strategy #3: Build a habit

Email onboarding is the creation of a “habit loop.” As Val says, “When people sign up for your email list, you’re asking people to start a new habit of interacting with your brand.”

Loyal CustomersSend emails that create a habit loop and you’ll have more loyal customers.

One way to build that habit is by what Val calls the “dinner-party” email onboarding strategy:

  1. Welcome: Your first email should welcome your subscriber to your list
  2. Appetizers: Follow up your first email with a teaser of the great content they’ll get from you
  3. Main course: Tell your customer about your product, mission, awards.
  4. Side dishes: Give subscribers even more value. Talk about their needs and pain points.
  5. Dessert: Give your subscribers a treat. Things that make a great “dessert” are:
    • Coupons
    • Referral programs
    • Loyalty rewards
  6. Invite them back: Use your last email to invite them to engage with you more, like:
    • Make another purchase
    • Try your product again
    • Read your new blog post

Email campaigns can turn converted customers as loyal, repeat customers — and keep them from ever turning into a zombie customer.