How To Get Your Past Customers Back with Online Marketing?

Wayne Liew

No business owners feel good about losing customers.

Do you want to your customers back?

Facing your old customers and asking them to do business with you again requires a lot of courage. In the online world, however, this barrier is completely removed.

Getting old customers back revolves around the following:

  • Understand what made your customers leave.
  • Find out the alternative they picked to replace you.
  • Improve your offerings to better solve their problems.
  • Educate them on why you are still the best.
  • Close the sale when the opportunity arises.

In this guide, you will learn how to do all the above online. Towards the end, we will reveal the most important element that you must have to reacquire an old customer so please keep reading.

Use Surveys to Understand Why Customers Leave

Let’s face it. It is awkward for you to call a past customer for feedback. Furthermore, the first thing on the customer’s mind is to provide answers that will help to end the conversation as fast as possible. Thus, it is very unlikely to get high quality feedback.

Customer Doing Survey

On the Internet, things are a little different. People will fill up online surveys to help you improve, especially if they were a long time customer. You can use an online survey tool like Survey Monkey to create a simple survey asking the following questions:

  • With a score from 1 to 10, how would you rate your experience of doing business with us / using our products / services?
  • How can we improve in the future to get a score of 8 or higher from you?
  • What is the one thing that you love about doing business with us / using our products / services?
  • What is the one thing that you dislike about doing business with us / using our products / services?
  • What made you stop using our products or services? What is the alternative that you will be using to replace us / our products / services?
  • What is it that makes them a better alternative as compared to us?

Expect to receive all sorts of answer. Pay attention to the similarities among them. They will point out the items that you need to focus on.

Prioritize the suggestions, criticisms and feedback. Subsequently, make improvements to your offerings based on the list.

Find Out How Your Competitors Are Marketing Online

There are many possible reasons to explain why a customer stopped using what you offer, but most of the time, it is because they found a better alternative offered by one of your competitors.

In the offline world, it is close to impossible to pinpoint marketing tactics that your competitors are adopting.

When it comes to the Internet, even though there is no way to map out your competitors’ marketing activities with 100% accuracy, you can still have a pretty good gauge of what they are up to using the tools below.

With the knowledge of what your competitors are up to, you can then decide how you can outsmart them by doing what they are already doing better.



SimilarWeb provides website traffic insights.

Put in the website URL of your competitor into SimilarWeb, and it will return information such as the source of their visitors, the top keywords visitors use to find their website as well as the keywords and placements that they are buying through advertisements.

The more visitors that a website has, the higher the accuracy of the estimate.

Open Site Explorer by Moz

Moz's Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer allows you to find out which websites are linking to your competitors, and which of their pages receive the most links.

If you have a competitor who has been very aggressive with PR, you can use this tool to find out which newspaper publications or bloggers wrote about them.

Open Site Explorer is a paid tool but the free version should be sufficient if you do not have a website with more than 10 pages.


Facebook is arguably the most talked about online marketing channel today. It is also where businesses announce their latest promotional activities.

Pages to Watch is a little-used feature that you can use to monitor the performance of your competitors’ Facebook Page.

To enable this feature, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open up your Facebook Page and choose to use Facebook as your business.

Step 2: Go to the Insights tab and scroll down to the Pages to Watch section.

Step 3: Click on Add Pages and type in the name of your competitor’s page.

Step 4: Click on the + Watch Page button, type in the name of your competitor’s page, and you’re set.

Watch Page on Facebook

You can watch up to 5 pages and their data will appear alongside your page metrics under the Pages to Watch section.

If you noticed a sudden spike in new page likes or engagement on your competitors’ page, they might be having some promotional activities or advertising campaigns going on. Since they are on your watch list, you can just click over to find out.

Google Keyword Planner

Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool provided by Google for its advertisers.

Are you seeing ads by your competitors when you perform a search for a keyword related to your business? Do you want to find out what other keywords your competitors are buying?

No tools can provide the data for Southeast Asian advertisers at the moment, but you can guess what keywords they are buying with Keyword Planner. Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Click on your competitor’s ad.

Step 2: Go to Keyword Planner.

Step 3: Copy the URL of your competitor’s landing page.

Step 4: Paste the URL into Keyword Planner and click on “Get Keyword Ideas”.

Paste Landing Page URL in Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner will then return a list of keywords related to your competitor’s page, and the keywords are very likely to be the those that your competitors are buying. The reason why this works is because many AdWords advertisers are using Keyword Planner for keyword research prior to setting up their search ads. The list of keywords provided by Keyword Planner is very likely to be the same set of keywords that your competitors get.

You can use the list to answer the two questions below:

  • What is the ad messaging that you competitor is using for different keywords?
  • Are they sending all their paid search traffic to the same offer / landing page?

When you have access to the above, you will know how to write ad copies that are more appealing to the target audience searching for a particular keyword.

RELATED: Uncover Your Competitor’s Online Marketing Strategy

Advertise with Facebook Custom Audience Targeting

Facebook has a very innovative way of targeting ads to people whom you already know called Custom Audience.

If you have the email address or phone numbers of past customers, this ad targeting method is the best way to reach out to them.

For this set of audience, promoting whitepapers, infographics, blog posts or any other form of educational content is the better option. With these content, you get to rekindle your relationship with past customers.

Facebook Custom Audience is also a great way to promote a new feature or offering that you introduced based on the customer feedback. It feels good to see a business that you used to frequent decided to listen and act on your feedback.

Publish a Steady Stream of Useful Content

As mentioned in our earlier blog post, Top 5 Online Marketing Channels for SMEs in 2015, content marketing positions you as an industry expert and a thought leader. The content you produce helps to establish trust among potential customers too. Here’s a quote from LinkedIn’s VP of North American Sales, Jonathan Lister:

By creating and publishing remarkable content in the form that educates, informs, inspires and entertains, marketers can begin to build relationships with prospects early on in the buying cycle.

Customers come and go, but they will still be searching for and reading content that they find interesting or relevant to them. Putting consistent effort into content marketing is going to help your company get in front of past customers in a subtle manner. To get started, you can come up with a list of content ideas that past customers might look for if they are searching for an alternative to what you offer. These can be:

  • Ranking of industry players.
  • Comparison charts.
  • Industry insights.
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs).
  • Explanation for industry jargons.
  • How-to guides.

Be very generous with the content you put up, but keep in mind that it is not the quantity that matters. Quality and consistency are important to attract readers to your content. At the same time, make sure to keep the content interesting, engaging and highly-scannable.

Maintain an Email List of Old Customers

Many of us do not touch base with past customers.

These are the people that we should be keeping in touch with. They knew your business together with the pros and cons of your offerings.

All it takes to win them back is to let them know that your products or services have improved since they took their business elsewhere.

When customers leave, put them onto a separate email list. Update them with your latest offerings, new features or improvements.

Cap the frequency of your emails to be not more than once a month to keep unsubscribes low. Do not leave the list in the cold for too long though. Again, it is the consistency that matters.

Also, email campaigns sent to former clients do not need to be all about you.

Remember the useful content that we mentioned earlier? Use these email campaigns as a distribution channel for the content. By doing so, you are delivering value while reminding your old customers about you.

Seize The Opportunity with a Landing Page

Thank you for reading on. As promised, this is the most important element to get a past customer back.

How to “be there” when your old customers are ready to come back?

In the offline world, unless you are lucky enough to get a call, you can never tell which past customer is returning. The chances are so slim that most business owners do not even bother about it.

This is where a conversion-driven landing page comes into the picture. Here’s a screenshot of a landing page:

Kowayo Landing Page

Think about it. Do you want returning customers to visit your website? No! You want their latest contact details so you can call them to close sales.

The distractions on your website break the flow of getting website visitors to express interests in your offer.

Here’s a list of things that might go on in the mind of your website visitors when they are presented with irrelevant information on your website:

  • Comparing your offerings to competitors’.
  • Referring back to their budgets.
  • Reminiscing why they left you in the first place.

The purpose of a dedicated landing page is to provide just enough information to convert a visitor into a lead. It is also designed and written in a way to persuade visitors to complete the goal of the page, which is to sign up as a lead.

Aside from becoming the primary destination for your returning customers, a landing page is also a great destination for new visitors. The likelihood of a visitor becoming a lead is much higher as compared to a traditional website.

If you need more reasons on why you should have a landing page for your online marketing campaigns, Why Landing Pages Are an Indispensable Part of Marketing by Pamela Vaughan who works at Hubspot, a popular inbound marketing platform, highlighted 6 reasons why landing pages are nothing but beneficial to your business.

Using the survey results collected earlier, you can incorporate elements that address the top concerns of old customers so they are convinced that they should sign up with you again.

For example, if the main reason why customers left for alternatives is because your product lack a certain feature, you might want to highlight the feature on your landing page once it has been introduced.

To learn more about the process of crafting a landing page and designing an online lead generation platform, you can refer to our processes.

Getting Old Customers Back Is VERY Possible Online

It might be impossible back then. but it is definitely possible today with the help of the Internet.

Now that you know the ways to target past customers, and how to nurture them in a way that will lead them back to becoming your customers again, we urge you to give the tips above a try.

If you come across any problems or have any questions for us, feel free to ask them in the comment section below. We will be more than happy to help you out.

Images courtesy of Stephen Brace and MuseScore.