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The Power of Upsells

the power of upsells

This is part 2 in a series of posts called “Best Practices For Selling Your Digital Products”.

Part 1 – Why You Should Embrace Premium Pricing


Upsells can add a significant chunk of revenue to your business. Upsells generally convert many times better than the front end offers that precede them. And understandably so. The prospect already has his wallet out. He’s in a ‘buying mode’. So, what’s another coupla’ bucks?

Granted, putting together a fantastic upsell is a lot of work. But as I mentioned in the last article in this series, the payoff is disproportionately large. All the more so for an upsell than a front-end offer considering how much better upsells generally convert.

Sometimes it makes more sense to sell somebody else’s product as your upsell rather than create your own. For instance, the first digital product I even sold online is an opera singing video lesson called Sing Opera Now. I’d been selling this product via Clickbank for years but I couldn’t for the life of me come up with a truly complementary upsell.

However, I knew my market intimiately. And one of the main pain points of the folks in my niche was anxiety about not being able to tell whether or not they were singing in tune.

So when I saw a product on Clickbank that helped people improve their tuning by watching the pitch of their voice rise and fall on a screen as they sang, I immediately reached out to the product vendor and started to put together this “JV Upsell”. Since this requires no work on the vendor’s part, it wasn’t difficult to convince him to partner with me. Having a good product and a good reputation made it easier as well.

Let’s look at some real life upsell examples.

One of my favorite pieces of software – EasyVideoSuite – costs $297 for the base software. The upsell to EVS is the so-called commercial license, which removes the EVS logo from the video player. This upsell tactic is undeniably obnoxious. Here you are paying $300 bucks for an online video solution. Then when you go to check out you learn that all your videos will have the EVS logo stamped on them (which links back to the EVS website…) unless you fork over another $100 smackers.

Though it’s sneaky and annoying, it doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. After all, at the time of this writing, no online video solution on the market does everything EVS does or make it quite so easy to do. Thus they know that once somebody decides they need the software, they’d probably pay to remove the EVS branding (they’d pay reluctantly but they’d pay all the same).

Is this short-sighted on the part of the EVS vendors? Does it put a bad taste in customers’ mouths? I’d certainly argue that if a competitor came along with an identical product but didn’t withhold a key feature and turn it into what I call an ‘entrapment upsell’, EVS would lose a lot of customers to the competing vendor.

People don’t like getting screwed. But while EVS is the only kid on the block selling their particular brand of doohickey, folks will continue to buy. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before this practice catches up with them. But perhaps not.

So, we’ve just looked at an example of how, in my humble opinion, not to upsell. Now let’s look at at example of an upsell that adds value and gives the customer the feeling that he’s getting a good deal: the OptimizePress clubhouse.

Ya’ll know that I looove OptimizePress 2.0. Heck, it powers this very site. You early adopters may remember that when it first launched, OP2 was super buggy. But the OP2 team owned the issues with a speed and professionalism that completely won me over. 6 months after launch I decided to jump on the OP2 bandwagon. And now OP2 powers many of my clients’ and my personal sites.

So what is the OptimizePress clubhouse? Well, while OptimizePress puts the power of sexy design in your hands, there’s still a lot of room for producing a blah design if you’re inexperienced with using the Live Editor. The OP Clubhouse makes it easier to get the look you want by providing new, ready made, professional page templates, background images, textures and icons every month.

Not only is this a great upsell but it’s a great type of upsell. It inherently lends itself to freshness and because of that, the vendor can charge for it on a recurring basis. Recurring income doesn’t suck.

Systematic Upselling

One of the keys to effectively upselling is to make sure you offer an upsell at every opportunity. That is, you should upsell systematically. Taken individually, adding an upsell to one of your offers may not produce the following blingalicious monetary result:

…but applied systematically across all of your front end offers, over time, it will certainly add a sexy chunk of moolah to your bottom line.

Imagine you own a pool cleaning company. You employ 10 pool cleaners who each clean one pool a day at $200 a pop. That’s $2000 in revenue per day, 5 days a week. That adds up to $40,000 per month.

One of your cleaners notices that in addition to the pool itself, most of the pool decks he sees could use a cleaning as well. After all, if the lounging area that surrounds your pool is dirty and uninviting, what’s the use of a clean pool?

So you hold a meeting with your crew of cleaners and confirm the phenomenon. You then instruct your crew to ask the customers whether or not they’d like the deck area cleaned up. And you instruct them to ask only if the deck looks dirty. You charge $50 for this service.

So your crew goes out and asks the customers whose decks are dirty if they’d like to purchase this additional service. Every day your cleaners get two pool owners to purchase this additional service, resulting in an extra $100 in revenue each day. Over the course of a month that adds up to an extra $3k.

Then at the end of the month you hold another meeting with your crew. One of the cleaners, Joe, mentions that out of habit he accidentally offered the deck cleaning upsell to several clients whose decks were already pretty clean…and they bought it! A lightbulb goes off in your head and you then instruct yoru crew to always offer clients the deck cleaning service, whether the deck looks clean to them or not.

So your crew goes back out armed with your instructions. As a result of implementing this upsell systematically you wind up doubling the monthly revenue on the deck cleaning service, which brings in an extra $6k/month in revenue.

The key, as you can see, is to offer your upsell systematically. Luckily, when you’re selling digital products you don’t have to remember to offer your upsell. You can simply set up the software that does it for your automatically. 🙂

“How Should I Price My Upsell?”

This is a question that has no ‘right’ answer. I’ve seen several different pricing strategies work. Let’s look at a few:

#1 – Upselling To A Lower-Priced Product

You often hear the advice that you should price your upsell at a lower cost than your front end offer so that the purchase is a no-brainer for your customer. It makes sense psychologically. If your customer just spent $97 on an eBook, what’s another $17 upsell for the audio version if it’ll relieve him of the burden of reading?

I personally had success with this pricing strategy back when I sold my keyword research course, Smart Keyword Research. The course is now obsolete and I pulled it form the shelf, but it sold quite well while it was alive. What I discovered in interacting with Smart Keyword Research members was that once they’d completed their keyword research and were ready to build their money-making niche sites, they didn’t have any clue how to go about actually building them!

So I then made another video mini-course that walked members through the process of creating a niche site based on the keyword research that they’d done and called it “Niche Site Blueprint”. I sold the front end offer for $47 and the upsell for $17. I don’t remember my conversion rate exactly, but it was at least 20% (1 out of 5).

I’d identified a problem that my initial offer didn’t solve, solved it, and then sold it for a nominal fee that my members were happy to pay. And as a result I added thousands of dollars in revenue to my business.

#2 – Upselling To A Higher-Priced Product

I’ve seen many clients successfully upsell high-priced products and services on the heels of their front-end offers. It makes sense that the more interaction a customer has with your brand and the more he experiences all the value you provide, the more likely he is to make even larger investments for still-larger returns.

So for example, let’s say you charge $17 for an ebook on making hairbows. After someone buys the eBook you offer them a video series that teaches them how to make 30 of the most popular hairbows, step-by-step. And you charge $47 for this upsell.

This is a very sensible and value-adding upsell. Once you’ve learned the basics of making hairbows, it’s only logical that you’d want to know how to make the fancier, prettier, more involved ones.

A more relatable example might be selling an eBook on how to play the 12 most common guitar chords. The chords on their own aren’t the real draw. Learning to play chords is just a necessary evil in order to be able to play the songs you like that utilize those chords.

So when I offer you a more expensive upsell to a video mini-series that shows you how to play 7 popular songs using the chords you’ll learn in the eBook, you’d probably take me up on it.

#3 – Upsell To A Continuity

Another popular strategy that I’ve seen work well is selling a continuity product as your upsell. Using our guitar example, let’s say you bought my $17 eBook on how to play the 12 most common guitar chords. I could then offer you access to my monthly jam-along club, where I demonstrate and break down how to play 5 new songs every month for only $15/month.

Not only that, but I’ll offer you a free 7-day trial so you can see the value of membership for yourself before you ever spend a dime. Since most folks learn to play guitar in order to be able to play the songs they like, and since learning chords in a dry, technical manner is mundane, it makes perfect sense to join a ‘club’ of sorts where you can get hands-on training and practice real music. You

This kind of upsell is valuable because it’s engineered to help members get real results. There’s an inherent accountability that comes with playing for/with others that’s rooted in the desire to please people and look cool.

The packaging and presentation of information is vital because it influences how readily folks get the results they came to you for. It’s one thing to give a student a big ass Spanish language textbook and say “here. Learn this.” And it’s quite another to take his hand and go on a field trip to the Spanish speaking side of town and force him to order food and ask for directions in Spanish.

So when you’re composing and structuring your offers, resist the temptation to braindump knowledge while leaving it to your overwhelmed members to take action on it. Instead, lead the horse to water and incentivize him to drink. He’ll run and tell all his horsey friends and soon you’ll be leading an entire pack of horses to water. Uh…metaphorically speaking.

#4 – Upselling To Premium Priced Products And Services

One of my clients sells premium-priced products in his niche. But despite the nice chunk of revenue these sales generate, the really big money is made on the back end. He sells his customers on group coaching, one-on-one coaching, live events, done for you services, etc. And he charges thousands of dollars for them.

Granted, his particular target customer weilds an above-average disposable income. But this approach is still feasible in many other niches. You may not, for instance, be able to charge $2k for one-on-one guitar lessons. But you could certainly charge a few hundred bucks if you structure your offer well. And if you deliver superb results, your students will gladly and gratefully put money into your pocket.

In summary, it doesn’t much matter what kind of upsell you offer initially as long as it solves an obvious problem your customers have. But do offer some kind of upsell. It’s one of the easiest ways to add significant revenue to your business.

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