15 Upselling Tips & Examples Proven to Boost Average Order Value

Want to know a simple method to increase your average order value and boost your bottom line?

If you’re not upselling to your customers, you’re missing out on a LOT of revenue.

In Marketing Metrics, the authors say:

“The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.”

probability of selling

Source: Groove

And since product recommendations can drive between 10-30% of revenue, putting the right upsell offer in front of people at the right time is an important sales growth tactic.

In fact, it can significantly increase the average amount spent in dollars per order, known as average order value (AOV), as well as overall revenue.

Before we get started with our upselling tips and examples, it’s important to understand the difference between upselling vs. cross-selling. Both are tactics used to boost sales revenue, but they work slightly differently.

What Is Upselling and Cross Selling?

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.

ecommerce upsell tips phone comparison

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, we’re going to share our favorite upselling tips. We’ll delve into some proven upselling strategies, and will provide examples to inspire you in your business. By the end, you’ll be able to implement your own revenue-boosting upsell strategy.

We’ve included a table of contents to help you navigate.

  1. Choose the RIGHT Upsell
  2. Always Offer the Upsell …
  3. … But Don’t Be Pushy
  4. Make Your Upsell Relevant
  5. Personalize Your Upsell Recommendations
  6. Get the Language Right
  7. Use Urgency
  8. Offer Free Shipping
  9. Provide Social Proof
  10. Limit the Price Increase
  11. Use the Rule of Three
  12. Offer Substitutes
  13. Upsell After the Purchase
  14. Follow Up via Email
  15. Consider Downselling

1. 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.

Product Protection

Another favorite upsell, both online and offline, is the “protect your product” upsell, which asks you to extend your warranty so you effectively insure your product against something going wrong. For example, if you buy a phone, you can often get a screen replacement warranty.

ecommerce upsell example - amazon product protection

Customization

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

Sometimes, 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.

upsell email examples - carbonite

The Bundle

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 definitely increase your sales of all the items in the bundle.

2. Always Offer the Upsell …

The more upsell opportunities you show customers, the more chances they have to 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.

upsell email templates and examples - asana

3. … But Don’t Be Pushy

Even though you want customers to see your upsells, you don’t want to annoy them. Show your upsell 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 OptinMonster’s scroll trigger to wait till they’ve scrolled a certain distance so you know they’re interested.

Follow our instructions for creating your first campaign, then go to Display Rules » Who should see the campaign? Choose Visitors to a particular page and add the URL of the product or add to cart page.

om visitors browsing URL added

Then, go to Display Rules – When should the campaign appear? and select After scrolling down ‘X’ amount. Set the percentage to around 70% so you’ll know it shows to people who have seen most of the page.

om display rules 70pc scroll

4. 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, here’s how Amazon highlights the benefits of getting audiobook versions of purchased books:

amazon auduble upsell

5. 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

accenture large

You can do this in OptinMonster with our Dynamic Text Replacement 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, as the example below shows:

dynamictextreplacement-om2-1

Here’s how you implement dynamic text replacement with OptinMonster.

6. 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, this page comparing Spotify plans shows everything you’d be missing if you took the free plan.

upsell tips- spotify screenshot

7. Use Urgency

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 by using OptinMonster to create a sale timer for your website. Here’s how you do this:

Login to the OptinMonster dashboard and create a new campaign.

om create campaign button

Choose a campaign type. We’ll use the Floating Bar, which sits neatly at the top or bottom of the screen.

om create floating

Choose a theme. We’ll use the Countdown Timer.

om choose countdown timer

Name your campaign, and press Start Building.

om name floating bar countdown

In the Optin tab, go to Countdown Type, and select Static. This will show the same countdown for all visitors.

om choose timer type

In the Countdown End Date/Time, put the date and time when you want your upsell offer to end.

edit countdown end date

Click Restart Countdown Preview to see what the countdown will look like.

restaart countdown preview

Click on the floating bar text to edit it. Type in the details of your offer.

edit countdown text

Set your Display Rules. We’ll use Based on visitor’s date and time. Select Is on or before, and put the end date for your offer. We’ll also use Is on or before to add a start date.

om on before plus on after

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.

When you’re done, Save and Publish the campaign.

om publish live

Here’s an example of the countdown timer in use on our own site:

countdown timer optin

Here’s how you can create a countdown popup using a different template and theme.

8. 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 have to spend to qualify for free shipping. That’s a big incentive to continue adding items to the cart, especially if they’re not too costly. We’ll discuss pricing your upsell later in this guide.

9. 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 to go with what you’re buying

upselling tips -
amazon related products

All of these create valuable upsell opportunities.

Add in customer reviews for each item, and you’re priming customers to buy more.

10. Limit the Price Increase

Bitcatcha recommends that you don’t price your upsell 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.

11. 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, an upsell can look more attractive if it’s one of at least three options available. See this in action on the MailChimp site.

mailchimp upselling examples

Combine the rule of three with educating your customer about the value of the upsell (as mentioned earlier) and you’re primed to get an increase in AOV.

12. Offer Substitutes

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.

13. 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, when placing an order with Mixbook, you get a limited time to edit or upgrade your order before it ships.

mixbook edit order

And on sales pages, you’ll often see a deal for a limited time product that complements what you’re already buying.

14. 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.

In the example below from Digital Marketer, the company offers two free gifts when you take the upsell.

dm upsell example

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.

To target abandonment on the site, use OptinMonster’s Exit-Intent® Technology, and follow up with targeted abandonment emails.

15. Consider Downselling

Finally, if upselling isn’t doing the trick, consider downselling – offering a product that’s slightly reduced in price and features as 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

This last one is easy to do with OptinMonster. Follow the steps create a popup coupon, and use page level targeting to display it on certain product pages. Then go to Display Rules » When should the campaign appear? and enable On Exit Intent® to make sure it displays before they leave the page.

om exit intent enabled

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.

Grammarly has a neat button inviting logged in users to upgrade to premium, along with a page showing the benefits of upgrading. Note that it also has three package options, as we mentioned in tip #11.

grammarly upselling example

Williams-Sonoma offers a discount for new customers, which encourages them to buy more.

grammarly upselling example

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.

appsumo upselling example

Dropbox uses an in-app banner to encourage the upgrade to the Business version.

dropbox upsell 1

Clicking on the button gives you the USP of the upgrade.

dropbox upsell 2

Amazon’s messaging includes letting you know when there’s a newer model or version of the item you’re looking at.

newer version upsell example

That’s it! With these upselling tips and examples, you’re primed to get the most from your upsell strategy.

Next, check out our tips on eCommerce email marketing and best practices for marketing automation. And follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more in-depth guides.

Sharon Hurley Hall has been a professional writer for more than 25 years, and is certified in content marketing and email marketing. Her career has included stints as a journalist, blogger, university lecturer, and ghost writer.