by Elastic Email Aug 7, 2023

Are you interested in getting more value from your marketing emails? If so, you’ve made it to the right place!

Email marketing is one of the most popular and profitable digital marketing strategies. Experts estimate that the average ROI for email campaigns is an impressive 4,400%. In other words, if you’re not using email to connect with your audience, you’re missing out on countless opportunities to engage with prospects and customers.

Table of contents

There are plenty of emails you’ll want to send your subscribers. Today, we want to go over one specific type; product upsell emails.  

We will define the term, go over six types of product upsell emails, then show you a few ways to improve your emails and maximize conversions. 

Let’s dive in! 

What is a Product Upsell Email?

Let’s start by answering the big question, “What is a product upsell email?” 

Simply put, a product upsell email is a message that encourages subscribers to upgrade or purchase an additional product. Here are two practical examples so you can see how upselling works in action: 

Example 1: A shoe company sends customers an upsell email asking if they’d like to buy extra laces or cleaning products for their new pair of sneakers. 

Example 2: An email marketing SaaS sends customers an email asking if they’d like to upgrade to the next tier of their software. 

These instances show how brands that sell physical and digital products can use upsell emails to improve sales, engagement, and retention while creating a better customer experience. 

6 Effective Types of Product Upsell Emails

Now, let’s look at six effective types of product upsell emails you can use to grow your business.

Purchase History Upsell

Upsell emails that are linked to purchase history are extremely effective. Shoppers are usually willing to upgrade their purchase or spend more on additional items if they’re related to something they already bought. 

The best example of this strategy can be found on Amazon. The eCommerce giant does an excellent job of showing customers products they might like before they hit the checkout button. However, they also send emails to their users that contain a list of products they might like based on things they’ve purchased in the past. 

If you want to make this strategy work for your business, it’s important to segment your audience and send personalized emails based on each person’s interests. Research shows that 80% of people are more likely to buy from a company that uses personalization in their content and offers. 

This statistic reflects another important email marketing trend; around 77% of all email engagement and ROI come from personalized campaigns. 

When you show your customers deals that match their interests and past purchases, they are more likely to accept your upsell offer.

Flash Sale Upsells

Flash sales are a powerful way to boost sales and engagement on your website quickly. The main reason they work is they inspire FOMO and help subscribers get more for their hard-earned money.

When you add upsell offers to the mix, they become even more beneficial. 

A common strategy for upselling during flash sales is to create product bundles for customers. For instance, the shoe company we mentioned earlier could send customers a bundle that includes two pairs of sneakers, extra laces, and cleaning products for their new shoes. 

At a glance, this may seem like a lot for someone to spend all at once. However, due to the nature of flash sales, customers are far more likely to accept this offer because it’s available at a great price for a limited time. 

We recommend reviewing your product catalog and buyer personas so you can find ways to create bundles for your flash sale emails that are designed for each of your audience segments. You can also use purchase history with this strategy for better results.

Upgrade Upsells

Another type of product upsell email you can send customers is an upgrade offer. Typically, this strategy works best for businesses that sell services instead of physical products. 

Upgrade upsells allow you to offer your customers additional value by presenting multiple tiers based on their specific needs. Software companies often have several different product levels for customers that add extra features and functionality. 

For instance, brands that sell form builders typically have a premium tier that includes extra templates and design options. If customers can benefit from this feature, they will gladly upgrade. However, sometimes you need to be the one to let them know that the option is available. 

When sending this type of upsell email, it’s crucial to let subscribers know what they stand to gain. Including a side-by-side list of benefits can sway subscribers who are on the fence and convince them to accept your offer.

Referral Upsells

Referral upsells are a unique way to attract new customers while keeping existing subscribers engaged with your brand. 

Put plainly, a referral upsell email is a message that encourages your audience to suggest your product or services to other people. The original user is rewarded with a deep discount or upgrade in exchange for this interaction. 

Let’s say a software company wants more users to download their free trial. They may email satisfied customers and ask them to reach out to friends, family, or peers who may be interested in their service by sharing a special link. 

If the user gets a predetermined number of people to sign up, they get a plan upgrade or several months of free service. 

Neal Taparia from Cribbage Online explains, “We ask users to refer to other Cribbage players in return for getting an ad-free experience in our games. You need to give something of value to drive referrals.”

This strategy works well for brands that sell physical products too. You can give people who bring referral traffic to your site a complimentary gift or exclusive discount on their next order.

Customer Loyalty Upsells

Customer loyalty upsell emails are designed to reward people who consistently buy products on your website. Many businesses use loyalty programs to extend their average customer lifetime value while reducing churn. 

In most cases, loyalty programs use a point-based system. This means users get points every time they complete an order. Customers can then redeem their points to save on future orders. 

The thing is, many shoppers forget about their loyalty points. Brands across all industries use this system, so it’s easy to see how savings can easily pile up without a customer noticing. 

Customer loyalty upsell emails present an exciting opportunity to reach out to dedicated shoppers and let them know that they can use points to upgrade or buy something new. 

We suggest reviewing subscriber data, so you make suggestions that align with things the customer has purchased in the past. You should also consider presenting options that may not necessarily be covered by all their points. An email that tells users they can save 70% on their upgrade by redeeming their reward points may be just the incentive they need to take action.

Abandoned Cart Upsells

Finally, let’s talk about abandoned cart upsells. Cart abandonment occurs when a user adds a product to their shopping cart, then leaves before they finish paying for the order. 

This phenomenon is way more common than you might think. In fact, you may be shocked to learn that in a single year, cart abandonment results in a jaw-dropping $4.6 trillion in lost sales across all online stores. 

Cart abandonment emails can dramatically improve sales and help you connect with users who would otherwise leave and never return. For context, abandonment emails have a 45% open rate, which is significantly higher than the average 21% associated with most marketing emails. 

We’ve found that adding an upsell offer to these emails can significantly improve sales and engagement after the user abandons their cart. 

When presenting this type of upsell offer, it’s important to personalize your message based on what the user was thinking about buying.

If someone was looking at a single product, you could send them a bundle offer that’s cheaper than what they originally added to their cart. If people feel like they can get more value for less money, while getting what they wanted in the first place, they’re more likely to return to your site.

Improving Your Upsell Emails

Let’s look at a few strategies you can use to improve your upsell emails and maximize conversions.

Explain the Benefits

One of the biggest mistakes we see email marketers make is they don’t clearly explain the benefits of the upsell. You shouldn’t create an email asking users to upgrade their order without giving them multiple reasons why they should accept your offer. 

How you explain the benefits will vary based on your offers and promotions. For example, if you want users to upgrade to a new subscription plan, you should tell them what new features they will get once they upgrade. 

Think carefully about your customers’ needs and how they use your product or service when crafting your upsell campaign. Look closely at your buyer personas’ goals and pain points and use that information to highlight why a subscriber should click the link in your email.

Test Often

Testing email campaigns is an excellent way to improve engagement and increase your upsell revenue. This process is known as A/B testing or split testing. Essentially, you’ll want to make gradual changes to half of your emails while keeping the other half the same. Your goal is to figure out what changes result in more engagement. 

Here are several elements worth testing:

  • Subject line
  • Images
  • Format
  • Time the email is sent
  • Promotions
  • Call-to-action

Research shows that testing and refining your emails can improve clicks by 28%. We suggest starting with one test factor at a time so you can determine which changes are resulting in positive customer interactions. 

You can also test out your branding assets (change the placement of your logo, use only one color in your color scheme, etc.) and see if this will affect your emails. If you don’t have a logo yet, check out logo maker tools online.

Track Your Analytics

Our last tip for you today is always to track your analytics. If you’re not regularly checking things like your open rate and click-through rate, you’ll miss opportunities to improve your upsell campaigns. 

This strategy goes hand-in-hand with A/B testing and virtually every other aspect of email marketing. Data can tell us so much about how customers perceive our emails and offers. We suggest reviewing your analytics at least once a week so you can identify areas of opportunity. 

Tracking analytics is one of the best things you can do to improve your email campaigns over time

Final Thoughts

There you have it! Upsell emails are a wonderful way to build rapport with subscribers and customers while increasing sales. But these emails also require a lot of work and research. 
You’ll be glad to know that here at Elastic Email, there are a ton of great features that can streamline many of the strategies we outlined. If you’re interested in finding out more, check out all of the email marketing tools available on the site today!

About the author

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

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