Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma7 min readTips and resourcesMarch 11, 2019

The upside down marketing funnel or why you should care about your customers

The upside down marketing funnel or why you should care about your customers

When I was studying marketing, I was astonished by these two statistics:

1. It's 7x more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Nevertheless, all my studies focused on sales channels and brand awareness. We didn’t talk much about retention.

2. 77% of consumers are likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. 

Remember the last time you visited a new city? Did you go to a restaurant that was recommended by someone on TripAdvisor or one that was advertised in the airport? 

We trust people more than ads, which is why it makes perfect sense to take care of your current customers first. When they love your product or service, they'll recommend your business to their friends or strangers on the Internet.

This is exactly what we do at MailerLite. We call it the upside down marketing funnel. Here's how it works:

Upside down marketing funnel

#1. Deliver what customers need

The main reason people continue purchasing your product or service is simple – you do a great job meeting their needs.

Love for customer support

This is why everyone at your company is part of the marketing team, from the people that create the product to the people that interact with the customers. The first priority is to make customers happy.

At MailerLite, half of our team works in customer support. They are ready 24/7 to help customers succeed. If you want people to recommend you, you should love your customers. 


Also think about the ways beyond customer support that you can get customer feedback: email surveys, social media, live webinars, events, and more. Listening to customers is the best way to learn how to meet their needs!  

#2. Build relationships with your customers

Email marketing is the best tool to stay connected with your audience, knowing that 100% of them will receive your message. And it's possible to be very personal, even when talking to thousands of people.

CycleMap with MailerLite #lovemyjob t-shirt

If someone gives you their email address, it’s a sign that he/she wants to start a relationship with you. Capture the moment. Welcome emails typically have an average open rate of 50-60%. 

Send a message immediately after a customer gives you permission to do it. At MailerLite we send an entire welcome email series to keep the conversation going. 

Here are some other things you can do to nurture relationships with customers: 

Share knowledge and insights 

We want people to understand how to use the product. This is why we send emails about features along with videos explaining how to use them. We also remind everyone that our customer support team is always here for them.

Welcome email

It’s always a good idea to educate people about your product or service to help them achieve great results.

It's even better to expand on topics. For example, if you sell apples, share tantalizing recipes featuring apples. If you sell mattresses, talk about the importance of rest and sleep. If you sell perfume, explain the process of creating signature scents.

Tell your story

People don’t connect to logos, they connect to people.

We want our customers to connect with our team. We share our story, our values, and fun facts about the company. By the way, this is the email that people tend to reply to most telling their own stories. I love that. Getting personal replies to an email delivered to thousands shows a strong level of engagement. 

Fun fact: Our About Page is one of the most visited pages after the Home Page! Use this opportunity to tell your story, why you are here and what you believe in. 

MailerLite Story

 Connect people

 As Seth Godin says: 

“People like us do things like this. There is no more powerful tribal marketing connection than this. More than features, more than benefits, we are driven to become a member in good standing of the tribe.” 

Give your customers opportunities to meet each other. For example, our Community Group on Facebook is a place for MailerLite users to share best practices, new ideas, awesome results, to seek advice and get to know other customers.

FB community

There are endless ways to engage with your audience. The main goal is to give value. Don’t know what is of value to your customers? Ask. Just like you would do in real life.


#3. Give tools to spread the love

If you want people to talk about you, there are two ways to make it happen. First, they should know the story is worth telling their friends. 

How do you know if you have a good story? I like The Brunch Test. Imagine your story is being told to someone over a weekend brunch. How does this person respond? 

When I say that I work at MailerLite, some people react with: “Is that the remote team that went to Bali together?” (More about Bali and our workations.) Some people say that they’ve heard about our values. These are the kinds of topics people tend to share with others, along with strange stories, fun facts, etc.

About Page

The second way to help your customers recommend you is to give them the tools to do it. This is my favorite example:

Patreon email

Every month I get a receipt from Patreon to see how much money I’ve spent supporting non-profit organizations and initiatives. And each time they give me a chance to tweet about these contributions. Smart, right? I can brag a little and invite more people to join Patreon. Win-win.

Sometimes we ask customers to share our articles and give them a small gift to show our appreciation. For example, we asked people to share our article about company values on social media and then sent them laptop stickers as a thank you:


They talked about MailerLite first by sharing the article and they will probably do so again when people ask them about the sticker on their laptop!

Email with a gift

Do you want our artsy stickers? Click here.

Finally, Ambassador or Referral programs can help. Check out the footer of this email from theSkimm: 

Skimm email

The main idea is to make your loyal customers feel special. Send a gift, invite them to a private FB group, show them what happens behind the scenes or give early access to your content and products.

Flipping the funnel  

The word funnel comes from the Latin infundere, meaning "pour into". If you're pouring your best ideas and efforts into your business with a customer-first approach, you're on the right track

The concept of the upside down funnel is very simple. Have a good product, take care of your customers and give them the tools to recommend you to others. Happy customers are more than happy to spread the love.  

How do YOU grow your business? Do you think it's better to focus more on current or new customers? 

Please share your insights in the comments.

Ilma Nausedaite

I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.