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How to Detect and Restore Inactive Customers in WooCommerce


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This blog post is from the archived blog. In 2024, Convesio acquired Growmatik and re-launched it as ConvesioConvert. Learn more about ConvesioConvert.

Seth Godin said, “Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” And boy, oh boy! – what a vicious race that is! Even if you manage to be among those who do acquire new customers by grabbing their attention, then you might still have inactive customers on your WooCommerce site. You may have won the first lap, however you’re definitely far from winning the ultimate championship. What matters most here is to keep those new customers in the circle and get them buying from you. And the not-so-nice news is that it’s very likely that some of them will leave you eventually.

So what? What can you do to prevent from losing those hard-earned customers? Let’s break this down.

Who are inactive customers?

Essentially, inactive customers in WooCommerce  are the people who don’t want to buy from you anymore. They are also the least interested in your email campaigns. In other words, they are the opposite of your golden unicorn customers who make repeated purchases. These culprits are called by many names. Slipping, inactive, dormant, churn, disloyal, away, etc.

Why some customers become inactive?

Sometimes, it’s the quality of your product or services that disengage customers. For example, you promise a quality shipping service, but that is far from the truth for some customers. Or they are not satisfied with the product they bought from your online store. Another reason is the faulty communication with customers. You might fail to effectively engage customers after their first purchase or when they subscribed to come back and visit you again.

In general, here are the main reasons why people disengage:

  • You fail to deliver what you promised 
  • The content of your emails are repetitive or boring
  • You are sending less or more frequent emails 
  • Your emails are not personalized

Why even bother?

Here are some facts: You lose about 22.5% of your subscribers each year, according to Marketing Sherpa. Meanwhile, according to Adobe, 40% of your revenue comes from repeat customers. In fact, as the book Marketing Metrics suggests, businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5% to 20%. As Edwards Deming put it simply, “Profit in business comes from repeat customers.” So your sole mission as a marketer is to push to increase the number of repeat customers as much as possible.

But here is another important downside. The more people unsubscribe your email list, the lower your email sender reputation will be, which might ultimately cause more of your emails to land in the spam folder.

Now that we know the importance of winning back inactive customers, let’s dig through some tips to begin with.

Segment your inactive customers in WooCommerce

Everything starts with identifying inactive customers. You need a full list of customers who are defined as “inactive.” This is exactly where RFM comes in handy. RFM (recency, frequency, and monetary) is a marketing analysis tool used to identify a company’s best customers based on these measures:

  • Recency: When the last purchase was
  • Frequency: How often they buy
  • Monetary: How much they bought

This chart can help you understand RFM better. Just keep in mind that this is only an example, and your business might have a different set of values, but the idea is the same.

inactive customers in WooCommerce - RFM chart

As you can see, you better focus and invest in the red, yellow and green segments.

You can confidently segment your inactive customers in WooCommerce by using RFM analysis. Now let’s discover how to segment inactive customers by using Growmatik.

Sale cycle and buying behavior

This is obviously the most important factor. But first you’ll need to answer these questions: What are you selling? How often do you expect your customers to buy from you? For example, if it’s ice cream that you’re  selling, a month of an order gap is a bit long. But if you’re in the smartphone business, a year without any new order is completely normal. Figure out your best order gap time and create your first segment in Growmatik.

Go to the People page and select All customers as the user type. Now click on Add Filter and choose Shopping activity > Last purchase date. Select an appropriate time and done.

inactive customers in WooCommerce - Growmatik people page

Now click on Save segment and give your segment a name. Your new segment will appear on the left sidebar.

inactive customers in WooCommerce - Growmatik segment lists

You can also filter for order value or number of orders under the Shopping activity category. By using these filters, you can segment customers based on monetary value.

Visit activity

How long has it been since they last visited your website? In Growmatik, you can easily create a segment based on the customer’s visit activity. Go to the People page and filter for Site activity > last visit date.

inactive customers in WooCommerce - Growmatik site activity segment

Or an intersection of segments 

To achieve more accurate results and narrow down your list of inactive customers in WooCommerce, you could combine the filters explained above and create a unique list. For example, customers who have not opened an email in the last month, have not bought an item in the last 3 months and have not visited you for more than 6 months. Fortunately, in Growmatik, you can add multiple filters and combine them to achieve a more advanced result. You can even group filters before combining them.

Remember that while these combined filters are more flexible, they can be misleading too. For example, you may want to have multiple inactive customer segments each with a particular characteristic because an email that goes to lapsing customers must have different content than the one going to a dormant newsletter subscriber. So be very cautious when combining filters.

Create tailored campaigns for each segment

Let’s say you have 3 segments, each of which represent a portion of your inactive users. Newsletter subscriber churns, high-value customer churns and idle lead churns. Well, perhaps it’s a good idea to address each of these segments with its own terms and characteristics. Think about what would be relevant to say to each of these segments. Which one needs an incentive to go by and what would that incentive be. In this step, you make sure that your inactive customers will receive rather personalized messages than just generic business-as-usual communication.

Reach out and ask for feedback

This is the simplest but most effective method sometimes. Now that you have a list of your inactive customers with their email addresses, why don’t you reach out and ask what went wrong and what you can do to win their trust again. This honest approach will disarm many people and deep down, they’ll appreciate your attention to their needs. Just remember to make the tone of your email more personal and intimate. Then provide them with a way to contact you back if they feel like it. Something like this:


Hi Laura,

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from you. Just wanted to reach out and see if everything is okay? Are you happy with your last purchase from our store? Is there anything we should do to improve our service to you? Should you have any concerns, just reply back to this email. 

John Doe, CEO


Know this: Not everyone will bother getting back to you with a handful of suggestions and complaints. But even a few feedback emails will greatly help you understand what you can do to improve the way you engage your customers.

Start with a truly attention-grabbing subject line

Put your creativity to use. Think of the most exhilarating subject a win-back email can ever have. Check out this article to learn more about email subject lines and how to send engaging emails.

Offer discounts

We all like to be motivated by a little incentive. That little treat goes a long way in our decision-making process as humans. See if you can afford a discount as the last chance to win back a lapsing customer. This will hopefully increase the email open rates and click-throughs while even making some sales from your least expected customers. In Growmatik, you can generate discount coupons and include them in your emails using the Coupon element.

inactive customers in WooCommerce - Growmatik email builder - coupon

Personalize win-back emails

Once again it all comes down to personalization. However, adding just the customer’s name at the top of the email is the least you can do. Think of better ways to engage customers with the content that could be interesting to them. In Growmatik, there are many options at your disposal for both email and website personalization for WooCommerce. For example, you can include some products related to the customer’s previous purchases. In the email builder environment, add the product element to the page and click on the gear icon to display its options. From the top array of buttons, choose Related. You are now showing people the products that they might like instead of just a generic product list that could be relevant to just a few people.

inactive customers in WooCommerce - Growmatik email builder - related products

Remind them why they signed up

Why does a subscriber give you their email address?  Because they like what you’re already offering. Your product, service or content. This is the value you promised and if you believe you are still delivering it then it’s definitely worth reminding inactive customers of that value. Remember that people easily forget and there’s no shame in reaching out to say  hi again and explain why you’re still relevant to them. Just remember not to be pushy and use a bit of humor in your tone. Even a simple “Miss you” message can do wonders.

Let them know what they have missed

Ever heard of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? It’s a natural human urge to stay in the loop. We humans hate to be left out. Make your inactive customers in WooCommerce curious by bragging about the latest news of your brand or what has happened during their absence. This certainly grabs their attention and increases the chance of clicking a link in the email. 
Check out this example from Unsplash, which perfectly illustrates the use of FOMO in the win-back emails:

Make a game

This is for sure a great method to engage people of every kind. Use gamification to re-engage your customers. Make them feel that by every visit and purchase they are becoming more and more. Tease out their inner child out. Maybe give them a badge and a title, and, to make it even more exciting, set a prize for each milestone they conquer. This prize can be a discount or coupon or some kind of goodies representing your brand.

Here’s a good example from Grammarly:

Implementing this campaign with Growmatik is an all-in-one experience. Let’s say you have four milestones. And for every milestone, you set a funny badge and a title. Say “newbie,” “adventurer,” “superstar” and “legend.” There’s also a reward for those who possess any of those badges. Already exciting huh? Now, we need four customer segments. From the highest order value to the lowest. In Growmatik, you can easily segment your customers with the order value filter. Just go to the People page and choose Customers as the user type and select the Total order value filter. Set the desired amount and save the segment.

Create the other three segments based on your milestones. Set the highest order value to ”legend” and lowest to “newbie.” Now, you have four customer segments and all you need to do is to automate these segments to receive a notifier email when becoming eligible for that badge and reward.

To do this, go to the Automate page, create a new rule by clicking the plus button on the customer column and select one of the segments you just created as a condition and choose Send email as action. Now create the content for your email. Try to make it fun because this is kind of like a game, isn’t it? Design some cool badges and an encouraging message to let the customer know that they just reached a milestone by buying more from you and are, therefore, eligible for a special reward. Use the Coupon element to insert a coupon code in the email.

Remember to mention the next milestone and its reward and how customers can reach it. Now sign and save! You’ve just automated a very fine process. It identifies active customers as they purchase more, sends them an email appreciating their business and rewards them with a discount. Spectacular!

We’ve just explored plenty of methods to create and send effective win-back emails through Growmatik. Awesome! Now, let’s move to another dimension of user experience and see where else we need to be prepared to win our inactive customers back, other than emails.

Personalized web pages

Suppose that you wanted to lease a car and therefore visited a car dealer shop. You checked out some deals but could not make your mind yet. So you decided to take your time and sleep on the idea for a while. A few months later you decide to visit the dealership again and see if they have some new models or better deals. You walk in and… nobody really knows you. You are just another new stranger/customer to them. Someone welcomes you formally and introduces himself. “Hey, welcome to our shop, sir. My name is Nathan? What can I help you with today?” You need to introduce yourself too and once again go through every detail that has been discussed before.

How does it feel? Besides the waste of time for both you and the sales agent to get onboarded and oriented again, you may think “I won’t probably get any better deal than before now that they don’t even know me.”

This situation happened to many of us. Unfortunately, the joy of being treated “special” as the old customer sometimes is not quite fulfilled by ignorant salesmanship. What if there was a mechanism in that stop allowing them to just pick where you have left off? Bringing you the same salesman you met before and she welcomes you with something like “Been a while. How have you been? We have some super deals that are way more attractive than the last ones we discussed back then.” What difference would that make on you, psychologically?

Implementing this kind of workflow in a car dealership might be a hectic process and requires many changes and logistics. The good news is that this is not the case with your online store.

In Growmatik, you can easily conduct those customers who have been away for some time to a special page with the content that they just need. First, try to create a page that is meant for inactive customers. Inspire from the best practices of email marketing for WooCommerce and put together relevant content. Here are some ideas:

  • Some greetings and emotional messages such as “We miss you”
  • What happened since they were gone
  • Offer exclusive discount coupons 
  • Offer bonus scores encouraging them to come back and collect more (gamification)

Once you are done creating the page content, go to Growmatik and open the Automate page. Create a new rule on the customer column by clicking on the plus icon and select User behavior > Away as a condition. For action, choose the Show page and select the page you just created and save the rule. From now on, you’re officially sending your inactive customers to a page, welcoming them like an old customer and providing them with the content they might find useful instead of just a generic page delivered by a soulless robot.

Wrap up

In this post, we’ve reviewed some proven and popular methods to reduce the churn rate and get the inactive customers in WooCommerce engaged again. But just as you thought, you’ll never be able to restore every slipping customer back. However, it’s important to know that the churn rate can be dealt with effectively. You just need to find out what works best for you. The key is to understand your customers and your business. Try to illustrate the persona of your customers and pin it up to your wall. Update it from time to time if necessary. Using this persona you can point your creativity in the right direction and design solid campaigns for the right people with the right content.

Finally, let’s once again acknowledge the importance of measuring your campaign performance from time to time. If you think you put efforts to create a marketing campaign and it immediately starts paying off, you are wrong, my friend. That level of perfection is never achieved without iteration and refinement. Use Growmatik to track down the results all the time. See if something does not work out, fix it – and if it works, make it better. In Growmatik, go to the Automate page. Then click on the rule to open the Edit rule window. Once the rule editor is open, click on the Report button on the right side to see performance metrics.

What do you think is the most effective way to restore inactive customers in WooCommerce back into the circle? Any particular strategy you know to share with folks here? Write in the comments below to let us know, and good luck on your great journey to success!


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