Customers love a good deal – it can be relatively easy to sell low-priced products or hugely discounted items.
But what happens when your margins are super tight – or when you actually lose money on certain products?
Or what if you simply want to find ways to make the most of every purchase so that you can scale your business over time?
Upsells are a powerful way to solve these problems without incurring additional costs. Let’s explore what upsells are and have a look at various upselling techniques and examples.
What is upselling?
Upselling is a method used to nudge customers to add more expensive items or upgrades to their existing order. This sales technique is especially profitable when combined with a self-liquidating offer.
Your customers may not want to go for the most expensive items in your store right away. Or maybe you have some best-selling items that aren’t particularly profitable for your business. When this is the case, offering upsells can help you generate more revenue from the same number of customers.
Cross-selling vs upselling
Upselling can be very similar to cross-selling. But they’re not quite the same.
When you cross-sell, you provide an opportunity for customers to buy products that would go well with their current purchase.
Although both cross-sells and upsells help you increase your average order value, cross-sells don’t necessarily provide an upgrade of the current product. However, keep in mind that these definitions aren’t set in stone. This means you may see someone talking about an upsell when other people would have qualified it as a cross-sell, and vice versa.
Amazon is well-known for using cross-selling throughout its platform. For example, they always show you Frequently Bought Together items when you’re on a product page.
How to upsell without being too pushy
While upselling is a great way to increase your average order value, many business owners worry about coming across as too pushy or salesy.
That’s perfectly normal! When done right, upsells don’t have to be pushy. Here are five effective methods you can use to create high-converting upsells.
1. Create real urgency or scarcity
Urgency and scarcity can be powerful forces to drive your customers to purchase right now.
But fake urgency and scarcity can come off as pushy, especially if the illusion is obvious. If you tell customers they only have ten minutes to get an upsell at a 20% discount, but then offer that same discount a few hours later via email, then the message is clear:
They know they can wait around for you to throw more discounts at them because that ten-minute timer doesn’t mean anything!
So, when you add urgency or scarcity, make sure you’re serious about holding your end.
One way you can add real urgency is by creating a one-time offer. One-time offers are only available on a specific page. Once you click away, you can no longer get the product at this price.
However, if you want to build long-term relationships with your customers, make sure your one-time offers truly are one-time offers.
For instance, the above example is actually using fake scarcity. Several emails from this vendor offer a link to this same “one-time offer”, which means that it isn’t really a “one-time offer” at all.
2. Survey your customers to find out what they need
You know that upsells are important… but how do you know what your customers would like to buy the most as an upsell?
There’s no better way to find out than to ask!
Consider using a survey popup to ask your customers about their shopping preferences. For instance, you could ask them what would make certain products even better.
You can send surveys via email, too.
If you implement tagging and segmentation in your email marketing practices, you’ll know which customers bought which products. Because of this, you can email them specific questions or surveys based on what they bought in the past.
For instance, let’s say you’re hesitating between four potential upsells for one of your best-selling products. You can email people who bought this product to ask them which item they would be more likely to buy alongside their original purchase.
3. Make the upsell relevant to current purchases
You’ll have a better chance of converting more buyers with your upsell if this upsell is relevant to the product they’re buying.
So, if you’re selling bathing suits, don’t upsell a phone charger – unless it’s specifically designed for the beach!
For example, Tersano shows this popup when you buy the iClean mini:
This is as relevant as it gets. Customers who get the iClean mini will eventually need cartridges. This upsell provides them with the option to buy some in advance so that they don’t need to pay shipping for new cartridges too soon.
4. Use upsells to help your customers
You can see upsells as a tool to help your business grow. But if you treat upsells as a tool to help your customers, you’ll most likely get more conversions.
Here’s a good way to look at it – every product solves a specific problem for your customer. But the same product could also cause other problems, or they could make your customers realize they have other desires they want to meet.
With this in mind, how can you help your customers solve these problems using an additional product (your upsell)?
For instance, if you’re selling bathing suits, your customers now have something to wear at the beach. But because bathing suits show more skin than regular clothes, they now have the added problem of being at risk of sunburn.
You can use this opportunity to upsell sunscreen – or a sun hat!
Other problems customers may have when they buy a bathing suit include:
- Getting sand all over their body when they lie down to relax (upsell them a beach blanket)
- Willing to have more body coverage when they take a walk across the beach (upsell them a beach cover-up)
- No appropriate footwear to wear with their swimsuit (upsell them beach-appropriate shoes)
These examples only work for bathing suits, but you can do the same exercise for any products you sell. Brainstorm all the problems your customers may encounter when they buy a product, then find ways to help them using upsells.
5. Offer upsold items at a discounted price
Instead of offering upsells at their regular price, you can bump down the price when customers make a previous purchase.
The price point can be positioned as a “thank you” in exchange for their previous purchase.
And to create a real sense of urgency, you can add a timer to the discount. Customers have a set amount of time to purchase the upsell if they want to lock in the lower price point.
On the other hand, if you’re providing the upsell before your customer checks out, there’s no need to add a timer. You can specify that the discount for this upsold item will only be available if they add it to their existing order.
8 Upselling techniques and examples for your ecommerce store
Now that you have some strategies to create upsells that increase your average order value without being too pushy, what are some concrete ways you can deploy these upsells?
Whether you’re using upsells on Shopify or any other platform, let’s look at some more specific techniques and examples you can implement in your ecommerce shop right now.
1. Offer additional items in the shopping cart
When customers are already looking at their cart, you can suggest relevant upsells that they can easily add to their purchase.
The easier you make this for them, the better your conversions will be.
You can see how Lovevery does this below:
Customers don’t need to navigate to a separate page to add the Block Set to their cart. There’s a simple button they can press (that is upfront about the pricing, too).
While this is an example of a static upsell, you can also show upsells as a popup instead of embedding it as Lovevery does above.
Here are more popup templates you can use to get started.
2. Embed upsells directly on the product page
If we back up one step before the cart page, you can add upsells directly on the product page.
Dollar Shave Club does this really well on their main product page. When you’re shopping for your first monthly package, you get an option to add your future shipments right away so you never run out of blades.
This technique isn’t necessarily appropriate for all business models. That’s because upsells may distract from the original product.
But if both products are closely entwined, it may be a good idea to place both on the product sales page as Dollar Shave Club does.
Want to avoid distracting customers from the original product? Instead of adding upsells right to the page content use a pop-up recommendation that is triggered by a product being added to the cart.
3. Use a post-checkout upsell page
One of the best ways to offer an upsell is by adding a post-checkout upsell page. Typically, these pages allow customers to purchase additional products using a single click.
Because they’ve already checked out, there’s no need for them to enter their payment information a second time. This reduces the friction caused by making another purchase.
Here’s an example of a one-click upsell page in action.
If you have an upsell that costs significantly more than the previous items, consider using a video to position the benefits of the product in a powerful way.
When you create an upsell page, it’s important to be upfront about the price of the upsell. You can see that there’s text under the button that specifies this particular upsell costs $195. Customers should never have to press a button without knowing how much they’ll get charged.
4. Start an upsell email sequence
You don’t have to upsell directly on your website. Email is a powerful way to upsell your customers over time.
One way you can use email as an upselling tool is by adding all new customers to an automated welcome sequence. Those emails can nurture your new buyers, but they can also nudge your subscribers towards relevant upsells they may like.
You can create different sequences based on what products they purchase if your store contains several types of products.
Here’s an example from the same business that used a post-checkout upsell page. If you don’t purchase the upsell on the post-checkout page, you’ll later receive a sequence of daily emails that promote the same upsell.
5. Add an upsell to your Order Status page
What do your customers see when they click through to get the status of their order?
Well, they probably see the status of their order. But you can use this page to show interesting upsells, too.
As with other upsells, make sure that the upsells shown on this page are relevant to what’s in your customer’s original order.
6. Add an option for a subscription
Subscriptions are an amazing way to increase the value of each customer. And while they might not seem like upsells at first glance, they have the potential to be worth so much more than traditional upsells.
Here’s an example from Cymbiotika, providing customers with the option to subscribe and save instead of purchasing one-off products.
At first glance, this doesn’t look like an upsell at all. It’s actually cheaper for customers to subscribe and save.
However, the subscription model is a long-term upsell. Customers may decide to cancel, but if they don’t, they’ll add several more purchases to their lifetime value without having to lift a finger.
Every time you can let your customers purchase something automatically, you allow them to get your products without having to make a decision and cause decision fatigue.
They’re always free to cancel (at least, they should be!). But they’ll have to think about it before they do.
Amazon also provides a subscription option on certain product pages. If a product is consumable and usually needs to be repurchased, they’ll show you this option as the default when you want to check out.
7. Suggest a bundle
Using bundles to upsell your customers is a seamless way to package items together that are not only related to each other but can work together to solve tangent problems.
Bundles are even more powerful when you combine them with subscriptions.
Cymbiotika shows customers an “Add to Bundle” button when they add a single supplement to their cart.
If you click on this button, you’re redirected to another page, where you get to see the full benefits of creating a bundle.
In this case, each additional item you add to your bundle gives you a bigger discount.
The easier you make this process for your customers, the more likely they are to follow through. For instance, Cymbiotika creates one-click upsells for this bundling feature. All customers have to do is click the “Add” button as they’re scrolling through the potential products.
They also add a permanent overlay when you add something to your bundle. This overlay shows you how many items you have in your bundle and how much you’re currently saving.
But they also have bright white text that lets you know how much you’ll save if you just add one more item to your bundle.
Note that they also show how much more you need to spend if you want free shipping. This makes it even more enticing to add more products to the bundle.
8. Offer a few price point options
Do you have products that come in more than one variation? Perhaps you can use this to your advantage to upsell customers with more expensive variations.
Software companies do this especially well. For example, you can see how Namecheap provides two upsell options for customers who require a more robust solution.
You can still offer different price points if you sell physical products depending on your situation. For instance, you can offer different sizes side-by-side like shown above.
Or, you can upsell various degrees of support if your customers need it. For instance, if you’re selling skincare products, you could offer a consultation with a medical professional on your team.
Use these upselling techniques to grow your business
When done right, upselling techniques can not only help you generate more revenue – they can also help you grow a positive relationship with your customers.
With Getsitecontrol, you can seamlessly add upsell popups without a single line of code! Click here to get started for free.
Charlene Boutin is a freelance content writer & email marketing strategist for hire specializing in helping Ecommerce and SaaS businesses increase conversions by growing authentic relationships with their audience. She loves helping business owners tell their unique stories to capture the hearts of more customers.
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