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The 10 commandments of ecommerce cross-selling and upselling

The cross-selling and upselling pocket bible

Master the fine art of cross-selling and upselling

First, you learned about the benefits of email marketing automation, then we lifted the lid on new customer acquisition.

Now it’s time for the hotly anticipated third instalment in our email marketing automation blog franchise. The not-so-long-awaited sequel.

It’s time to get stuck into one of our all-time favourite conversation topics: tapping the value of your existing customer base.

In other words, boosting revenue with the help of cross-selling and upselling campaigns – with email marketing as your trusted vehicle.

We’re sharing a pocket bible for mastering the fine art of cross-selling and upselling. To help you play matchmaker in this happy marriage of tried and tested sales techniques.

First, let’s start with a couple of definitions of cross-selling and upselling from the Websand dictionary, and then we’ll crack on with quoting scripture.

What is cross-selling?

Cross-selling is a sales technique that involves strategically selling additional products that are similar or complementary to a product a customer is about to buy (or has historically bought).

Brands harness cross-selling to encourage customers to spend more. Either per transaction or over the course of their relationship with the business.

They do this by offering customers extra products they can be confident they’ll like based on their shopping history.

How cross-selling works

Wondering where to start with your cross-sell campaign? Let’s take a look at a few popular and proven examples of cross-selling strategies used by brands the world over:

  • Fashion brands leverage cross-selling with product recommendations designed to help customers ‘complete the look’. Create and coordinate your own fashion shoots to make it easy for customers to purchase the full coordinated look. T-shirts, sneakers, jeans and jacket with a single click. UK retailer NEXT uses this approach a lot.
next cross-selling
Next cross-selling a coordinated ‘look’
  • Electronics companies make a killing with cross-selling. You buy a laptop you are going to be offered headphones, speakers, chargers, cases, and external hard drives.
  • Lifestyle brands selling cosmetics love a bit of cross-selling through the ‘exclusive’ bundle. See the example below from ICONIC. Why buy a single product when you can also get ‘body illumination’ version in an ‘exclusive’ Body Glow bundle.

What is upselling?

Upselling is a sales technique used by brands to persuade customers to buy additional products. The key to successful upselling is to encourage the customer to upgrade. Buy that added extra that adds so much shizzle to the product or service they just bought.

The rationale behind upselling to customers is based on added value. The trade up to a better product or service must be for their own benefit.

Like cross-selling, the goal is to generate extra revenue by driving add-on purchases. However, the key here is to hone in on the upgrade element.

How upselling works

Understand the theory but still unsure of how upselling works in practice? Here are a few jumping off points you can use to get started:

  • Fast food companies nudge customers to upgrade their burger to a box meal complete with fries and a drink.
  • Tech brands give customers the option to upgrade their product during the purchasing process. Back that up with the added protection of an extended warranty (for an additional cost, of course). Apple are the masters of this. Just go through the Macbook purchase process online.
Apple upselling
Don’t forget that Applecare+ option. Apple upselling the life out of this MacBook Air cart.
  • Software-as-a-service providers ask customers if they’re sure they wouldn’t rather go all-in for the premium version of their product. Do you want to signup for ‘normal’ when you could get ‘pro’ for a few dollars more?

If you are still struggling to get your head around this, go test drive a car. You’ll experience an upselling machine in action first hand.

Now you’ve got all that under your belt, it’s time to find out how you can make cross-selling and upselling work for your business.

The good news is that, with an automated email marketing campaign on your side, the conversions will look after themselves.

Websand Segment Planning and Marketing Automation Overview

Behold, the 10 commandments for crafting divine cross-selling and upselling email marketing campaigns.

Thou shalt segment thine audience.

Segmentation is vital to any email marketing activity. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have a single, static subscriber list – what you actually have is a living, breathing, multifaceted collection of customers and potential customers

Each one of them has their own unique buying behaviours and motivations. By gathering information on your customers’ purchase histories over time, you can build a three-dimensional picture of the sorts of complementary and add-on products they’d be interested in.

Thou shalt personalise thy recommendations.

That juicy customer data you’ve gathered can’t just sit there in your CRM gathering dust – let’s put it to work. With knowledge gained on the right cross-sell and upsell opportunities for your customers, it’s time to build these tailored recommendations into your email marketing activity.

Address your customers by name and show them you’ve handpicked products they’ll love. And don’t forget to highlight relevant past purchases of theirs to hammer the point home.

If you bought product X, you’ll love product Y.

Thou shalt choose thy timing wisely.

Timing is everything with email marketing. There are windows of opportunity and these are often brief. Establishing the appropriate time to push cross-sells and upsells is crucial and will depend entirely on the nature of the original purchase.

If you’re cross-selling in the hopes of pushing products a customer will use in tandem with their chosen product, your window of opportunity is narrow indeed, so this could call for an automated email that’s triggered immediately upon purchase of the product.

If you’re upselling in an aim to sign customers up to your most expensive software package, it could be worth letting them experience the restrictions that come with the low-cost basic plan before swooping in with your better offer.

Thou shalt solve thy customers’ problems.

The easiest sell with any customer comes when you’re offering a product that solves a genuine problem you know your customers have.

Rest assured your customers are savvy and know a shameless cash-in attempt when they see one. So try to build your cross-sell and upsell campaigns around practical problem-solving.

A customer’s past purchases will give you a glimpse into the solutions they’re looking for. So rather than finding products that are similar in design or price point, it’s worth doing some extra homework and focus your attention on complementary products that drive the same customer objective.

This logical, strategic sales mentality will give every product recommendation some practical weight.

Thou shalt demonstrate value.

Even with your problem-solving product recommendations nailed down, a build-it-and-they-will-come mindset still won’t cut the mustard when it comes to turning these recommendations into sales. Demonstrate the benefits of these complementary or add-on products with a clear value proposition that shows customers how these additional purchases will enrich or simplify their lives.

Will a matching pair of earrings make a customer’s new necklace pop? Tell them. Will a protective case help a customer keep their shiny new tablet in pristine condition? Tell them. Will a three-year warranty save a customer the time, money and hassle of replacing their product if and when it breaks? Tell them. Whatever the benefit, tell them.

Thou shalt reward customer loyalty.

When your loyal and obliging customers pick up what you’re putting down, showing your gratitude is vital to enjoying that same level of loyalty in the months and years to come.

Having not only purchased the original product but also your recommended extras, a personalised thank-you email will go some way towards expressing your gratitude.

Beyond that, though, there’s also mileage in keeping engaged customers sweet with an exclusive discount code they can redeem on future purchases or priority access to an upcoming limited sale.

Successful email marketing is all about rhythmic give and take.

Thou shalt leverage social proof.

Discerning shoppers need more than pretty product imagery and your self-proclaimed features and benefits to commit to a purchase – especially one that wasn’t their idea.

When cross-selling and upselling, make your product recommendations impossible to resist by sweetening the deal with bona fide social proof.

This social proof can take the form of product ratings and reviews immediately visible in your automated email.

With the endorsement of other happy customers to justify their purchase, your customers will be more than happy to join the club.

Thou shalt call thy users to action.

No automated email marketing campaign can be considered a success without an overarching objective.

Performance can only be measured against a set definition of success. And without a rallying call-to-action, it’s nigh-on impossible to drive any objective of any kind.

Whether your call-to-action takes the form of a ‘shop now’, ‘sign me up’ or ‘treat yourself’, having one isn’t negotiable.

Make sure yours is powerful, relevant and urgent to enjoy the hard-earned rewards of your cross-sell and upsell campaigns.

Thou shalt measure, analyse and refine.

What is made must be measured.

Your efforts to cross-sell and upsell your way to increased revenue can only be declared a success if you’ve got the stats to prove it.

By taking stock of each and every campaign, analysing open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates (as well as a multitude of other micro conversion options), you can find out what works and replicate the successes.

Once you’ve cracked the formula for increasing your customer lifetime value, the email marketing world is your oyster.

Thou shalt automate thine email marketing campaigns.

Can you imagine the sheer number of man hours required to make all of this revenue-driving activity possible? Without state-of-the-art email marketing automation software like ours, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

Don’t miss out on the chance to nurture each and every one of your first-time buyers into a loyal and engaged repeat customer. Get your free 14-day trial now – let’s tap the limitless potential of cross-selling and upselling for your business together.

See you next time.

And feel free to book some time on the calendar below

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