Jessica Malnik

7 Upselling Techniques Guaranteed To Boost Your Average Order Value & Revenue

Want to know one of the biggest fallacies in online marketing? That you need more customers to make more money.

In fact:

You can boost your bottom line right now with your existing customer base, all by making one small change: upselling.

Upselling is a proven sales technique that can help boost your company’s average order value (AOV) or revenue per user (ARPU). Meaning each customer generates more revenue for your company, all without you having to invest any additional funds.

In this post, we’re sharing how to efficiently upsell to your customer base. We’ll cover all the upselling techniques you need to know about, with plenty of real-world examples along the way.

Here we go 👇

<what>What is upselling?<what>

Upselling is when a brand persuades a customer to purchase an upgraded product or service. It is a technique often leveraged by ecommerce businesses, online courses, and SaaS companies to increase their average order value (AOV) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). 

For brands selling online, upselling is a much easier (and cost-effective) option to generate higher sales—rather than seeking new prospects. 

However, when done poorly, this can get a bad rep from customers because they feel like brands are trying to make more money without offering more value. 

For your upselling initiative to be successful, it’s essential you focus on the customer’s needs and how the upsell can help satisfy them.

<vs>Upselling vs. cross-selling<vs>

Cross-selling is a sales technique that’s often confused with upselling. 

Both techniques are used to generate more revenue by increasing the total amount a customer spends with a company. 

However, the two are quite different.

  • Upselling gets a customer to purchase an upgraded product (or to purchase the same one in greater quantities)
  • Cross-selling, on the other hand, persuades a customer to purchase an additional, complementary product

For a better idea of how upselling and cross-selling differ, consider this example:

Cross-selling vs. upselling examples

When managed properly, both upselling and cross-selling can provide customers with maximum value while boosting the company’s average order value.

<techniques>7 upselling techniques and tips<techniques>

Upselling will only be as effective as the processes implemented across your website or ecommerce store. Before jumping straight into an upselling initiative, consider these seven techniques and tips.

1. Know your customer

According to a recent Accenture report, 75% of customers are more likely to convert if a retailer knows or recommends products based on their purchase history

It is obvious but easy to forget. The more you can personalize your offer with customer data, such as references to current or previous orders, abandoned carts, or survey responses, the more likely they’ll buy. 

For example, in ConvertFlow, you can use our product recommendation popup and Shopify integration to create a personalized offer for your ecommerce store visitors:

We've got plenty more recommendation designs in our library of popup templates, site message templates, and sticky bar templates.

2. Choose the right upsell

Depending on your business and the type of goods or services you sell, you might want to experiment with various types of upsells. There are at least five different types of upsells you can offer customers.

  1. Product or Service Upgrade. Offering an enhanced version of a product or service, such as a larger phone screen or the ability to add multiple team members to one software.
  2. Product Quantities. Encouraging people to buy multiple quantities of a particular product, instead of just one—usually via an incentive like a bulk buy discount.
  3. Product or Service Protection. Offering an extended warranty on a purchased product or delivered service.
  4. Product Customization. Offering an ability to customize a product or service to a customer’s liking, such as engraving jewelry or adding specific widgets to a software program. 
  5. Extended Service Period. Offering a lengthened contract for software programs that can offer better value for an extended period of time. 

If you’re a SaaS company, product customization or an extended service period can be the simplest method to offer your customers an upsell. On the other hand, if you’re an ecommerce store, product upgrades or protection can enhance the value of each sale. 

3. Use a side-by-side comparison

One way to do this is to present side-by-side comparisons of the customer’s selected product or service and the premium product or service. This way, the customer can weigh the added value themselves. 

Education is the name of the game here, so include critical highlights that demonstrate the benefits of the premium as well as the risks of not taking advantage of the offer. 

This is a technique that many online courses and SaaS companies use all the time—most notably with freemium versions.

ConvertKit does a great job with this on its pricing page. Notice how features are crossed out to highlight what you do and don't get across price plans:

ConvertKit upselling on pricing page

In fact, here at ConvertFlow, we even use this technique. Check it out on our pricing page here 💪

4. Make the offer attractive

As you demonstrate the value of an upsell to a customer, you will also need to make the offer compelling enough to buy it.

So, aside from educating the customer about how the premium upgrade will make their life better, it’s also helpful to include an incentive to close the sale.

For instance:

If you run an online fashion boutique, you can nudge customers to spend more money on your website by including free shipping on orders above a specific price. This way, there’s added value for upgrading the purchase.

Take a look at how women's weight loss store, LadyBoss, entices visitors into its upsells with a free shipping bar in the cart:

Upselling Techniques: LadyBoss free shipping bar

This example is $20.05 away from free shipping. But, there's also an added bonus of a free gift for reaching a total order value of $125 🤩

PRO TIP:

You can use ConvertFlow's Shopify integration to personalize your CTAs with merge tags that show your free shipping threshold and how far each person's cart is away from it:

ConvertFlow free shipping threshold

Here's a sticky bar template you can use:

See more sticky bar templates

5. Upsell across your platform

Many ecommerce brands still think you can only successfully upsell at checkout. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

In fact, one of the most underrated and highest converting places to upsell is on your thank you page. If you think about it, this makes a ton of sense since your "upsell offer" is hitting a customer right after receiving a dopamine hit from placing an order. 

You could either build out a landing page funnel of upsells. Or, use an app to make the offers inside your ecommerce platform—like Zipify One Click Upsell or Sweet Upsell:

Order confirmation page upsell example
Source: Sweet Upsell

Let’s use a hypothetical example.  

Say you run an ecommerce store that sells high-end photography gear and courses.

Your customer, Joe, just bought a new camera. On the thank you page, you thank Joe for the order, share a handful of video tutorials you created, and also include an upsell offer to buy an extended warranty that includes a premium course that will help him keep his camera safe and get the most use out of it. 

Then, a couple of days after he receives the order, you send an email asking, "how he is enjoying his new camera." This triggers a nurture campaign with a bunch of educational resources and tutorials. From there, you can incorporate cross-sell offers sparingly for camera add-ons, like tripods, lens, etc.

Congratulations, you just utilized both upselling and cross-selling offers in tandem—all helping increase AOV and CLTV over time 🙌

Just remember: Upsells and cross-sells should add value, not annoy your customer. 

6. Trigger a sense of urgency

By now, we’ve all heard of FOMO or fear of missing out. Leverage this same sense of urgency with your upsells through:

  • Targeted verbiage
  • Countdown timers
  • Offers that expire on page close

For instance, headlines that read "Limited Time Offer" or "Just 2 Hours Left of This Sale!" encourage customers to act now rather than miss out on added value.

PRO TIP:

You can use ConvertFlow's timer element to easily add countdown timers to any popup or CTA. Here's a popup template you can use—although there's plenty of other designs here:

Learn more about timers in ConvertFlow

7. Leverage social proof

Social proof is essentially validation that other customers found a product or service valuable. When striving to prove the worth of your upsell, social proof (like testimonials, reviews, or case studies) can help demonstrate the value of the upgraded product or service. 

Consider adding a widget to your website that includes what other customers viewed or purchased based on an initial item. 

<examples>5 real-world upselling examples<examples>

Now that you have a better understanding of how to utilize upselling, here are some real-world examples for inspiration.

1. Disney+

By placing the call-to-action (CTA) for the Disney Bundle at the center of its home page, Disney+ entices customers to spend more to also receive access to Hulu and ESPN+:

Upselling Examples: Disney+
Source: Disney+

Right off the bat, the value proposition is clear.

For customers who just want access to Disney, an option to sign up for Disney+ only is placed in a slightly smaller, less exciting font. This puts the upsell front and center and makes it seem like the more logical option.

2. Later

Later is a social media scheduling platform that’s available as both a free and paid version.

For customers currently using the free version, a preview of premium features displays on each scheduled post:

Upselling Examples: Later
Source: Later

This is a great example of in-app upselling in SaaS, tempting users to upgrade for additional value.

3. Amazon

As masters of ecommerce, it’s no surprise Amazon has the upselling game down pat. A quick search for any product, such as the screen protector shown below, will instantly prompt related products as well as bundle options:

Upselling Examples: Amazon
Source: Amazon

This combines the best of upselling and cross-selling to generate a larger sale.

4. Spotify

Here Spotify is mastering the art of FOMO with copy that reads "ends soon" and "offer ends in 6 days."

Upselling Examples: Spotify
Source: Spotify

For free users who don’t yet have a Premium Spotify plan, this acts as an incentive to sign up before the deal is gone. 

5. CXL

CXL is an online education company that sells advanced-level marketing courses, training, and memberships. When you look at their pricing page, they create a compelling offer of a 7-day trial for $1 to get people engaged:

Upselling Examples: CXL
Source: CXL

In addition, you can see how they are nudging people to their premium, higher-ticket annual plan through both the copy and design. The value for the customer is that they can get a discounted rate by upgrading to an annual plan.

Also note the great use of social proof here with the logos of other well-known companies using the product 💪

<start>Start upselling to grow your revenue today<start>

In sum, upselling is a proven way to encourage customers to spend more money and receive more value. The key to an effective upsell strategy is to:

  • Not go overboard
  • Deliver real value
  • Personalize your offers

Want to build personalized upsell popups, sticky bars, and other CTAs on your website quickly? Start a free trial to see how ConvertFlow makes it easy to create personalized offers and targeted messages for your ideal customers at scale.

About the author

Jessica Malnik

Contributor, ConvertFlow
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Jessica is a copywriter and content strategist with over 10 years' experience in SaaS marketing. Her work has appeared on industry-leading websites like Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, The Next Web, Databox, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and more. When she's not writing something epic, you'll usually find her watching Master Chef or schooling people on 90s pop culture trivia.