Elise Dopson

8 Proven Cross-Selling Strategies Sure to Increase Revenue & AOV

"My cost to acquire a new customer is creeping up, but the lifetime value of each customer is stagnant."

Most companies fall into that cycle at some point or another. 

If you’ve spent a bunch of money acquiring new customers, it’s worth putting similar amounts of effort into making each one spend more. That’ll give you the best LTV:CAC ratio possible—and make it feel less daunting when you splash the cash on customer acquisition. You know it’ll be worth it in the long run.  

The best part? It’s relatively easy to do. Simply recommending other products/services can help customers solve their problems—while increasing the amount of money they spend each time.

It’s called cross-selling; a strategy proven to increase profit and customer lifetime value (CLTV).

In this post, we dive into how you can do it for your website using these cross-selling strategies 👇

What is cross-selling?

Cross-selling is offering additional, complementary products or services to boost the average order value (AOV) of a sale or lifetime value (LTV) of a customer. In simple terms, it’s about getting people to spend more by recommending other items on top of what’s already been bought or added to cart.

For example:

Let’s say you’re a fashion retailer. Someone’s browsing the product page for a pair of shoes. On that page, you add a cross-sell section titled “shop the look.” It’s a recommendation carousel that links to other items the model is wearing.

Cross-selling vs. upselling: what’s the difference?

Upselling is another sales tactic that often gets confused with cross-selling.

  • Cross-selling recommends additional products to the one a person is thinking of buying.
  • Upselling, on the other hand, nudges people to upgrade the product they’re currently looking at for a bigger, better, more expensive version. Pushing additional quantities of the same product could also be counted as upselling.
Cross-selling vs. upselling examples

Both cross-selling and upselling can be used in tandem, though.

For example:

Use product recommendation CTAs to cross-sell other items in your catalog. Then, when the shopper gets to the checkout page, you can upsell them the fancier version of each item.

But for this guide, we’ll keep things simple and stick to cross-selling.

The benefits of cross-selling

  • Increase AOV. Knowing your AOV means you can work backward and calculate your marketing and advertising budgets. If you know each order is worth just over $18, but a cross-sell brings that to $28, you have more money to play with.
  • Boost profitability. Batching several items in one order means one round of packaging, shipping, and labeling costs. These extra factors eat into profits when selling online, but can be significantly reduced when recommending add-ons.
  • Increase LTV. Save time (and money) finding new customers by retaining those you’ve already got. You’ll get people to spend more money, more often with you.

8 cross-selling strategies (with examples)

Now that we know what cross-selling looks like, here are eight great techniques you can use to increase your AOV—with real-life examples from ecommerce stores using them.  

  1. Product recommendations
  2. Product or service bundling
  3. In-cart cross-sells
  4. Threshold cross-selling
  5. Cross-sells in order confirmation emails
  6. Email follow-up cross-sells
  7. Off-site retargeting
  8. On-site retargeting

1. Product recommendations

The most obvious way to start cross-selling is to recommend products similar to whatever a shopper is already browsing. You’ll see these packaged as:

  • “Related products”
  • “Frequently bought together”
  • “Shop the look”

This technique is superb for delivering outstanding customer experiences. How often have you visited a site, liked what the model was wearing, and wanted to buy it… but couldn’t find it?

Showing those items in a product recommendation carousel helps the shopper do that—while also increasing their AOV (and profitability) on that order.

New Look shows what that looks like in practice. They show what a product looks like on the model, who’s wearing other items to complete the look:

New Look product page

Beneath the product description, they’re encouraging people to “shop the look” and add other complementary items to their cart that match what the model is wearing:

New Look 'Shop the Look' carousel

2. Product or service bundling

Take one look at Amazon’s website, and you’ll see they’re masters at one cross-selling technique: product bundling.

Product bundling works by grouping similar products people buy to solve one problem. Amazon’s product page for a camera battery, for example, gives me a bundle price that includes two packets of camera film:

Amazon frequently bought together

Lookfantastic does a similar thing on their site. They bundle two similar products together and give shoppers a single button to add both items to their cart:

Lookfantastic frequently bought together

Product bundling is so effective because it’s proven to increase the perceived value of each item. 

Think about it: if you’re paying $500 for a hotel room, customers likely won’t add a $50 spa voucher on top. The room and spa access for $550 sounds like a much better deal—even though the prices are exactly the same.

3. In-cart cross-sell

Just because a potential customer has added items to their online cart, don’t think you’ve lost your chance to recommend complementary products. In fact, the shopping cart is one of the best cross-selling opportunities. 

Take this example from Colourpop. When I add a foundation to my shopping cart, they recommend other complementary items (like their brow cosmetics) with a simple button that’ll add them to my order:

Colourpop in-cart cross-sell

Bloom and Wild do a similar thing with their checkout process. Before a customer views the items in their bag, they recommend adding extra items (like chocolate and candles) to their bouquet order:

Bloom & Wild box cross-sell

PRO TIP:

You can use ConvertFlow's page targeting to create a popup, sticky bar, or site message that displays in your cart. The CTA can then be used to promote and cross-sell products similar to item(s) in the cart:

Target by page URL

Learn more about ConvertFlow's Shopify integration

4. Threshold cross-selling

Introducing threshold cross-sells into your strategy influences how much people spend.

It works by incentivizing cross-sells that encourage people to purchase other items in order to reach a threshold, such as:

  • Free shipping thresholds like "get free shipping when you spend $52"
  • Discount thresholds like "get X% off when you spend $100" 

Let’s put that into practice. If your free shipping threshold is $50 and your customer only has $30 worth of items in their cart, use cross-sells to find $20+ products they can purchase and claim free shipping on.

PRO TIP:

ConvertFlow's Shopify integration allows you to target and personalize based on shopping cart data. Meaning you can use merge tags in popups, sticky bars, etc. to show how much someone needs to add to their cart in order to qualify for free shipping:

Popup free shipping threshold

Learn more about merge tags and dynamic text replacement in ConvertFlow

5. Cross-sell on order confirmation page

If you’ve got to this point and used the strategies we’ve shared so far, there’s a good chance that most customers have added a complementary product to their order.

What happens if they don't?

Your cross-selling strategy isn’t finished altogether.

The order confirmation page (or email) is another superb opportunity to promote items related to the one a customer has just purchased. 

Nike's customer portal does precisely this. Under the list of my recent orders, there’s a button to "shop similar." A carousel of suggested products appears—all of which are super-personalized and similar to the shoe I just bought:

Nike post-sales cross-sell

6. Email follow up cross-sell

Similar to order confirmation pages and portals, any emails you’re sending to current customers are prime real estate for cross-selling product recommendations. 

Take a look at how OpenTable uses its email follow-ups to communicate with people who’ve already visited one restaurant. They use that restaurant information (like the cuisine and location) to personalize future recommendations.

7. Off-site retargeting 

Did you know that website visitors who are retargeted are 43% more likely to convert? By following these people around their internet journeys, you can bring them back to your website.

Cross-sells give people a reason to visit again.

Someone might have left their initial session because they couldn’t find the exact product they were looking for. So, bringing them back to look at something similar might result in a sale.

You can even use off-site retargeting to cross-sell items a customer has already bought. This Facebook ad from Stitch Fix, for example, uses previous purchase data to recommend other items that complement what they’ve bought:

Stitch Fix cross-selling strategies

8. On-site retargeting 

Customers often head back to a website they’ve already purchased from. Nudge them to buy again using cross-sells.

This ConvertFlow template pushes similar or associated products to the ones customers have recently purchased. It’s a personalized shopping experience that delivers tailored product recommendations—something proven to get a 3x higher ROI than generic, mass promotions:

PRO TIP:

You can use ConvertFlow to target cross-sell popups & other CTAs to returning customers. Just set up the list, segment, or tag in your CRM and target your CTA to the relevant one:

Targeting based on CRM data

Learn more about page targeting in ConvertFlow

Cross-selling tools

We've covered some great cross-selling strategies and ideas in this post.

But, there's one problem:

It's not always easy to actually go about actioning a lot of the techniques. Adding offers into your cart page or personalizing your cross-sell offerings can sometimes require some technical or coding skills.

So, here's a quick list of tools and apps you can use to make launching a variety of cross-sell offers quicker and simpler:

Best cross-selling apps & tools

  1. ConvertFlow. Cross-selling popups, landing pages, sticky bars, and other calls-to-action that can be targeted based on your customer data in Shopify, Klaviyo, Drip, MailChimp, etc.
  2. Klaviyo. Build cross-sell sequences to send via email and SMS.
  3. Also Bought. Shopify app to easily add Amazon-style product recommendations and "frequently bought together" sections.
  4. Bundler. Shopify app allowing you to do cross-sell product bundles and volume discounts.
  5. In Cart Upsell & Cross Sell. Shopify app allowing you to do targeted upsell and cross-sell offers embedded in the shopping cart.
  6. One Click Upsell by Zipify. Gives customers a chance to add other items to their order on your order confirmation page.

Note: We selected these based on app reviews and our own recommendations. But, you can find similar alternatives by searching on the relevant app stores for Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or whatever your ecommerce platform is 🙌

Cross-selling templates

Fancy some good news? It’s never been easier to create site messages and popups for your new cross-selling techniques.

The ConvertFlow template library is home to all kinds of designs ready for you to customize and add complementary products to, like this one:

Or this one:

Or this one again we shared earlier:

Each is professionally designed to maximize the number of people who take up your cross-selling offer. But, just like any other template in our library, it’s completely customizable.

Just add your product information, logo, and product imagery to any design and you're ready to launch.

Start cross-selling today

There’s no doubt that cross-selling can increase your AOV, revenue, and profitability. They’re all three things I’m almost certain you want to improve on. 

Use these examples of cross-selling to start creating your own techniques. Head to the ConvertFlow template library to recreate:

All can be tweaked to add in recommended complementary products similar to those each visitor is viewing. 

The most important thing to remember?

Whichever cross-selling strategy you opt for, make sure to keep customers' needs at the top of mind instead of just blindly pushing products. It’s the best way to suggest products and have your customers act on those recommendations.

About the author

Elise Dopson

Contributor, ConvertFlow
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Elise is a writer at ConvertFlow, and expert in B2B marketing. She's been featured in publications like ConversionXL, HubSpot, CoSchedule, Content Marketing Institute, Databox, and more. You'll usually find her cooking up some high-quality content for the ConvertFlow blog or campaign library.