The Art and Science of the Upsell through Behavioral Targeting
Published: April 27, 2015
Author: Zach Feinberg
Ecommerce has been gaining momentum, with the experience of virtual consumerism now emerging as the standard for people who have come of shopping age in the digital era. But as competition among online retailers continues to rise, more businesses are being forced to change the way they look at their sales processes.
In an environment where we are constantly connected to the internet and – even when we are offline – bombarded by thousands of marketing messages every day, loyalty has become harder than ever to come by, especially when merchants’ eager competitors are just a few smartphone gestures away. For the ecommerce companies of today to retain and expand on our customer bases, our organizations need to constantly demonstrate that we’re the most attentive, innovative, frictionless and most helpful options around.
Many of the world’s top consumer-facing tech companies (Google, Facebook and Amazon, to name a few) have switched their focus from customer acquisition to a mix of customer retention and boosting the lifetime business value of each customer. It’s simpler to profit more from people we’ve already successfully attracted to our product pages than it is to attract new ones. Being a successful company in the age of consumer empowerment, then, means mastering the art of the upsell.
Ecommerce upselling as a real-time marketing tactic is easier said than done, though. Customers are always looking to spend as little as possible – especially when it comes to online shopping environments, where it’s so easy to compare and jump from store to store.
But that doesn’t mean people won’t pay more for higher value. Often, more expensive products are higher quality, do their jobs better and last longer, so helping your prospects to find the sweet spot between the cheapest option and the best option can go a long way. If you can help a customer to avoid spending more tomorrow by finding the best value today, it doesn’t matter if the product you recommend costs a few dollars more than the one they were considering – it’s a win-win. To upsell successfully, then, you need to provide people with the right information at the right moment, and in a manner that’s always helpful.
How Data Enables Pitch Personalization
The best upsell pitches are those that take into account what the customer is looking for, and this requires sophisticated data collection and algorithms to identify the opportunities with the most relevance. With the democratization and widespread adoption of big data-powered systems over the past two years, though, today’s ecommerce intelligence tools are within reach for businesses of every size. The highly affordable Fanplayr platform, for example, enables intelligent and helpful real-time onsite engagement that upsells in a way that adds value.
But no matter what upsell intelligence tool suits your ecommerce business best, effectiveness hinges on tracking the right data. Whether you’re segmenting visitors into audience lists for later follow up or dabbling with triggered messaging for real-time visitor engagement, it all starts with tracking your website visitors’ browsing patterns. Data collection puts merchants in the best possible position to close more sales and provide a superior shopping and service experience, simply because the more you know about what interests people, the better you can serve them.
With a well-crafted, data-informed upsell, companies can help customers to avoid hassles down the line. In theory, anyway, merchants are the experts in our niches – not the consumer – so often times a site visitor simply isn’t aware that you have a product that would better suit their needs unless you offer it. And only by tracking their browsing patterns can you gain a sense of what they’re looking for in terms of features and specifications.
If you track people over time, you can gain a sense of how they like to shop, what types of information catches their eye and what they already own. Many online merchants have dramatically reduced return rates by adding virtual fitting room experiences to their websites, experiences that also enable the merchants to collect valuable data about shoppers.
Selling as a Service
According to a NewVoiceMedia study, US brands are losing approximately $41 billion each year from poor customer service. Consumers want to feel like they are doing business with a company that understands them and interacts with them, and they will look elsewhere if those needs are not met.
Upselling is only successful when it’s a win-win. If prospects feel like they’re being pressured into purchasing something they have no use for, or like they’re being trapped with a “bait and hook” scam, you’ll lose the sale – and your credibility. Especially when it comes to ecommerce, people are extremely wary of fraudulent or even just unhelpful business practices. Trust is extremely volatile online, and it’s the element that can make or break a transaction.
With the right behavior targeting solutions in place, merchants can master the upsell, effectively boosting purchase volume, lifetime customer value metrics, and satisfaction rates at once.