Small Business Spotlight: Three Ways Marketing Can Influence Upselling and Cross-selling

By Jenna Hanington


According to a recent eConsultancy report, 82% of companies agree that customer retention is cheaper to execute than acquisition — and yet, customer retention is not the top priority for a majority of B2B marketers.

Maximizing the value of your existing database can be one of the most cost-effective methods to bring in new revenue and grow your business; This means that your marketing plan should focus not only on generating new customers, but also maximizing the lifetime value of the customers you already have.

While marketing can influence customer retention and churn rates, these are often the domain of your customer service team. The real marketing hat-trick? Upselling and cross-selling into existing accounts, which presents a huge opportunity to secure additional revenue post-sale. This is an area where your marketing team can really shine.

Let’s take a look at how marketing can influence cross-selling, upselling, and retention at your organization through content creation, targeted email marketing, and retargeting.

Conveying Value through Content

Content marketing isn’t just about bringing in prospects and educating them through the sales cycle. It’s also about providing value to the people who have already bought into your initial sales pitch and signed on as customers.

If you want your customers to stay customers, you need to develop content that’s specific to their needs (remember, customer needs are different than prospects’ needs). This can be in the form of checklists, handbooks, helpful webinars, blog posts, user’s guides, and more. However, creating the content isn’t enough. Buyers want to work with companies that create a community around their brand. Be sure to actively target your customer-focused content via social media (for example, a LinkedIn group for current customers), your customer newsletter, email marketing programs, and even through your customer service team.

When it comes to influencing an upsell or a cross-sell, the content needs are a bit different (and so are the selling techniques). A cross-sell is typically positioned around a need that the client has that a complementary or additional product of yours can address. A case study can be a powerful motivator during the cross-selling process if it focuses on how other customers are using your products together to solve a similar pain point.

An upsell, on the other hand, is positioned around value. Typically, the customer doesn’t need the higher-end product, but they may see value in its enhanced feature set. Think of a car sale: you may not need the leather seats that come in the high-end model car, but the car salesman is sure as heck going to try to sell you on them. Case studies can also be powerful tools for upsells, but they should focus more on the value of the upsell than anything else.

Distributing Content via Lead Nurturing

Traditional selling techniques like lead nurturing are also extremely valuable for upsells and cross-sells. With a marketing automation tool, you can create lead nurturing campaigns specifically designed to sell to your existing customers.

An upsell or cross-sell drip program provides existing clients with information and incentives to expand or enhance the list of products they are already using. Content may include case studies showcasing success, new feature alerts, and discounts and limited time offers. When a client engages with one of these emails, they can be assigned to a sales rep so that they’re promptly followed up with. This allows salespeople to maximize their existing clients’ product usage and lock in demo times with little effort up front.

Spreading Upsell Messaging through Retargeting

If you’re in the digital marketing industry, then chances are you’ve experimented with or been exposed to display advertising at some point in your career (if you’ve never been exposed to display advertising, then I’d like to know your secret!). With the increase in advertising vendors and technologies, it’s becoming easier and easier to target your ads to specific IP addresses, companies, and target audiences.

Take advantage of this targeting ability to promote your upsell or cross-sell messaging to your current customers. Consider targeting your ads to high-growth customers or particular upsell accounts, and include personalized selling messages and/or creative. This can help increase awareness of your different product offerings and the benefits of expanding product usage or upgrading to an improved solution.

While many companies focus on lead generation to build their customer bases, it’s the companies that are also maximizing their customer lifetime value and creating loyal brand evangelists who will ultimately see the most success.


If you’re looking for more ways to grow your customer base, take a look at our Five Ways to Power Growth with Marketing Automation e-book by clicking on the banner below.

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