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Jun 3, 2021

Cross-Sell and Upsell Done Right: Why the Right CDP is Essential

Marketers involved in cross-sell or upsell activities have the proverbial ear to the ground, continuously monitoring customer behaviors to stay in sync with customer journeys. One common customer journey – a cross-sell or upsell campaign – may be triggered by a marketer or by customers themselves depending on a behavior, an activity, a signal, or a collection of signals.

A customer data platform (CDP) is instrumental to ensure that the right offer, content, or message is delivered at the opportune time and on the opportune channel for either scenario – a marketing-triggered campaign or customer-triggered journey.

Signals and Segments

While the two scenarios start quite differently from one another, the objective is ultimately the same: to retain an existing customer with a well-timed offer that feels unforced – a natural extension of an existing relationship with the brand. In the marketing-triggered campaign, a signal or collection of signals serve as the basis for an action taken by marketing. Typically, initiation will involve a broad cross-section of customers for whom the action is likely to generate the intended response. A time signal is a basic example. Because these 10,000 customers bought running shoes in June, one year later we might build a campaign on an email reminder that it is time to replace them – oh, and here’s a newer model that offers better performance.

A set of signals may entail mining social media or call center interactions for either positive or negative feedback that will then trigger an appropriate response. Active promoters, for instance, may be chosen to receive a digital advertisement for a new product. Depending on the marketer’s underlying goals, which can be customer-related, product-related or brand-related, the objective is to create and activate the appropriate customer segments to be the target of a specific marketing-driven campaign.

Account for Dynamic Customer Journeys

When listening for signals from customer data, it is important to recognize that customer journeys are not static. The right CDP helps ensure that the campaign (offer, content, channel, timing) can change dynamically when new signals emerge. Perhaps an email is sent to the 10,000 customers due for a new pair of running shoes, but soon after the email is sent some of the customers purchase a new pair online. A dynamic capability such as open-time email personalization allows a change to email content up to the moment it’s opened. An email with a discount offer for a new pair of running shoes can be changed to a thank you message, or an offer for running attire.

There are countless examples where an initial decision – send an email to this group – may be replaced with a new action. Using all the signals across channels, including understanding exact customer intent, is critical to choosing the right message. A classic example is marketing baby products to all customers who purchase a baby gate, when a customer may have bought the gate to keep a puppy at bay. In this instance and those like it, marketers either choose to ignore – or not look for – conflicting signals that may have revealed the true purpose.

Flexibility results from marketers understanding the entire trajectory of what’s happening – having a complete collection of signals and the ability to analyze precisely what those signals say about a customer. If a marketer, for instance, knew that the baby gate purchase was made by a household consisting of retirees with grown children, that might have led to a different action.

A dynamic marketing-driven campaign must be able to start with choosing which customer segment or segments will be the target while still adapting to the dynamic nature of a customer journey.

A Customer-Driven Journey

Conversely, a customer-driven journey starts with recognizing an action, behavior or signal from a specific customer, determining what the action or behavior says about the customer’s intent, and deciding what actions will guide the customer journey to its desired conclusion. Analyzing customer signals will inform a marketer of important details of the journey. A negative review on a social media site versus a customer indicating intent to purchase would result in very different courses of action to guide the customer journey.

An abandoned shopping cart is a good example of a customer-driven journey. Because there are many reasons for an abandoned shopping cart, the act of abandonment will (or should) never have a hard-fast rule in place to steer everyone who has abandoned a cart down the same path.

Rather, the unique nature of the action makes it important to understand the specific customer’s rationale in order to respond with the appropriate action. A complete, accurate, and up-to-date set of information about the customer is essential to executing a next-best action that is hyper-relevant to the customer’s situation, and one that is in the context of the journey itself.

As with a marketing-driven campaign, a deep understanding of the entire trajectory of a customer journey is essential to delighting a customer with the right offer at the right time and on the right channel.

Overcoming Cross-Sell Challenges

There are typically three key reasons why many organizations fail to convert cross-sell and upsell opportunities. One is siloed data. If a cross-sell opportunity presents itself but requires a real-time response measured in milliseconds, having process or channel data siloes makes it all but impossible to present a customer with a next-best action that is relevant at the moment of interaction. Siloes include not just disparate data from touchpoints usually associated with marketing – such as a CRM system, an email campaign, a website, etc. – but also sources that are outside the usual realm of marketing touchpoints such as product registrations, point of sale information, service department surveys, call center notes and the like.

Combined, these sources tell a story about a customer journey. They are a rich set of signals, and for a marketer to understand the detailed nuances of each journey there must be a seamless integration of all data sources, and integration must be in real time.

The second challenge organizations have with converting cross-sell and upsell opportunities is identity resolution. Bringing together dozens of customer data sources is a start, but creating an accurate, up-to-date identity graph from often conflicting data – different names, addresses, devices, etc. – is essential to make sure the right offer is going to the right customer. Decisions must be made about what data to keep, how to prioritize it when to make a match, how to relate an individual to a household, and other important considerations. Marketers must also make or update calculations for each identity on metrics such as lifetime value, churn propensity and other factors that may influence the type of cross-sell or upsell offer presented.

Assuming organizations solve for the first two challenges, the third and final challenge is real-time orchestration in digital channels, which entails a marketer making sure that they understand not who the customer was yesterday, but right this very second. Real-time intelligent orchestration provides a contextual understanding at the precise moment of interaction, an important capability to determine, for instance, which cohort a customer belongs to for a marketer-driven campaign or, for a customer-driven campaign, important data points as to how to follow the customer through the journey to know when, where and how to change course.

Customers react differently when they feel a brand understands them and meets their needs. A CDP that integrates data from every possible source in real time, applies advanced identity resolution capabilities and intelligently orchestrates real-time decisions at scale can help a brand offer a value exchange to the customer: Attention, data, and loyalty are exchanged for relevant and delightful interactions. Presenting the wrong cross-sell or upsell offer – or letting the opportunity pass by altogether – is a marketing journey with significant downstream revenue implications.

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Steve Zisk 2022 Scaled

Steve Zisk

Product Marketing Principal Redpoint Global

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