This is Part 4 of a 5-part series about the customer lifecycle. If you haven’t already, check out Part 3 to learn about the Fulfill stage.

If the Fulfill stage was the ice cream cone, the Delight stage is the cherry on top.

But don’t misperceive the Delight stage as simply a place for added bonuses meant to bring a smile to your customers’ faces: It’s actually a critical stage of the customer lifecycle where you’ll seal the deal for a long-term relationship with your customers and prime them to refer more business to you.

The Delight stage is about building loyalty and expanding the buying relationship by introducing your customers to additional products, events and services. These offerings, although referred to as upsells and cross-sells, are in fact perfectly timed suggestions for exactly what your customers need in that moment. Not only do these offers increase your revenue, but they also delight your customers as they become more committed to your brand.

Succeeding at this stage plays an important role in increasing your average customer lifetime value; it allows you to bring in more revenue per customer and at a lower cost. It costs five times less to gain new business from an existing customer than to acquire a new customer.

However, approaching this stage merely as an opportunity to extract as much money as possible from each customer is not going to get you very far. “Rather,” as customer success expert Lincoln Murphy suggests, “if we can work to help our customers extract as much value out of our product as possible, the benefit to us will be expanded revenue.”

“The way that we do that is to create a customer experience that delivers increasing amounts of value over time, creating a natural growth in base-product use, a logical expansion into additional functionality and, where appropriate, adoption of adjacent products from your company,” he continued.

Your upsell and cross-sell offers during this stage should be timed appropriately, based on the customers’ stage of consumption and level of commitment to your product. When offered to the right customers at the right time, this stage should involve less “selling” and more naturally “conversing” about what your customers may need or want next to get the most out of your product.

Upsell and cross-sell basics

Upselling and cross-selling are about understanding and anticipating exactly what your customers will want and offering it to them at just the right moment.

The segmentation efforts you began in the Attract stage and continued in the Convert stage come into play here. With a clear understanding of your leads’ and customers’ interests at this point, you know exactly which upsell and cross-sell offer will be most attractive to them.

Upsells defined

An upsell entails offering your customers an upgraded — and typically more expensive — version of a product that a customer is in the process of purchasing (or has already bought). This could include a bundle of items that include the initial item, or the next level above in a good-better-best product line.

Say someone’s in the process of buying a new smartphone with 32 GB of memory. Before the sale is finalized, a vendor such as T-Mobile may ask if he or she would like to upgrade to a 64 GB phone for a little extra. In that scenario, the upsell is a win for both the vendor and customer because the upsell clearly supplements the original purchase to the customer’s benefit, and the customer opted to pay a little more to get it.

Cross-sells defined

As opposed to an upsell, a cross-sell is an attempt to sell a separate but related product to supplement the original purchase.

For example, if you own a vineyard and sell your own label of signature wine, you might also offer other wine-related products: aerators, corkscrews, and monogrammed glassware. These supplementary goods clearly complement your core product and would make ideal cross-sell products.

Delight stage upsells and cross-sells

Although upsells and cross-sells can be offered during checkout, the types you’ll offer during the Delight stage come later and involve their own funnels.

Because these offers come later in your relationship with the customers, after they’ve presumably consumed your product and received its initial benefits, they generally require a higher level of commitment, either of time or money. As such, they should be strongly backed by an understanding of what your customer needs to be truly successful with your product and how you can best resolve their ongoing pain points.

“If you’d like to take advantage of expansion opportunities with your customer in a way that builds deeper trust, ensures the customer stays on or accelerates their path to success, and is truly the proverbial ‘win-win,’ you must clearly understand what the desired outcome is (for the customer, not you!), and then operationalize around the milestones required to achieve that outcome,” wrote Murphy.

Characteristics of effective Delight offers

Your Delight stage offerings should be the types of things you can only offer after someone has recognized the value of your product. Therefore, they typically require more of a commitment than anything else you offer, encourage your customers to make your product a part of their lives, or further enhance your personal connection with your customers.

Require more commitment

Just as in personal relationships, as your relationship with this customer has evolved over time, so has the level of commitment you can expect. An offer during the Delight stage might be an annual contract for one-on-one coaching services, an expensive in-person master class, or a higher-priced upgrade on your core product.

By making the decision to give more to your business either in terms of their time or money, your customer is growing his or her connection to you.

Make your product a must-have

The most strategic Delight offers are those which encourage customers to make your core product more a part of their lives. That could mean buying it more frequently, using it more frequently (if your product is subscription-based), or using it in new and more rewarding ways.

One great example in ecommerce of a smart Delight product is Amazon’s Echo, a voice-controlled home automation device. Targeted toward the most loyal Amazon Prime users, the product encourages customers to remain within the Amazon ecosystem by making it easy to listen to Amazon Prime music and order products instantly with their Prime account. It’s a brilliant offer at this stage because it encourages consumers to keep using more benefits of their Amazon Prime account.

Enhance personal connection

A good Delight offer should not only cement the relationship between you and the customer in terms of cost or time commitment, it should also develop it further. For example, a live event where your loyal customers get to meet the rest of your community, not to mention you and your staff, is a perfect offer at this phase. They’ve traveled to be part of an event and spent time talking with you — now their relationship with your brand is highly personal.

Offering a discount or sending a gift for your customers’ birthdays or in recognition of a milestone with your company, such as an anniversary from their first purchase or completion of your first membership course, is another way to create a personal bond during this phase. The fact that you’re recognizing their personal milestones automatically makes you appear less as a transactional business and more as a partner in an ongoing relationship.

Creating your Delight campaign

Your Delight campaign will involve similar asset types and steps as your offer campaigns in the Convert phase, but your audience and tone for the offer will differ.

The core of the funnel involves a five-part email series using the same five themes as the offer funnel discussed in the Convert phase: personal gain, FOMO, logic, “are you still?” and “have you yet?” Those emails will direct customers to your sales page where you’ll expand upon the benefits of the offer and include your order form or a link to your order page, then send them to a thank you page and deliver their newly purchased upsell item.

Delight campaign messaging

When crafting your email and sales page messaging, employ these concepts that are unique to upsells and cross-sells during this phase:

Address their status

It’s crucial that you make the offer personal by acknowledging that you know who you’re talking to, are aware of their stage of consumption, and are offering this based on their preferences.

You can do this simply through phrases in your emails such as “You’ve been using our product for a month now …” or “You’ve completed your first level of membership …” This type of language also serves to make your customers aware that they’re part of a special audience receiving an exclusive offer.

On your sales page, use a PURL to include their name and make it clear that this offer is only for long-time customers. You can even incorporate the fact that you appreciate their loyalty and that this is an exclusive offer for customers.

Remind them of your value

Because you’re asking your customers to make an additional purchase from you, it’s important to reiterate what they’ve gotten from you so far. They may not quite realize all the benefits they’ve received or assessed their progress since their purchase, so this is a good opportunity for you to remind them.

Your emails might subtly reference the stage of consumption they likely are in: “Using our wedding planning guide, you’ve simplified the often overwhelming tasks of determining your budget, your wedding theme, and your colors.” This also serves to set the stage for whatever you’re planning to offer next, such as your day-of wedding coordination service.

Your sales page can similarly acknowledge the benefits of your core product before selling them on what’s next.

Give something in return

The product or service you’re offering should be appealing in its own right, but there should also be a benefit to the purchase itself. For example, if you’re offering a bundled package, the benefit is the cost savings gained by purchasing in bulk. If you’re offering a one-on-one video consultation, do so at a 20% discount compared to the price you’d offer to a cold audience.

As with anything you’re selling, always be sure to explain the benefit and the reason they should purchase. Remember, all offers during this stage should be to support your customer in reaching the full potential of your product or service, so your content should position this offer within that context.

Now that you’ve learned about the Delight stage, you’re ready for Part 5: Refer.

About Angela Fornelli
Angela Fornelli is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience covering the healthcare, aviation, and technology industries. A Chicago native, she currently serves as Ontraport's managing editor and has a Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Illinois.