Skip to content
Self-service solutions providing high-fidelity B2B data with custom and always-on audiences to help you reach the right people across all your channels. 
Managed services to help you identify the right buyers and drive full-funnel engagement with our high-fidelity B2B data and proprietary technology.
Gain insights to help you make data-driven decisions and stay ahead of emerging trends in the marketing landscape through business intelligence and analytics services.
Manage your demand generation and programmatic advertising all in one place with our integrated platform—an award-winning self-service or managed platform to address your specific business needs.
Scott TinkoffFebruary 15, 20248 min read

7 tactics for reactivating B2B customers and improving customer retention

Attracting new customers is crucial for business growth, but retaining existing ones is equally important. In fact, acquiring a new customer can cost significantly more than retaining an existing one. So, what can B2B companies do to re-engage lapsed customers who haven’t purchased in over a year? 

At a recent event, we asked 100 marketers what their best customer reactivation tactic is. Here are the seven key strategies they called out for reactivating lapsed B2B customers: 

1: Analytics 

Ok, so this isn't really a tactic in and of itself, but it's what drives your reactivation efforts. Analytics shows you what accounts are in your reactivation pool and can show you how reactivating these customers can impact your business. 

Analytics helps you distinguish between your current and lapsed buyers so you can see who you have the chance to reactivate. By reactivating a small percentage of that pool, you can drive increased revenue. 

You’ll need to start by determining what defines a lapsed buyer. Typically, if they haven't bought in the last 12 months, they’re considered a lapsed buyer, but based on your business and what you sell, your lapsed time frame might be shorter or longer. For instance, maybe you're selling consumables that people are turning through rapidly, like office supplies, and you see lapsed as being at the six-month mark.  

Having clear analytics on your lapsed customers is critical — who are they, why did they leave, and what is the revenue opportunity if you reactivate them? This data will let you build targeted campaigns and prove the potential ROI to leadership. 

2: Search reactivation 

Search reactivation is an important tactic, and it works well alongside many other tactics on this list. 

Often, people only think of the traditional search ads where users type in a word or phrase and get your ad, but don't forget that Google and Bing have a lot of other ad formats and placements that you could be utilizing. A few examples are display ads, YouTube, and Maps. 

Display and video are highly visual campaign types, so you’ll want to make sure that you're standing out. You should also make sure your messaging is consistent with your other tactics, like email, to ensure it’s making an impression. 

Do you feel like you can only run this type of ad if you have a creative team in-house? That barrier to entry is easier than ever to overcome with the variety of generative AI tools available these days.  

Remember to experiment. Search ads are not a one-size-fits-all approach, so test different images, frequency caps, and the audiences you’re targeting.  If you see certain audience segments converting at a higher rate, this could be a good indication that you can optimize and push more of your efforts there.  

Retargeting lapsed contacts through search ads allows you to target previous customers who you know are already familiar with your brand. And these campaigns are really effective. Remarketing campaigns in Google convert at much higher rates than prospect campaigns. 

3: Co-op database  

Co-op databases are a great source of information for your reactivation campaigns. When you contribute data to a third-party co-op database, you get access to data from other sources you wouldn’t have access to on your own. 

For example, you can use a co-op database to see if a lapsed customer is completely inactive or if they’re buying from other B2B merchandise companies.  

Although a customer has not purchased from you recently, that doesn't mean that they're not out there buying from other B2B merchandise companies. You can use a co-op database to determine if your lapsed customer is active with other companies in a specific time frame. If you can't find that lapsed customer purchasing from other companies in that recent time frame, working with a data provider like Anteriad to access a co-op database can help you find another contact at that company who is active. 

Tap into co-op databases for rich transactional data on business buyers. You can identify if your lapsed contacts are still active buyers elsewhere, replace outdated contacts, or find new contacts to target at previously strong accounts. 

4: Prospect email  

To start, it’s all about data quality and data cleansing, so the first thing you should consider is how valid the older email addresses are.  

When it comes to email, it’s important to remember that both the individual email and the domain could have changed in your recency period. You'll need to run a validation of your emails to understand if they are active and should receive marketing or if they need to be flagged as inactive. Then, you can look deeper into the inactive emails to verify the domains are active. There are many ways to do this, but working with a data provider like Anteriad is a good starting place. 

Email is a great way to test different messaging to see what resonates. Consider different high-value offers, whether a piece of valuable content or a discount, to encourage lapsed accounts to re-engage with your company. 

This tactic can work well as part of a multi-channel strategy or as a single channel. When possible, running a multi-channel campaign gives you more opportunities to engage customers and optimize performance. When we run email in conjunction with direct mail, we see about a 30% lift in response rate. On the other hand, if you don’t have the budget to run direct mail, email alone can be a great way to engage contacts without breaking the bank. 

5: Phone 

First, it's important to thoughtfully develop your call list for phone reactivation. You want to start by prioritizing your best accounts.  

Use your ICP and prioritize the accounts that bring in more revenue. Before you start calling, it’s key to know any relevant information about the account, like if they’re a prior member of a subscription plan. 

When developing your script, think about incentives you can offer to get them to reactivate. Consider offering a limited-time discount to encourage them to act fast and buy again. It’s important to remind them why they purchased from you and the value your company can provide. Tailor your call times based on the contact you’re trying to reach. If you know that they spend their entire day in the office, this is easy, but for contacts who spend their time out on job sites, you’ll want to time your call appropriately. 

One of the best things about using this channel is that you can have a real-time conversation and ask for feedback directly. You can learn why they lapsed in the first place and how you can improve going forward to retain more business. 

6: Customer email  

This tactic is used to reactive customers you think are heading toward lapse and want to encourage them to continue buying from you. A great way to do this is through offering personalized, value-added content.  

For example, if your customer bought a coffee maker, you can email them, "We hope you’re enjoying your coffee maker. Here are some additional ways to use it that you may not be taking advantage of." Or, if you sell other related products, it can be valuable to reach out and say, "We see you purchased a coffee maker about a year ago. Did you know we also sell coffee filters and coffee mugs?" to continue that relationship and raise awareness of other products they may be interested in. 

Don't leave these customers hanging in between being active and trying to reactivate them. Continue to engage them through valuable, entertaining, or educational email content to reduce the chances of them lapsing and maintaining a positive relationship. Also, through email, you can give them chances to provide feedback and show them you are listening. Opening up conversations with customers can go a long way. 

7: Direct mail 

Direct mail is still one of the best tactics for reactivation campaigns, especially when driven by robust data.  

Direct mail is a tried-and-true reactivation strategy. Having the right data to understand why a customer lapsed or if they are still active is essential to direct mail. You need to be able to determine why an account stopped buying and identify new contacts to activate if your contact no longer works for that company. If your mail can’t get to the right place, it won’t be effective. 

Suppose you can look back through the buyer's activity with your company and their activity data from a co-op database and determine they have been inactive for a long period. In that case, it's time to focus your efforts elsewhere.   

Like many of the tactics in this list, direct mail directly benefits from a multi-channel approach. The more you can get in front of lapsed customers and remind them why they bought from you in the first place, the more successful your reactivation campaign will be. 

The key to reactivation 

Remember that keeping a current customer is often more affordable than converting a new one, so don’t overlook reactivation. Strong data should be the foundation of your reactivation strategy. Everything you know about an account can be used to finetune your reactivation tactics for success. Any of these reactivation tactics can be effective on their own, but when they work together, you’ll see better results. 


Scott Tinkoff

Read posts from Scott Tinkoff.