How to Use Marketing Automation for Customer Retention and Upselling  

Consumers have many choices today; they’re more price-conscious and highly focused on customer service. They can move on to the next company if they’re unhappy with you and according to research, 61% said they would switch to a competitor after just one poor customer service experience. 

Conversely, a separate study revealed consumers with a positive customer experience said they were 81% more likely to make another purchase. 

Not only that, existing customers spend 31% more than new ones. They’re also more likely to try new products and services. Therefore, it makes sense to establish a solid retention approach and use upselling and cross-selling to improve profitability. 

So how can you keep your customers, upsell, and continue to drive business in doing all the other things, like acquisition and lead generation? 


Through marketing automation, you can: 

  • Track your customers’ purchase behavior and engagement so you can better target your marketing efforts.
  • Build tiered loyalty programs and send out special offers to reward your most loyal customers, including your top customers.
  • Collect and act on customer feedback to improve your products and services.
  • Create a better, more personal customer experience to tailor your interactions to their needs.

Here’s what you need to know about how to use marketing automation to retain customers and sell more of your products to them. 

Ways to Segment Customers 

With automation, you can segment customers based on their interests, demographics, and purchase history. Find out which customers are most to least engaged so you can create more relevant messages that apply to them, for example.  

Here are ways to get you started on segmenting:

  • Average order value
  • Initial purchase date
  • Types of products or services purchased
  • How long it’s been since they last bought something
  • The last time they engaged with an email 
  • Customers who were once active but then haven’t returned in 90 days

Once you create the segments that make sense with your campaign, use them to tailor specific offers to them. Send coupons after they make their first purchase, ask them to join a loyalty program or issue discount codes. 

Understand Customer Behavior Through Web Visits and Feedback

You can collect and act on customer behavior from your website and app visits with contact and lead scoring. Lead scoring means assigning a score (often 1 to 100) to determine how likely their leads will make a purchase. The higher the score, the more likely they’ll buy.

This kind of engagement data can be used to identify customers who are likely to make a purchase. 

But to truly understand your customers, you need to go beyond just tracking and monitoring data. Get direct feedback from customers. Direct feedback gives you insight into their pain points and shows you care. 

When brands don’t express that their customers come first, there’s a higher likelihood they’ll move on. One study revealed that 68% of customers churn from brands because they think the company doesn’t care.  

Discover what customers love about your business and what you could improve upon. You could use it to find out:

  • First-time customers aren’t returning
  • What they are dissatisfied with and why
  • Why loyal customers love your business

Another kind of feedback is reviews. It’s also a way for potential customers to see what kind of an impact your business has made.

Utilize automation to set this up so you can gather direct feedback from customers. You can set it up to collect it through lead scoring, for example, once customers reach a specific level of engagement, it will trigger a feedback questionnaire. 

How to Re-engage Dormant Customers

Lapsed customers are those who once interacted and made a purchase but have not returned since. They may have been customers who were dissatisfied with the price or service or simply decided to go elsewhere. 

This segment is worth re-engaging through marketing automation. You can easily track when your customers last purchased from you and use that information to create an email campaign with specific messaging for that segment. The goal is to get them interested in your products, features, or services based on their history.

You can also use engagement tracking to find out when this group last engaged with your content or visited your website. An example email campaign may look something like this: 

  • Send an email 90 days after a customer’s last interaction
  • Create a follow-up email 
  • Space the emails apart, and don’t bombard the customers with too many
  • Track engagement, such as click-through rate (CTR) and open rate
  • Use this opportunity to completely remove customers who are not engaged at all to keep from too many unsubscribes and spam reporting

How to Utilize Cross-sell and Upsell 

Repeat business through upsell and cross-sell are powerful ways to generate more revenue.

Cross-selling involves promoting additional products to customers after they’ve made a purchase. Upsell includes higher-priced products and services. 

You may associate upselling with turning customers off, but done well, can be a way to show customers their lives can be enhanced and problems minimized. Think of upselling as your way of helping them so tailor your messages by focusing on the value you’re providing. 

You can tailor your upsell strategy around things like: 

  • Marking milestones: Those customers who have been with you for a certain amount of time, like a year
  • Spending: Define a certain amount that customers spend
  • Time spent: Track how much time customers are spending in your app or on your website

You don’t have to limit upsell and cross-sell opportunities to just customers—re-engage prospects who have shown product interest data. 

Best Practices for Upselling

Upselling is a great way to increase customer retention and revenue, but here are a few rules to remember to be intentional and do it right:

Make sure your customers are happy. Ensure customers are happy before you hit them with an upsell. If they’re unhappy with your service, they won’t be interested in buying anything, period. 

Here are a few tips for identifying happy customers:

  • Use labels in your software to tag customers who are “fans”
  • Send out Net Promoter Score surveys for customers to fill out when they’re on your site or app

Focus on how the customer wins. Explain how your features, products, and services will help achieve their goals. 

For example, if you sell software that helps businesses manage customer relationships, you could upsell them on a service plan with additional features like customer support and training. 

Final Thoughts

Upselling is valuable for growing your business, but when you intend to make your customers happier by solving or addressing a pain point, they’ll be more likely to purchase and feel successful. 

Through marketing automation, you can achieve many of your upsell and cross-sell needs, such as tracking customer behavior and sending them personalized content. 

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