Using Display Advertising to Reactivate Lapsed Buyers and Inactive Subscribers

Using Display Advertising to Reactivate Lapsed Buyers and Inactive Subscribers

Silver Star Brands
Multi-channel Retail

Using Display Advertising to Reactivate Lapsed Buyers and Inactive Subscribers

Silver Star Brands
Key Solution Areas: 
Data analysis, data management, cross-channel win-back strategy, implementation
275% ROI for the display ad test | 42% lift in email | 29% lift in online channels

Keeping the sales funnel full can be a challenge for many brands because identifying prospects and getting them to engage often requires significant planning and resources. But what if there was an untapped source of data right at your fingertips – people who are already familiar with your products and have a history with your brand?

We’re talking about inactive subscribers. These are either “hand raisers” (people who have opted into a brand’s communication program but have no activity) or former customers who have stopped responding. Inactives often represent a significant portion – up to two-thirds – of a brand’s mailing list. For many marketers this segment can be made up of millions of subscribers!

Using Display for Reactivation

Since 2014, Yes Marketing has provided data, technology and agency services to Silver Star Brands, one of America’s largest direct-to-consumer companies, as it continues its transformation from a mail cataloguer into a true multi-channel retailer. Silver Star Brands consists of six brands selling gifts as well as health, wellness, and household products: Miles Kimball, Walter Drake, Easy Comforts, Personalized Things by Exposures, Native Remedies, and As We Change.

As part of Yes Marketing’s commitment to helping Silver Star Brands achieve their business goals, our insights and analytics team worked to uncover missed revenue.

Silver Star Brands’ target market is women aged 50 and over and they reach 120 million U.S. households. They had traditionally used the display channel to acquire new customers but not to reactivate existing ones.

Yes Marketing suggested testing display advertising as a means to re-engage Silver Star Brands’ inactive subscribers. The insight from this approach would then be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the display channel and inform future marketing program strategies. 

Laying the Right Foundation

Silver Star Brands chose the Miles Kimball brand for a four week test during the holiday season and used the following banner ad that offered 10% off and free shipping to incentivize consumers to re-engage.

The audience selected for the display ad campaign met the following criteria:

  • inactive in the email channel for at least six months
  • subscribed to Miles Kimball’s email program

These criteria yielded an audience size of 647,700 inactive email subscribers who were still part of Miles Kimball’s email program.

Enhanced Data Increases Number of Targets

After the audience was identified, Yes Marketing reviewed the file and enhanced it with additional online and offline data which resulted in more complete and accurate information for 264,000 records from the initial 647K audience. This process also improved the likelihood of each audience member to be matched to a consumer ID, which would enable Yes Marketing to target that consumer with display ads. Ultimately, Silver Star Brands’ audience file yielded a 64% overall match rate – a dramatic increase over the 50% industry average. The remaining 36% of the initial audience which were unmatched and thus could not be exposed to the display ad became the control group against which Yes Marketing would benchmark the performance of the matched segment.

Analysis of Test Results Goes Beyond Traditional Metrics

To enable an in-depth, cross-channel analysis of the effectiveness of display advertising for inactive subscribers, Yes Marketing compared the behavior of the matched audience segment (subscribers who could have seen the display ads) to the behavior of the unmatched audience segment (subscribers who could not have been exposed to the ads.)

This enabled Yes Marketing to go beyond the traditional ad serving metrics like ad clicks, viewability, revenue generated, and Return-on-Ad-Spend (ROAS) and analyze cross-channel engagement and purchase behavior for both the matched and unmatched audience segments. This allowed Yes Marketing to provide a complete view of audience response that shed light on key business questions including:

  • Was display advertising effective at driving engagement from the inactive subscriber segment?
  • Did the matched audience segment outperform the unmatched control group?
  • How did the campaign impact sales in other channels (phone, email and web)?
  • What segments performed best online and offline?


  • The test group had 10% higher sales than the control group across all online and offline channels
  • Timing of the Silver Star Brands holiday catalog appeared to have a negative impact (-3%) on online purchases for the test group
  • There was a 75% increase in response and a 51% increase in sales from those in the test group that had not previously purchased as compared to the same segment in the control group
  • The size of the brand’s inactive subscriber segment was 3x larger than the acquisition segments they had been using for acquisition campaigns
  • 275% ROI for the display ad test
  • 42% lift in email engagement 
  • 29% lift in online purchases  

We are very encouraged by the results from this integrated cross-channel campaign. We will continue to expand our activities with Yes Marketing and look forward to optimizing our activation and reactivation programs.”

Kathy Hecht, Chief Marketing Officer at Silver Star Brands


  • Display was an effective tool to drive engagement from inactive subscribers that could no longer be reached through email
  • Brands should no longer write off subscribers who have been inactive for over 12 months – for many marketers this segment is twice the size of their mailable audience and converting just a small portion of this group could have a major impact on revenues
  • The audience segment that was exposed to the display ad generated significantly more cross-channel purchases than the segment that could not have seen the ad. 
  • Brands should focus on strategies to engage inactive audiences and employ display as one channel to achieve this
  • Dynamic 1:1 ad serving drives the best performance for different segments of inactive subscribers
  • Brands should start with their own database when looking to acquire new audiences through display advertising
  • Cross-channel analysis results in a much more accurate understanding of the performance of display advertising
  • Cross-channel measurement informs critical decisions about the right mix of channels to drive engagement (less costly versus more costly methods)
  • Re-engaged audiences should be continually tracked over time to evaluate long-term effects of using display


  • The siloed nature of many companies contributes to the reason why audiences are not shared across teams (e.g. Email and Display)
  • Display is a confusing channel that is thought of as ‘unmeasurable’
  • Brands do not have a team to manage all steps involved in display advertising
  • Brands have had bad results/low match rates with data onboarding and lack a true understanding of “why”
  • Marketers are too heavily focused on acquisition, which is what most agency partners and display tech providers are optimized for
  • Brands may lack a partner with the knowledge of how to optimize first-party data to deliver insights-driven recommendations

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