How to Make More Money From Existing Customers With Marketing Automation

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Corey Wainwright
Corey Wainwright



upsell customers marketing automation 

Many businesses focus on bringing in more and more new customers; but the fact is, most of us aren't in a one-and-done situation. Nope! We've got more products that might strike your fancy, additional services that would make you squeal, and who knows what we'll roll out in the future!

Why, then, are current customers such an under-marketed to segment of our databases? One reason might be for lack of scalable marketing campaigns that can be run; luckily, marketing automation makes all of that way easier. You just need to have the right triggers -- and the right responses to those triggers -- set up to capitalize on prime revenue-generating opportunities. And today's your lucky day, because this blog post is going to give you seven of 'em.

Ready? Set? Let's make some (more) money.

Leverage Past Purchase Information

One of the simplest ways to use marketing automation to generate more revenue from existing customers -- especially for ecommerce companies -- is to reference their past purchases. Some businesses invest in sophisticated recommendation engines like you see on Amazon, while others simply set up manual triggers to get the job done. Whatever your approach, think of what your current customer might like to buy based on what they've already bought from you.

For example, if someone purchased a subscription to an online SEO service , perhaps they'd be interested in getting some one-on-one consulting that helps them use that service more effectively. We've all been there, after all -- companies buy their monthly subscription, have no time or inclination to figure out how to use it, and all that cash is wasted. Plus, it's likely that customer is going to cancel their subscription once they realize they've never actually made use of the service. So why not squash that problem up front by setting up an automatic offer for anyone purchasing that service that promotes the paid consulting service you know from experience many customers like to buy along with their subscription?

Utilizing past purchase information isn't limited to selling complementary products or services, either. You can also do some detective work, looking at what other similar customers have purchased in the past to identify buying patterns. For example, let's say you resell books, and you have a handful of customers who purchased a copy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein . Well, what have other customers who purchased Frankenstein in the past tended to purchase? Maybe you notice a pattern -- an overwhelming majority also buy The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe . It would behoove you, then, to set up an automation campaign in which you promote Poe's works, because you know customers of this type have a propensity to purchase Poe's writings!

Use Website Activity as a Trigger

Having clear insight into your customers' behavior when they visit your website provides opportunity to run some pretty creative revenue-generating automation campaigns. You may be used to stalking what your leads do when they visit your website, but remember, current customers have the potential to exist in two states -- customers, and leads! Let's take this customer as an example: they visited a pricing page and even downloaded a pricing guide!

marketing automation behavior trigger

Alright, what do we do? Well, what is someone visiting a pricing page and downloading pricing information typically a sign of? Just like any other lead -- whether they're a current customer or not -- it's a sign of someone who is interested in your company's solutions to their problem. So what do you do next? Why, you use this behavioral trigger to send them an automated email asking if you can interest them in a demo of your latest feature release, or perhaps a free consultation that would teach them how to implement that new feature into their marketing. This is a simple, scalable way to use software to nurture customers that raise their hand and indicate interest in buying even more from your company.

Save Unhappy Customers Before It's Too Late

Many companies have a strong sales culture backed by a powerful marketing machine -- but they're letting revenue slip through their fingers because they're slacking on the services side. In other words, they can generate a ton of leads and convert them into new customers, but they aren't so good at keeping them. Companies facing this problem are losing revenue both in opportunities to upsell and increase the lifetime value of the customer (because customers are displeased with the product or service they've received and are thus unlikely to buy more), and in the investment in sales and marketing costs to acquire the customer.

But what are we expected to do, call every single customer and give them some TLC? That's not a scalable solution. Just like we don't expect you to cold call every eligible lead in your database to see if they're interested in buying your product or service, you don't have to give every single customer one-on-one attention. What you can do, though, is use triggers to identify who does need a little extra TLC, and use automation to contact and nurture them.

For example, many companies have a scoring system to denote how happy (or unhappy) a customer is -- a common system is NPS, or net promoter score .


nps score calculation


Use your CRM to denote which customers are in the red -- if someone has a score of 6 or lower in their customer record, it should trigger a campaign that invites them to book some time with a senior member of your support staff; or heck, if you're a small business, maybe even with the owner or founder! You can position it as an opportunity to get feedback, and to diagnose the specific problems that customer is facing. This is when one-on-one time with support staff is a good investment ... so you don't lose the revenue you're generating from them as customers, the potential revenue you could generate from them in the future, and all of the investment you've put into acquiring them as a customer.

Turn Neutral Customers Into Power Customers

Piggybacking off of the last point, there are probably some customers who aren't actively unhappy with your company ... but they're not exactly singing your praises, either. Often, customers who are neutral about you feel that way because they just don't realize how awesome you are yet. Remember our SEO subscription example from the beginning of this post? Those who bought a subscription to that SEO service and didn't use it that much will probably fall into that neutral zone, but they could be made to absolutely love your company.

How can you use automation to turn those neutral customers into your biggest advocates? Make them successful. And how do you make them successful? Educate them !

Send automated emails to those who fall in that neutral zone with educational materials targeted to the problem they're trying to solve with your product or service. Let's continue with the SEO subscription example from point #1 to demonstrate this point. Perhaps a customer is using your online SEO service to track their keyword rankings, but they never spend time using another meaty feature of yours that lets them track how many inbound links they're receiving, and from which websites. That's kind of a huge miss -- only focusing on on-page SEO is going to yield pretty dismal results, after all. That's an opportunity for you to send a triggered email that reintroduces them to the importance of off-page SEO , and show how your link tool helps them be more successful with it.

Now your customer learns about a feature they may have never realized even existed, and how to be successful with it. Identifying opportunities like this is how you turn a 'meh' customer into a 'holy-cow-I-love-this-company' customer. And holy cow customers don't tend to leave your company. They tend to buy more from you ... over, and over, and over!

Make Power Customers Your Early Adopters and Referrers

We've covered how to use automation to make miserable customers happy again, and how to make customers who don't care one way or another about you actually give a hoot. But are there opportunities to use automation to generate revenue from current customers? You bet your buttons there are, and we've already touched on it a bit! You just need to use different triggers this time around.

Happy customers are the ones who are most likely to buy from you again, so you should certainly be sending them those upsell and cross-sell trigger emails we talked about earlier. But you can also rely on those happy customers to refer new business your way, especially as you release new products and services. Start by treating them like the special people they are -- when you've got a new product line coming out that aligns with their past purchase history, send them a preview to get in on the pre-sale. Or if you've got new add-on service they'd clearly be interested in, tell them they're part of the elite, beta group that gets to try it out first and provide feedback. Give them some red carpet pricing, or a little discount as a thank-you for their feedback. Then, take it to the next level and give them referral codes to send to friends, family, colleagues, whatever, to get the word out about your latest release.

Now not only have you hooked this power-user segment of your customer base, but you've also empowered them to get others in on the hoopla. And you've done it all with the lowest-risk segment of your customer base -- because they're already thrilled with you, you've positioned this as a request for feedback, and even if your newest release doesn't strike their fancy, they love you enough that your credibility won't take a nose dive. Best case scenario, you upsell your current customers and they refer new business your way; worst case scenario, you get some excellent feedback that helps you improve your product or service. Not too shabby for a few measly automated emails, eh?

Target Customers When They Have Extra Cash to Spend

Certain business types and industries have high seasons, and low seasons ... and their budgets typically follow a similar calendar. That means there are times of year that your customers have more cash than the average bear, and you probably want to be the place where they spend it. So take a look at your database -- what industries and business types are represented within your customer base (or hey, you can do this for your leads, too!) that could stand to receive an upsell campaign?

For example, you might want to segment out and develop an automation campaign triggered for companies looking to offload cash before the end of their fiscal year. Or perhaps you have some customers that represent school districts -- they're going to be looking to buy before the fall, and your automation campaigns should be triggered to coincide with that timeframe. This type of information can also be gleaned over time through communications between customers and your services, sales, and support staff. As you get to know your customers better, you'll learn details like this that, when equipped with a proper field set up in your CRM , can be added quickly and then pulled for future automation campaigns of this nature.

Don't Forget Your Channel Accounts

Many businesses have realized the power of channel accounts -- why do all the selling yourself when others can do the selling for you? Just like you should work to make your customers more successful with your product or service, you should use automation to make your channel accounts more successful at selling for you. Because the more successful they are, the more successful (read: more revenue) you are!

End of the month looming? Send an automated email with new coupons and incentives that may help them close some deals that are on the fence. Start of a brand new month? Emails should be prepped that provide the new marketing collateral they can use to help advance sales. New pieces of content being released? Your channel accounts should be getting emails immediately informing them of what these pieces of content are, and how they can help them in the sales process to close more deals. Keep your channel accounts just as in-the-know as your internal sales force, and you'll see them pull in more and more deals in your behalf, too.

What other opportunities are there to use marketing automation to generate more revenue from your existing customers?

Image credit: Hello Turkey Toe

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