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4 Ways to Use Your Online Customer Community to Increase Upsell and Cross-Sell Revenue

Written by Julie Dietz on July 11, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Here are four tips for using your online customer community to increase revenue from upsells and cross-sells.

Eighty percent of your future revenue will come from only 20 percent of your current customers. That highlights just how important your existing customers are to growing your business. Understanding what makes them tick and how to keep them engaged and purchasing is key to long-term success. 

That’s not a static task. You have to actively work with your team to upsell and cross-sell your current customers in positive ways that grow your relationship, not annoy your customers with irrelevant sales emails.

Leveraging the data and tools in your online community can help you tailor messages and pitches to address your customer’s needs to increase upsells and cross-sells in ways that contribute to customer success and happiness. Here are four ways you can use your customer community to gather data and craft helpful messages that convince your customers to keep buying.

1. Proactively Identify Sales Opportunities with Online Activity Data

You already have demographic and transactional customer data in your CRM, but how much do you really know about your customers’ behavior and preferences? Online communities collect an additional set of data called online activity data. Activity data—also known as behavioral data—shows you what customers are doing online, including the content they’re interacting with, so you can learn what they’re interested in.

Tapping into activity data can help you identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities by telling you when customers express an interest in a product. For example, a customer may ask a question about a product in your community discussion forums or visit product documentation in your file library. You now know that your customer is researching the product and may be interested in purchasing it.

Your sales or account management team should proactively reach out to these customers. They can answer questions, help customers make a final decision, or recommend other products or services that may better solve their problem. Keep the conversation helpful and empathetic to improve your chances of making a sale.

2. Send Targeted, Automated Upsell Emails

Email, even sales and marketing email, isn’t dead. Yes Lifecycle Marketing found that more than three quarters of all generations, from baby boomers to millennials and even centennials (the generation following millennials) made one or more purchases because of a marketing email in the past three months. That makes email a powerful upsell tool, especially when paired with online activity data and automation in your customer community.

Start by using your community’s data to find customers who are good upsell opportunities using the same process discussed above. Then, leverage automation workflows to send those customers personalized offers complete with a link for purchasing additional products. Make your emails as targeted as possible. The more closely your product suggestions fit customer needs, the more likely it is that you will make a sale.

3. Create a Customer-Facing Advocacy Program

While customer advocacy is better known for bringing in new customers, it can also be used to upsell current customers. Build your advocacy program with that in mind, providing rewards to advocates not only for referring new customers, but also for current customer interactions.

Encourage your advocates to interact with their peers in your online community by discussing their favorite products and services, how they’re using them, and the problems they’re solving. This content has the potential to reach everyone in your community, spreading awareness about your offers and making it more likely that customers will act on one.

Customer advocates can also make more direct recommendations. For instance, if a customer writes about their frustration or details a problem they’re trying to solve in a discussion forum, then your advocates can respond. Encourage them to share similar problems they’ve had and suggest a product that would resolve the issue. These suggestions are often more powerful than marketing and sales messages from your business because people typically trust their peers more than companies.

4. Announce and Promote New Products or Updates

Announce updates on new and improved products in your online community, explaining the benefits they offer and how they’ll make a difference for your customers. Announcements will help build excitement and educate customers about your full product selection. After all, customers can’t purchase what they don’t know about. Announcements about updates can also help improve your relationship with customers by demonstrating your continued commitment to producing quality products.

Expert Tip: Make announcements in your online customer community before releasing them to the public. When your customers get the information first, along with an opportunity to get new products before their peers, you create exclusivity. Your customers feel valued by being kept in the loop and getting purchasing opportunities before others in their field. They have access to the latest and greatest, while others must wait for access.

Prioritize Selling to Your Current Customers

Selling to your existing customers is just as important as converting prospects, if not more so. Make generating upsell and cross-sell revenue a priority, empowering your sales team and account managers to reach out when customers may be ready to make an additional purchase. The additional revenue you bring in will not only help you grow your business, but will also build stronger customer relationships as you solve more and more of their problems.

Original research explains the impact online communities have on businesses.

Topics: Customer Communities, B2B Communities, Customer Advocacy, Online Community

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