upselling and cross selling

The Art of Upselling and Cross-selling to Your Customers Using Marketing Automation

The concepts of upselling and cross selling have been around for a long time. From traditional businesses like hotels & restuarants to new age enterprises like eCommerce; almost everyone uses them to increase their bottom line. However, most sales personnel are usually apprehensive of upselling. They get nervous while pitching extra services or add-ons to their customers since that might put them off. Afterall, nobody likes the feeling of being sold to right? However, when done right, upselling doesn’t feel like a sales experience. Rather than scaring the customers away, it actually brings them closer to the brand. That’s exactly what we’re going to explain in this article. We’re going to discuss how marketing automation adds a whole new dimension to upselling and cross selling strategies.

Before we begin

For the uninitiated, upselling refers to techniques used by a seller to persuade customers to purchase similar but more expensive items, upgrades or other add-ons to make a more profitable sale. Whereas cross selling is the practice of selling an additional product or service (which is often complementary to the first product) to an existing customer. The two practices can affect both your top-line sales and bottom-line revenues all the while ensuring that the customers are still served with a great experience.

Now to the question: How important is upselling and cross selling for a business?

Studies have repeatedly proven that, after a point, upselling and cross-selling can be more fruitful than finding new prospects and customers. Just sample these incredible stats:

  • According to a Gartner report, on an average, 80% of a company’s future profits come from 20% of their existing customers.

  • Only 10% of B2B companies’ revenue comes from initial sales. 90% of the revenue actually comes from upsells and cross sells after. (Source)

upselling cross selling

How Marketing Automation can help

One of the prevalent misconceptions regarding upselling and cross selling is that they fall under the kitty of sales teams and marketing doesn’t have much to do with them. But marketing (especially automation) actually plays a vital role in enabling the sales team in this regard. Here’s how:

Personalized recommendations

Most B2C companies today rely on the power of personalized recommendations on their website to drive extra sales and revenue. eCommerce websites in particular can make a killing by showing personalized recommendations to their customers based on the product that they’re looking to purchase or based on their past browsing history. Amazon has one of the best recommendation strategies out there. Browse any product on their website and you’ll see sections called ‘Frequently bought together’ and ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’; that list down other related items that can be purchased along with the product.

Amazon product recommendation

recommendations by amazon

We in fact did a detailed article on the same topic. You should check it out: How to Ace Product Recommendation like Amazon

Transactional emails

One of the simpler uses of marketing automation is the triggering of transactional emails. Any email that is triggered by a user’s interaction with a website/app is called a transactional email.


– The welcome email that you get whenever you create an account in a website

– Order confirmation email that you get after purchasing a product from an eCommerce website

Apart from relaying important information to the customers, transactional emails can also be used to upsell other products or services. Check out this order confirmation email by online shop Huckberry:

Huckberry transactional email

It not only conveys an important information (i.e., confirmation of the order for the mugs), but also showcases other products that can be purchased from their online shop.

Use purchase information to cross sell

The purchase information of a user gives businesses a great opportunity to cross sell auxiliary services or products. Travel booking brands utilize this the best by offering other relevant services like airport transfers, hotel bookings, etc.

redbus cross selling

I got the above email by redBus, a popular bus booking website, a few hours after I booked my travel to the town of Kathgodam near Nainital, a popular hill station in India. You can notice that the email gives me an option to book hotels for my stay in Kathgodam. This is a perfect example for cross selling of services based on your purchase.

Leverage lead nurturing and customer onboarding

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with customers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the customer journey. It involves customized communications that are sent to the customers based on their activities and behaviors. Lead nurturing processes are usually aimed at customer retention but can also be used to upsell or cross sell services.

For example: A software product company provides self-help tools for SEO optimization. The company also offers personal one to one counseling sessions (which come at a nominal cost) to its users who are unable to optimally utilize the different features of the tools. It tracks user behaviors constantly and uses that data in its marketing automation campaigns. If a customer is found to be using the features intermittently, an automatic email is sent showcasing the personal counseling service.

A great read: The Art of Customer Onboarding using Email Nurturing

What is your upselling and cross selling story?

Have you tried incorporating upselling and cross selling strategies into your automation campaigns? If you have, how has the experience been? Let us know in the comments below. If you haven’t tried it yet and want to know how your business can leverage automation to upsell products and services, you can reach out to our customer success team here.


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