Cross-selling is suggesting other
relevant products people can try
What is an example of cross-selling? When you buy a cell phone online,
and the online store suggests screen protectors for that model, that’s cross-selling.
Upselling is persuading the customer to upgrade their
product or buy a more expensive version of it.
How do you upsell? Let’s stick with the cellphone example. If you’re about to buy the model
with 32GB of storage space, the online store can suggest you get the one with 64GB or 128GB.
Here’s the great thing about upselling. It doesn’t just increase AOV; it also increases customer
lifetime value. In other words, customers spend more while they remain customers. And that’s
why it’s so important for your business. In this article, I’m going to share my favorite upselling
tips. I’ll dive into some proven upselling strategies and will provide examples to inspire you in
your business. If you choose, you can implement your own revenue-boosting upsell strategy.
Choose the RIGHT Upsell
When you look at eCommerce upsell examples,
you’ll see there are several types you can offer.
The Version Upgrade
As we mentioned earlier, you can ask shoppers to get a different version of a
product you’re offering. It can be bigger, stronger, faster, better – you get the idea.
Another favorite upsell, both online and offline, is the “protect your product” upsell, which asks
you to extend your warranty so you effectively guard your product against something going
wrong. For example, if you buy a phone, you can often get a screen replacement warranty.
You know those “customize your product” features you get on some sites? Well,
that’s a series of upsells, because every customization you add increases the price.
Extended Service Period
Instead of a physical product, you can upsell by offering better value for a longer contract.
And you can also offer better deals for early renewals. This works well for SaaS products.
Bundling is a bit of a grey area because it’s both cross-selling and upselling, but if you
package related items together and show that it’s better value, you can increase your
sales of all the items in the bundle.
Always Offer the Upsell …
The more upsell opportunities you show customers, the more chances they must take one.
So, offer your upsell everywhere it makes sense. Some typical locations for upsells include:
On product pages, where you have multiple chances to show off product versions
When people add items to the cart, as it’s a great time to show supplementary products
or services that help them get more value from what they’re already planning to buy
When the customer reaches a success milestone. For example, in Asana, when you’ve
added a few tasks, you’ll get an email showing you how to manage tasks even better
with their premium product.
But Don’t Be Pushy
Even though you want customers to see your upsells, you don’t want to annoy them.
Show your upsell popup at the wrong time, and they may not buy anything at all.
Show it at the right time, and you’ve got a much better chance of making a better sale.
Some online retailers handle this by placing the upsell information well below the product
information, so only people who are really interested ever see it. Another option is to show
your upsell when people have made the decision to buy. For example, if you show it once
they’ve added an item to the cart (but before they checkout) that can be a great time to
get an additional sale.
There’s no point in showing your upsell when people have just landed on the page
because that could annoy them enough to leave. Instead, use a “scroll trigger”
to wait till they’ve scrolled a certain distance so you know they’re interested.
Make Your Upsell Relevant
Relevance is key when deciding on your upsell. If someone’s buying a book on marketing,
there’s no point in recommending a book on childcare (which is cross-selling anyway).
Instead, you’ll recommend something else related to what they’re looking at, like an
audio version of the book or another book by the same author.
When you’re upselling, you’ll have to sell the benefits of the upsell, and show why it’s
important. This kind of customer education can help make the sale. For example,
Amazon highlights the benefits of getting audiobook versions of purchased books.
Personalize Your Upsell Recommendations
Recommendations work better if they’re personal. Accenture’s latest research
shows that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy if the retailer either:
Knows their purchase history
Recommends purchases based on that history
Addresses them by name
You can do this in a “Smart Tags feature” that lets you take the information you
already have from your email marketing, like the visitor’s name, and use it as part
of a personalized campaign that appears when they visit your site. And, of course,
you’re not limited to the name. You can also vary onsite campaigns based on the
products people have already viewed.
Get the Language Right
Language is an important part of all successful marketing, as we’ve seen before in our
article on conversion-boosting power words. But it’s even more important to persuade
your customers when you’re aiming for the upsell. Some of the best upselling examples
get this right by making visitors imagine how they could make use of the upgrade, or by
triggering the fear of missing out (FOMO). This is psychologically proven to help make
more sales. For example, show everything they’d be missing if they took the free plan.
As we’ve seen before using urgency can help increase the value of the upsell. If your upsell
is available for a limited time only, or there are limited quantities, you’ll want to highlight this
in your marketing. One way to do that is to create a sale timer for your website. You can also
change display rules to show the upsell offer to those on specific pages, such as the page
with the product you’re offering the upsell for.
Offer Free Shipping
Offering free shipping is proven to boost sales. Around 90% of customers say free
shipping is their main incentive to shop more online. So, how does this work with upsells?
You can remind people how much more they must spend to qualify for free shipping.
That’s a big incentive to continue adding items to the cart, especially if not too costly.
Provide Social Proof
Social proof lets people know that others like them found the product or service valuable.
It’s something you see on the top online retail sites. For example, Amazon shows you:
What people bought with the product you are buying
What people also looked at
The products they recommend going with what you’re buying
All of these create valuable upsell opportunities. Add in customer
reviews for each item, and you’re priming customers to buy more.
Limit the Price Increase
Bitcatcha recommends that you don’t price your upsells too high. After all, it’s supposed
to represent a quick win for your customers. They suggest that the price of the upsell
shouldn’t be more than 40% more than the item they’re already looking at or buying.
Retail Doctor puts that figure even lower, suggesting that the upsell be no more than
an additional 25%. The best advice? Test different options with your own customers till
you find what works.
Use the Rule of Three
You’ll often hear marketers talk about the “rule of three”. It’s to do with the fact that people
respond to patterns, and three seems to be a magic number. In this case, we’re talking
about using the rule of three in pricing. There are multiple studies to show that when there
are three price levels, people often go for the middle one. You’ll also hear this called “price
anchoring”. Either way, upsells look more attractive if it’s one of at least 3 options available.
What if your usual upsell item is out of stock? Don’t let that stop you from offering the upsell.
The best upselling examples show that you always have an alternative. For example, if your
upsell for a particular phone is upgrading the memory from 64GB to 128GB, and you’re out
of the upgrade, suggest 128GB phones in different models from the same manufacturer.
Or, you could simply suggest a phone with similar features where your upsell IS available.
Upsell After the Purchase
While many upsells are offered on product or pricing pages, these aren’t the only places
to show off your upsell offer. In fact, you can offer an upsell even after customers have
completed their purchase. For example, sometimes you get a limited time to edit or
upgrade your order before it ships. And on sales pages, you’ll often see a deal for a
limited time product that complements what you’re already buying.
Follow Up via Email
While we’re on the topic of post-purchase upsells, don’t forget about email. Email Marketing
is still one of the most effective ways to reach your customers, and there are a few upselling
email examples that can help you make more sales. For example, even if people don’t take
the upsell when they purchase, you can still offer it again by email. And you can sweeten
the deal by offering an additional discount on the upgraded product or service.
As an example, you can offer a free gift when someone takes the upsell. You can also use
email to offer upsells as part of your shopping cart abandonment emails. The average
shopping cart abandonment rate, according to the Baymard Institute, is 69%. That’s a lot
of money to leave on the table.
Finally, if upselling isn’t doing the trick, consider downselling – offering a product that’s
slightly reduced in price and features a way to get your customer to become a customer.
Consider downselling if your customer:
Only looks at items in a particular price range, using the sorting features on your site
Has added an item to the cart, but returns to your site to look for cheaper versions
Has abandoned an upsell in the cart and does not respond to abandonment emails
Downselling can help to build trust by offering options that suit your customers’
pocket and showing that you’re responsive to their needs. Examples include:
Offering a more cost-effective version of a computer,
like one with a less expensive power chip
Creating a self-study version of a course that’s less expensive
than the one with your personal input
Popping up a coupon to give a discount when it looks like
visitors are about to leave the page
The great thing about downsells is that once visitors become
customers, you’ll have other opportunities for upsells later.
5 Effective Upselling Examples
Want a few more examples of upselling in action? Check these out.
You can have a button inviting logged in users to upgrade to premium, along with
a page showing the benefits of upgrading. Note, you can also have three different
Williams-Sonoma offers a discount for new customers,
which encourages them to buy more.
AppSumo’s email shows existing customers the benefit of getting multiple deals
in one by moving from a pay per deal to a monthly all in one model.
Dropbox uses an in-app banner to encourage the upgrade to the Business version.
Clicking on the button gives you the USP of the upgrade.
Amazon’s messaging includes letting you know when there’s a newer model
or version of the item you’re looking at.