While you must always be planning direct mail campaigns to new lists of prospects, don’t neglect your own list of old names – your house list. These are people who have been customers or clients in the past, but whom you haven’t heard from in a while.
Now, don’t think that just because they haven’t bought from you recently, they’re hopeless. There could be a number of reasons why you haven’t heard from them, and it may have nothing to do with the way they feel about you.
First, people’s attention spans aren’t that great. They may have loved your product when they bought it, and may still think they’d like to try it again some day, but there’s so much else that interests them, you may have just slipped to the bottom of the list. You just have to remind them that you’re still here.
Second, sometimes people overbuy when you have a special, and just don’t need to buy more for a while. Sometime back a friend of mine bought several varieties of loose tea from an organic tea site. The offer was free shipping with a $60 purchase, so she bought several pounds of tea and some tea paraphernalia. She’s still working through what she bought (which she loves). She keeps getting emails from them suggesting new products, which is great marketing. And she’d love to buy more, but she doesn’t need to right now. If the company gives up on her because she hasn’t ordered recently, and stops sending her offers, that would be terrible. They could lose out on more sales, and she would be disappointed.
Third, your buyers may not realize you have new products that might interest them. And chances are they are never going to find that out unless you tell them.
Fourth, they may have bought a product from you like a course of some kind that requires serious effort to master. Maybe they just haven’t been willing to put in the time, or they’re feeling a bit insecure about their ability to learn the skill. Don’t let them flounder around and then give up. What they need is a little encouragement from you to start working on it again.
I’m sure there are other reasons why people may have stopped ordering from you, but the point is that these people aren’t lost causes. Remember, you have a better chance of getting reorders from these past customers compared to new orders from a completely new group of people. So, it’s worth the effort to approach them again and try to get them back in the fold. I call it Mission Reactivation!
A Case in Point
One of my clients, a publisher of home study courses with ongoing subscription newsletters, is masterful at reviving old buyers who seem to have no life left in them. This client creates special reactivation sales pieces that are dedicated to that purpose, and they are very successful at getting people to come on board again.
Here are some of the features of the sales pieces they use for these reactivation campaigns:
You really have to woo people to come back. It’s not enough to send a quick postcard that reminds them that you’re still there. You need space to remind them why they bought from you in the first place. That means you have to re-sell them on the benefits of your product. You have to rekindle the dream that enticed them to send in their initial order.
The client I’m talking about here does not take this task lightly. They create full, 12-page reactivation sales pieces that have all the power and passion of the sales pieces they send to new prospects – with one added touch: “You’re part of our family now, and we want to make sure you don’t miss out.”
If you want people to come back to you, you need to make them an offer so irresistible that they feel it would be crazy not to take you up on it. Offer them a ridiculously low price point and throw in all kinds of bonuses.
Again, my client is expert at this. They commonly offer the first month for $1, or even for free, with the option to quit at any time. And they’ll throw in free CDs and other bonus gifts. If the prospect ever had an interest in this subject, why would they not respond to such a risk-free offer? The idea, of course, is that once the buyer is back in the fold, there will be more opportunity to get them excited about the product once more, so that they’ll stay on a little longer. This approach has proven to be very successful.
Include special help:
If the reason buyers have dropped out is that they are confused about what they’re supposed to do, or they have lost faith in their ability to master the topic you’re teaching, an excellent bonus to offer is free help. For example, you might offer a 30-minute phone consultation with a trained coach. For my client, this has proven to be a very powerful incentive to renew. Not only does the buyer get much needed information, but it gives the coach an opportunity to reestablish the bond between the company and the buyer.
Every product is different, and there may be other features you could include in your own reactivation campaign that would be especially effective for you. Think about what would be of great value to the people who have bought from you in the past, and that’s what you should offer.
As with any direct mail program, you want to carry out your reactivation campaigns scientifically. And that means testing.
Test different aspects of your reactivation sales pieces and the offers in them to arrive at a piece that converts very well. You can use an RFM Score to segment your list if you have the capacity to rank your customers. If not, start by testing the piece on people who have most recently left the fold.
Then divide your total list into groups based on how old the names are. The older the names, the colder they are. These people will likely be less interested, plus many of them may have moved away, so that your addresses are no longer valid. Even NCOA-ing the list may not solve all the problems. So you want to categorize your list from the freshest names to the most stale.
Start by mailing to the freshest names first, and look at the numbers. Get a feel for how successful the campaign is. If your sales piece is working well, try mailing to some older names. Keep going deeper and deeper into your list in batches until the mailings no longer pay off. Now you have an idea of how old your names can be and still have some life in them, and you know how to plan for future reactivation campaigns.
Never Give Up
Mission Reactivation is not Mission Impossible. You can get a percentage of old buyers to become new buyers again, and that can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
Don’t give up on buyers you haven’t heard from for a while. Reactivate them!