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.
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.
Both cross-selling and upselling can be used in tandem, though.
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.
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.
- Product recommendations
- Product or service bundling
- In-cart cross-sells
- Threshold cross-selling
- Cross-sells in order confirmation emails
- Email follow-up cross-sells
- Off-site retargeting
- 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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.