10 Ways to Re-engage Inactive Users in SaaS and Boost User Engagement

Looking for ways to bring back inactive users for your SaaS?

There are multiple channels and tactics you can implement to engage with customers and bring them back.

In this article we’ll go over:

  • how to define an inactive user -SaaS- (hint: it’s not just a user that hasn’t logged in)
  • why segmentation and good customer service are key drivers of user engagement.
  • 10 re-engagement strategies you can start implementing right away.

TL;DR

  • Inactive users are not just people who stopped using your platform. They are accounts that stopped performing key value-based actions on your app.
  • User segmentation, win-back emails, and active customer support are good proactive measures for targeting inactive users before they churn.
  • Customers mostly churn because they feel dissatisfied or unhappy.

Tactics you can implement right away to re-engage with inactive users:

  1. Remind users about important onboarding steps they may have missed
  2. Send re-engagement emails after a person’s become inactive on the platform
  3. One last chance — send a reminder and trigger FOMO
  4. Collect feedback from unhappy customers and improve during offboarding
  5. The end-of-trial email
  6. Make account reactivation frictionless for inactive customers
  7. The “feature highlight” email marketing campaigns
  8. Use the “what’s new” email to re-engage inactive users
  9. Offer discounts or special prices to make important customers feel special
  10. Pro tip: Use segmentation to welcome back churned trial users
  • Userpilot is the best tool for reaching out and communicating with users in-app. Get a demo and see how easy you can get started!

What is an inactive user?

As a general rule, an inactive user is any account that has not logged into a platform for a certain stretch of time.

Their information still exists in your database but they have stopped being active and engaging with your app. And this can happen for a whole lot of reasons, ranging from the user taking time off to loss of interest.

But how do you define an inactive SaaS user?

How do you define an inactive user in SaaS?

For a SaaS product, the definition of active and inactive users is more in-depth.

An inactive user in SaaS is not just someone who hasn’t used your product in X days.

Imagine you’re a social media tool that makes it easy for people to schedule and react to posts. Customers will only experience your product’s value — and thus keep paying — when they use your tool to achieve those objectives.

So you should still categorize them as inactive if they are logging in but not performing those actions for which your product exists.

See the image below of what a disengaged user segment might look like for a SaaS social media management tool.

segment inactive user SaaS
Example of an inactive user segment in SaaS. Segment your users based on product usage and engagement, using Userpilot

How do you target inactive users in SaaS?

Inactive customers are mostly hanging on the fence, so you can reactivate them if you make smart moves. Left on their own, many of them will eventually churn.

Key steps for rekindling interest in your product:

  1. Use segmentation to identify slipping away users and offer in-app help
  2. Use win-back email campaigns targeting lapsed customers
  3. Have customer support reach out to users before they churn

Use segmentation to identify slipping away users and offer in-app help

Track product usage for each of your users. Then use that data to segment them based on their activity.

Doing this helps you easily identify which segment is lapsing. The next step is to follow them up with suitable in-app support.

This last step is important since many people cancel their subscription when they perceive your product as difficult to use. By providing robust self-service support, you’re helping prevent that from happening.

It’s also useful if users can reach your team via chat whenever they need it.

 in-app resource center to reactivate users
In-app resource center for self-serve support -build one using Userpilot

Use win-back email campaigns targeting lapsed customers

Usually, one win-back email is good enough, but an email series can work well if delivered at the right time.

Win-back emails are effective because the mailbox is the next place to catch users that no longer spend time on the app.

Consider the win-back email from Eversign below.

Starting with the subject line ‘’We miss you!’’ that uses a friendly tone of voice, the email is packed with information of how to access help.

Also, notice the helpful CTAs spread through the email.

win-back email to reactivate inactive users SaaS

Have customer support reach out to users before they churn

What if customers don’t open or respond to your emails?

It may be more efficient to reach out to your customers by phone if emails fail. This depends on your SaaS and your relationship with your customers.

Even if it’s not by phone, personalized emails would be much more effective than automated email campaigns that many users simply ignore.

Personalized email to reengage inactive users SaaS
Personalized email from Ryte trying to keep a lapsing user interested.

How do you bring an inactive customer back?

The points above were proactive steps to keep users from becoming inactive in the first place.

Here are some tactics you can use to re-engage users and bring them:

  1. Remind users about important onboarding steps they may have missed
  2. Send re-engagement emails after a person’s become inactive on the platform
  3. One last chance — send a reminder and trigger FOMO
  4. Collect feedback from unhappy customers and improve during offboarding
  5. The end-of-trial email
  6. Make account reactivation frictionless for inactive customers
  7. The “feature highlight” email marketing campaigns
  8. Use the what’s new email to re-engage inactive users
  9. Offer discounts or special prices to make important customers feel special
  10. Pro tip: Use segmentation to welcome back churned trial users

1. Remind users about important onboarding steps they may have missed

Onboarding is one of the greatest opportunities you have to showcase product value. Unfortunately, some users skip or miss key steps during this journey stage.

When that happens, they will fail to see the full potential of your tool, which will lead them to think it doesn’t solve their problem. And they may even start considering alternate solutions.

You want to prevent this from happening. To do that, always use a combination of email and in-app messaging to remind users of the next steps in their onboarding.

This can be achieved in two easy steps:

in-app checklist to reengage inactive users SaaS

2. Send re-engagement emails after a person’s become inactive on the platform

This section is an addition to what we said earlier about using win-back emails to bring back inactive SaaS users.

Your emails should always be tailored to where the users were in their journey when they started to disengage.

For instance:

If they’ve used your app for some time, your campaigns should be focused on keeping them up to date and offering them reasons to return.

You’ll have many people who use the free version of your tool but don’t upgrade. Your re-engagement email should be aimed at making these people see what they’re missing with the free version.

re-engagement emails to reactivate inactive users SaaS

If users left during the trial, your campaigns should offer benefits and remainders about the expiring trial, trying to give them reasons to come back.

re-engagement email for trial users

3. One last chance — send a reminder and trigger FOMO

A good example of this is how Hubspot does it. They deactivate free accounts after 210 days of being dormant.

But Hubspot first sends an email, offering users the opportunity to reactivate their account or lose their progress.

This kind of FOMO trigger works well when past customers or existing customers have important data on your app. They wouldn’t want to lose their progress and have to start all over again, so it will move them to reactivation.

It’s always good to match FOMO triggers to inactive SaaS users with in-app messaging showing what’s new.

If people have spent a long time away from your app, then chances are they’ve missed out on a lot of upgrades. Seize the opportunity to show them new features, UI updates, or any add-ons you have.

FOMO trigger

4. Collect feedback from unhappy customers and improve during offboarding

Sometimes you’ll have done all you can, but customers still insist on deactivating their accounts. It’s one of those things that you can’t avoid in SaaS.

All you can do in situations like that is let the customers go in good faith. But before you do, ask for their feedback.

Create a feedback form that generically asks why they are leaving. Or, like Leadpages in the example below, you could ask for features they think are missing from your tool.

The answers you get will enable you to improve and proactively retain other customers like them.

feedbac-form.jepg

5. The end-of-trial email

Most users in the trial stage are busy testing different SaaS products. So they sometimes become too busy to remember their trial with you is almost expiring.

This is where end-of-trial emails come in: send an automated reminder like the one below, telling them when their free trial ends.

Don’t forget to add a powerful CTA for those ready to upgrade their accounts.

Other things you can include in this email:

  • Offer trial extensions for those who haven’t had time to evaluate your app properly.
  • Offer support if they need it.
end-of-trial.JEPG
end

6. Make account reactivation frictionless for inactive customers

Make it really simple for inactive customers to get back into your app. This process should be automated so there will be no need to contact support and wait for a reply.

For instance, if trial users try to sign back into their account, there should be a message telling them their offer has expired. Then offer next steps immediately — an extension offer or an upgrade link.

Mural does this well.

You don’t need to send emails, interact with support or get stuck in a long account reactivation process.

The reactivation link is right there when you launch the sign-in page.

Frictionless-account-reactivation.JEPG

7. The “feature highlight” email marketing campaigns

Reminding churned customers about what’s new in your app is a great way to re-engage them. For this to be effective, only send relevant feature highlights for their use case.

Your email will resonate if they’re churned due to a missing feature that is now available in your app.

Also, send feature highlight emails to user segments that aren’t using existing features that could be useful to them.

highlight feature email marketing

8. Use the what’s new email to re-engage inactive users

According to a Lee Resources international study, for every customer that sends a complaint email, there are 26 unhappy others who don’t.

That shows that not all users will tell you their reason for leaving.

But leverage their emails since they’re still subscribers. Keep them up to date and tell them what’s new on your platform. This shows them your tool is continuously evolving and may even rekindle interest.

reengaagement email

9. Offer discounts or special prices to make important customers feel special

Discounts can be tricky.

Offer too much of it, and people will subconsciously perceive your product as not worth it. Don’t do it at all, and you may lose potential repeat customers who like your product but just can’t afford it yet.

A good practice for offering discounts is to focus on users that have reached activation point.

These people have experienced your product; they know they’ll get a bang for their buck but just churned due to pricing. They’ll be more willing to jump on your special offers than trial users.

See how Typeform does it:

special discounts

10. Pro tip: Use segmentation to welcome back churned trial users

Sometimes, churned trial users will return on their own.

This presents a good opportunity to welcome them, show you remember them, and offer another trial without them having to ask for it.

They probably returned because they now have time to use your tool. Or their needs have changed. Either way, a warm welcome will go a long way in making them want to stick with your SaaS application.

welcome back churned users

Conclusion

Users become inactive and churn for various reasons, and it’s hard to tell it all. However, being intentional about your efforts to re-engage customers will have huge payoffs in the long run.

You sure can’t reactivate all inactive accounts, but applying the steps above will help you win back many.

Scaling self-service is one of the most important investments you can make in this area. A robust self-service system will ensure customers don’t get stranded. And there will be less need for active human support because you have so much on-demand help and resources.

Want to get started and re-engage inactive users? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how easy it can be to start implementing some of the tactics described in this article.

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Userpilot Team

Userpilot Team

Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com