How to Sell the Right Customers the Right Products Online

Posted by Martina Mercer 10 Feb 14

shutterstock_144229996Summary: Cross selling or upselling requires a lot less investment than business expansion yet it can boost profits just as well. Here we look at how to target the right customers at the right time.

Start-ups and small businesses may not believe there’s such a luxury as the “Right Customer” as any customer who pays for products or services is welcome. In the case of cross selling or upselling though the right customer exists, as the wrong customer could waste time, energy and money that could be spent in other areas.

Who is the Right Customer?

Good analytics, CRM and segmentation can help you understand your customer’s behaviour. It’s important to gather as much information as you can. Many automated tools can do this effectively giving you an overview of buyer behaviour, time spent on your website, products browsed and purchased and average spend at checkout.

It’s equally as important to segment customers into degrees of profitability. Do they browse but rarely checkout? Do they spend only when you have a special offer and never at any other time? Do they utilise a free service on your website but rarely pay for what you offer? These customers could cost money as they will take double or triple the effort to entice them to buy.

The right customer will be regular, even if this means once a month on payday. They may shop when you have a special offer but they won’t buy just the offer product, they’ll buy more. They will be tempted by ads on the homepage and will often buy more than they originally set out to. These loyal customers should be looked after as they’re a great source of profit.

When is the Right Time?

Timing is also crucial, with 60% of consumers being unresponsive to offers. Offline, if upselling is attempted while the customer is unresponsive it can actually damage consumer relations. Online you have the tools to see when they would be more likely to respond, such as at the end of the month or even the time of day.

Upselling through a website is also less intrusive and embarrassing for the consumer than over the phone or face to face. For example, a customer not interested in an offer will feel uncomfortable when asked to buy more. This feeling of unease may deter them from returning. Digital marketing makes offers optional with no embarrassment whatsoever if the customer says no. This also means it must be more focused though!

Where is the Right Place?

Once you understand your customers you can choose ways in which to sell to them. Amazon are a great benchmark to aspire to online. Their automated system for displaying related items based on the customer’s purchases is brilliant. They started like this but expanded, now when a customer signs in they see bespoke recommendations along with the items others have bought when making the same purchase.

Stopping here could be enough for some yet Amazon keep going the extra mile, rolling out email marketing based on browsing history, ReMarketing, retargeting and having time sensitive specials on the site.

Would your customers respond better to adverts on your homepage, at the checkout, special offers through email or even a leaflet through their door?

What is the Right Offer?

There are many ways to entice a customer to spend more online, for instance, showing a related discounted product at checkout (that takes a single click to add to the basket).

  • Upselling by offering more (such as free delivery) if they spend a little extra
  • Showing what others have purchased recently
  • Sending an email as they browse to give ten per cent off a product
  • Letting them know that an offer on a certain product is due to expire
  • Offering money off their next visit if they buy today
  • Adding a wish list so products can be stored until payday
  • Reminding of last viewed products
  • Showing products that have been bought together then adding a discount on the bundle


By viewing the browsing and purchasing history you can see which methods are the most effective. Simply offering free delivery can encourage a shopper to spend more as mentally they see the delivery charge as money they’ve saved and so they can spend it on something else. Alongside this free delivery for a limited time only can encourage some to bulk buy depending on the product and service, just so they avoid delivery charges the next time.

How to Sell the Right Way?

Many marketing efforts, such as email marketing may reach the customer, they may mention related products, they may even hit the inbox at the right time, but if they’re not compelling, or personal, it’s all a waste of time and money.

Consumers are beginning to expect some kind of personalisation as standard, especially from brands who view them as a loyal customer, anything less and it devalues the relationship between the consumer and the brand.

You can personalise efforts by choosing to upsell based on past purchase history alone, or you can combine all the information you have such as age, gender, location and income to make an offer more bespoke.

However personal the message is, make sure it’s written in an engaging way, a subject that entices a click, followed by strong clear calls to action should work well. Essentially, all the customer wants to know is what you’ll do for them.

Choosing the Right Channel

Multichannel retailing is no longer just for the High Street brands, with responsive web design and marketing tools any business can ensure their site is optimised for any device. Make sure when you roll out a special offer onsite that it can be seen clearly from a phone or a tablet too. If a customer is browsing from a phone and the image of the special offer is blurred, there’s very little chance the upsell will work.

How to Choose the Right Product

Choosing the right product is a crucial point in selling to the right customer. It’s important not to see any extra product as an upselling tool. If the product is of poor quality it could damage relations, while a completely irrelevant product could offend. The extra product or products you’re trying to sell must be great value for money so when your customer receives them through the post they don’t experience the shopping hangover where they realise they’ve spent too much.

Extra Education

Information about products must be available with a click. Whether that’s on the product page or through the FAQs, customers need to have instant access to the information they need. You can utilise this thirst for knowledge by educating on the product you’re selling, making the consumer aware of the benefits, ingredients or applications.

All of these tips work well on their own and many can be implemented straight away. If you ensure that they all work together in harmony, you’ll produce powerful marketing that’s personal, effective, increases sales and loyalty too.

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