HomeBlog8 Ways to Cross-Sell/Upsell Customers with Search & Social Ads

8 Ways to Cross-Sell/Upsell Customers with Search & Social Ads

Author: Margot Whitney
Last Updated: November 14, 2023 | Marketing Ideas

Did you know that 32% of customers order again from the same company within their first year of being a customer?

It can be easy for marketers to forget about their previous customers while they’re putting all of their blood, sweat, and tears into generating new interest and getting more leads to enter the funnel. But sometimes the best opportunities are the ones you’ve already created.

Running efficient advertising campaigns to re-convert past customers is often the best use of your working hours. And while it might seem counter-intuitive to re-invest in the same individuals, running paid campaigns for cross-sell/upsell purposes can increase each customer’s lifetime value and average order value, increasing your revenue. That’s not time wasted!

how to cross sell and upsell customers

So, how can you leverage paid advertising to upsell and cross-sell past buyers? Luckily, platforms like Facebook, Google, and other search and social networks already understand the value of these types of campaigns, and therefore there are many tools at hand that can help you leverage past success.

Cross-Selling vs. Upselling

Before we get into the tips, let’s quickly define what cross-sell and upsell mean.

upselling versus cross-selling

Cross-selling occurs when you sell customers offerings that complement or supplement the purchases they’ve already made. For example, if you encourage a customer who just bought a new phone to get a protective case at the same time, that’s a cross-selling win.

Upselling occurs when you increase a customer’s value by encouraging them to add on services or purchase a more expensive model. For example, if someone comes into your furniture store looking for a bedside table and you sell them a whole bedroom set instead, that’s an upsell.

Businesses in every industry should be exploring upsell and cross-sell opportunities to increase customer lifetime value and foster repeat purchases, brand loyalty, and brand advocacy.

With that established, here are eight ways to cross-sell and up-sell your previous customers using paid search and social advertising.

1. Strategize on Messaging

Why did this person buy from you in the first place? What products did he or she purchase, and what does this say about them? What are their demographics, and what patterns do you typically observe from past buyers of a similar make-up?

Psychographics in marketing Twitter Analytics screenshot

Asking all of these critical questions, and spending time digging through and analyzing past buyer metrics will help you truly step into the shoes of your previous customers to understand the true motivation behind their purchases. Once you are able to do that you’ll have a much better chance at up-selling these past buyers.

For example, if you sell beauty products and a previous buyer purchases shampoo and conditioner from your online store, consider how long it will take for her to go through those bottles. Once that time is coming near that she is down to the last few washes, what can you do to entice her to buy from you again?

If your typical buyer is on a budget, then you could offer her a loyalty discount to appeal to her money-saving needs. If you sell more high-end haircare, you could re-appeal to her with an ad showing some of her favorite celebrities that have endorsed these products.

The bottom line is devote the time to think strategically about your buyer personas so your able to re-appeal to them with compelling messages that speak to their specific wants, needs, and desires.

2. Create Targeted Lists of Past Buyers

Once you have spent time digging through the data and understanding your various personas, it’s time to organize them into segmented lists, so you can target each list with the right offer.

The fabulous thing about these types of campaigns is that you already have the contact information since these folks have purchased from you in the past. This will allow you to generate highly targeted lists of past buyers so you can use your specified messaging and put each list in their own personalized campaign. This step is critical in keeping things organized so the right people are getting the most relevant information catered to them.

For instance, if you just purchased a new couch for your studio apartment, you don’t want to see an offer for a different couch a few weeks later. But perhaps you’d be interested in some decorative pillows or a side table that looks like the perfect solution for placing your wine glass down. Cross-selling is all about offering products or services that complement what you’ve already sold.

3. Use Smart Remarketing Tactics

Remarketing is the absolute best way to automate your upselling and get people to convert again with minimal effort of your end. While you will still need to configure and monitor your remarketing campaign, once they are running they will essentially run themselves as you watch the results come in.

Once you’ve taken the step of gathering each group of buyers into their relevant lists, it’s time to run some ads! Remarketing campaigns make this insanely efficient and easy. Configure remarketing campaigns in your favorite social networks and Google to appeal to specific buyers with the correct messaging.

Take this example of a remarketing Instagram ad I was served. Since I recently moved and purchased some outdoor furniture, CB2 likely recognized the opportunity to remarket some accessories to go along with my new outdoor items, which is likely why they sent me this relevant ad showing a very cute planter that I must say I am tempted to purchase…

remarketing instagram ad

Learn more about how to do this from our guides on remarketing on Google and remarketing on Facebook.

4. Remind Past Buyers Why They Chose You

What is about your company, products, or services that makes you stand out? Why do customers choose you over your competition? Remembering these points in your messaging to past consumers will instill a new sense of brand loyalty into them. And if you’re able to get a true brand-loyal consumer then your chances of retaining them for a longer period of time, and even getting referrals from them, will increase tremendously.

This is why branding campaigns shouldn’t only be used for top-of-the-funnel audiences who have never heard of your company before. Rather, sell the emotion-evoking components of your brand to past-purchasers to make them lifetime customers.

5. Incentivize Customers with Personalized Offers

Since you already have data around your past buyers, use this precious information to get personal. You have an idea of what your past customers like based on their past purchases – use this knowledge to upsell them.

One way to make past buyers feel especially valuable is by providing them with loyal customer discounts or free gifts if they purchase something again. For example, Gilt City, where I’ve purchased my fair share of massage and facial deals, recently showed me this ad on Facebook for a relevant service as well as a free gift!

upsell ads

If you offer a points system where repeat customers earn loyalty points (Sephora and Ulta are good examples), you can use search and social ads to remind customers that they have points saved up to use toward a splurge!

6. Abandoned Shopping Carts? Don’t Let Past Buyers Forget

If you have repeat customers who are abandoning their shopping carts, it’s not always the case that they lost interest in those items. Rather, they may have been distracted in our society that’s built to distract (“It’s not you, it’s me”). In this situation, don’t be afraid to remind past buyers about what they almost purchased.

Take this example from Joss & Main, where I was browsing for rugs recently, and decided I would buy the one below. I then got distracted (pizza delivery?) and abandoned the cart, but my handy dandy email inbox reminded we to make the purchase… And I did!

cross-selling with email marketing

You can also use remarketing to target cart abandoners! Use display ads to remind past buyers what they’re missing out on, or try Gmail ads.

This does not go just for e-commerce businesses. If you are in the SaaS industry, for instance, take note of when current customers spend a significant amount of time on a related product page. That time could be anywhere from one to thirty minutes. The time frame is something you will need to determine from past conversion statistics, but allow this as a chance to connect with current customers at the right time to upsell them on these products. Timing is everything when it comes to upselling! This leads me to the next tip…

7. Segment Ads by Time/Day Based on Past Buyer Behavior

You absolutely need a strategy in place to show your customers items they would be most likely to buy within an appropriate time-frame. If the shampoo you sell lasts for an average of 60 days, then start remarketing them after 30-40 days of their last purchase. Keep these ads running until they convert because you don’t want to allow your past customers to get down to the last drop and then turn to their local pharmacy in desperation.

There are plenty of statistics out there around the times of day and days of the week when people are most likely to buy, depending on what you sell. I encourage you not to make decisions based on these general statistics, but to look at your own data, and then take advantage of ad scheduling features on search and social platforms to ensure you are serving your ads at the most critical buying times.

how to cross sell and upsell with adwords

For example, if you’re in the travel industry and you’re trying to cross-sell a hotel or rental car to someone who recently purchased airline tickets, you might find that your customers are more likely to make work travel purchases during business hours and leisure travel purchases on the weekends, so plan your ads accordingly.

8. Run RLSA Campaigns

If you don’t already have experience with Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) then there is no better time than the present! These babies allow you to tailor your search campaigns based on previous actions your customer have taken on your website or app. They work a bit differently than remarketing ads because they appear on the search network, rather than the display network, when specific users type in specific keywords. This can ensure your messaging is extremely targeted.

RLSA’s can also lead to a 2 to 3 times higher click-through rate (CTR) AND conversion rate compared to regular search ads!

conversion rates rlsa

If you are new to the world of RLSA, check out this guide to get going.

With these tips you should be able to convert many one-time buyers into lifelong customers. Hooray!

Join 683,369 other marketers that receive our weekly newsletter!

Meet The Author

Margot Whitney

Margot is a content marketing specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.

Recommended for you


Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

Unlock your business potential

We offer innovative technology and unparalleled expertise to move your business forward.