How to Navigate & Attract New Leads in The Dark Funnel

95% of B2B buyers are not ready to buy your product right now. They’re having conversations with colleagues, researching on social media, and listening to podcasts about the product or industry and learning where your brand fits in. Demand generation helps you influence buyers where they’re having those conversations and in those unattributable spaces. It’s […]

The post How to Navigate & Attract New Leads in The Dark Funnel appeared first on CXL.

95% of B2B buyers are not ready to buy your product right now. They’re having conversations with colleagues, researching on social media, and listening to podcasts about the product or industry and learning where your brand fits in.

Demand generation helps you influence buyers where they’re having those conversations and in those unattributable spaces. It’s an inbound model that develops your authority and brand affinity over time—it can be a long game to get results, but it helps you stay in play.

Those places where your buyers are being actively influenced by the marketing activities you cannot track are called: the dark funnel.

In this post, we’ll uncover the dark funnel and show you how to win customers on the channels companies often overlook. 

What is the dark funnel?

The dark funnel refers to the different places where buyers engage and make decisions that marketing teams can’t attribute. 

When B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers. Most of their time is spent researching independently online and offline and meeting with the buying group. 

Screenshot of Pie chart showing distribution of buying groups' time by key buying activities

By the time you see intent data, much of the buying process is already complete.

According to Walker: 

“B2B buyers are discovering, researching, and evaluating products in places companies can’t track.”

These places include: 

  • Communities and groups (e.g., Slack, Facebook Groups, Discord, Reddit, etc.)
  • Social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, etc.)
  • Content platforms (e.g., Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Twitch, etc.)
  • Word-of-mouth interactions (e.g., text messages, DMs, video calls, etc.)
  • Events (e.g., industry conferences, marketing meetups, VC groups, etc.)

The parts of digital marketing we can track—email marketing, paid social, content syndication—are the tip of the iceberg. The dark funnel is everything happening below the surface.

It’s an acknowledgment of the changing customer experience. Buyer journeys have become so convoluted that the linear sales funnel mapping the path from awareness to consideration to purchase is no longer sufficient to give you realistic insights into the buying process. 

The dark funnel is the hidden steps in the buying journey. It more accurately mirrors a buyer’s movements before they reach your demo page.

This is especially important given the recent shift in data privacy, with the phasing out of third-party cookies and Apple’s update asking apps not to track users.

When you can’t accurately track, you need to work harder to know where to interact.    

Dark funnel marketing is a shift in mindset 

B2B companies are married to traditional marketing attribution models because they give credit to what’s working. It’s easier to secure a budget from stakeholders if you can show the number of conversions from email marketing or display ad campaigns. 

Dark funnel tactics don’t offer that same luxury. Because of this, hidden channels are often overlooked. 

“Most companies won’t accept them [dark funnel channels] because Gartner and Salesforce haven’t written an ebook on them. Or they’re just mailing it in and not doing it well enough to see results. These are the channels where your buyers are, and every other company isn’t doing well there, which creates a massive opportunity for you.” – Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs [via Revenue Champions

Taking advantage of the dark funnel requires a shift in thinking around attribution. The focus has to be less on how buyers clicked through and more on how they find you. 

Google recognizes this with its move away from last-click attribution and over to machine learning. 

Communicate with buyers where they are, rather than relying on channels you can track. Invest in conversations to learn more about your audience’s motivations and understand how trends change over time. This will help you develop strategies that resonate. 

Does this mean you should divorce yourself from attribution completely? 

Far from it. While software plays less of a role in giving credit, you can establish where you’re having success with qualitative research

Use surveys to ask customers about the route they took to reach you. 

Here’s an example of a simple customer survey from HubSpot:

Screenshot of Simple Customer Survey from Hubspot

Adding this to a demo request form or landing page will give you insight into where conversations are happening. 

Qualitative research can also be gathered during sales calls. These present the opportunity to dig into more specific data that can help shape future campaigns, such as: 

  • How buyers self identify
  • What problem were they solving
  • How they approached the buying process (what kind of comparisons they made, which other sites they looked on, etc.)
  • Any friction they faced in the process

Start from the end and work backward

Going by Gartner’s results, if over 80% of a customer journey is spent navigating dark channels, by the time they reach your website their research is almost done. They’re arriving with intent to buy.

Your job now is to help them over the final hurdle by reaffirming their belief that your product is the right choice and making the conversion as easy as possible. 

As Chris Walker points out:

“There’s no sense in starting a podcast or trying to run LinkedIn ads at high spend if when someone gets to your website, they don’t convert, and they can’t get in touch with the person they want to talk to. They won’t be moving, so they won’t be buying.” [via Revenue Champions] 

Before investing in dark funnel marketing, optimize your website and landing pages. 

Start by looking at quantitative data from your Google Analytics to find out how your web pages are performing, as well as how much traffic and how many conversions they get. 

To get an idea of how people use your site, look at device mix, bounce rate, and top performing and top exit pages. Use heat maps to see how users interact with individual pages. 

This will help identify any performance and compatibility issues, including where and what is good, and what needs improvement. 

Use this data alongside qualitative research from your sales team. Unbounce’s former CRO Michael Aagaard recommends asking customer-facing staff the following questions: 

  • What are the top three questions you get from potential customers?
  • What do you answer when you get these questions?
  • Are there any particular aspects of the product/offer that people understand?
  • What aspects of the product/offer do people like the most/least?
  • Did I miss anything important? Got something to add?

Hone in on friction points and run A/B tests to improve usability and conversion rate. 

If you don’t have enough traffic or lack the resources to run A/B tests, focus on these nine key principles of conversion rate optimization

  1. Speed. Review page speed on Pingdom. Lower load time by reducing image file sizes, using caching, and using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
  2. Singularity. Stick to one goal and one offer per page.  
  3. Simplicity. If an element on a page doesn’t get a visitor closer to action, get rid of it.  
  4. Clarity. Build pages around the reason a visitor arrived and the needs of the target audience. Keep language simple, lead with benefits, and make pricing and CTAs clear. 
  5. Identification. Optimize every page for a single target market. 
  6. Attention. Create interest by answering what your product will help the reader achieve in your headlines, supporting copy, and hero images. 
  7. Desire. Use social proof to make your product more desirable. 
  8. Fear. Use the PAS (problem, agitation, solution) copywriting formula to play to buyer fears and introduce your product as the savior. Add scarcity and urgency to your pages using availability and time-based countdowns.
  9. Trust. Use client logos, awards, accreditations, press coverage, and testimonials to build trust and credibility. 

These nine principles aren’t the be-all and end-all of CRO, but they’re low-hanging fruits that you can begin optimizing immediately. Following them will help you create pages that convert dark funnel traffic.

How to attract leads in the dark funnel

To win over buyers in the dark funnel, you have to bring your product and brand to your audience, not the other way around. This is how you’ll build relationships and drive conversations that convert prospects into sales-qualified leads. 

But being in the same circles as your target market means nothing if you’re not engaging with people and giving them a reason to care. Here’s how to make your presence count. 

Build your personal brand to get closer to your audience

Conversations in the dark funnel are people driven. In most cases, it’s not possible to join a community as a brand. Even if it were, you can’t expect people to warm to an entity in the same way they would the person behind it. 

The same goes for social media. While most people follow their favorite brands, the meaningful conversations—where products are reviewed and recommended—are all peer-to-peer on dark social, where they can’t be accurately tracked. 

To build awareness and demand, build your personal brand to build your corporate brand.

Use your industry knowledge and expertise to become a trusted expert. It’s a tactic used to great effect by SaaS founders like Noah Kagan, who has used his YouTube channel and guest blogging to grow AppSumo. Likewise, Rand Fishkin’s regular blogging and guest speaking helped make Moz the world’s number one SEO suite. 

Another great example of a strong personal brand is Backlinko and Exploding Topics founder Brian Dean. 

Brian isn’t a company owner working behind the mask of a brand; he’s the face of Backlinko. 

Screenshot of banklinko Homepage

He regularly shares informative long-form blog posts on SEO and link-building via the Backlinko blog. 

Screenshot of Backlinko Blog Post about SEO

He also shares helpful tips via a newsletter and LinkedIn, where he takes time to engage in the comments. 

Screenshot of Brian Dean Sharing Tips on LinkedIn

This is a crucial element of personal brand building and dark funnel marketing. It makes Brian an active member of the SEO community and positions him as an authority. More importantly, it gives him a reputation as someone who cares and is genuinely helpful. 

His active presence helps keep him and Backlinko front of mind. When the time comes for someone to seek out help with SEO, Brian and Backlinko will be at the front of the line. 

His approach has helped Backlinko grow to over one million visitors a month with a newsletter that boasts 173,000+ subscribers. 

Sprout Social research shows that 70% of people feel more connected to a brand whose CEO is active on social media, and 39% believe their presence offers better insight into a brand. 

Similarly, 72% of people feel more connected to a brand when its employees share information on social media, with almost two-thirds saying it helps them feel like there are real people behind the brand.        

Cultivate an identity separate from your brand, and encourage your employees to do the same. Get in front of your audience, share valuable insights, and build relationships to boost engagement. Be helpful for the sake of being helpful, and mention your brand only when it’s genuinely relevant.

You’ll soon grow your personal brand and your brand audience will grow in kind.    

Create and share content that helps people solve problems

Few of the channels that make up the dark funnel will be new. The problem is that, because of attribution software, brands often use them in the wrong way. 

For example, a brand may use LinkedIn or Facebook to capture email addresses so that they can give credit to those channels. But they’re missing out on the conversations in comment sections and groups. 

This is where people share content and make buying decisions. And it’s where you can shape the narrative around your brand

However, while your end goal is to get people to visit your website and convert, your aim for content is to create demand and educate your audience.

As Chris Walker explains: 

“I’ll share to educate so that the more my buyers consume my content, the more they understand, the more they are going to consider our product and ultimately choose our brand.” [via Revenue Champions]

Avoid gated content and focus on giving your knowledge away for free. 

Refine Labs do this with podcasts dedicated to demand generation and growth. 

Screenshot of Refine Labs Podcasts Page

In each episode, Chris Walker, his team, and guests share their experiences to help marketers and company founders work smarter and build better. 

Like Brian Dean, this positions them as subject matter experts, making people more likely to pay attention. It also creates authenticity in Refine Labs.

Episodes of the podcast are shared to all major podcast platforms. They’re also filmed and uploaded to YouTube, with soundbites shared across LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok.

Screenshot of Refine Labs Tiktok Video

Repurposing means the content works harder and its value spreads further into channels and communities where Refine Labs’ audience is engaging.  

It provides value without asking for anything in return. This is what builds trust, attracts followers, and secures recommendations.

Groove takes a similar approach with its blog. Rather than using its platform to push its product, it intentionally focuses on topics that benefit its audience. 

Its mix of company founder stories and helpful customer support posts are told in an authentic, personal, and sometimes vulnerable way that’s fresh and different from other industry content. 

Screenshot of Groove Blog Page

This mix helped Groove build a $5 million a year business in three years by being helpful and relatable. When we relate to something, it resonates and we’re more likely to talk about it.

Start from the position of delivering value. This will help you create demand and growth through organic social and content marketing

Once people recognize and trust your brand, lead magnets can be shifted to paid marketing and retargeting. This way, when people see your ads, they’ll be more likely to take action. 

So, where do you find ideas for value-driven content? 

The answers lie with your customers.

Listen to your audience and let them shape your marketing

Competitive analysis is a crucial part of any B2B marketing strategy. It helps you position your brand and product, and it sets you up to outshine the opposition. 

In the dark funnel, what other businesses are doing matters less. Focus squarely on the customer. 

Ask: What is the customer looking to do?

Groove looked to answer this when growing its blog. 

“…we decided to rebuild our content marketing strategy from the ground up with an eye towards what could actually help our market, rather than what we thought might look nice on a blog.

We tried to understand what people actually wanted that we could deliver in our content.

We asked them about their challenges and goals, and what they wished they had that they didn’t already have.” [via Groove]

Use voice of customer research to understand motivations and intent. Learning from existing customers will give you an understanding of what people want and expect from your brand and content, as well as what compelled them to choose you. 

It will help you identify why people visit your website, listen to your podcast, or read your blog posts, so you create more of the same. 

Supplement this by looking at what your audience is talking about online. What questions are they asking? 

A simple search in a tool like Quora or Answer The Public will give you insight into problems your audience is trying to solve. 

For example, a Quora search for “how to create demand for my product”, with results filtered by “Past month” brings up a host of related questions. 

Screenshot of Quora search for “how to create demand for my product”

Use these queries and answers to fuel your content. There’s no better way to endear yourself to an audience than giving them solutions to real problems they’re having. 

Social listening can be used in a similar way to monitor and analyze the conversations being had on social media. But don’t do everything from the outside looking in. Remember, a lot of the discourse in the dark funnel can’t be monitored. 

66% of buyers want more meaningful experiences with brands. Invest time in one-to-one conversations; listen to feedback, answer questions, and address concerns. 

For example, writer Julian Shapiro regularly posts and nurtures conversations on Twitter.

Screenshot of Julian Shapiro Twitter Posts and conversations

Not only does this help him build relationships and better understand his followers, it enhances his reach and reputation.  

According to McKinsey, over three-quarters of consumers are more likely to buy more and refer others to companies that offer personal interactions.

Stay close to your audience to meet their needs and ensure engagement around your brand is positive.

Deliver consistency at every touchpoint  

Demand gen takes time. Reaching the point where you’re the company on people’s lips is a long-term strategy that’s as much about how often you show up as what you show up with. 

According to Forrester research, the new number of B2B buying interactions post-pandemic is 27. Buyers are going everywhere there’s information and gathering as much of it as they can before making a decision. 

Publishing something new once a month gives you little chance of keeping pace with how buyers are discovering and researching options. 

Stay front of mind by developing a messaging strategy and consistently sharing new content. For reference, Refine Labs puts out three podcasts every week. 

Anyone encountering the brand for the first time can immediately see that it’s active and content is fresh and relevant. Its audience is also never short of something to share. 

CXL founder Peep Laja is similarly active in the CXL Conversion Optimization, Analytics & Growth Facebook Group

While the group is a space for members to connect and chat under the umbrella of the brand, Peep understands that CXL is the reason people are there and often jumps in to kickstart discussion and answer questions. 

Screenshot of CXL founder Peep Laja answering question on FB Group Post 

And if Peep isn’t in there, other members of the CXL team keep engagement high. 

Screenshot of one of the CXL team's members, Juliana Jaxx, keeping engagement high on Facebook

Dedicate some time each day or week to actively participate in groups, reply to comments and create fresh content. As you’ll be relying less on marketing automation software, it’s important to save time and resources where you can. 

Rather than spend multiple hours a week creating original content, set aside a block of time to make pillar pieces that can be used to fuel other content and reach new audiences. 

Refine Labs breaking its podcasts down into micro-content that is shared across social media is one example of this.  

Close is another. A big contributor to the brand’s growth is its ability to milk content for all it’s worth. 

Close creates a ton of raw material and remixes it for different channels. Take this video on developing a customer intimacy strategy:

Screenshot of Close Youtube Video about developing a customer intimacy strategy

Close took that recording and turned it into a blog post

Screenshot of Close Blog Post about developing a customer intimacy strategy

In another example, it took a long-form YouTube video on The Great Resignation, repackaged and distributed it as a shorter video for Facebook followers:

Screenshot of Close Facebook Post on The Great Resignation

One pillar piece can provide weeks or months’ worth of content without getting stale. But consistency isn’t all about content frequency. It’s also about how you present yourself and your brand.

Take Gong. The content you see on the company’s website is mirrored in social media content. 

This blog post, for example, features Gong’s purple, pink, and green brand colors and chatty tone of voice. 

Screenshot of Gong Blog Post showing purple, pink, and green brand colors and chatty tone of voice

Those same colors and tone are ever-present in its LinkedIn content:

Screenshot of Gong LinkedIn Content showing purple, pink, and green brand colors

And on Instagram:

Screenshot of Gong Instagram feed showing purple, pink, and green brand colors 

This makes Gong stand out. Its style is recognizable, which creates familiarity and fosters trust. 

Create consistency in your tone, messaging, and branding by following brand guidelines. These provide the framework for marketing teams and sales teams to follow to maintain a united front. Brand guidelines should include:

The goal with consistency is to make yourself memorable in presence, look and sound at every touchpoint. Do this so that when buyers seek out new product or service recommendations, you’re the company securing referrals. 


Opinions about your brand are being shaped and shared every day in the dark funnel. Being part of the conversation gives you the chance to tip the scales in your favor and get ahead of brands ignoring this hidden traffic. 

Focus on your customers. What makes them tick? Show your human side and build your content marketing funnel around solving problems.

Value will translate to direct traffic from B2B buyers who spend most of their time gathering information from their circles. When it does, look at the big picture rather than specific metrics. Are sales reps enjoying more meaningful interactions with people who are ready to buy? Is revenue growing? These are signs that dark funnel marketing is paying dividends.

The post How to Navigate & Attract New Leads in The Dark Funnel appeared first on CXL.

Call To Action In Writing: 7 Powerful Examples

Careful attention to CTA (call to action) copywriting is the difference between brands that drive conversions and those that only drive traffic. Brands that slap a “Buy Now” button on a page and call it a day wonder why their campaigns fail to convert. Companies that engage in strategic CTA testing continue to drive success […]

The post Call To Action In Writing: 7 Powerful Examples appeared first on CXL.

Careful attention to CTA (call to action) copywriting is the difference between brands that drive conversions and those that only drive traffic.

Brands that slap a “Buy Now” button on a page and call it a day wonder why their campaigns fail to convert. Companies that engage in strategic CTA testing continue to drive success metrics like CTR (click-through rate) up and to the right.

CTA testing is paramount because it’s not always obvious what needs to happen for your business. Landing page platform Unbounce boosted conversion rates by 90% by changing their CTA copy from “Start your 30-day trial” to “Start my free 30-day trial.” 

In this article, we’ll explore seven powerful CTA examples from high-performing companies. You’ll learn what makes them so convincing so that you can apply these lessons in your own CTA writing.

What is a call to action in writing? 

Your call to action is the prompt you give readers or users to take a desired action.

That action might be to:

  • Download an ebook or guide;
  • Sign up for a free trial;
  • Register for an upcoming webinar;
  • Browse products in your online store;
  • Book a sales demonstration.

CTAs are a critical component of marketing material. It’s the point where you tell your reader to do something.

CXL use them on landing pages to invite customers to trial top marketing courses:

Screenshot of CXL Homepage

SEO tool Clearscope invites users to join their Director of SEO in a webinar.

Screenshot of Clearscope Inviting Users on their Webinar

And revenue intelligence platform Gong uses CTAs at the end of blog posts to guide readers to additional content they may find valuable:

Screenshot of Gong’s CTA at the end of their blog post

At the most basic level, these CTAs exist to give customers their next step in the buying journey.

CTAs drive the buying journey 

A CTA in a brand awareness campaign will look entirely different from a CTA meant to drive sales at the bottom of the funnel.

Take this post from Mailchimp on email marketing benchmarks. Most readers will land on this page after searching for “email marketing benchmarks” on Google.

Screenshot of Google showing result for the search query “Email Marketing Benchmarks”

Mailchimp knows, then, that the user’s search intent is to learn more about the subject of email marketing, not about Mailchimp and its features.

So, the CTA at the bottom of this blog post directs readers to related concepts, several of which are more prescriptive and action-focused than email marketing benchmarks (a powerful way to build value for the customer and to establish your brand as an authority).

Screenshot of Related Concepts CTA

Strong CTAs go beyond “buy now”  

The traditional answer as to why CTAs are important is that “customers don’t take action unless they’re told what to do.” 

While this is true, it’s not the whole story. A strong call to action doesn’t just provide a path forward but removes any barriers or objections.

Consider the CTA “Sign up now” on a SaaS product landing page. This raises several buyer objections:

  • Do I have to pay?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Am I locked into a contract?
  • How long is the contract?
  • What payment methods are available?

Effective CTA writing can overcome these objections simply by altering the wording.

Copper uses the copy “Try Free” to preempt and solve these objections.

Screenshot of Copper Website Homepage

The word “Free” eliminates any concerns about cost, and the addition of the term “Try” implies a trial period, so there is no risk of signing up for a lengthy contract.

How to write a call to action that converts 

CTA writing is a form of persuasive writing. Your goal is to convince readers to take a given action in as few words as possible.

A strong understanding of buyer psychology and buyer intelligence will be helpful here. You can also fast-track results with these CTA writing techniques. 

Use Voice of Customer research to understand buyer goals 

Voice of Customer research uses qualitative and quantitative research to uncover the wants and needs of buyers in their own words.

Then, you’ll use these insights verbatim (or close to) in your marketing material to resonate with customer desires.

This is how Copyhackers wrote Beachway Therapy Center’s landing page to drive 400% more click-throughs on the CTA. 

The group mined Amazon addiction book reviews to learn about wants and pains and note memorable phrases.

Screenshot of Amazon addiction book reviews 

Within those reviews, they caught recurring themes and identified the messaging that resonates with their customer base. The group then applied that copy to the landing page.

Screenshot of Beachway Therapy Center Homepage

Messaging strategy agency Make Mention learned that the CTA for their client, “Start with the first hour free,” was asking for too much too soon.

Screenshot of CTA that was created by Make Mention Media to one of their clients

The group conducted online and email surveys and learned that users struggled to understand the course’s value and encountered friction because objections weren’t addressed.

Make Mention redid the page, injecting several phrases from the customers’ vocabulary, including: 

  • “C#”;
  • “.NET”;
  • “practical exercises”;
  • “getting your first developer job.”

They also directed the CTA button to lead to an alternative page where customers can learn more about the course.

Screenshot of Learn Visual Studio Website Homepage

Make Mention helped customers get more information before asking for the sale, and critically, they used the language customers use. This tweak boosted conversions on the CTA button by over 66%, leading to more check-outs from the Curriculum page than the Pricing page.

Start with an imperative (command verb)

A good general rule to follow in CTA writing is to always start with an imperative. Imperatives are action words; they tell the reader to do something.

Powerful examples of action phrases include:

  • Start;
  • Add;
  • Call;
  • Try;
  • Get;
  • Learn; 
  • See;
  • Explore;
  • Click;
  • Find;
  • Join;
  • Order.

SparkToro demonstrates two examples of imperatives in action with their buttons: “Try SparkToro for free” and “See Pricing.”

Screenshot of Sparktoro Website Homepage

Preempt and eliminate objections 

Effective call to action writing preempts objections and eliminates them early.

Take Buzzsumo, which clarifies that new users don’t have to pay a cent for 30 days, obliterating worries about forgetting they’ve started the trial and purchasing accidentally.

Screenshot of Buzzsumo CTA

The most common objections you’ll face are:

  • Cost (Is there one? And if so, how much?);
  • Time (How long is this going to take?);
  • Commitment (Am I locked into anything?).

For cost objections, use terms like “free” and “no credit card required” to clarify that there is no cost involved.

For time objections, phrases like “instantly,” “in 2 minutes,” and “now” communicate that the action will take place quickly.

Solve commitment objections by clearly outlining the trial length (“Try free for 14 days”) or with terms like “free forever” and “no credit card.”

Leverage power words to build excitement 

Command words tell readers what to do. Power words make them feel excited about doing it. Combining the two is what motivates users to take action.

Examples of convincing power words to use in your CTA writing include:

  • Deadline;
  • Instantly;
  • Quick;
  • Reduced;
  • Surge;
  • Classified;
  • Minimalist;
  • Irresistible;
  • Effortless.

For example, GAP uses the term “unique” to encourage users to sign up for their mailing list (in exchange for a 25% discount).

Screenshot of Gap’s CTA that appears on their website homepage

Create a sense of urgency to inspire immediate action 

Great call to action writing inspires readers to take action now. When done well, they create buyer FOMO (fear of missing out), motivating website visitors to act immediately.

Words like “now,” “instantly,” “limited time,” and “today” are a good starting point but are best supplemented with urgent imperatives like “seize,” “gain,” and “access.”

Youprenuer combines the imperative “Get” with the urgency-building power word “Instant” to build a compelling CTA for their email list.

Screenshot of Youprenuer CTA on their Email List

Use mystery to generate curiosity 

In certain cases, you’ll want to avoid mystery altogether. For instance, when crafting a CTA designed to motivate readers to sign up for a free trial, we want to clarify what customers are getting into.

But curiosity can work in our favor for downloadable content like ebooks and guides.

Terms like “discover,” “see what’s inside,” and “get the secrets” are powerful curiosity-builders that can help motivate readers to hand over their email addresses in exchange for the promised value.

“Explore” is a great example of a curiosity-building word to include in your CTAs, as demonstrated by premium vodka brand Grey Goose.

Screenshot of Grey Goose Explore CTA on their Website Homepage

Back up your claims with social proof 

CTA copy doesn’t need to sit on its own.

Great CTA writers supplement copy with social proof (testimonials, reviews, logos) to give more gravity to their message and build trust with skeptical buyers.

Juro, for example, supplements their “book a demo” CTA with review ratings from Capterra and G2.

Screenshot of Juro “book a demo” CTA webpage

7 impressive calls to action (and why they work so well) 

Ultimately, A/B testing and experimentation will help you uncover your purpose’s perfect call to action.

Use these examples as a jumping-off point, and tweak and test as appropriate.

1. Pipedrive removes barriers to conversion 

One of the biggest factors preventing readers from converting is the unknown. When faced with a CTA like “Start now,” customers wonder internally:

  • What’s involved in starting?
  • Do I need to get my credit card out?
  • What exactly am I committing to?

You can solve these objections before they arise with careful copywriting.

Pipedrive’s homepage CTA section is a powerful example of this. 

Screenshot of Pipedrive’s homepage CTA

The green “Start free” call to action button immediately tells readers there’s no cost involved. The supplementary “No credit card required” copy below also helps users overcome this objection.

The addition of the simple “Full access” answers the question, “But am I just signing up to a limited version, and will I need to pay to access more sophisticated features?”

Lastly, Pipedrive does a great job of communicating why readers should click that CTA button (because Pipedrive users close 28% more deals after their first year using the CRM).

Takeaways from Pipedrive’s CTA example:

  • Incorporate terms like “free” and “no credit card” to solve cost objections;
  • Make it clear to users what they’re signing up for (e.g., full platform access);
  • Use compelling social proof to communicate the why (answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”.

2. ActiveCampaign makes it clear what customers are signing up for

Average CTA writing leaves readers guessing:

  • What am I signing up for exactly?
  • What happens next?
  • What if I don’t like what I see?
  • Am I going to get hounded by a sales rep?

Strong CTA writing makes a reader’s next steps abundantly clear.

Take ActiveCampaign.

The exit popup on their email marketing product page aims to capture a reader’s interest (and email address) before they leave ActiveCampaign’s site.

Screenshot of Activecampaign’s exit popup on their email marketing product page

A simple “Download our guide” wouldn’t be sufficient. Those who leave a landing page without clicking an in-page CTA are clearly unconvinced, so any copy in an exit popup must be especially persuasive.

ActiveCampaign nails this in their header copy.

“Use these 6 emails for your welcome series” tells readers precisely what they’ll receive. 

The use of the term “free” in the body copy eliminates cost objections, and the addition of the bracketed “to get more sales w/o more work” puts the offer in the context of the result, answering the reader’s question, “What’s in it for me?”

“Send me the free guide” (the copy in the CTA itself) is reader-focused (written in first person) and reiterates that there’s nothing to lose as the guide is free.

Lastly, the copy below the CTA button (“We do not sell or share your information with anyone”) works to convince even the most skeptical reader that they’re signing up for a safe offer.

Takeaways from ActiveCampaign’s CTA example:

  • Make it abundantly clear what readers are going to receive;
  • Solves the cost objection by doubling down on terms like “free”;
  • Put your offer in the context of results (answer “What’s in it for me?”);
  • Assure readers that their personal information will remain anonymous and won’t be sold or shared.

3. Wordable talks results

Vague, convoluted statements (“Helping ambitious creators design better futures”) don’t convert.

Concise, solution-focused calls to action that speak directly to outcomes (in your customers’ language) do.

Take Wordable, a platform that connects Google Docs with WordPress, HubSpot, and Medium, allowing high-volume content producers to publish to their blog in seconds.

Screenshot of Wordable CTA on their website homepage

Wordable doesn’t waste time telling readers how they’ll “Streamline and transform their content operations processes.” Instead, they jump straight to results:

  • Publish in just one click;
  • Export in seconds rather than hours;
  • Cut back on VA or employee costs;
  • Save as much as 100 hours per week in publishing time.

Then, Wordable delivers a persuasive offer, five free exports (notice the imperative “Get” kicking off the CTA copy), and eliminates any commitment objections by including the phrase “No credit card required.”

Prospects who read this CTA (and accompanying copy) aren’t left wondering what Wordable can do for them. They know exactly what problem it will solve and the results they can expect from hitting that CTA button.

Takeaways from Wordable’s CTA example:

  • Speak your customers’ language (and avoid convoluted, vague, jargon-filled copy);
  • Get straight to the results (What outcomes can your customer expect?);
  • Back up “free” usage claims and solve commitment objectives by not requiring a credit card.

4. Jasper speaks directly to a common pain point 

Though actual figures are hard to come by, marketers estimate that the average consumer sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day

Unsurprisingly, users see a large chunk of these ads (33%) on social media platforms.

If you’re going to stand out from the other 3000+ ads your audience sees on these sites, you need to connect directly with their most critical challenges.

Take Jasper, an AI copywriting assistant.

Jasper’s Facebook ad speaks directly to a target audience pain point: content marketing is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process.

Screenshot of Jasper Facebook Ad

The video used in this digital ad is effective in and of itself (it shows the product in action, overlaid with a simple message “Write 10x faster”), but the copy below is what makes this a good CTA example:

“Create high-quality articles in seconds.”

First, Jasper begins with the action verb “create” before describing the desired outcome (high-quality articles) and the compelling benefit of their product (in seconds).

In just six words, Jasper communicates how its platform solves a common challenge for ecommerce site owners, social media managers, and digital marketing professionals. 

Takeaways from Jasper’s CTA example:

  • Identify a pain point that resonates with potential customers;
  • Communicate how you’ll solve that pain point (i.e., your value proposition);
  • Describe this benefit concisely, putting the reader as the subject.

5. Emma builds intrigue by keeping it concise

Often, the best call-to-action examples are those that are concise. This is an especially powerful technique when writing CTAs designed to promote downloadable content such as guides, ebooks, and checklists, as it can double as an intrigue-builder.

Take email marketing platform Emma, whose simple CTA “See How” is a compelling example of how much you can achieve with just two words.

Screenshot of Emma’s “See How” CTA on Email

Of course, this CTA is only effective in the context of what you’ve said before:

  • Your email marketing campaigns can be better (probably);
  • We’re going to give you a framework for improving them.

This is an intriguing proposition (readers are asking, “Can I get more from my existing email list?”).

The call to action “See How” builds on this intrigue, inviting readers to click through and answer the question themselves.

Takeaways from Emma’s CTA example:

  • Introduce a common problem;
  • Imply that you’ll help readers solve it;
  • Keep your CTA copy short and sweet to leverage that curiosity.

6. BetterHelp solves three objections in just three words

Skilled CTA writers understand how readers will respond to an offer and what objections or roadblocks will appear to prevent conversion.

Then, they address these objections directly in their copy.

Take BetterHelp, an online therapy platform that uses social media advertising in its demand generation strategy.

Screenshot of Betterhelp Facebook Ad

The intention of the above ad isn’t to convert readers into paid subscribers. It’s simply to convince ad viewers to click through to BetterHelp’s website and learn more about their product.

But, BetterHelp knows that while this is a low-commitment ask, prospective customers will have many concerns:

  • What will others think if they find out I’m using online therapy?
  • I’m busy. I don’t think it will fit around my schedule.
  • Isn’t therapy usually super expensive?

BetterHelp solves all three objections using just three words: 

  1. Discreet (Nobody will even know I’m using BetterHelp).
  2. Convenient (Therapy appointments are flexible).
  3. Affordable (BetterHelp is more cost-effective than traditional therapy solutions).

In this example, these three words supplement the actual call to action copy, “Online Therapy on Your Schedule,” reiterating that BetterHelp’s therapists are flexible about appointment times.

Takeaways from BetterHelp’s CTA example:

  • Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: What concerns might they have that could prevent them from converting?
  • Ask: What can we communicate that would quell these concerns?
  • Test: What’s the best word (or phrase) to communicate that with as few words as possible?

7. ClickUp backs up its claim with a compelling guarantee 

Convincing calls to action often make impressive claims.

But today’s consumers aren’t easily convinced, so if you make bold claims, be prepared to back them up.

Take ClickUp, which guarantees new users will save one day every week.

Screenshot of ClickUp CTA with a compelling guarantee that can be found on their website

That’s a big promise, but ClickUp backs it up by providing context to their claim (we analyzed over 4,000 teams) and supplementing the popup ad with several impressive logos (Samsung, Netflix, IBM.)

But the real winner here is ClickUp’s CTA copy.

“Get More Time” is all about the result. It’s not about what ClickUp wants (“Sign up today”). It’s about what the customer needs.

Takeaways from ClickUp’s CTA example:

  • If you’re going to make a bold claim, be prepared to back it up;
  • Use customer logos as social proof to back up such statements;
  • Frame your CTA copy from the customer’s perspective, not yours.


These call-to-action examples are a solid starting point for designing high-performing CTAs that resonate with your own audience. What works for these brands may not work for yours, so it’s always better to hypothesize and test.

CTAs that convert at high rates come from strategic experimentation. This is the only way to determine whether the word “Get” performs better than “Sign up” or “Access” for a given call to action. And it’s one of the best ways to see real business growth.
Check out our A/B testing tutorial today, and become a CTA testing pro.

The post Call To Action In Writing: 7 Powerful Examples appeared first on CXL.

Breaking down 6 Marketing Playbook Examples from the CXL Community

Marketing playbooks help you consistently produce campaigns and content in the face of continuous disruption. No matter which players are in the game (copywriters, designers, etc.), your playbook will help produce a consistent outcome. The trouble is, most successful businesses like to keep their marketing playbooks close to their chests (for obvious reasons). This makes […]

The post Breaking down 6 Marketing Playbook Examples from the CXL Community appeared first on CXL.

Marketing playbooks help you consistently produce campaigns and content in the face of continuous disruption. No matter which players are in the game (copywriters, designers, etc.), your playbook will help produce a consistent outcome.

The trouble is, most successful businesses like to keep their marketing playbooks close to their chests (for obvious reasons). This makes it difficult for new businesses, or those experimenting with new strategies, to learn best practices.

CXL likes to play by an entirely different set of rules, so they’ve created a marketing playbook community where experts can weigh in and share their experiences. 

In short, CXL put winning marketing playbooks on the table for everyone to see.

In this article, you’ll learn how to create an impactful marketing playbook to show up consistently and grow your business.

Marketing playbooks are frameworks for consistent campaigns

A marketing playbook is a resource guide that dictates how a business approaches its marketing. 

It’s the marketing equivalent to a coach’s playbook that covers definitions, formations, and tactics to bring players up to speed on how the team works so that they can execute a play correctly. In marketing’s case, the play is a campaign or channel. 

For example, you might have a playbook for a brand awareness campaign that includes several channels. Or, you might have a playbook focused specifically on your Instagram content strategy. 

By giving team members a repeatable (but flexible) framework to follow, outcomes are more consistent and teams work more efficiently, regardless of the individual members. 

Consistency isn’t just a buzzword here. Marketing consistently earns trust, solidifies brand status, and improves customer experience, and it’s shown to add up to 20% to overall growth

A consistent team is also an organized team, positively impacting performance. According to CoShedule’s 2022 Trend Report, organized marketers are 674% more likely to report success, and those that proactively plan (something you can easily do with a playbook) are 3x more likely to report success.

What makes a successful marketing playbook? 

Every playbook differs depending on the end goal. But the purpose should always be the same: give marketers the knowledge to help them execute the plan effectively. 

Achieving this helps:

  • Create seamless, repeatable workflows;
  • Cut down on wasted resources;
  • Get marketing team members on the same page;
  • Improve long-term customer marketing.

A playbook should cover the five main areas detailed in our guide to creating a marketing playbook for consistent campaigns:

  1. Strategy. A detailed marketing strategy isn’t required every time (e.g., if your playbook is on creating engaging Twitter threads, you can probably jump right to content creation). But you should always cover how the play ties to objectives, ideal customer profiles, and messaging.
  2. Content creation. Explain the type of content assets (including templates), brand guidelines, and roles and responsibilities of each team member. 
  3. Promotional channels. Map out where content will be shared, how, and how often, including distribution roadmaps and any automation apps.
  4. Measurement. Show how teams will track the success of each campaign, channel, or asset, including KPIs and goal-related metrics and the tools used to measure performance. This is important to improving your playbooks and future campaigns. 
  5. Execution. Map out the content creation timeline and any key milestones for goals and performance reviews. Here is where you should also cover the dos and don’ts of each platform. 

While that seems like a lot of ground to cover, don’t get too bogged down in the details. A playbook isn’t designed to tell a marketer how to be a marketer, nor is it a company handbook. It’s there to guide your team towards a goal.

In the NBA, for example, a coach has a 75-second timeout to communicate a play well enough so each player knows what needs to happen and their role in achieving it.

To help you communicate your message as quickly and clearly as possible, let’s look at some marketing playbook examples from the CXL playbook community.

1. Playbooks are a team effort

Successful digital marketing doesn’t happen in an echo chamber. It takes a team of people bringing their know-how to the table. 

For example, an idea that comes from a marketing manager is brought to life by a copywriter and designer, finely tuned by an editor, and shared by a social media executive. Each team member plays a critical role in a campaign having the desired impact. 

CXL puts the community at the forefront of every playbook. Subject experts can comment and suggest improvements for each part. 

Take this marketing playbook example on defining buyer personas

Screenshot of CXL Playbooks Defining Buyer Personas

It outlines four steps to define buyer personas, including tips and reminders in dropdown sections. 

Below the key steps is an ongoing conversation about what to include and what these additions mean: 

Screenshot of ongoing conversation on defining buyer personas

This active collaboration means that playbooks have the right information. It also ensures they stay relevant. If new research, tools, or changes in platform policies warrant a change in tactic, users can openly discuss the best ways to move forward. 

Marketing goalposts are always moving. For example, who could have predicted at the start of 2020 that a global pandemic would force live events to move online?

Include every team that helps execute a campaign in creating your playbooks, and periodically review its contents.

Tapping into your people’s knowledge opens your eyes to blind spots and drives innovation. It also improves company culture and a campaign’s adoption. People will feel more involved in the process if their input is needed, making them more invested in its success.

This contribution may seem small, but it’s a critical move according to leaders. Some two-thirds of C-suite executives say that company culture is more important to performance than strategy or operating model.

The takeaway: When creating your marketing playbook, involve your team members.

2. Make goals and benefits clear

What is your playbook for? That’s the question you’ll want to answer from the start.

Playbooks are designed to save marketers time and help them work more efficiently. Having to dig through information to find out if a playbook matches their needs stops them from doing this. 

Put your main goal front and center. CXL’s playbooks do it in the title: 

Screenshot of Setting your Goal on CXL Playbook

This gives instant clarity. Marketers know the problem the playbook is solving. The next question you need to answer is why the playbook exists: what are the benefits?

CXL playbooks lead with the benefit: 

Screenshot of CXL Playbook Business Benefits

The goal in this playbook is to “segment your customer base.” The benefit is to “create personalized communications, better reach customer needs, and improve customer retention.”

The what and the why are communicated in two lines. There’s no need to get any deeper than that. Remember, a content marketing playbook is based on need-to-know information only. 

That’s not to say everything should be limited to a single-sentence explanation. If your playbook includes a vague or confusing term, it’s better to offer a clear definition. 

This will ensure that: 

a) Everyone understands the information; and 

b) Everyone’s working with the same definition. 

Take CXL’s playbook on reducing bounce rate

Screenshot of CXL Playbook addressing bounce rate 

Bounce rate is a potentially confusing term. CXL addresses this at the start of the playbook: 

“Bounce rate is a widely misunderstood metric. Is it bad? Is it good? That depends a lot on what you’re trying to achieve with a particular page.”

A definition of what bounce rate is and isn’t follows this statement. By removing confusion, CXL ensures readers interpret bounce rate similarly, leading to consistent execution. 

Wherever there’s scope for misinterpretation, eliminate it quickly.

The takeaway: Remember, consistency is the goal here. Be clear and concise, but define and reiterate where needed.

3. For specific tasks, use actionable steps

If you want someone to complete a task efficiently and correctly, give them instructions.

Think of a flat-pack wardrobe. The first time you open the box, you have a ton of pieces and a set of instructions. By the end, you have a completed wardrobe that looks just like the picture. 

Could you achieve the same result without instructions? Possibly. But it will take more time and probably induce more stress.

If your playbook is for a certain task, provide readers with clear steps to follow. CXL does this with numbered lists: 

Screenshot of CXL Playbook offers actionable steps for certain tasks with numbered lists

By formatting playbooks this way, readers can easily work their way from start to finish, and every step requires action. 

For example, here are the first three steps:

  1. Conduct research to find an influencer within your industry or whose followers align with your target audience. 
  2. Familiarize yourself with the influencer’s work, accomplishments, and values before you reach out to collaborate with them.
  3. Locate the influencer’s preferred contact method or agent by looking at their account bios.

Leading steps with an action verb (“conduct,” “familiarize,” “locate”) makes it clear what readers need to do to accomplish the goal. 

Tasks are then supported with guidance to help readers do the work: 

Screenshot of CXL Playbook Actionable steps mentioning writing a concise and personalized subject line

Again, these instructions are actionable. They’re also specific:

“To improve your email open rate, keep your subject line short, ideally no more than 50–60 characters, and use engaging language that will help your email stand out in their inbox.”

Adding “no more than 50–60 characters” removes the subjectivity of “short,” arming readers with rules to follow. 

CXL also includes a benefit of following the instruction: “stand out in their inbox.” This gives readers a reason to want to follow the guidance. Do that, and achieve this.

The takeaway: Give readers specific steps.

4. Create a playbook for every goal

Each playbook should only go into so much detail.

For example, if you’re creating a playbook for running a social media marketing campaign, covering each touchpoint would turn a concise document into an encyclopedia. 

Consider whether a tactic warrants its own playbook. So, rather than one playbook that goes in-depth on each social media channel, you might create individual playbooks for how to optimize Facebook ads or write killer LinkedIn posts.

CXL’s playbooks are an example of giving readers the information they need without overloading them. 

Take this one on increasing customer retention

Screenshot of CXL Playbook Increase Customer Retention Page

Like previous examples, it uses numbered steps to guide readers to the goal. But let’s look at step one: “Calculate metrics that will help you to measure, track, and analyze customer retention.”

Depending on the reader, we may have two situations: one where the marketer knows exactly which metrics to measure and one where the marketer doesn’t.

The second group of marketers will be wondering what they should measure and how often?

CXL doesn’t attempt to explain within the step. For the first group of marketers, this would be unnecessary information.

Instead, it offers brief instruction, then links to another playbook on how to identify customer retention metrics for users to learn more: 

Screenshot of CXL Playbook providing brief instruction on how to identify customer retention metrics

How do you know whether to turn a task into a playbook? If it needs its own set of instructions, it needs more room to breathe.

The takeaway: Consider multiple reader types but don’t try to cater to all in one playbook.

5. Make tasks easy to accomplish

Previous examples have shown how to make playbooks easy to follow with actionable steps. Another way to get users to where they want to be is to take them there. 

Much like how playbooks can link to other playbooks, they can also link to tools needed to accomplish a task. 

Marketing playbooks tend to cover a lot of ground. It’s more efficient for people to dip in and out of a playbook than read it front to back, then go away and execute.

Linking to tools is another way to improve efficiency. It also eliminates the possibility of people using the wrong tools.

CXL’s playbook for tracking email open rates in Google Analytics, for example, links to the Google Analytics Hit Builder tool: 

Screenshot of CXL instruction on how to track email open rates in Google Analytics

Its landing page CRO playbook links to SessionCam so that users can quickly get set up recording user sessions:   

Screenshot of CXL instruction on how to test your landing page to improve conversion through Google Analytics

That puts users in the right place to complete the next steps. Formatting it in bold text grabs attention, helping skim readers quickly find the information they’re looking for. 

When designing your playbooks, ask yourself what you can do to reduce stress and eliminate unnecessary steps for team members.  

The takeaway: Link to the tools the readers need to streamline workflows.

6. Use examples to increase understanding

If you want to help people learn something new, make it relatable. In its report The Science of Learning, nonprofit organization Deans for Impact looked at the cognitive science behind how people learn. 

The report showed that students learn new ideas by relating them to what they already know. To apply this learning to new situations, students must understand the context.

Use examples to leverage this science and communicate the right way of doing things. Examples are also a feature of CXL’s playbooks.

Here’s an instruction from a playbook on setting up A/B tests:

Screenshot of CXL Playbook Instruction on setting up A/B tests

CXL tells readers to “form a hypothesis that is measurable, provides market insights, and solves a conversion problem.” 

Seasoned marketers will understand this and can quickly go away and do it. But what about a new junior recruit?

CXL adds clarity with an example: “More people will click through to the landing page (measurable metric) when it shows a family than when it shows a single man (market insight).”

The example might not be specific to the task, but it helps users understand exactly what the instruction means. 

In its playbook for increasing customer retention, CXL uses a real-world case study example to help explain customer feedback loops: 

Screenshot of CXL Playbook Page which uses a real-world case study example to help explain customer feedback loops

This helps bring context to the task. It also tells users why it matters. Showing how AppSumo improved its conversion rate with feedback loops proves they work, making them more appealing. 

At each stage of your playbooks, ask yourself if examples would help users better understand the point. Get feedback from team members at every stage to gauge if the information is clear and easy to understand. 

If readers can’t confidently execute their role the first time, add relatable context.

The takeaway: Use examples to improve clarity.


The marketing playbook is both a roadmap and framework. It shows team members how to get from points A to B with consistent results.

Use CXL’s playbooks to inspire your own. Work together as a team to think about the information marketers need to do their job successfully. 

Be clear and concise. Elaborate with examples where needed, but avoid unnecessary tangents or instructions that don’t directly influence what you want to achieve. If something needs explaining in-depth, create an additional playbook.

Finally, never leave a playbook on the shelf. Review their impact regularly and update it to stay relevant. Take what you learn from running plays to inform future playbooks and fine-tune your marketing activities. 

The post Breaking down 6 Marketing Playbook Examples from the CXL Community appeared first on CXL.

How High-Performing Companies Use North Star Metrics In Practice

How did Outreach grow in just a few years to 50,000 monthly active users, $10 million in new bookings, and net revenue retention (NRR) of more than 140%?  By focusing intently on a single measurement, known as a north star metric. The sales platform is intensely devoted to nurturing its monthly active users (MAU). They […]

The post How High-Performing Companies Use North Star Metrics In Practice appeared first on CXL.

How did Outreach grow in just a few years to 50,000 monthly active users, $10 million in new bookings, and net revenue retention (NRR) of more than 140%? 

By focusing intently on a single measurement, known as a north star metric.

The sales platform is intensely devoted to nurturing its monthly active users (MAU). They even employ a dedicated “System Implementation Manager” whose sole responsibility is to drive adoption and get 70% of customers using the product daily.

The north star metric defines success for the whole company and aligns teams on a growth trajectory.

In this article, you’ll learn how other growing companies use the north star metric to achieve customer success. Apply these lessons to align your teams and drive revenue growth.

What is a north star metric and why does it matter? 

Your north star metric (NSM) is the single measurement that is most indicative of your company’s long-term success.

Rather than tracking several metrics across multiple teams, brands that use the north star metric model identify a single measure that indicates overall company success and encompasses all other potential measurements.

“When the sales and marketing teams are looking at the same metrics and trying to hit the same North Star, lots of other pieces of ABM [account based marketing] fall into place.” – Samantha Mayer, Sales Manager, SMB and Pardot Growth Marketing

The idea is simple: align all teams toward a single goal to make collaboration and communication easier.

The NSM model drives:

  • Team alignment and focus. Having a single shared goal reduces instances where departments overlap or work against each other.
  • Transparency and ease of reporting and analysis. Weekly and monthly progress reports are easy to digest, and are consistent across the entire company.
  • Customer-centricity. North star metrics are inherently customer-centric, meaning all teams become focused on customer success rather than closing deals or growing revenue (although these naturally follow).
  • Accountability. NSMs can be broken down into sub-metrics (more on that later), so each team and individual can be held accountable for specific outcomes that influence north star metric growth.

True north star metrics tick three critical boxes. NSM must:

  1. Lead to revenue;
  2. Reflect customer value;
  3. Measure progress.

Let’s take a deeper look at each component with some examples that Finmark compiled in their list of 80+ SaaS companies using a north star metric. 

North star metrics must lead to revenue

Company success is largely defined by revenue growth, but revenue itself isn’t enough to be your NSM. Instead, your north star metric should be a variable that feeds into revenue.

Uber’s NSM, “number of trips,” is a good example of this; more trips mean more revenue.

North star metrics must reflect customer value

Your NSM must be indicative of the value customers receive from your product. If it improves, your customers get more value from your product.

Metrics such as daily active users (DAU), customer lifetime value (LTV), and Jira’s “active paid users” are all good examples of north star metrics that reflect customer value.

“Revenue is the price your customer pays. North star metric is the value your customer gets in return for that price.” – Ward van Gasteren, Growth Hacking Coach [via Grow with Ward]

North star metrics must measure progress

This is true of all good metrics. NSMs must be easily measurable, and their growth must reflect general company progress.

Take Asana. Their north star metric “weekly active paid users” strongly reflects progress. An increase in this metric means the company’s customer base is growing, as is revenue.

Where brands go wrong with north star metrics 

North star metrics are incredible for alignment and evaluating your value to customers, but you can’t just set your sights on a metric, call it your north star, and expect results.

1. Defaulting to revenue

Revenue (or any similar metric, such as ARR, Gross Merchandise Sales, or Monthly Billings) is not a suitable NSM for several reasons:

  • It’s a lagging indicator. Revenue tells you what happened in the past, not what will happen in the future. You want your NSM to be a leading indicator.
  • It’s not representative of customer value. Revenue is the value you receive from customers, not the value they receive from you.
  • It’s hard to operationalize. Because revenue can be inconsistent, operationalizing it as an NSM can be challenging, making it hard to link to your employee’s daily activities.
  • It changes your focus. Looking solely at revenue means trying to extract as much revenue from each customer as possible rather than building a product that provides the most value (and therefore allows you to charge more, keep customers for longer, etc.).
  • It’s uninspiring. Your NSM should foster team engagement and interest. Revenue is quite far removed from most employees’ daily jobs, and big numbers (in the millions) are hard to grasp compared to a metric like monthly active users (MAU).

2. Sticking too rigidly to a north star metric

Let’s say your startup is using monthly active users as your NSM. It’s been good for measuring growth so far, but you’ve identified that 80% of your users are on the free plan, and it’s time to focus on conversion.

MAU is no longer going to be a suitable NSM for your company. This number can grow, but if all your new MAUs are free users, you’re not achieving your conversion and paid customer acquisition goals.

NSMs should be used long-term, but you can opt to change your key metric when your old one no longer reflects company objectives or if your business model changes.

3. Focusing too narrowly on the NSM

The north star metric model is just that: a model.

The idea is to align all teams under a single metric that reflects company success, but you shouldn’t do away with other measurements altogether.

Teams still need to understand what defines success for them each month, week, and day.

Don’t forgo all other measurements in favor of an NSM. Do make sure your team and individual metrics feed into your north star.

Take Outreach’s NSM, monthly active users. 

To achieve this, sales will need to focus on metrics such as conversion rate and average deal size (measured in users). Marketing will need to focus on lead generation (new MQLs), and customer success will need to drive retention and feature adoption.

The Customer Success Manager is responsible for “going deep” and increasing the average number of features used by each user. – Manny Medina, Outreach CEO [via Latka]

Each of these team metrics has a direct impact on NSM growth.

North Star Metric (NSM) vs. One Metric That Matters (OMTM) 

Another commonly used model for simplifying the measurement of progress is One Metric That Matters (OMTM). OMTM and NSM are not synonyms.

NSM is a long-term tool used to measure company growth across the board. OMTM is a short-term metric (generally used for two to six months) and tends to be departmental.

For example, a digital team at an ecommerce brand might focus on shopping cart abandonment rate as an OMTM, while the company’s NSM is “number of monthly transactions.”

In this instance, the OMTM feeds into the company’s NSM. By reducing cart abandonment rates, the company will influence sales and drive progress toward their north star metric.

What are some examples of good north star metrics? 

The best-performing companies use north star metrics to understand progress in one of five areas:

  1. Growth efficiency;
  2. Customer acquisition;
  3. Custom action;
  4. Usage;
  5. User experience.

Use these examples to help choose the right north star metric for your company stage and objectives.

North star metric for growth efficiency 

Calm, a mediation and mindfulness app, uses the north star metric model to measure its brand’s growth efficiency.

They focus on two metrics:

  1. Customer lifetime value (LTV). The total revenue they’ll receive from a given customer throughout their business relationship.
  2. Customer acquisition cost (CAC). The average marketing and sales cost to win a new client.

LTV is a great NSM for measuring growth efficiency. It’s inextricably linked to revenue, as higher LTVs = more revenue. 

It reflects customer value in that buyers who get great value from a product will stay longer, increasing LTV. And it’s the perfect measure of progress because a growing LTV indicates that the product offering (and customer success initiatives) are improving.

The relationship between LTV and CAC is also an important one. 

If Calm continues to increase LTV, then CAC can increase, allowing the platform to outcompete other apps in the space by investing more in advertising, brand awareness, and social media engagement. 

North star metric for customer acquisition 

Airtable understands the need for specificity when choosing a north star metric to measure customer acquisition.

Rather than looking at total WAU (weekly active users), Airtable narrows down to track weekly paid users, or WPU (removing free plan and trial users from the calculation).

This NSM is much more directly tied to revenue; when WPU increases, revenue increases. It’s also highly reflective of customer value, as Airtable needs to demonstrate just how impactful its product is in order to convert free and trial users over to paid memberships.

And undoubtedly, WPU is a great proxy for progress, as you can measure advancement regularly and incrementally.

When choosing a north star metric to measure customer acquisition, consider whether your goal is to attract only paid users or simply to grow your customer base overall. Then select the metric that best represents this goal (WAU or WPU).

North star metric for customer action 

Super customer-focused companies can base north star metrics on specific customer actions, like consumption.

Take video platform Loom. Rather than measuring annual revenue or monthly active users, Loom gets super narrow, naming the videos with a view as its NSM.

Loom customers use the product to create screen share videos and other video content, often in an educational or business setting. By focusing on videos with a view, Loom becomes invested in the same thing their customers are, getting seen.

Clearly, this north star metric reflects customer value (more videos viewed indicates customers are using Loom), but it’s also causally linked to revenue. 

Loom users who record more videos see value from the product’s functionality and are less likely to churn. They’ll also need to upgrade their subscription one day to get more videos and make them longer.

North star metric for usage 

There are many ways we can measure usage. Some examples for north star metrics include:

  • Weekly Querying Users;
  • Total Engaged Time;
  • Social Engagement.

The most common, however, are daily, weekly, and monthly active users (DAU, WAU, and MAU, respectively).

Active users are a better metric for growth than new users because they’re a leading indicator. These users are the ones getting value out of your product. They’re less likely to churn and more likely to become brand advocates.

New customers, on the other hand, are a risk factor. Closing a deal is only half the battle; retaining that customer is what matters for revenue.

Using monthly, weekly, or daily active users as your NSM changes your focus. 

Marketing becomes concerned with creating powerful onboarding and customer education sequences. Sales and support focus on building relationships and ensuring smooth delivery and handoff. Success becomes fixated not just on immediate adoption but on long-term usage.

North star metric for user experience 

Email client Superhuman chose one of the most widely-used and easily-understood customer experience metrics for their NSM: net promoter score.

Net promoter score (NPS) analyzes customer sentiment at various stages in the customer journey based on their response to a simple question:

“On a scale from one to ten, how likely would you be to recommend our brand to a friend or family member?”

Customers don’t need to justify their response (though you may give them an opportunity); they simply choose a number on the scale, which bodes well for survey engagement.

Then, brands sort responses into one of three categories:

  1. Promoters (those who score 9 or 10);
  2. Passives (those who score 7 or 8);
  3. Detractors (those who score 6 or less).

To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters (e.g., 70% promoters – 10% detractors = NPS score of 60%).

Net promoter score is a great candidate for a north star metric because it excels in all requirements:

  1. It leads to revenue (happy customers are returning customers).
  2. It reflects customer value (those who rate you highly have enjoyed their experience).
  3. It measures progress (increasing NPS leads to better customer retention and revenue growth).

Should a company only have one north star? 

Strictly speaking, the point of the north star metric framework is to distill your company’s growth measurements down to a single metric.

In theory, then, the goal is to have just one.

In practice, however, this can be limiting, particularly for large organizations. It’s not uncommon for enterprise-level companies to monitor multiple north star metrics. 

Importantly, you still need to avoid siloing departments by having one metric per team. If you must use more than one NSM, make sure they’re all metrics that every department can influence.

Take Spotify, which uses three north star metrics:

  1. Number of paid subscribers;
  2. Consumption hours (for Podcasts);
  3. Monthly active users.

All team members can influence MAU, and as we’ve said above, it reflects customer value. It doesn’t, however, map directly over to revenue (more than half of Spotify’s customers are on a free plan).

It makes sense, then, for Spotify to supplement MAU with an acquisition metric: the number of paid subscribers.

In short, it’s fine to have more than one north star metric if it’s not possible for you to distill down to one metric that defines company success.

How do you select a good north star? 

Follow these steps to gradually narrow down from a broad understanding of business needs to a single measurement that reflects overall progress.

1. What factors are essential to our company’s success?

First, analyze and list the various factors that contribute to company success. Think broadly here.

Take Medium. As an open publishing platform, Medium really has two types of customers: readers and writers.

“I sometimes characterize Medium as content matchmaking: we want people to write, and others to read, great posts. It’s two-sided: one can’t exist without the other.” – Pete Davies, Product Lead, Medium

For Medium, then, essential factors to success might include new publications, membership renewals, or brand awareness.

2. Which KPIs measure these?

Now, turn these factors into hard measurements. Ask, how can we measure each of the essential factors identified?

For Medium, important KPIs might include:

  • Weekly page views;
  • Monthly new signups;
  • Total number of live posts;
  • Total reading time;
  • Monthly active users;
  • Average time on page per session;
  • Monthly recurring revenue;
  • Social media shares.

3. Of the above, which are the most crucial?

Now, cut out the “nice to have” metrics and keep only the most critical to your business’ success.

Medium, for instance, may determine that “Total number of live posts,” “Total reading time,” and “Monthly active users” are the three most important measurements.

4. What one metric encapsulates all of those?

Lastly, determine the single metric that encapsulates all of the most crucial measurements. For Medium, it’s total time reading.

“The aggregate Total Time Reading (TTR) is a metric that helps us understand how the Medium platform is doing as a whole. We can slice that number in lots of ways (logged-in vs. logged-out, new posts vs. old, etc.).” – Pete Davies

TTR works for Medium because all of the other measurements feed into it. More MAUs mean more readers to drive TTR upward, and more published pages mean more content for active users to read.

How to use the north star to drive product strategy 

The point of a north star metric is to align all teams on a single mission, such that sales, marketing, service, success, and product teams all share the same vision for success.

So, simply tracking the metric is insufficient; product teams must invest in experimentation to drive their NSM upward.

Take Webflow, a no-code website development platform.

Webflow is deeply focused on customer acquisition, using the number of paid subscribers as their north star metric.

So, how can a product manager at Webflow use their NSM to drive developments in their product strategy?

Analyze customer segments and double down on high-converting audiences 

If Webflow’s primary goal is to increase paid subscribers, the first step is to analyze its current customer base to understand which segments:

  • Convert most easily;
  • Stay the longest;
  • Become product evangelists. 

As a web design platform, Webflow likely has two main customer types: brands (individuals and companies designing a website internally) and designers (agencies, freelancers, and contractors).

Assuming the latter is the more lucrative segment (they’re more likely to be paid subscribers), Webflow can dig deeper to understand trends in industry and region.

For instance, tech-focused website designers in the Pacific Northwest may present the biggest opportunity. Webflow’s acquisition team can double down on geo-targeted ads with messaging aimed at tech designers.

Optimize the trial and onboarding process 

Webflow’s acquisition funnel starts with a free plan. Because they don’t start charging until you actually publish a website, there’s no free trial, and signing up takes less than a minute (with a Google account).

Screenshot of Webflow sign up with a Google Account

There are no barriers to customer acquisition, meaning it’s all on the onboarding process for converting free users into paid ones.

Webflow’s welcome email is good, but it’s busy, sharing four resources (with CTAs for each):

  1. Prebuilt layouts;
  2. Templates;
  3. Webflow 101;
  4. Hire an Expert.
Screenshot of Webflow Welcome Email

A marketer at Webflow could design an experiment to test whether a more personalized onboarding sequence is more effective. 

A simple question (e.g., “How would you like to get started?”) with a multi-choice answer (e.g., “Get help from an expert” and “Start with a template”) could be added to the sign-up sequence. 

You could then send a corresponding welcome email that includes only the resources that particular user needs.

Experiment with different pricing and package structures 

Webflow’s pricing structure may be a barrier to growing paid accounts.

Free users get up to 50 CMS items included in their plan, but when they upgrade to Basic, this drops to zero, forcing users to jump straight into a more expensive plan.

To drive paid user acquisition, a pricing manager at Webflow could experiment with upping the CMS item cap on the Basic plan to 50 (the same as the free plan).


Successful brands, big and small, use the north star metric system to inform their growth strategy, focus on customer success, and align teams on a single mission.

But NSM growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It occurs when marketing and sales align with the product team to build a custom experience that attracts and retains paying customers.

Become great at product marketing and drive NSM progress with CXL’s Product Marketing Minidegree.

The post How High-Performing Companies Use North Star Metrics In Practice appeared first on CXL.

Cross-selling and Upselling: What to Know Before Getting Started

Upselling and cross-selling are two ways to do the same thing: grow your revenue by getting customers to spend more. It’s a mutually beneficial deal where customers get a better experience, and you get a fatter bottom line. But many businesses jump in too early, neglecting their buyer’s intent, choosing the wrong method, and annoying […]

The post Cross-selling and Upselling: What to Know Before Getting Started appeared first on CXL.

Upselling and cross-selling are two ways to do the same thing: grow your revenue by getting customers to spend more. It’s a mutually beneficial deal where customers get a better experience, and you get a fatter bottom line.

But many businesses jump in too early, neglecting their buyer’s intent, choosing the wrong method, and annoying customers instead of enhancing their experience.

In this article, you’ll discover what everyone’s missing about cross-selling and upselling, so you can apply today’s best practices to delight customers, deliver more value, and drive revenue growth.

What everyone’s missing about cross-selling and upselling 

Cross-selling and upselling are similar, but not synonymous. 

Cross-selling involves additional product recommendations: “If you like this, you might also like this.” 

Upselling is about upgrading the customer’s original purchase: “That’s a good choice, but this one is better, and here’s why.”

Both cross-selling and upselling can take place during the initial sale, or further down the track, once the customer relationship has been established.

Used effectively, the two techniques can maximize customer value and improve key revenue metrics like LTV (customer lifetime value) and AOV (average order value).

Maximizing value: What is cross-selling? 

Cross-selling occurs when you recommend additional products or services on top of what the customer is already purchasing.

The archetypal example of the cross-selling technique is the McDonald’s cashier who asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

The additional item you’re selling is complementary to what they’ve already agreed to buy—not just any additional product. You’re helping the customer maximize the value they get from that purchase or improve the customer’s experience when using it.

For instance, a sales rep at Mailchimp could cross-sell blocks of email marketing credits to a customer signing up for a Website package.

The email credits are a complementary item that benefits the buyer who will want to stay in touch with the leads they capture.

This cross-sell could take place at signup, or an account manager could reach out at a later point (having identified a cross-sell buying signal).

Where cross-selling goes wrong

The best cross-sells are enhancements, not requirements. 

Apple provides a good example of each. New iPhones no longer ship with a power adapter or headphones.

You don’t need headphones to use your phone, making them complementary to the core product. So, headphones like Apple’s AirPods are a great upsell opportunity.

You can’t, however, use an iPhone without charging it.

The exclusion of a power adapter creates a cross-sell opportunity, but it’s a forced one and not a good example of a cross-selling strategy you should pursue.

There’s also a reason why you don’t see a pop up for the latest Apple Watch or MacBook on its iPhone checkout page: this would be a poor example of a cross-sell. These are not relevant products, and they may also be a good deal more than the customer was willing to spend (we’ll explore price anchoring in a moment).

Ensure cross-sell offers are highly-relevant to buyer motivations

Salespeople must ask: what drove this customer to purchase in the first place?

Take sales CRM Pipedrive.

A sales rep at Pipedrive might identify that their customer’s primary motivation for purchase was the need to grow revenue. They intend to use Pipedrive to build a demand funnel, monitor performance and identify areas for training.

Pipedrive’s LeadBooster add-on serves the same goal (driving revenue growth through lead generation), making it an appropriate product for cross-selling.

When opening a cross-sell conversation, ensure the additional product is not only relevant to the original purchase but serves the same goal.

Use price anchoring to drive cross-sell conversions

Cross-selling is most effective when the additional product or service is much lower in price than the initial purchase, taking advantage of a psychological effect known as price anchoring.

Price anchoring is all about how we perceive monetary values relatively.

Put simply, once we’ve already agreed to pay $200 for an item, considering an additional $20 to get more value out of the original product seems like a good choice.

Retail and ecommerce businesses like Amazon and Walmart use this tactic regularly to sell products that are frequently bought together. Here Walmart links to additional product pages that customers “also considered” and “also bought.”

Having already agreed to purchase the $235 barbeque, complementary products like a $7 grill brush seem much more affordable. 

Consider Mailchimp’s Advanced Scheduling add-on. 

At just $8 per month, it’s a relatively small additional cost compared with the Plus plan’s monthly cost of $29.

When cross-selling, aim for your additional product to cost no more than 20% and 30% of the original total and choose items that enhance the value of the bigger ticket item.

Customize cross-sell offers based on customer usage and needs

The best examples of cross-selling are deeply contextual. 

There is no point in Pipedrive sales agents trying to sell the LeadBooster product to every customer. Instead, they should look at product usage to identify opportunities.

For example, the agent could review account usage to determine if a customer is working on an outbound or inbound sales model (e.g., where are their new leads coming from?).

An account using an inbound model is far more likely to entertain a cross-sell discussion about their LeadBooster add-on.

The second question to answer here is about need: “Will this client truly benefit from the additional product?” 

If the answer is yes, this would be a good cross-sell opportunity for the Pipedrive rep.

Incorporate cross-sell opportunities into customer review meetings 

Like all sales, cross-selling is most effective when it doesn’t feel like a pitch.

If you call a customer three weeks into their subscription to say, “Hey, I’ve got this great product add-on I want to talk to you about,” it’s probably going to feel like a hard sell.

One effective method for making cross-sell attempts feel more natural and conversational is to incorporate them as part of your regularly scheduled customer review meetings.

To clarify, you shouldn’t schedule these meetings with the sole intent of opening a cross-sell conversation. 

Customer review meetings should already be a part of your customer success program, fueling goal alignment and nurturing the brand-buyer relationship. These conversations can make for appropriate segways into cross-sell conversations.

For instance, customer success suite Catalyst’s QBR (quarterly business review) agenda includes a discussion of strategic obstacles as well as plans for future growth.

These discussion points are ripe with cross-sell opportunities.

For example, say a Pipedrive customer is speaking to a rep on a QBR call, and they explain that one of their goals for the upcoming quarter is to improve their email lead nurturing. This signals to the agent that they’re a great opportunity for cross-selling the Campaigns Plugin.

When preparing for customer review meetings, be mindful of potential cross-sell opportunities, and be on the lookout for key phrases and need signals during that conversation.

Maximizing performance: What is upselling?

Upselling is the practice of convincing customers to purchase a higher-value product.

Where cross-selling looks to identify products that are complementary to the original purchase, upselling strategies look to swap out the original purchase for a higher-end item that presents greater value to the customer.

The archetypal upsell occurs in car showrooms.

Take Mazda’s latest version of the Mazda3 sedan, advertised at a starting price of $21,150.

When customers head to the lot, one of the salesperson’s primary goals will be to upsell the buyer to a more luxurious package, of which there are eight.

The benefit to the company is obvious. If successful, a sales rep can turn a $21,000 sale into a $33,000 one, generating an additional 58% in revenue through a single sale.

It’s such a powerful channel for revenue growth that many SaaS companies bake upsell opportunities into their pricing model.

Take ActiveCampaign. Their pricing model attracts SMB and entry-level users to their Lite plan, baked into which is an upsell opportunity that could generate more than 5x revenue (if a customer upgrades from the Lite plan to the Professional tier). 

Where upselling goes wrong

The biggest problem with most upsell attempts is a lack of personalization.

Sales reps simply spout some variation of, “Hey, do you want this version? It’s better.” They may back up this claim with some stats, feature walk-throughs, and social proof but ultimately fail to make a compelling case to that individual buyer.

Consider the buyer intent: they’ve already analyzed your pricing tiers and decided that the more expensive plans didn’t represent enough value for their current circumstances. You’ll need to counter their specific objections or appeal to more fitting benefits.

Upselling requires deep personalization

Upselling comes back to sales 101: understand the buyer’s needs, then communicate how your product solves them.

Many SaaS products today, however, are quite complex (particularly as you move toward the top pricing tiers). Understanding how your product benefits fit a client’s goals and operational needs can take some time.

For this reason, many sales reps find more success upselling further on in the relationship, rather than at the point of initial sale.

Consider a customer who has just signed up for ActiveCampaign’s Lite plan. They’ve never worked with an email marketing automation platform before, so the breadth of features offered by even the most basic plan might be overwhelming.

In addition, features like predictive sending, split automations, and contact scoring are likely out of scope for a company just getting started with email marketing.

A clued-in sales rep at ActiveCampaign would identify this, knowing that they’ll have a better shot at long-term customer retention (the real key to SaaS revenue growth) if they can:

  • Get the customer on board now;
  • Demonstrate product value in real life;
  • Nurture the relationship through educational content and customer success initiatives.

Further down the track, the account manager may identify an important upsell opportunity signal: the customer has increased lead generation by 200% but is failing to effectively manage these opportunities. Translation: they need ActiveCampaign’s CRM features, available in the Plus plan.

To be most effective during upsell conversations, personalize offers based on customer needs and usage.

Leverage relevant customer success stories 

Social proof plays a role in the upsell game, but only if it’s highly relevant to the specific customer you’re selling to.

Take Zendesk, which offers three standard pricing tiers and an additional two aimed at enterprise-level companies.

Zendesk has built incredible upsell (and therefore revenue) potential into their pricing model. The difference between the cheapest and most expensive plans is $166 per agent. For an enterprise customer like Tesco, with 7,400 agents, that’s a little over $1.2m in upsell revenue.

To reap this potential benefit, Zendesk will need to leverage relevant social proof when upselling to other enterprise companies. 

Success stories from the likes of Uber will help with big brand name clout, but these should be supplemented with industry-relevant stories:

Use social proof to bolster your upsell pitches, but only if those customer stories are deeply relevant to your customer’s industry, needs, and use cases.

Offer an extended free trial to help customers see value in-situ 

Free trials are regularly used during the initial customer acquisition process, but they’re also a powerful sales technique for supporting an upsell.

Make your initial pitch based on identified customer needs, then put your money where your mouth is by offering an extended trial of the upgraded plan you’re promoting.

This can help build mental ownership thanks to a cognitive bias we all share called the endowment effect. If you’re successful at helping users adopt and embed the features included in the higher-tier plan, you’re more likely to raise your conversion rate.

What you need to know before deciding to cross-sell or upsell 

Just because you can present a cross-sell or upsell opportunity doesn’t mean you should.

Get the timing wrong, and you’ll not only lower your chances of converting, but risk coming off as a pushy sales rep and ultimately alienating the customer.

You need enough customer data to personalize an offer 

During initial sales conversations, the information you have on customer needs, motivations, and operational requirements is entirely based on what the prospect chooses to share with you.

As a salesperson, your ability to build rapport and ask high-quality explorative questions has a profound influence, but your intel on the customer is still largely based on conversation.

In SaaS, that all changes once they start using your product, sending a goldmine of data to interpret.

With product analytics platforms like Mixpanel, sales teams can dive deep into product usage and uncover upsell opportunities.

Take TestGorilla, a pre-employment screening and candidate testing platform. Their pricing model is based on assessment and candidate credits (i.e. it’s a usage-based pricing structure).

This pricing model makes upsell opportunity identification easy. If a customer on the “Pay as you go” plan purchases two or more additional assessment credits, their monthly cost exceeds what they’d pay if they upgraded to the Scale plan.

Here, TestGorilla can provide a personalized offer via email as soon as this customer purchases just one additional assessment credit. Its message could be something like:

“Hey, you just purchased an additional assessment credit, bringing your monthly bill to $175. Sounds like you’re growing fast! For just $125, we can upgrade you to the Scale plan, which will give you 15 monthly assessment credits and 15x more candidate credits.”

What you must be able to answer 

Before you jump into a new upsell or cross-sell opportunity, ask yourself these three questions.

How will the customer benefit? 

You must be able to communicate how the customer will benefit from the upgrade.

Don’t talk about features, talk about impacts. Sales CRM Copper is a good example of this:

To move a customer from the Basic plan to the Professional tier, you must describe exactly how workflow automation will benefit that customer.

It’s not enough to assume they understand what the impact of this feature is, or what it even means. But, if a sales rep can communicate in terms that relate to that specific customer’s usage, they’ll win. 

For instance, its message could be:

“I’ve noticed that you’ve set your sales pipeline up so that after each action, be it a phone call, email, or SMS message, the sales agent moves the account card forward one pipeline stage. 

With our workflow automation feature, we can automate that so the lead moves forward as soon as the phone call activity is checked off. It seems small, but when you’re dealing with hundreds of activities each day, this can add up to tens of hours saved each week which your team can reinvest into those selling activities that really move the needle.”

Is the customer willing to spend more? 

This depends largely on the customer journey stage.

If they’re an early-stage company (i.e. pre-revenue), they might struggle to afford a higher-tier plan or product add-on. When this is the case, your best move is to help them get the most out of their current plan so they can drive revenue (or cut costs, depending on the space you occupy) and eventually have the financial ability to upgrade.

That said, in many cases, it’s not so much about the customer’s ability to afford the upgrade, but their willingness.

This will come down to your ability to demonstrate value. For example, if the higher-priced product costs $100 extra a month, but you can demonstrate how it will help the customer generate an additional $1000 a month in revenue, you’ll win.

Is our checkout process smooth? 

The last thing you want to do is draw out the sales cycle right when a buyer is about to sign.

Advanced sales reps will make a decision early on: “Do I have an opportunity to cross-sell now, or will we have a better shot if we get them onboarded, demonstrate value, and leverage usage data to create a compelling offer?”

If you fail to make the checkout process smooth, you’ll risk losing not just the cross-sell but the entire sale.

Pre-sale vs. post-sale upselling and cross-selling 

Opportunities to upsell or cross-sell exist both at the point of initial sale (i.e. to a new customer) and at various points throughout the customer lifecycle (i.e. to existing customers).

There is no “one size fits all” approach here.

The decision to engage in a pre-sale or post-sale upsell or cross-sell depends on two key factors:

  1. Your industry;
  2. Each specific customer.

Online stores, for instance, are almost always going to be more likely to cross-sell products if they do so pre-sale (i.e. on the checkout page).

Take Converse. An upsell from a canvas shoe to a leather shoe can only take place pre-sale. It’s impractical to try and upsell after they’ve already purchased and worn the item.

Cross-sells in ecommerce can take place post-sale, but it’s still an awkward proposition. 

Adding a $7 can of suede protector to your shoe purchase is a simple proposition; being asked to make a second purchase a week later (and having to pay an additional shipping fee) is unlikely to motivate consumers.

In the SaaS and B2B world, the opportunity to engage in post-sale upsell and cross-sell conversations makes more sense.

Part of this comes down to the fact that there is no physical product, so upgrading at a later point is a logical proposition. Plus, reps can take advantage of product adoption and usage analytics, which can trigger buying signals that kick off cross-sell and upsell conversations.

There is, of course, an element of salesperson discretion here.

By and large, reps should have the opportunity to cross-sell or upsell on the spot, if they see burning customer needs that they can leverage.

Similarly, they may also identify that a particular customer is standoffish, hesitant, or unconvinced that the product is right for them, despite proceeding with a subscription.

In this case, salespeople should not push the sale (and risk losing the customer altogether). Make a note for future upsell or cross-sell opportunities that the customer support team can nurture.


Upselling and cross-selling are sales tactics that, when used correctly, can be instrumental for long-term revenue growth, particularly in subscription businesses.

Successful cross-selling is all about relevance, customization, and leveraging price anchoring to make the additional cost seem minimal. Timing and information are everything for upselling, so many sales reps in B2B SaaS environments find it easier to upsell further in the relationship.

Upselling in the ecommerce world is a very different game. Master the skills in our guide, How To Boost Ecommerce Sales With Upselling.

The post Cross-selling and Upselling: What to Know Before Getting Started appeared first on CXL.

Omnichannel Marketing: 7 Examples to Improve Customer Experience

When researching a new product, buyers use 10 or more channels to interact with companies. Each channel presents a chance to make a good impression.  Optimize each channel, and you’ll win new customers, enjoy higher order rates, and retain customers. Get them wrong, and you risk damaging brand perception and trust.  In this post, we’ll […]

The post Omnichannel Marketing: 7 Examples to Improve Customer Experience appeared first on CXL.

When researching a new product, buyers use 10 or more channels to interact with companies. Each channel presents a chance to make a good impression. 

Optimize each channel, and you’ll win new customers, enjoy higher order rates, and retain customers. Get them wrong, and you risk damaging brand perception and trust. 

In this post, we’ll explore lessons from brands that use omnichannel marketing to deliver a seamless customer experience.

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is the combination of offline and digital marketing channels to create a consistent customer experience at every touchpoint and every stage of the buyer’s journey

It’s an approach that fits with how people increasingly engage with brands. As McKinsey research notes: 

“Given the choice of in-person, remote, and e-commerce channels, purchasers have shown they want them all.”

Its study of B2B buyers shows an even split in how decision-makers interact with sales reps traditionally, remotely, and self-served digitally: 

Screenshot of the result from McKinsey’s research on B2B decision makers

Of the B2B leaders that use omnichannel marketing, 83% say it’s a more successful way to prospect and secure new business than traditional “face-to-face only” selling. 

Omnichannel aligns branding, messaging, and customer service across every channel. 

If you’ve ever received an email with personalized product recommendations or a retargeting ad on Facebook for a product you left in your cart, that’s omnichannel marketing in action.   

Focusing on personalized experience instead of the platform increases familiarity, convenience, and engagement. It makes it easy for people to get the necessary information and help. And when the time comes, it makes buying easier for them. 

This leads to greater brand awareness, revenues, and customer loyalty.

Omnichannel marketing vs. multichannel marketing: What’s the difference?

Both omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing use more than one platform to engage audiences. But how they do it is very different:

  • Multichannel marketing is a channel-by-channel strategy where marketers use each channel as a standalone way to amplify the message and reach more customers. So the brand experience on Twitter is not joined up with Facebook or LinkedIn, and content is often pushed out to each platform with no differentiation or personalization.
  • Omnichannel marketing approaches marketing through the lens of the customer. It uses data to understand customer behavior and preferred channels, ensuring personalized messaging that fits each journey stage. Each channel is a piece of the same puzzle. 

Essentially, it’s quantity vs. quality. Multichannel marketing focuses on quantity, giving customers more options to use. Omnichannel focuses on quality, creating marketing campaigns based on customer interests. 

How to create an omnichannel marketing strategy

According to the Journal of Marketing Management, a seamless omnichannel customer experience is built on: 

  • Consistency;
  • Synchronization;
  • Freedom in channel selection.

These are the pillars of a successful strategy. What customers think and feel about your brand should be the same wherever they interact with you. Create your strategy by focusing on the experience, not the channel. 

Get into the mind of your customer

The first step in an omnichannel marketing plan is to map out the customer journey. Forrester reports that since the pandemic, buyers now average 27 interactions when gathering information (up from 17 in 2019). 

Which touchpoints are customers using to interact with you? Do they have a consistent experience? If not, you’ll need to align branding, messaging, and departments. 

To build your customer journey map, answer the five W’s.


Are your buyers individuals making their own decisions (e.g., retail consumers or companies of one), or do they buy in teams? If you need to think of personas as a group, consider who is making decisions and at what stage. 

For example, a CMO might decide they need some software but delegate the research to a marketing executive before a marketing manager narrows down options. Who are you marketing to at each stage?


What is your customer looking to achieve? What are their goals and pain points? Conduct voice of customer research to find out their motivations. This will help you to understand what they value about your product and how best to communicate it. 


What are customers’ needs at different stages in their journey? Understanding this will help you answer the right questions to move them down the marketing funnel

For example, someone looking for accounting software might start their journey by searching for the benefits of using accounting software. 

They might then progress to learning how one product differs from another before searching for a demo that shows how a product specifically benefits them. It’s important to understand what triggers a customer to act. 


What content should you use to answer questions at each stage of the customer journey? A blog post on the benefits of your product might be useful to a marketer in the exploration phase, but it’s unlikely to be substantial enough for a manager in the decision-making phase. 


Where do your customers go to find information (e.g., website, social media, podcasts, webinars, influencers, events, etc.)? Answering this will help you deliver the right content to the right audience, in the right place.           

Keep the insights learned from these questions in a central place that’s accessible for all teams. 

Get marketing and sales on the same page

Marketing alignment is crucial to the omnichannel experience. When marketing teams and sales teams work in silos, goals and motivations differ. Departments work with different systems, have independent ideas on lead qualification, and push contradictory messaging.

This makes the right data harder to locate, resulting in poor conversion rates that affect revenues and dampen company culture. 

When they’re aligned revenue and profits increase. 

Focus on these four priority steps to avoid sales and marketing misalignment

  • Define and understand your target audience;
  • Create core messages to speak to your target audience;
  • Define shared terms and internal language;
  • Create a process for working with leads.

Segment your audience to engage the right people at the right time

Segmentation is crucial to separating omnichannel marketing from a multichannel approach. It lets you deliver the right content to the right audience segment and makes it easier to uncover new opportunities through data. 

Segment your audience by combining three core categories:

  • Behavioral. Divide customers by previous activity. For example, Spotify recommends new music based on what I’ve previously listened to.
  • Demographic. Divide people by physical and socioeconomic factors: age, location, gender, ethnicity, education level, income level, etc.
  • Psychographic. Divide people based on beliefs, emotions, personality traits, motivations, intent, interests, lifestyle, worldviews, etc. This requires qualitative research to find the why behind the who and the what to craft compelling messaging. 

Use data to identify channels

Look at traffic, engagement, and conversions to determine which channels to add to your marketing mix. Choose options with high ROI and the ability to scale.

Supplement this with a competitive analysis to learn which channels are used frequently and successfully in your industry. 

But don’t rely solely on what the numbers are saying. Ask your audience how they like to interact with you and prefer to hear from you. 

To build long-term customer relationships, it’s important that they’re in control of communication and you’re adhering to their wishes. Overstepping boundaries runs the risk of being annoying and intrusive. 

Regular feedback from customers will also uncover emerging channels that can be used to reach new audiences.

Test, measure, improve

How customers engage with your marketing determines your next steps. Use marketing platforms and automation tools to collect and analyze data to see what works, what to optimize, and what to scrap.

A/B test components, such as:

Test processes regularly to see which segments respond best to your marketing. To work out which channel should get credit for a conversion, use omnichannel attribution models, such as: 

  • Last click attribution;
  • Last non-direct click attribution (the interaction before the last click);
  • Last ads click attribution;
  • First click attribution;
  • Time decay attribution;
  • Position-based attribution.

Finally, pay attention to the KPIs and metrics that matter: 

  • Overall revenue;
  • Revenue per visitor;
  • Conversion rate;
  • Customer Acquisition Cost;
  • Customer Lifetime Value;
  • Average order value;
  • Active customers;
  • Customer churn;
  • Repeat customers.

There’s no surer sign of omnichannel campaigns working than when these metrics make for good reading.

7 omnichannel marketing examples you can learn from

The best way to understand anything is through examples. To inspire your marketing efforts, let’s look at brands that are using an omnichannel approach to deliver consistent, engaging customer experiences. 

1. Amazon offers a synchronized customer journey

Love them or hate them, there’s no better example of joined-up thinking about the customer experience than Amazon

Omnichannel marketing works because it makes the customer experience effortless. As data strategist Misia Tramp says, omnichannel marketing involves “using data to understand where effort exists in the customer experience and how to remove rather than add effort.”

Everything Amazon does is geared toward making life easy for the customer. As an Amazon Prime member, I benefit from a smooth, efficient buying process.

First, with Prime, Amazon has removed a big reason for cart abandonment: shipping costs. They’ve also created a lock-in effect: delivery is fast and free, making it the place I often turn to first when shopping online. 

They’ve made it easy to find and purchase what I need. An item I add to my basket on the Amazon website is automatically synced to my basket on the mobile app. The feel of the app mimics that of the website, making it a seamless transition. 

Screenshot of Amazon Website Add To Basket Page
Screenshot of Amazon Mobile App Add To Basket Page

I can shop on the channel I prefer and take advantage of Amazon One-Click to checkout at the swipe of a button—without inputting details each time. 

This efficiency extends to Alexa, where I use voice control to make purchases without ever visiting the website. 

Each purchase can then be tracked from warehouse to doorstep with push notifications giving me an estimated arrival time, so I can be sure someone’s home when the item arrives. 

Based on order and browsing history, Amazon’s homepage recommends products and video content I might like. These add to the effortless shopping experience while keeping me engaged. 

Screenshot of Amazon Homepage

I also get personalized promotions and information on making the most of my Prime subscription to improve my experience at every touchpoint. 

Screenshot of Amazon Personalize Offers

Follow Amazon’s lead. Everyone knows it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one (anywhere from 5 to 25 times cheaper, depending on which study you read). Reward every customer engagement with your brand. Make it easy for them to find information and convert. 

Use customer data to keep them coming back by personalizing interactions based on previous activity. Make the benefits of being a customer hard to resist and hard to give up.  

2. Rooted lets customers pick up where they left off

According to Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate across all industries is 69.82%. It’s a statistic that, according to Forrester, costs ecommerce brands $18 billion in revenue every year. 

A big part of omnichannel marketing is identifying where customers are falling away and reengaging them. 

Plant subscription brand Rooted does this with cart abandonment emails. Customers who leave their online store without purchasing automatically receive a reminder in their inbox. 

Screenshot of Rooted Cart Abandonment Email

The copy here is clever because it’s not pushy. “You left something behind!” fits with Rooted’s casual tone of voice. The rest of the copy follows suit:

“That’s alright, we still love you. We even saved the items that you were looking at just in case you wanted to take another look. Don’t be creeped out. We. Simply. Love. You.

Rooted isn’t demanding that anyone buy the item. It’s showing they care and making it easy for them to complete a purchase if they want to. 

Remember, omnichannel marketing is about the customer being in control. It’s important that interactions are helpful, not forced. 

Rooted’s marketing automation carries on post-purchase. New customers are sent unboxing instructions for their plants. These follow the same helpful tone as the cart abandonment email. 

Screenshot of Rooted Post Purchase Email

The instructions have also been repurposed on YouTube

Screenshot of Rooted Post Purchaase Instruction on Youtube

The company’s founders are in the video and in the brand’s Instagram content. Their humor also fills the company’s Twitter feed: 

Screenshot of Rooted Tweet

People feel more connected to brands whose CEOs share information online. By presenting themselves as the public face of the company, Rooted’s co-founders are building their personal brand and making the retail brand more relatable. 

People see familiar faces and enjoy the same tone of voice on every channel, making those email interactions feel more personal. 

3. BonLook blurs the lines between physical and digital

Buying glasses is traditionally a hands-on process. You want to feel the quality of the materials and see how frames fit on your face. It’s not something that lends itself naturally to online shopping. 

BonLook overcomes these obstacles by using omnichannel marketing to bring the benefits of in-store shopping to website customers. 

The company’s virtual try-on feature uses augmented reality to replicate the process of trying on glasses in a physical store, making it easy for customers to see how different frames look when worn. 

Screenshot of Bonlook Website

To further help them find the right product, BonLook also developed a custom app that lets associates assist customers with an online purchase, much like they would in-store. 

Finally, those looking for a fully online shopping experience are helped through the process with a shopping guide that teaches them how to find frames that fit, make sense of prescriptions, and understand lens costs.  

Screenshot of Bonlook Where To Start Page

It’s a lesson in delivering a seamless experience. The channel and marketing methods are different, but the result is always the same. 

Whether they go to a BonLook brick-and-mortar store or visit the website, customers can leave with the product they wanted. This has led to the company increasing average order value by 18% year on year

Take what you do well—what customers love you for—and replicate the experience at every touchpoint.

4. Cornerstone Fellowship uses omnichannel marketing to build community

If you want to grow your business, build a community. Communities are shown to help brands increase brand awareness, leads, and sales. 

When Cornerstone Fellowship, a pop-up church operating in San Francisco’s East Bay Area, wanted to grow its community, however, it had specific criteria. The church had no interest in winning people over from other congregations. Instead, it wanted to appeal to local non-worshippers.  

With help from marketing agency Propelo, Cornerstone Fellowship developed a campaign to target new movers around the church’s pop-up locations.

By using new mover lists, they could appeal directly to community members who had yet to find a new place of worship. 

Each household was sent a plastic postcard that featured a QR code and pop-out information card with service locations and times. 

These were supported by email marketing and digital display ad campaigns to increase awareness. 

Screenshot of Cornerstone Fellowship Plastic Postcard

In four months, the campaign delivered over 95,000 impressions, directly increased weekly church attendance, and helped Cornerstone Fellowship develop meaningful relationships with its new community. 

Be clear on who you’re targeting, then create a plan to show up where they are with marketing that directs them to where you want them to be. 

5. Intelligent Blends increases revenue with push notifications

When a need pops into a customer’s head, you want to be the name they think of first. Achieve staying front of mind in two ways:

  1. Consistency. Becoming a brand customers trust. 
  2. High visibility. Being an omnipresent brand. 

As part of a wider omnichannel marketing strategy that includes email, SMS, Google, and “anything that’s going to be in the customer journey’s path,” Gourmet Coffee manufacturer Intelligent Blends maintains front-of-mind awareness with push notifications. 

Push notifications are a tricky one to get right. There’s a thin line between them being useful and annoying or intrusive. 

Intelligent Blends achieves success by automating messages for different use cases. This means customers aren’t seeing the same type of notification each time. Instead, they see the right message for their stage in the customer journey. 

Using Firepush to send notifications, Intelligent Blends engages customers with:

  • Abandoned cart notifications;
  • Relevant new deals;
  • Welcome messages for new subscribers.

Abandoned cart pushes are sent 20 minutes, one hour, and 24 hours after a customer leaves the store, using a combination of scarcity and urgency CTAs to encourage action.

Screenshot of Intelligent Blends Push Notifications

Deal notifications use snappy copy to entice the target audience. This separates notifications from generic alerts that follow people around the internet.

Screenshot of Intelligent Blends snappy copy push notification

Welcome notifications extend a simple warm greeting to new subscribers in the discovery phase. It’s a gesture that has achieved a 9.89% click-through rate. 

Screenshot of Intelligent Blends Greeting To New Subscriber Push Notification

Combined, these notifications have earned Intelligent Blends over 54K subscribers, increased total orders by 20K, and generated almost $800,000 in revenue.

Like Cornerstone Fellowship, Intelligent Blends meets customers where they are to make themselves the go-to choice. 

6. Lemonade uses data to deliver customer-centric marketing

The insurance industry has existed for over a century without much in the way of innovation. When Lemonade came along, it sought to shake things up. 

The company has no brokers and provides a user experience driven by artificial intelligence. 

As an industry disruptor, Lemonade wanted to appeal to a younger audience jaded by legacy providers. 

It does this through strong branding

Lemonade promises “insurance built for the 21st century.” This is evident in the brand’s conversational tone of voice, illustrations, and clever use of the color pink, all of which are present consistently across its digital channels.

Screenshot of Lemonade Homepage

But that laid-back vibe only works if the customer experience backs it up. And it does, with chatbots that guide users gently through the sign-up and claims process. As Webprofits explains: 

“The questions are in simple, direct language, that leave little room for confusion. As the sign up process progresses, it takes on the feeling of a personalized conversation.

It also reduces unease. When users sign up, they feel a sense of certainty about each choice they make.

The entire process takes five minutes or so and then she generates a quote. You choose your start date and enter your credit card details. Then, you are asked which charity you would like to donate your unclaimed premiums to.

The experience is quick and requires zero paperwork, and can be done via the website or app.”

Key to this consistent omnichannel marketing approach is data. Lemonade says it collects 100x more data points per customer than other companies. 

Studying this data helps them maintain a stable loss ratio. It also lets them learn about what customers need and expect, and how they behave. 

7. Gong creates a flywheel to fuel company growth

Gong is one of the fastest-growing SaaS brands in the world. Founded in 2015, its market value has risen to $7.5 billion,15 times that of its biggest competitor Chorus, which launched the same year. 

A big factor in this rapid ascent is Gong’s omnichannel marketing. Its approach is built on a simple principle: do whatever it takes to solve the problem of your customers.

This has helped them create a flywheel: a positive feedback loop that attracts, engages, and delights its audience. 

Customers are given what they need to succeed, which turns them into raving fans and advocates that help grow the company through referrals

Screenshot of Gongs’s Positive Customers Review and Feedback posted on LinkedIN

Like Lemonade, Gong is data-driven. Rather than rely solely on a CRM, Gong improves with insights directly from customers through phone calls, emails, meetings, and more. 

This helps them deliver the right content to the right audience. In the footer of its website, you can see how Gong explains the value of its product with different use cases.

Screenshot of Gong’s Website Footer

The use cases target sales, leaders, managers, and executives: the main groups involved in the B2B buying process. They target these same groups on the company’s blog and social media, where valuable content is given away for free. 

And every interaction is delivered in line with the company’s brand guidelines. Take a look at this LinkedIn post: 

Screenshot of Gong’s LinkedIn Post

And this welcome email from Gong’s Head of Content Strategy, Devin Reed:

Screenshot of welcome email from Gong’s Head of Content Strategy Devin Reed

And this company blog post:

Screenshot of Gong’s Blog Post

Each channel’s content is in keeping with the brand’s easygoing tone of voice, written in the same style (short sentences and paragraphs), with the same goal: help the reader improve. 

And the brand colors? You’ll see those used at every touchpoint too. Check out the profile backgrounds of its team members on LinkedIn: 

Screenshot of Gong’s Team Member Profile Background on LinkedIn

It’s a level of consistency that creates trust and fosters brand recall, which is evident in the fact that more than 60% of Gong’s users come from direct search. 

To create your own flywheel, turn to your customers. Ask them how you can help, then persistently deliver. Become a company people can rely on for inspiration and assistance and when the time comes to buy, it’s you they’ll choose first.


Consistency is the aim of omnichannel marketing. You don’t have to use every channel, but those you choose must offer a cohesive and rewarding experience.

Put your customers at the heart of your marketing, break down their journeys, research their goals and objectives and answer questions in your content. Use data to guide your decisions and personalize interactions. And, think about how channels tie together to turn visitors into brand advocates.

Maintain consistency in your branding, messaging, and value and your brand will stand the test of time. 

The post Omnichannel Marketing: 7 Examples to Improve Customer Experience appeared first on CXL.

How to Create a Marketing Playbook for Consistent Campaigns

Consistency is the cornerstone of good marketing. You only have to look at top brands to see this in action: Apple’s sleekness, Coca-Cola’s playfulness, Disney’s magic. Consistency is equally critical for startups. Stacked Marketer turned a free newsletter into a six-figure revenue generator by staying actionable, convenient, and entertaining.  Being consistent earns trust and cements […]

The post How to Create a Marketing Playbook for Consistent Campaigns appeared first on CXL.

Consistency is the cornerstone of good marketing. You only have to look at top brands to see this in action: Apple’s sleekness, Coca-Cola’s playfulness, Disney’s magic.

Consistency is equally critical for startups. Stacked Marketer turned a free newsletter into a six-figure revenue generator by staying actionable, convenient, and entertaining. 

Being consistent earns trust and cements brand status—qualities that add 10–20% to your overall growth, according to LucidPress research. On the flip side, inconsistency confuses consumers, limiting your chance to generate leads.

A marketing playbook helps you achieve brand consistency across channels and campaigns.

In this article, we’ll explain how to create a marketing playbook to align your teams and boost your sales opportunities.

A marketing playbook gets everyone on the same page

A marketing playbook is a reference guide that outlines how a business will manage its marketing on a particular channel or campaign.

It’s a concept borrowed from American football, where a coach has a folder of plays to defeat the opposition in different situations. 

In the coach’s playbook, every player knows their role and what they must do to make the play work. This helps players achieve objectives consistently, even when team members change.

Marketing Playbook Screenshot

Marketing playbooks work the same. They map out a repeatable process to avoid chaos and confusion in your team and with customers. 

Take Visme’s guide to asymmetrical balance. Here’s how the guide is promoted on Twitter: 

Screenshot of Visme’s Post about their guide to Asymmetrical Balance

The informative, conversational tone and fun imagery are the same as the post on the Visme website:

Screenshot of Visme Blog Post about Asymmtrical Balance on their website

And the same vibe as the video embedded in the guide: 

Screenshot of Youtube Video about Top 15 Graphic Design Tips for Beginners

Visme maintains consistency throughout the customer journey. This tells us its social media team, blog content writers, website copywriters, and everyone else, are aligned on their task execution.

This consistency creates familiarity, breeding trust that turns prospects into customers and customers into advocates. 

If a social media follower clicks through a casual post to see a formal sales piece, their experience changes, as does their impression of Visme as a brand. 

So, how can marketers align every department for a consistent customer experience?

Top marketers are 414% more likely to report success when they document their strategy, according to CoSchedule’s 2022 Trend Report. A playbook does exactly this. 

It also helps you:

  • Create the right type of content;
  • Reach the right target audience on the right channels;
  • Produce content faster;
  • Cut down on wasted time and spend;
  • Quickly onboard new team members;
  • Incrementally improve marketing by learning from each campaign.

A good playbook keeps you organized, which, according to CoSchedule, increases the likelihood of successful digital marketing initiatives almost sevenfold. 

It’s important to note at this stage that “playbook” is a popular word in marketing. You can find playbooks on every type of tactic you can think of. These are essentially guides on how to do things. 

FedEx’s “E-commerce Playbook,” for example, is a useful resource for building a successful ecommerce brand aimed at ecommerce business owners. 

A marketing playbook, in the traditional sense, is an internal document. Like the plays of an NFL team, its contents lay out how you win.

Five components of a successful marketing playbook

The purpose of a marketing playbook is to arm your team with the knowledge to do their job to the best of their ability. It does this by connecting strategy and creative.

What’s inside will differ depending on the channel or marketing campaign. 

For example, if your goal is to raise brand awareness using videos, your content, channels, and key performance indicators (KPIs) will be different from a campaign for generating revenue through strategic partnerships. 

Generally speaking, each playbook should have five main parts.

1. Marketing strategy

Strategy is necessary for broader playbooks, like a social media playbook. The more specific you get (e.g., a Twitter threads playbook), the less likely you’ll need to include all of your high-level goals.

Marketing strategy should detail:

  • Goals and objectives. What you want the playbook to help you achieve.
  • Positioning. Where your product or service fits into the market.
  • Target audience. Your customer profiles and buyer personas.
  • Marketing funnel. Where the campaign fits into your wider marketing and the customer journey (e.g., top-of-the-funnel for raising awareness or button-of-the-funnel for driving sales).
  • Content channels. Where you’ll engage audiences.

Leading with strategy clarifies why the playbook is required and the short- or long-term benefit of the channel or campaign. 

It’s also subject to change. Goals, position, and personas can all be tweaked based on what you learn from the success (or failure) of a campaign. Treat your playbook as a living document rather than something set in stone.

2. Content creation

The content creation section covers the type of content required, who’s creating it, the process, and how you expect assets to look and sound. 

It explains the assets needed based on goals. For example, if your goal is to generate leads, assets might be webinars, landing pages, and emails. If the goal is to raise awareness, they might be social media content and blog posts. 

Each person in the content team will refer to this section to find out their role and responsibilities in the overall workflow. 

This section should also feature your brand guidelines. Users should be clear on tone of voice, fonts, colors, and etiquette for each channel.

Zendesk’s playbook clearly explains how to tailor its messaging to different audiences.

Zendesk Playbook Screenshot

Zendesk offers tech industry people a concise description of how Zendesk can benefit their company. 

The press might be looking for more details about Zendesk so they can accurately report on the tool. They are given a longer description, adding context and detailing the company’s history.

Teams are clear on what to do, so audiences get what they need.

3. Promotion channels

This playbook chapter lists everywhere content will be shared, how to share it, and how often. Depending on which channels you use in your marketing, this might include:

  • Newsletters;
  • Blog posts;
  • Company social media channels; 
  • Personal social media accounts;
  • Influencers;
  • Company and industry podcasts;
  • YouTube;
  • Paid ads (Google and social media);
  • Messaging apps;
  • Syndication platforms.

Users should easily understand which assets are promoted on which channels and the distribution schedule

For example, let’s say for every new feature launch, you create a new landing page. To drive traffic, promotion might look something like this: 

  • Deliver content to two industry influencers two weeks before launch;
  • Talk about it on a company podcast one week before launch;
  • Publish blog post on launch day;
  • Schedule six posts on Twitter in first week of launch;
  • Schedule eight posts on Instagram in first week of launch;
  • Share once on personal team accounts one week after launch;
  • Answer questions on Reddit and Quora in first two weeks of launch;
  • Run a four-week-long ad on Facebook.

Base your promotion plan on successful past launches and highly engaged channels. 

Here’s an example of how Nightwatch uses Asana to organize distribution:

Screenshot of how Nightwatch uses Asana to organize distribution

The color-coded initials in the right-hand column correspond to different members of the marketing team, so everyone knows their role. 

Creating distribution checklists in your marketing playbook feeds into content creation, ensuring each new piece of content gets lift. 

4. Measurement

This chapter of the marketing playbook covers how you’ll track the success of each campaign, channel, or asset. 

It should include primary and secondary KPIs and metrics related to marketing goals, as well as the platforms (e.g., Google Analytics and CRM) used to track them. 

This example from 3Q Digital shows which KPIs are tracked and how: 

Screenshot of 3Q Digital Example that show how their KPI are tracked

This section will typically be tied to a wider marketing measurement plan and used to inform strategy and implementation decisions. It also helps to align processes and keep teams accountable for performance. 

If specific elements of your content assets are tested after launch, these will also be detailed here. For example, email subject lines, type of social proof, image placement, and call to actions

When teams know what to track and how metrics relate to the overall objective, they can transform data into actionable insights to improve the play. 

5. Execution   

The final chapter acts both as a summary of previous chapters and a guide for the marketing team moving forward. It should include:

  • Key date calendar. A content creation timeline and key milestones based on targets. 
  • Usage policies. The do’s and don’ts of each platform, including details of the channel manager and project manager.
  • Marketing software. Any marketing automation, social media, analytics, and performance tools you use.
  • Automated replies. Standard email reply and social media message templates that can be used for out-of-hours customer service and engagement.
  • Evaluation reports. Monthly, quarterly, or annual templates for individual and campaign reporting. Individual reports should cover a specific channel. For example, for Twitter, a social media manager will generate engagement reports, whereas a content marketing manager will look at click-through rate and conversion rate. Campaign reports will cover results such as sales figures, leads generated, and cross-channel engagement for the period.

How to create a marketing playbook

Few people will read your marketing playbook word for word. Instead, they’ll pick out parts that are relevant to them. 

NN Group’s most recent eye-tracking study found that people still love to skim online. Depending on the motivation, people will collect information in different skimming patterns. 

A copywriter looking to see how to write email subject lines for holiday campaigns will likely look at headings, searching for the most relevant information to their task.

As Maryanne Wolf notes in the Guardian, skim reading is the new normal:

“Many readers now use an F or Z pattern when reading in which they sample the first line and then word-spot through the rest of the text.”

Skim-reading is an incredibly efficient way to absorb relevant information. Design your playbooks so they’re easy to skim, and at all costs, avoid density in the writing and formatting. 

Here are some tips to make your playbook usable as a quick reference tool:

  • Format text left to right;
  • Keep sentences concise;
  • Keep paragraphs to no longer than three sentences with white space in between;
  • Bold keywords and key messages to attract the eye;
  • Use highlight boxes to call out critical information;
  • Break up text with actionable headings and subheadings that clearly label what the section is about;
  • Use images to add context;
  • Cut anything irrelevant;
  • Include a table of contents so people can easily locate information (if it’s digital, hyperlink it so users can jump quickly to sections).

Think about your playbook from the perspective of a new hire. What information do they need to execute a task immediately? 

Here are eight tips for creating and curating your playbook.

1. Lay out the key challenges and expected results

In a business plan, key questions are answered in an executive summary. The answers inform investors so they can understand what they’ll learn and decide whether to read the rest of the plan. 

In a marketing playbook, these are critical questions like:

  • Why is this playbook necessary?
  • Who are you, why do you exist, what makes you special?
  • What is the purpose of the channel or campaign, and why does it matter? 

Your playbook doesn’t have to be as formal as a business plan, but it’s worth approaching the introduction in a similar way. 

Write an overview that includes the following:

  • Company information. Your products or services, pricing, and details of owners and managers.
  • Business highlights. How you got to where you are now. How market share and revenue have grown.
  • Target market. Your audience and competitors.
  • Key goals and challenges. What you’re looking to achieve and the expected results.
  • Opportunities. What the rewards of successful plays are.
  • Key phases. Expected launch dates and milestones.

Finish with a final paragraph that tells readers what they’ll get from the document and how it benefits their work. 

The intro to IAB’s account-based marketing playbook, for example, makes the benefits of the playbook and ABM clear:

Screenshot of IAB account based marketing playbook

Tell readers what they’ll learn and what that information can help them achieve and you’re more likely to get their buy-in. 

2. Build consistency with clear audiences

For marketing to work, it has to reach the right people. If you’re at the point of creating a content marketing playbook, you’re likely clear on who your target audience is. 

List your buyer personas to help readers understand who they’re talking to. In its playbook, organic snack maker LivBar gives its persona a specific identity:

Screenshot of LivBar Audience Persona Sample

Buyer personas should be created based on data, not guesses. The goal of including personas in your marketing playbook is to help them relate to realistic prospects who are likely to buy your product. It’s much more effective for marketers to speak to real pain points past customers have reported.

As well as your core audience, list secondary and fringe audiences. These are the people who you’re not targeting with your primary messaging, but who the message still impacts.

For example, let’s say you sell accounting software to law firms. Your primary audience is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who has the spending power to buy your product. 

Though your marketing is aimed at the CTO, an accountant who shares the same interests might see your ad. While they have no power to make the purchase, they’re ultimately the ones using it. The accountant tells the CTO about your great product, who then green lights the purchase. The accountant is a secondary audience who can influence sales. 

Fringe audiences act in a similar indirect way. This could, for instance, be an admin assistant or receptionist who shares a common interest with the accountant or CTO. They might not see the ad on LinkedIn where your primary audience is, but they might stumble across your Twitter account and bring up your software in conversation. 

Providing this extra information will help marketers understand the bigger picture and craft the right message for the channel. 

3. Establish which content assets will engage customers

What is the ultimate goal for your campaign or channel? Answering this question will help readers understand why they should use certain assets. It will also give them something to work towards—92% of marketers who have a goal are successful in achieving it. 

Use the SMART framework to set realistic goals. Make the objective clear by writing it as a statement.

Here’s an example framework to follow: 

By 2022, the [team] will reach [number] [metric] every [time frame].

Let’s flesh that out:

“By May 31st, the content marketing team will reach 100 MQLs every month.”

Or for a specific channel:

“By Q4, the content marketing team will reach 500 new YouTube subscribers every month.” 

Follow this with the content assets you’ll be using to achieve it. For each channel, include where it fits into the customer journey, what its purpose is, and where it’s shared. This will help marketers understand its purpose. 

For example:

Content assetCustomer journey stageGoalDistribution channel
Blog postAwareness, considerationAnswer a commonly asked question, promote productWebsite, Medium, LinkedIn
Explainer videoConsideration Contribute to an existing conversationYouTube, Facebook
White paperDecisionPromote a productPress release, industry publication

Don’t get bogged down in the details of how to create each asset here. Link to additional playbooks or guides where that information can be found. 

Focus on the “what” and “why.” This, combined with buyer personas and brand guidelines, will give marketers the need-to-know information to maintain consistency.

4. Summarize marketing communication guidelines to set the right tone

Brand guidelines are the glue that holds everything together. They ensure the customer experience on Instagram is consistent with the experience on your website. 

If your brand has a style guide, link to it in your playbook and summarize key information. Focus on design and copy rules. Give marketers what they need to do the work, such as: 

  • Logo requirements. Approved sizes and placements.
  • Color palette. Brand color, functional colors, background colors, and accent colors.
  • Editorial style guide. Words marketers can and can’t use, topics they can and can’t talk about, and other companies they can and can’t mention.
  • Typography. Preferred typeface and fonts, kerning, tracking, leading, and visual hierarchy.

Elements from your guidelines like mission statement, vision, values, and personality can be left for the intro. 

Use images and screenshots from existing assets to show guidelines in practice and include any templates related to content assets (e.g., newsletter templates and automated replies), but encourage readers to refer to the full style guide for specifics. 

5. Align teams with clear roles and responsibilities

A winning play relies on every team member knowing their role and working together to execute it. 

An editor needs a draft from a content writer, who needs a brief from a content marketing manager, which is based on information from a content strategist. If any link in that chain is broken, content doesn’t hit the mark. 

Getting teams pulling in the same direction can have a big payoff. On average, aligned companies have 19% faster growth and profits 15% higher than non-aligned competitors.  

Define your content workflow so that everyone knows what’s expected of them. 

Identify who is involved in the project and what their tasks are. For each task, explain what’s required. This will help cut down on edits and redundant steps. 

For example, if the task is to create images, list the dimensions and what they should include. If more in-depth details are required, link to any reference material. 

Set up tasks in a logical, repeatable order, including feedback loops where required. This example workflow by Content Marketing Institute visualizes simply how a content team works:

Screenshot of Content Marketing Institute Tasks Workflow

Finally, name one person to oversee project management. This can be a project manager, content strategist, or senior marketer. 

It’ll be their job to identify bottlenecks and keep projects moving. They’ll also be the person the rest of the team can go to if a task is blocked. 

6. Map out key dates to keep your project on track

For a play to have the desired impact, it needs to be executed at the right time. It’s no good driving traffic to a landing page for a product that’s not ready to ship. 

Time management is crucial for organization, and deadlines are necessary to set expectations and motivate teams. 

Outline the steps you’ll take to achieve your objective, including the key dates for launches, publishing, and project reviews, as well as any events you’re running or attending. 

Supplement these with marketing milestones related to your goals. These can be tied to metrics (e.g., gaining 1000 followers on Instagram) or moments in your marketing journey (e.g., hosting a conference). 

Screenshot of Marketing Milestones Sample

Milestones, like goals, should be realistic and attainable. While you want to challenge your team to hit targets, don’t make a task seem insurmountable.

8. Define how success is measured

Set KPIs for your team to track. These will act as a success measure. Each KPI will show whether a play is on course to hit a goal and flag up underperforming tactics. 

Depending on the channel or campaign, KPIs you might measure include:

Outline which success metrics apply to each tactic. Organic traffic is beneficial to content marketing and SEO-related campaigns, for instance, but will have no bearing on the ROI of an ad. 

List hypotheses and suggested experiments that you typically run on content. This will give marketers guidance and inspiration when A/B testing

  • Do personalized emails increase open rates?
  • Do case study statistics boost form submissions?
  • Do more users click the button because it’s blue?

Finally, include the marketing technology you’ll be using to measure and optimize your marketing efforts. For example:

  • Google Analytics for website traffic, traffic sources, and bounce rate;
  • CRM for lead generation ROI and revenue by device type;
  • Mailchimp for email open rates and click-through rates;
  • Ahrefs for inbound links;
  • Hootsuite for social media engagement; 

There’s no need to get any deeper than that. Your playbook is not there to teach readers how to use the platforms. It lets them know what to use and when so they can quickly put their skills into practice. 

Use marketing playbooks as a tool for learning 

Every marketing playbook feeds the next. Putting together this playbook can highlight areas that let down previous campaigns. Putting together the next one can make that play even stronger.

Take HubSpot. Its original conversion playbook followed a rigid extended sales process that involved long email chains and booking multiple meetings. After running multiple campaigns, it learned how customer expectations had shifted. 

The team realized how essential it was to offer different purchase preferences and adjusted future playbooks to suit.
Today, HubSpot’s conversion playbook is built to reduce friction and sales have increased as a result. 

“In addition to offering multiple ways for people to connect, we allow buyers to choose between getting a demo or getting started with our free software and upgrading through the product at a time that suits them. By doing so, we have increased the number of self-purchases by 10X while still growing our inside sales model.”

When analyzing campaigns or reviewing channel performance, look at how your playbook contributed. Ask yourself:

  • How efficient was the workflow?
  • Did the team have access to the right technology?
  • Was the team given enough resources?
  • Could a specific skill have improved performance?
  • Did you track the right metrics

The team that stands still gets left behind. Use each playbook as a blueprint to fine-tune future marketing activities.


Your team already has the skills to do their job. A great playbook is simply a roadmap that supports them to do their best work consistently, the way your company always does it. 

Build your playbooks around the information your team needs to know. Make them clear and concise, and organized so that team members can quickly understand what’s required to successfully run the play. 

Remember that no play is beyond improvement. Reflect on real-world use and update playbooks as your team and company evolve. Strive for marginal gains that keep you winning.

The post How to Create a Marketing Playbook for Consistent Campaigns appeared first on CXL.

Upselling and Cross-selling: 8 Examples and Why They Work

Users can access Spotify’s extensive music library for free, yet their Premium subscriptions grew 15% in 2022.  Meanwhile, ecommerce marketing software Privy is generating 10% higher average order value for Shopify users with their related product recommendations add-on. These tactics are upselling and cross-selling (respectively). While both effectively drive revenue and enhance the customer experience, […]

The post Upselling and Cross-selling: 8 Examples and Why They Work appeared first on CXL.

Users can access Spotify’s extensive music library for free, yet their Premium subscriptions grew 15% in 2022

Meanwhile, ecommerce marketing software Privy is generating 10% higher average order value for Shopify users with their related product recommendations add-on.

These tactics are upselling and cross-selling (respectively). While both effectively drive revenue and enhance the customer experience, upselling is ideal for companies with a single product or freemium model.

In this article, we’ll show you how six companies employ the best upselling strategies. Then we’ll tell you how to do it yourself so you’re not leaving money on the table.

1. How Calendly deploys FOMO

It’s hard to sell customers on something they don’t know they need. Sometimes users need to experience your product, get a feel for it, get invested in it, before they’re convinced they want it.

Furthermore, upselling doesn’t exclusively occur at checkout. It’s not about selling additional products (this is cross-selling), nor is it only for selling more expensive items to happy existing customers. 

In Calendly’s case, the scheduling tool’s upsell is teased for new customers in the free trial stage.

Screenshot of Calendly Free Trial Features

Calendly uses a freemium model, offering a free tier and encouraging users to upgrade for access to advanced features.

The company has cleverly powered growth (to the tune of $3bn) with upsells in the earliest stages of the user journey.

Instead of waiting for users to need their advanced features, Calendly gives access to everything for a limited time.

This works like test driving a car, playing on two unconscious psychological biases called the endowment effect and loss aversion. The endowment effect causes us to value items that we already have higher than those we don’t have. 

Loss aversion explains why we fear losing something more than we enjoy gaining the same thing.

In the case of Calendly, once users become used to having these advanced features (such as creating multiple calendars or scheduling by priority) they’re less likely to want to give them up. 

Likewise, users will feel inclined to avoid giving up the features (more so than they would feel inclined to sign up to get them without having first experienced them).

Calendly helps their users see the value in their advanced features by giving them free, full access straight away. It then reminds them when they’ll lose those features if they don’t choose to upgrade.

Screenshot of Calendly Billing Page

If you’re growing a freemium SaaS company, consider offering access to your full suite of features upfront. Demonstrate to users how your product can help them solve problems and fulfill jobs to be done (JTBD) by allowing them to try it themselves.

Once this trial is ended, remind them of the features they’ll lose once the trial is over. Include this in your reminder email marketing, offering a call-to-action to subscribe early.

2. How WeTransfer makes things simple

On the other hand, your customers might not be interested in all the bells and whistles you offer. In fact, forcing new customers to learn the full functionality of your product before an offer expires might create friction and frustrate them.

If you’ve learned through customer research that your buyers are busy people, simplifying their lives and saving them time might speak more to their needs than lifting the hood on your tool.

In this case, stick to one winning message.

Dave Trott reflected on his work under John Pearce, echoing a similar message:

“If I throw six tennis balls to you, you won’t catch them all. You may catch one, but the chances are six to one against you catching the most important one. In advertising we know you can only catch one message. So, it’s our job to decide which is the most important message and only throw that one.” – John Pearce as told to creative director and author Dave Trott [via MarketingWeek]

Like Calendly, file sharing service WeTransfer uses a freemium model: a free plan offering limited features with premium features unlocked in a paid plan.

WeTransfer doesn’t sleep on its free plan users, hoping they’ll one day discover its Plus plan. The platform encourages current customers to upgrade to their paid “Pro” plan in a simple upsell email.

Screenshot of WeTransfer Upsell Email

WeTransfer doesn’t go for the hard sell. Neither does the platform list all the features users can get by upgrading. 

WeTransfer highlights one main feature with one smaller feature mentioned below. 

This simplicity is also echoed on their pricing page:

Screenshot of WeTransfer Pricing Page

Each plan highlights a maximum of three features. If users want to read more, they can “jump to more features” below.

This is a great strategy to simplify the journey for customers. Not all customers need to see everything you offer at first glance. This can add to their cognitive load, driving them away by overloading them with information.

As mentioned above, this is worth considering if your audience is busy. In WeTransfer’s case, they know people who want to transfer large files (and who might be interested in branded backgrounds) are likely to be busy professionals.

Instead, highlight your most important features (backed up by your data), limiting to around three.

According to academic research by Shu and Carlson, when it comes to persuading people to accept claims about a product or product features, three is the magic number. After three items, attitudes toward the item begin to drop and skepticism sets in.

Screenshot of Results from Shu and Carlson’s (2014) study

This finding explains why three tends to be such a favorable number in marketing. In the experiment, the researchers tested several variations of marketing statements with a range of numbers of claims.

Respondents felt less favorably toward products with more than three claims, such as this one about shampoo:

“Makes hair cleaner, stronger, healthier, softer, shinier, and fuller.”  

The researchers determined that when trying to be persuaded, customers become more skeptical the more claims they see. Essentially, customers start to think the quality dips with each additional feature.

Stick to a single message where possible. And avoid overwhelming your audience with too many claims. They’re either too busy to cope, or they won’t believe you.

To incorporate lessons from WeTransfer in your upsells:

  • Look at your data and determine the single, most important message for your audience
  • Identify the top three features of your tool and highlight them
  • Don’t overwhelm a busy audience with all-access

3. How Squarespace plays on emotion

Emotion is a powerful marketing tool. It can be used to manipulate, but it can also motivate audiences to reach their goals. 

Website creation platform Squarespace plays on the latter. Squarespace is a free website builder, but if you want to connect a domain and launch, you’ll need a paid plan.

This means that users will sometimes sign up, start building a website, and never convert.

When that happens, Squarespace sends out a series of emails:

Screenshot of Squarespace Start of Trial Email

And this one:

Screenshot of Squarespace End of Trial Email

Squarespace knows its audience of creators is busy, and likely distracted. Instead of accepting their conversion rate and cutting their losses, the platform reminds users why they started their website in the first place.

The platform’s emotive email copywriting is intentional. While people often think they’re acting on logic, emotions play a key role in decision-making.

Researchers have demonstrated repeatedly that we choose brands and take action based on those we like, those we trust, and those we connect with (including through storytelling). 

People particularly like it when brands empathize with their needs and problems. Squarespace demonstrates their understanding of user goals. Instead of coming from a position of “seller with a product,” Squarespace communicates that they want to help their users accomplish what they set out to do. 

To connect with customers on an emotional level, get to know your customers’ needs. Understand which pain points they’re itching to solve.

When creating your messaging, show how your solution helps them solve these problems. Paint a picture of how you’ll lead them from their current state to their desired state. Use message testing to get qualitative insights and ensure you’re resonating with your audience.

4. How Google Drive uses urgency

Similar to following up with leads, audiences using a free or lower-tier version of your product might need reminding that your premium offers exist.

Plenty of studies show that people are unlikely to act unless reminded (here’s one, for example). The balance lies in staying top of mind without pushing customers away.

Google Drive reminds free plan users that the storage across their workspace is limited. And it does so with a constant visual reminder at the side of the Drive dashboard:

Screenshot of Google Drive

A subtle visual reminder with a CTA button is all Google Drive uses to show its users how much storage is left. Once they start getting close to the end, the message turns from blue to red, using design to create a sense of urgency

Screenshot of Account usage numbers in Google Drive and Gmail

Users also receive top bar notifications and emails so their service isn’t disrupted if they run out:

Screenshot of Google Drive Running Low on Storage Notification

Google Drive isn’t pushy. It offers opportunities to clear more space alongside their upgrade CTA.

Google Drive has found a balance. It doesn’t lambast users with notifications and its visual reminder reinforces the message (“you’re running out of storage, so you probably want to buy more”).

Does your product offer a free plan? Emulate Google Drive’s approach by reminding your product of its limitations. This could be resource-based (such as storage and “credits”) or feature-based, providing a call-to-action for users to upgrade their plan.

5. How Zapier puts their data to good use

Customers love it when you can personalize their experience. If it encourages users to take an action that adds to your bottom line, even better.

Way beyond using merge tags in your emails, effective personalization involves knowing your customers and using their data to serve them better.

Zapier uses personalization to monitor when users are coming to an end of their trial. If they’ve engaged with their tool over a certain threshold, users receive this email:

Screenshot of Zapier End of Free Trial Notification

This is a genuinely useful email for users. They can see clearly how much of the tool they’ve used, knowing that at this rate, they’ll run out of free “zaps” before their renewal.

The email also tells them which services they’ll lose access to that they may have used during their trial.

The data makes Zapier’s upsell helpful and informative. It appears to come from a place of assistance, rather than revenue generation.

Take your user’s behavior and apply it to your upselling efforts. Illustrate the value they get from your product using cold, hard data. If a user has saved 10 hours per week by using your tool, quantify and communicate this to them.

Personalize your messaging further by segmenting based on how invested they are in a product. For example, if a user still hasn’t reached an “aha!” moment, offer a free consultation that walks them through how your product will solve their specific problem.

6. How HelloBar makes themselves indispensable

Humans are creatures of habit—and habits are difficult to quit. It’s why we pick up our phones anywhere between 58 times and 344 times per day.

Meditation brands like Headspace and Balance have cottoned on to this with daily reminders about their practice.

Screenshot of HeadSpace Daily Reminder notification on Phone

Pop-up tool Hello Bar encourages users to build a habit around their app by becoming indispensable. 

Tracking the progress you’re making toward your goals can be highly motivating. Hello Bar gives its ecommerce users performance stats to increase stickiness and use the app more often, building up habitual use. 

Screenshot of Hello Bar Mobile App

Once users are engaged, upgrading offers a friction-free way to continue enjoying their tool (no ads, personal branding, more statistics, etc.).

To incorporate lessons from Hello Bar in your upsells:

  • Measure and share performance metrics
  • Help users build your tool into their habits through reminders and notifications
  • Offer engaged users an upgraded experience 
  • For physical products, highlight how more expensive versions can reduce friction in their daily lives


Upselling is a mutually beneficial sales technique. It increases your average order value and customer lifetime value, while also giving customers a better experience or higher quality of service.

As with any move in marketing, the way you approach upsell opportunities will depend on your customer. Customer data will uncover their pain points, highlighting which of your premium features they should know about. It will also uncover the best delivery format: simple and streamlined for busy users or full access for those who want to try it all first.

The best way to optimize your upselling technique is to zero in on a method and test it. Then you can continually tweak to ensure you’re always delivering the right message at the right time.

The post Upselling and Cross-selling: 8 Examples and Why They Work appeared first on CXL.