Customer retention and win-back emails will have a number of similar practices to other emails. However, you'll want to take particular note of changes in content, offers, and even subject line practices. While you want your customer retention emails to result in revenue-generating activities over the long-term, you don't want to sacrifice customer affinity and relationship building.
Subject Line Practices for Customer Retention and Win-Back Emails
A customer retention or win-back email should practice all key practices for email subject lines in general including:
Reduce Stress on Urgency: This element become somewhat trickier with a customer retention email. While you still want create a sense of urgency to open the email, because and customer retention emails don't require a time-sensitive offer (in most cases) you want to also give the email long-term value so that it will be forwarded around based on its content. If your email is a limited time offer to win-back resistant clients or customers, then certainly be sure to include urgency in the subject line. If it's not, focus more on the import and value of the content to give your email a longer time frame in which people may share or open it.
Content: Use words that are proven within your industry or email list segment to create actions and responses. Don't use words that may get you into trouble with spam filters. If appropriate, repeat your company or newsletter name in the subject line ofyour customer retention email.
Length: Do not write a subject line that is longer than thirty-five to fifty characters.
Personalization: If it's appropriate for your industry or email list segment, include a personalization field to use the subscriber's first name or site user name in the subject line of the email. However, remember that with a customer retention email, you may be hoping for a greater number of forwards or shares. You may want to experiment and test with personalization versus non-personalized content several times.
HTML Design Practices for Customer Retention and Win-Back Emails
As a general rule, the following are design key practices for sending customer retention emails:
Minimize Images: Even though images will engage your readers or subscribers visually, limit your use of images to no more than thirty percent of your email template. Remember, images won't load in the large majority of email service providers.
Use Alt and Title Text: Because your images may not load, be sure to apply both alt and title text behind the images so that text displays when the images don't load. Make the text a compelling call-to-action and make the image a link to your email landing page or website.
Optimize the Top Three Inches: Most email service providers will display the top three inches (about 500 pixels) in their email preview pane. Make sure to optimize this space by not including images, placing a call-to-action in it, and making sure that the main value proposition of your email appears there.
Maximum Email Width of 600 Pixels: Make sure that your email template does not exceed 600 pixels in width. It may not display in the email preview pane if it does.
Two Columns Will Likely be the Better Design Choice: Unlike sales conversion emails, where a single column and a more simplified display will likely be your better choice regarding design email format, a customer retention email will likely perform better if you use a two-column email template format. Two columns will allow you to get a greater amount of information inserted above the fold. Because customer retention emails are generally not as laser-focused as sales conversion emails and include more information and more varied information, getting more preview copy into the top three inches via a two-column format is more important. Remember, the most important information should go in the top left corner!
Don't Trap Calls to Action in an Image: As tempting as it is to use graphic buttons or links in your html email, be sure to not trap the call-to-action or any important information in an image. Again, your users may not see the image, and if they don't they may not know where to click. Make sure that links and calls-to-action are all text-based.
Easy-to-Find Unsubscribe Rules: Make sure that it's easy and clear to users where to unsubscribe from your email list. If you don't, they may mark you as spam which could impact your ability to get delivered to the inbox in the future.
Follow CAN-SPAM Laws: Make sure that you have followed all CAN-SPAM laws including a physical mailing address, an unsubscribe link or address, and an indication that your email is an advertisement.
No CSS! Stay away from coding your html email template using CSS as many email service providers will strip it out. Use traditional <font> and <table> tags instead.
Format Text: Format your text so that it is interesting to look at by using a variety of bold fonts and font colors. Avoid italics if possible.
Format Links: Format links to look like links so that users recognize them. The best option is a blue font with an underline. However, if you can't make your font blue, at least make links underlined. It's also advisable to make them bold.
No Dark Background Colors with Light Font Colors: Because many email service providers will strip out your background image or misread your font colors, a dark background with white or light fonts can end up looking like a white background with white fonts or a dark background with black fonts. Stick to light background colors and dark fonts.
Include Social Sharing: Include social sharing elements, but don't rely on buttons or images.
Content Practices for Customer Retention and Win-Back Emails
Content is the area of an email where you will experience the largest variation in key practices. Here are the most important key practices for customer retention emails.
Short Blocks of Copy: The more copy you put in an email, the less likely a user is to complete your call-to-action or to read the full email copy. You also increase your risk of ending up in the spam or junk folder. Keep your copy to a minimum and include only the highlights that will inspire your reader to click-through. Consider text blocks that then have a strong call-to-action to click through to the website or landing page to read the full content.
Load Up on Navigational Links: The point of a customer retention email is to drive users back to your website for useful content, information, or offers. You can increase this click-through impact by increasing link count, and a great way to do that is to include navigational links to the departments, areas, or sub-sections of your site. A user may not be interested in your choice of content in your email, but he or she may see a navigational link to the clearance section of your website and take advantage of it.
Do Include Contact Information: Though you don't want to distract users from your call-to-action, you do want to make it easy for them to contact you if they have questions or problems. Including contact information also builds trust with your users or readers. Be sure to include contact information prominently.
Be Careful with Spam Words: Don't overuse spam trigger words like "sale" or "cash." Write compelling email copy without emphasizing potential spam words too heavily.
Personalize: In most cases, your email will perform better if you use a personalization field in the body of the email or the call-to-action. As always, consider if personalization is appropriate for your industry segment.
Segment Your List and Your Content: The more targeted you can make your offers and content; the more likely your offers are to convert. Try to segment your database by purchase history or average spend in order to put the most compelling offer or revenue generating event in front of the most likely candidate to take advantage of it.
Segment Further Based on Customer State: If you are sending an email to win-back lapsed or abandoned customers, your email will perform better if you segment list based on "customer state." For example, customers who have not purchased within a year may need an offer of a 70% discount in order to purchase again. However, customers who have not purchased within the last three months may only need 10%. Take the time to segment your win-back list based on status and you'll be able to spend less promotional money in the form of discounts while also seeing a higher return on effort.
Provide Terms and Conditions Notes: Whenever you're sending an offer in an email that has terms and conditions applied to it, be sure to include either the full terms and conditions or a disclaimer that terms and conditions apply and can be found at a specific url within the email.
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