5 Tenets of Upselling

The goal of most businesses is to grow. This is usually measured by overall revenue. How companies try to increase their revenue, however, is much less uniform.

Particularly in the e-commerce industry, which is forecast to reach $4.8 trillion by 2021, many brands are spending time, money and energy trying to grow their customer base, when they should really be focusing on increasing customer loyalty and the average order value from those loyal customers. An effective way to do this is to learn how to upsell.

But before you understand what that means for your online shop, you need to know the tenets of upselling.

Trust

Everything starts, and ends, with trust when it comes to successful upselling. Today’s consumers have more purchasing options and diversity of shopping experiences than ever. Accordingly, they won’t just give their money to anyone. That’s why merely trying to upsell a customer on something won’t work. The upsell needs to be tailored to them. The customer needs to feel that you have their best interests in mind.

Reciprocation

As much as a cosmetics store would like to think that selling a makeup kit to a customer warrants an upsell for lip plumper and eyelash enhancers, it’s not so simple. To motivate customers to buy additional products, you have to give them value first. This starts well before the user ever adds an item to their cart. Posting quality content regularly, running an email marketing program focused on offering value and making your store’s shopping experience as seamless as possible are examples of how to position customers to reciprocate the positives they’ve experienced from your brand.

Exclusivity

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, applies to more than real-life social dynamics. It also has the potential to affect conversions. Can you remember the last time you bought something on a whim? There’s a good chance it was via an upsell based on exclusivity. Your upsell could say “available today only” or “available while supplies last” to give the customer a sense of urgency. If they’re interested in the product at all, they’ll probably pull the trigger.

Authority

It doesn’t matter if the product is a guitar or a pair of running shoes — customers want to feel good about their purchases. Buying from reputable and authoritative sources elicits this feeling. And the more a customer sees a brand as an authority, the more receptive they’ll likely to be to the upsell offer. Showcase expertise in your upsell offers by suggesting a range of products of varying quality. So if a customer adds an espresso machine to their cart, recommend three tiers of espresso grinders, with a few bullet points describing each grinder’s features and price points.

Social Proof

Arguably nothing is more critical to conversions (and upselling) than social proof. Per BrightLocal, 91 percent of 18—34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Consumers read between one and 10 reviews before making a purchase. When it comes to upselling, though, you’re banking on the customer not researching the product as thoroughly as usual. Instead, you have to bring the credibility to them. A lot of positive product star ratings and reviews are a start. However, your offer will be more enticing if you tell them the percentage of customers who also bought the add-on item.

Some brands may think they’re “above” the upsell. But the reality is failing to upsell customers means leaving revenue on the table. Upsell amounts don’t need to be astronomical to have an impact on your bottom line; they just need to be more than the original order value. You won’t master upselling overnight, but these five tenets will help you get higher totals out of each order and make your customers feel good about the experience.

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