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eCommerce Marketing Automation: How to Up-sell, Cross-sell

eCommerce Marketing Automation: How to Up-sell, Cross-sell

Presuming you’ve already avoided some of the more obvious signs your website is harming your brand credibility. You could still be leaving money on the table, it’s time to get some insights into what the bigger companies are using right now to dominate the eCommerce space.

What’s your next 12 month eCommerce marketing sprint looking like? Fancy implementing some proven strategies to achieve year on year growth over the next year? Alright, let’s dive in!

What do you know about up-selling and cross-selling? You probably know by now that they’re longstanding retail terms that have gained popularity in the eCommerce space. Some would attribute this as a result of Amazon stating that up-selling and cross-selling was responsible for about 35 percent of their website sales, those two tactics for the worlds leading eCommerce website are worth billions.

Investing in tactics which target existing customers is absolute dynamite for growing your company revenue.


Now let’s define up-selling and cross-selling…

Sometimes their meaning is used interchangeably, however, they relate to quite different strategies which are often used at different stages of your buyers purchasing journey.


Definition of Up-selling

Up-selling can simply be defined as substituting a product or service at checkout with a more premium alternative. The merchant enjoys a larger checkout amount and in return the consumer enjoys a better user experience with the more premium alternative. As a sales strategy it can greatly improve business metrics such as Average Order Value (AOV) and Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS).

Often up-selling is used during the sales process just as the customer has made their decision to checkout. It’s often much easy to get a smaller ‘step up’ purchase than to try and sell the premium model straight away. An example would be a company who delivers Software as a Service (SaaS) highlighting the small monetary difference between a standard and premium service, once the customer has entered the checkout with the standard service in their basket.


Definition of Cross-selling

Cross-selling started out as primarily a retail and then eCommerce strategy that involves adding into consideration the purchase of related yet additional products or services. These products usually belong to different categories but are oftentimes complementary. For instance, you offer your customers a battery after they make a purchase of a wall clock.

The aim of cross-selling is for your customers to add more items to their cart or subscribe for more services. Cross-selling is one of Amazon’s primary tactics, evidenced by their “frequently bought together” section on their website.

Cross-selling is used often on the product detail pages and cart section of websites, and encourages a customer to think “What else do I need?” generally before they initiate checkout and can have a major affect on AOV. In addition to being used during the purchase, cross-selling lends itself well to long-term nurturing campaigns which seek to increase your customer lifetime value (CLTV or LTV).


Adding marketing automation into the mix

Marketing automation is a major principle of eCommerce growth marketing, one that finds application in both up-selling and cross-selling. It involves using software and other tools to automate your marketing activities, and deliver useful yet personalised touch points with your customers at scale.

Automation has supercharged marketing as a concept, making it a lot easier for marketing departments in most companies to automate repetitive tasks like social media posting, email marketing, ad campaigns, and so on. This increased efficiency lowers overheads, allows for greater reach and facilitates a more personalised customer experience.

So, let’s look at some automation strategies you can adopt into your marketing to increase your up-selling and cross-selling efficiency.


Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is a powerful strategy used to interact with your known contacts at each stage of their buyers journey. It helps you stay in touch with your customers, give useful information and notify them of the latest products you have and the services you’re offering. By putting together an up-sell and cross-sell email nurturing campaign, you can notify your customers via email about a product upgrade or a related product.

It is vital that you don’t make your lead nurturing reach out purely a sales pitch, and instead focus on speaking to real humans who are at various stages of their purchase.

Using Buyer's journey diagram to show marketing automation

One form of lead nurturing is to send personalised emails to your previous customers. These emails are usually well received because your existing customers already have a level of trust in your brand and the more personalised the email, the more special it makes them feel. This increases the likelihood of them checking out the new options on offer.

Lead nurturing campaigns should be done regularly. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should bombard your customers’ with emails, as let’s be fair no one likes spam. Consider using software to automate some of your up-sell and cross-sell emails, to send emails based upon trigger events such as visiting your pricing page and certain blog pages.

A good practice is to use personalised mail tokens to include your customers name, and if you’re looking for a good cadence, try starting with every other week, however, giving people the option to choose their frequency is always a good strategy.


Automated surveys

Using automated surveys is another excellent retail and eCommerce conversion funnel for up-selling and cross-selling on your website. After a customer has made a purchase on your site, it is imperative that you send an automated survey as a follow-up. You can choose any scoring system that you are comfortable with to quantify your customers’ satisfaction, and if you are purely online based consider substituting a survey for a customer review on an appropriate review platform such as Stamped.

Apart from sending this survey after every purchase, if your service is subscription based or recurs on a regular cadence you can also send it every few months. These regular ‘check-ins’ with your customer will help you gain valuable feedback to improve your business model and help you serve and then satisfy your customers.

After analysing your feedback from the surveys, you can target your satisfied customers with product or service up-sells and cross-sells. While your customer service team can also focus on addressing the concerns of your unsatisfied customers.

I know I’m preaching to the converted when I talk about the importance of addressing any customer service issues as quickly as possible. However, what a lot of business owners miss, is after exceeding expectations with a thoughtful and immediate response to your customer service ticket you actually create a new sales opportunity.

Consider capitalising on the ‘halo of good faith’ you’ve just created for your company by re-targeting these new brand ambassadors with your up-sell/cross-sell offers.


Using web behaviours – smart content

Another smart way of driving your product up-sells and cross-sells is by customising the user experience on your site and in emails using smart content.

If customers feel like your online presence is tailor-made for them, it endears them to your website and makes them more receptive to your offers. Having this customised user experience means they don’t have to sift through irrelevant content and can find, or get delivered super relevant and interesting info. You can do this by using historical data on their product purchases and service preferences to know the type of content they are most interested in.

A customer that often purchases kitchen items from your store would be interested in content related to the kitchen, and this in fairness is what most businesses do. You take it one stage further when you trigger emails containing bedroom furniture when that same user reads a page on great bedroom layouts and then starts browsing the bedroom section on your website.

In the example above, your bedroom related content would appear well timed, relevant and useful to the context of your customers life concerns. The advantage of monitoring web behaviours and using it for customised user experience cannot be overemphasised.


Final thoughts…

Up-selling and cross-selling are long-term retail strategies that have made their way into eCommerce (in fact, almost every industry) and have come to stay, and business owners who are more recently to waking up to the importance of maximising their digital space are starting to realise that they can’t be ignored.

The trick that some of the bigger businesses are not sharing with you.

Automation is a much newer marketing strategy that many retailers and eCommerce business owners are adopting because of its efficiency, lower staffing overheads and ability to be leveraged at scale. Making your automation uniquely customised for your audience at scale is vital for a successful and more efficient up-selling and cross-selling process.

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