When you think of your typical zombie, you’re probably tempted to think of the brain-eating variety. In real life, though, zombies are more likely to eat at your profits.

The real life horror is that the average consumer database is 50% inactive which means that about half of your email subscribers, your fans and followers, and the people in your loyalty program are zombies.

Zombie customers can be costly. The average value of a lost customer is $243. But at least this kind of zombie virus isn’t contagious. Research shows that one in ten zombie customers will purchase again.

Unlike the movies, these zombie are curable. Even when they are deep in the graveyard of inactivity, with their wallets closed and eyes glossed over from boredom, there’s hope. Most of the time, there’s a reason why customers fall inactive. It might be due to low brand recall, poor personalization, or unsatisfying customer service. Finding the right remedy all begins with understanding what went wrong.

Here are four concoctions that will get your cold customers’ hearts pumping once again.

Cure #1: Take Their Temperature

Get a reading of how your inactive customers currently feel about your product or service by running a survey. Ask why customers stopped being engaged and what could potentially make them excited about your brand again.

This not only lets them know you care, but it makes your job a lot easier when trying to win them back.


Be sure to provide an incentive to encourage customers to click through and complete the survey. Kate Spade does a great job here with a catchy, bold call-to-action in their email campaign, “Penny for your thoughts? We’ll give you more” and a 25% off coupon for filling out the survey.

How to do this with Bitly:

Photographer Brady Dyer uses Bitlinks to track how prospects and clients engage with his work through email. “I include this link (http://bit.ly/bdpimagelab) every time I email clients with their photos. It’s a video explaining how to access your photos,” Brady says. This is a handy way he can see if clients are engaging with the content and if the video is helpful.

Cure #2: Remind Them Of The Good Old Days

Sometimes all it takes is a good flashback. Remind customers why they were interested in your product or brand in the first place.

Spring uses a mobile push notification to remind users that a dish that they’ve enjoyed in the past is back.


Gaming apps like Paper Jumper and Last Inua do a great job of appealing to the competitive side of their user base by reminding them that they haven’t finished playing.


Other companies give customers the option to control the frequency of communication, what kind of content they receive, or where they see this content.

Sephora has a preference center that allows customers to control how often they receive emails, so that customers can choose what works best for them instead of unsubscribing altogether.


How to do this with Bitly:

Most people download apps and then forget about them. Three days after installing, 77% of users will never use an app again. The Associated Press (AP) uses Bitly to drive 500,000 app opens and 3,500 visits to the app store in one month… an estimated $12,000 value. Using Bitly’s Mobile Optimizer, part of Bitly Enterprise, AP integrated deep links into social sharing buttons across all of their articles and to enable deep linking for every story.

Cure #3: Strength In Numbers

Facing zombies as a group is a little less daunting if you partner up with another company. Team up with another brand to host an exclusive in-person event. The time-sensitive nature of the event can excite your zombie customers and give you a platform to engage with them once again.

For example, a fitness app could partner with an athletic apparel company to host a special shopping experience with a unique discount for a select group of inactive customers. The fitness app could also host a workout session exclusive for inactive customers and use the opportunity to reintroduce them to the app.

How to do this with Bitly:

Barkbox uses Bitlinks to unite online and offline channels, figuring out how many people click to the website after seeing a print ad. By using a Bitlink to drill into more detail around an ongoing promotion, the company could track exactly how many interested people engaged with that touchpoint to learn more. If specific links were created for each and every print ad, wherever they appeared, the business could see which placements were most effective.

Cure #4: Consult An Expert

If all else fails, you could always call on another expert for a second opinion.

Leverage influencer marketing. Try partnering with a micro-influencer to target certain groups of customers that have fallen inactive, like specific age groups or types of shoppers.

Channels like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are home to smaller, niche communities. You can find communities by city on Instagram, with hashtags like #igersnyc, or Pokemon Go masters through geo-targeted stories on Snapchat.

Find the right influencer to help share your product and advocate for your brand. If zombie consumers see that a friend, coworker, or someone similar to them is using your product, they might be curious to give it another try. After all, consumers trust strangers more than they trust brands — 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than they trust an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.

How to do this with Bitly:

The Bitly marketing team uses Bitlinks to track partner marketing initiatives. Most recently, we were promoting a guide with Hubspot called ““How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel.” We used Bitlinks to measure engagement from end-to-end, from channels such as the homepage, to email, and social media.

A Time To Revive, And A Time To Put To Bed

Did the cure take? Congrats! Once the blood is flowing through your zombie customer’s veins once again, it’s time to nurture the relationship so that they don’t fall dormant once again.

We recently talked a little about this with our friends at Mention. Check out our guide to learn more about winning customers for life.

The fine print here is that while there are ways to cure afflicted customers, not every zombie customer can be revived. Sometimes customers leave because they no longer have a need for your product, they can’t afford it anymore, or they simply aren’t happy anymore. Let them go. Continuing to message to zombie customers that are unwilling to come back can hurt your bottom line and skew your engagement metrics.

There’s a time to revive, and a time to put zombie customers to bed.