Cross-Selling and Upselling: The Ultimate Guide [2023]

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The potential revenue you can get from a customer doesn’t end at the point of sale.

You still have many opportunities to drive sales beyond the initial purchase. The marketing tactics known as cross-selling and upselling can help you tap into those opportunities.

Cross-selling and upselling increase your income by enticing clients to spend more. It’s a win-win situation where consumers get a superior experience, and you make more money.

But, it’s easy to misuse these marketing tactics.

Some businesses jump in too early, ignore the buyer’s intent, pick the wrong approach, and often annoy customers instead of improving their experience.

Our marketing team has much experience with cross-selling and upselling. We’ve used these techniques successfully for crowdspring and many other businesses across different industries. We’ve also frequently written about cross-selling and upselling and have led webinars on best practices and techniques.

This guide shares the actionable insights, tips, best practices, and expertise we’ve developed after helping over one hundred thousand brands. The guide will help you delight customers and deliver more value while driving additional revenue growth for your business.

Cross-selling usually involves additional product recommendations and offers like: “If you like this, you might also like this.”

In cross-selling, you’re not just promoting a random additional product. The other product you promote must complement what your customer has already agreed to buy. Cross-sells are most effective when offered as enhancements, not requirements.

The goal is to help the customer maximize the value they get from the initial purchase or enhance their experience with the product.

Such products generally belong to different categories but will be complementary. For example, you can cross-sell a carrying case with a laptop or socks with a pair of shoes.

Where cross-selling offers complementary products, upselling aims to swap out the original purchase for a higher-end item that presents greater value to the customer.

In short, when you upsell, you’re “piling on” a product rather than “building around” it.

When upselling, a superior version of the original purchase will usually be a higher, better product model or the same product with value-added features that increase its perceived value.

Why upselling and cross-selling are essential for eCommerce

Upselling and cross-selling are frequently (and mistakenly) assumed to be unethical tactics for getting more money from the customer.

And these techniques are frequently abused and implemented incorrectly.

But if you cross-sell and upsell by following best practices, you can help customers win too.

These tactics should be geared towards making suggestions that might better suit a client’s current needs while also assisting them in making an informed decision by fully informing them about their choices.

So, how do cross-selling and upselling help your business?

1. Cross-selling and upselling increase profits

It’s no secret that a customer who buys more generates more income for your business.

A well-rounded, effective cross-selling and upselling strategy will help boost your revenue and profits.

The great untapped market in your business might be your existing customers.

Pro-tip: The correct language for your call-to-action (CTA) or lead magnet is crucial when cross-selling or upselling. Your copy should arouse customers’ curiosity while providing real value to them. This helps them build loyalty and trust in your business and creates more substantial brand equity.

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2. Cross-selling and upselling increase customer loyalty

Upselling is sometimes associated with sleazy automobile salespeople attempting to persuade clients to purchase goods and services they don’t need.

In reality, however, this is far from the case. Upselling allows customers to make an informed selection by providing them with all their alternatives. It demonstrates that you care and expect your customers’ preferences to be met.

When done correctly, upselling and cross-selling are associated with customer happiness. People develop loyalty to firms that appear to care for their financial well-being.

Customers can be fickle, and it’s too easy for them to become dissatisfied and leave quickly. Any strategy that a company can use to increase loyalty will help minimize the costs of losing customers, especially new ones.

Customer satisfaction decreases churn rates and offers a significant opportunity for free marketing.

In today’s world, few individuals would entrust their business to an organization without checking its reputation. The greatest type of advertisement you can’t purchase is a satisfied consumer.

3. Cross-selling and upselling increase your ROI

You’ve already done the difficult job of marketing, discovering, and selling successfully to your client; it’s time to get as much out of the encounter as possible for your business.

When you ignore upselling and cross-selling, you leave money on the table. Make an effort to offer customers products that are relevant and those that add value to their experience.

4. Cross-selling and upselling increase Customer Lifetime Value

There is a 60-70% higher chance of getting a sale from an existing customer than targeting new ones. Strategically, it makes sense to target existing customers first.

It’s also critical to note that offering value-driven improvements (when upselling) and everyday items (when cross-selling) to clients can boost order value in the short term and client lifetime value in the long run.

Here are some cross-selling ideas to try and entice customers and increase customer lifetime value:

  • Sending customized emails to clients about items that could be of interest to them; and
  • Offering discounts, special offers, or giving customers free items and loyalty incentives.

Depending on your e-commerce platform, you may be able to add an upsell widget quickly and affordably. For example, if you’re on WooCommerce, you can quickly implement an inexpensive post-purchase upsell and order bump. Other platforms may have similar plug-ins.

Increased customer loyalty can pay off handsomely in the long run. Not only will you improve customer lifetime value by increasing the value of their purchases, but you’ll also gain a more dedicated client. You’ll notice a significant difference when dealing with a customer who is loyal to you. In addition, increased client loyalty has benefits in the long term.

5. Cross-selling and upselling balance new and existing customer growth

Increasing customer retention by as little as 5% increases profits from 25% to 95%.

Maintaining a balance between the people who sign up initially and those you retain is critical to your business’s health. Keep a healthy balance between new and existing clients to help guarantee that your company is making money.

This can be achieved by upselling and cross-selling. Customers who feel a business continues to look after their interests by providing relevant and helpful items and services are far more likely to continue purchasing from you.

6. Cross-selling and upselling offer convenience and flexibility for customers

The advantages of upselling and cross-selling aren’t limited to businesses and enterprises. It works well for their customers too.

Many customers do not want to shop for a new brand when searching for a product or service. Offering them more choices or relevant add-ons reduces the risk of losing customers to competitors.

Many customers will stay with a brand they’re already familiar with and with what they like, especially if they know what is being made available.

You can strike while the iron is hot and offer related products and services as soon as you earn customer confidence.

When you upsell or cross-sell to a client, you provide them with the ease of access and flexibility of choice from staying with you.

How you can cross-sell or upsell

Lowering complexity and narrowing options can boost revenues by 5-40% while reducing costs by 10-35%. Cross-selling and upselling can be rewarding when executed optimally.

Here are some tried and tested ways that you can use cross-selling and upselling effectively in your business:

1. Upsell by strategically reducing choices

Have you ever heard of the paradox of choice principle? It’s a phenomenon that’s familiar to a prospective buyer looking at too many alternatives.

Refrain from bombarding your customers with too many choices. Don’t push for it if they’ve already said no to an upsell product. Upsells should be seen as a suggestion rather than an aggressive sales approach.

2. Offer bundles to reduce the paradox of choice

Every action a customer takes throughout the customer journey adds another layer of complexity to the decision-making. People have limited energy for this thought process, so be ahead of them and think of ways to make choice-making easier.

Buying each item individually involves more steps and more decision-making. Bundling offers a suite of related products that are relevant to a customer. Through bundling, a customer can buy multiple products all in one go.

3. Don’t be pushy or aggressive

Use data and client behavior to provide customized recommendations that will most likely fulfill their requirements or address an existing or potential problem. And offer social proof to show that others have purchased similar combinations of products or upgraded their original choices.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

  • Suggest upsells and cross-sells before a customer selects a product,
  • Overwhelm customers with too many cross-sell and upsell choices,
  • Use sly tactics such as hiding pre-selected add-ons in the hope customers don’t notice it,

4. Don’t neglect post-purchase cross-selling

Cross-selling doesn’t end once the customer has checked out.

The experience following the purchase is, in fact, a pivotal moment in the consumer journey for many eCommerce firms. Don’t just send the goods and the payment receipt; use the opportunity to build consumer loyalty while offering amazing deals.

After purchasing, offer customers additional products, incentives, and value by employing emails, confirmation pages, and other post-purchase communications.

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