How to Upsell Your Customers Using Data

As the New Year starts to take shape, we’ll be asked to reflect on the prior year and make resolutions for this one. In our personal lives as well as our professional lives, it’s important to think about what went well in 2015 and what we want to improve in 2016.

2015 was the year of analytics, marketing automation and first-party data. It was also the year of new media where brands and retailers tried new and innovative ways to engage their prospective customers. With all this focus (and money) on acquisition, it’s now time to figure out what to do with all those customers.

Some will inevitably churn as they came in through hefty promotions. Others will make a few purchases and stray elsewhere. But a select few will become loyal, passionate advocates of the brand. It’s time to plan for those and be a little bit more specific in the approach. It’s vital to engage these customers across channel, but it’s equally vital to make sure that they’re making incremental purchases and improving the bottom line.

Here’s a few ways to make it possible.

Reference Most Popular Items

Loyal customers want to be in the know. Whether you sell shoes, funny hats or a gym membership, your most valuable customers expect you take special care of them. This doesn’t mean offering constant promotions or making a phone call. It means informing them about what they might have missed. Sending emails, text messages or push notifications are all ways to communicate the most popular items of the last year.

And the customers will appreciate it.

It’s analogous to walking into your favorite store and having the clerk tell you about what people are purchasing. Or entering a restaurant and asking about the most popular item on the menu. People are naturally inquisitive and more so about what their peers are doing. Brands, retailers, and nonprofits can benefit by recognizing this phenomenon.

Focus on First Time and Repeat Purchasers

Not all customers are created equal.

Some are better than others. And repeat purchasers are the best.

For 2015, try and go through a segmentation exercise where you identify a set of all users that converted for the first time in 2015 and made a repeat purchase. These are net new customers that did not exist before. They not only made one transaction but repeated. These are people who had a positive experience in 2015 and are prime upsell opportunities.

To create this list, try reaching out to your CRM team or merchandising teams as they should have the most complete access to data. Once they provide the list, import it into your cross-channel tool of choice and began crafting a campaign. It may contain messaging such as “For being such a valuable customer, here’s a first-look at some upcoming changes.”

Moving from ‘add to cart’ to actually purchasing

‘Add to cart.’

It’s so easy. The button is to prominently displayed on any site that encourages a user to complete a transaction. We all click it and seriously consider making the purchase.

But, we have second thoughts.

Reservations that prevent us from making the leap and purchasing the $400 pair of sneakers featured in GQ (those are the ones I want). For a creative exercise, try and identify the item(s) that were the most often added to cart, but not purchased.

This strong signal of intent might demonstrate that people really want this particular item, but had doubts somewhere in the process. In other words, this item is ripe for re-marketing. Not necessarily immediately, but through some other form of communication. Subtly communicating that there are a set of items that are desired,but not attained, is another way to tug at the emotions of your loyal base.


There’s more data than ever before and we’re all struggling to get value.

Taking a step back, thinking about data strategies, executing and measuring is the only way to move forward. Data and analytics are not abstract concepts resigned to a specific part of an organization. They’re part of every decision that needs to be made.

Narrowing in and identifying one specific use case — and in this case upsells — is a great way to get started for 2016.