Congratulations! You closed a sale! Brush off your shoulders -- your work here is done.
Whoa, whoa ... not so fast. Who’s to say that customer’s sales cycle is over? There are always opportunities for upselling, cross-selling, and repeat sales! In fact, it’s to your benefit that you nurture the customers you already have. According to Bain and Company, repeat customers spend an average of 67% more than new customers, and are 6-12 times cheaper to sell to. Talk about a good investment!
So, what do you do to nurture those customers (or shall we call them leads?) so they can generate even more revenue for your business? Well, one tool you have in your arsenal is your email marketing program. I mean, they already trust you and recognize your name in their inbox -- if you’ve got a captive segment of your contacts database, you might as well work it. So whether it’s been a few seconds, weeks, or months since the deal was closed, this post will explain how to use email marketing to re-engage your current customers and achieve greater account penetration for minimal cost.
1) Leverage Your Thank You/Confirmation Email
After a customer makes a purchase, they have a choice -- one that you can play a part in with savvy email marketing. They can either move on from your brand because they’ve got what they wanted from you, or they can consider ways to stay engaged with your brand that could lead to future purchases. And considering that “Welcome” and “Order Confirmation” emails are some of the emails with the highest open rates, you have a unique opportunity to convince customers to stay tuned to see what else you have to offer. And, you know, see what else they might buy from you.
So in addition to the order details and email opt-in confirmation, include a clear call-to-action in these emails to encourage customers to stay engaged with your company in ways other than via email. It could be an exclusive offer to an industry-specific ebook, an promotion of your social media profiles to help expand your reach, or a recommendation for a complementary product or service your customer might like. The better targeted your content, the better chance that customer sticks around.
Whatever you choose, keep in mind that welcome and confirmation emails should thank the customer for their opt-in or purchase and offer additional ways to add value, not push for a hard sale.
2) Send a Product/Service Feedback Email
You’ve made the sale with the customer, but how is their purchase treating them? If you’ve mucked up along the way -- either with poor service or a sub-par product -- you can’t exactly expect customers to purchase again from you in the future. Leverage the power of email to make your post-purchase check-ins more scalable, and your marketing infinitely move lovable.
But beware! Timing is important here. Check in too early, and customers might not have even used your product yet; or in a service-based business, they might not know enough about the experience of working with you to offer meaningful feedback. Check in too late, however, and your product isn’t on their mind anymore. So if you’re looking for feedback on something like a digital download, give your leads a couple days to read it. If you’re looking for feedback on a physical product, extend that timeframe a bit to adjust for shipping time and, if applicable, assembly. And if you’re in a service-based business, you should set several benchmarks across a customer’s time spend with your organization.
For happy customers, emails of this nature will not only reaffirm their confidence in a business that’s treated them well, it will make them feel like valued customers who have a stake in the future of your company. You know, the future that would make them happy … and make them more likely to purchase more from you. Talk about hearing it straight from the source.
3) Recommend Educational Materials
You’ve already made the sale, so why email existing customers that free ebook you just released? If you’re not asking for another sale, why bother?
Consider this: Educational content turns neutral customers into fans. If you have customers on the fence about your company, emailing them helpful, educational materials can sway them in the right direction. It may even tell them the things they didn’t know they didn’t know – in other words, introduce new problems (and their solutions … that you offer) to your customers that present upsell opportunities. So when, ohhh I don’t know, a tax accountant gets his check in the mail after tax season, it certainly behooves him to send an ebook about creative tax deductions to his customers to get them back for the next tax season. And it would be even more spectacular if he wrote ebooks targeted to each segment of his business – perhaps one about the most common deductions enterprise organizations miss, another about the most common deductions single people miss, and another for the most common tax deductions families miss.
The bottom line is when you make your customers successful, you’ll be successful too.
4) Get Active About Upselling and Cross-Selling
Think of upselling and cross-selling in terms of the snack counter at the movies. When the teen behind the counter asks to upgrade a medium popcorn to a giant refillable tub, that’s up-selling. If he asks to add some refreshing fountain soda to wash it down, that’s cross-selling.
Selling existing customers on add-on or complementary products and services pays off. Take Amazon.com, famous for their personalized recommendation engine, as an example. They increased sales by 30% using upselling and cross-selling techniques! If you take a look at their product pages, you’ll notice each one features “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and “Frequently Bought Together.” That’s upselling and cross-selling -- with the help of dynamic content like HubSpot’s latest and greatest feature launch, Smart Content -- in action! But how do you incorporate email into the equation?
Tailor emails with product and service offerings that match buyers’ needs based on their past behavior. Their demonstrated behavior is typically based off lead intelligence; you know, that stuff you collect in your form fields. It can also include things like their purchase history, the topics of the content they download, their persona, even their customer satisfaction score. Knowing all of this information can help you paint a picture of who your customer is, how they feel about your brand, and what they love the most (and need the most) from you – and you can deliver it all in your lead nurturing campaigns!
5) Use Customer Buying Frequency to Anticipate Reconversions
Another important aspect to monitor is when customers are buying your products. Do some customers place orders at the beginning every quarter? Over the summer? The weekend? Every other month? Look for trends in timing to send email recommendations that anticipate customers’ needs in advance. If you have a customer that makes an order at the end of every quarter, why not add a sale where he receives X% off for every new customer he recommends? He gets a better deal, you get new leads and the company receives positive word of mouth.
Or perhaps you have a segment of customers that love you, but need a friendly reminder in order to actually put their order through. Proactively reach out to them with a reminder email that their weekly, monthly, yearly, whatever order is coming up so you don’t miss out on revenue because of a customer that just plain forgot to order.
6) Send Exclusive Deals to Current Customers
People who have already purchased from you should be rewarded -- well, if you want to encourage future purchases, they should! Time to roll out the red carpet …
The number three reason people subscribe to email is for exclusivity; they want the good stuff that no one else has access to. Use email marketing to offer something that will make customers feel special -- specifically because they’re your customer already! This could include deals and coupons for additional purchases, but consider getting a bit more creative to give them that warm and fuzzy feeling to turn them into a loyal, lifelong customer. Here are a few ideas for exclusive email content:
Special content before it’s released to your website’s wider audience
The first look at a new product or service before anyone else gets a chance – you can ask them for their feedback, too!
A behind-the-scenes peek at an event or conference
A consulting opportunity with a company big-shot
It’s always nice to get deals and pay a smaller portion of full price for an item, but that shouldn’t be the only emails customers get. Mixing deals with more feel-good content can help you generate more revenue by creating lifelong, loyal customers that come back to you because they love you. Not because they can save a couple bucks.
7) Use Group Deals or Referral Programs to Bring in New Leads
There are plenty of ways to use current customers to bring in new traffic, leads, and customers. Adding a “Share This” button to emails, giving discounts to customers who recommend you, or even just asking for referrals directly are all tried and true methods of generating new customers. One tactic many marketers are using -- though the success depends on your industry -- is group buying deals.
Think of the advantages for your current customers to buy in groups. You could sweeten the pot with a reduced price or special offer to current customers who bring in new leads. These are great for brands that are selling products or experiences, but can also be applied to service-based businesses if you get creative. Just think, a company like HubSpot could offer group buying discounts for our software by emailing all of our resellers, and offering them a group discount for all their current customers!
You can also encourage your current customers to refer new people to your business by rewarding them for their efforts. I’m sure many of your marketing emails contain social sharing and forward links already, but consider a dedicated send just for referrals. You might ask customers on your list to refer a friend, and receive $X off their next purchase when that referral completes their first purchase, for example. Or perhaps you could even aim to get high quality leads from your current customers, encouraging them to forward the offer for a free consultation to a friend or colleague that needs the help. Getting happy customers to speak on behalf of you is a fantastic way to generate new high quality leads that will convert into customers at a much higher rate.
What does your company do to keep in touch with customers via email marketing? Share your recommendations in the comments.
Originally published Sep 11, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated June 11 2021