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Upsell Using Email Marketing

How To Upsell Using Email Marketing To Increase Your Revenue

An effective way to increase the number of customers and customer lifetime value is upselling.

Upselling is a marketing technique where a product or service is sold with extra or higher-level features, options, or benefits.

It’s important to note that while your business model may rely on making money from multiple purchases, you can’t always push customers with upsells.

Think about yourself as a customer — you do not mind paying extra for truly high-value features, but it is a turn-off when a brand just tries to keep selling more and more to you for not much value, right?

So where do you draw the line? How much is too much to upsell?

It’s important for every business owner and marketer to determine their own strategies for increasing profits without pushing or offending their customers.

This brings us to the point. If you want to increase revenue by upselling, you need to know when and how to upsell using email marketing smartly.

Here are six tried-and-tested strategies for upselling with email marketing. Later in the blog post, we also share 11 upselling best practices, so keep reading.

What is Upselling?

First thing’s first. What do we mean when we say upselling?

This term isn’t new in the world of business.

You’ve probably experienced it every time you buy a meal from your favorite fast-food chain — plus countless other places.

Upselling is a sales technique to encourage the buyer to spend more money by purchasing something of a higher price, usually upgraded or newer versions of what they were already looking at.

An example would be when a mobile phone sales agent tries to convince you to buy the phone with the 128 GB memory instead of the one with the 64 GB memory, which you had originally picked out.

Just to be clear: Upselling is different from cross-selling.

When you’re cross-selling, you’re enticing the customer to buy additional products or complementary products on top of their original purchase.

Just like when an employee at your favorite fast-food restaurant asks you if you want to add fries and a drink to your burger. Or, in the example of the mobile phone, the seller (if cross-selling) would ask you if you’re interested in mobile phone insurance or a protective cover.

Why Should Brands Be Upselling Using Email Marketing?

When you do anything via email, you’re tapping into a very powerful tool.

Email marketing can be largely automated and has the highest ROI in all of the marketing efforts — period.


While some of the rules for traditional upselling apply to upselling through email, there are still a few important things you have to keep in mind when you use email marketing for upselling.

How to Send an Upsell Email?

When your audience starts to grow, it can be hard to manually send upsell emails to every customer. 

With the rise of marketing automation tools, you can automate the process of sending upsell emails.

The email marketing tool should automatically trigger emails (like order confirmation emails or post purchase emails) when a particular product is added to the cart or ordered. 

This will ensure that every customer gets the right message at the right time with a suitable and relevant product recommendation. 

Set up email sequences and send the transactional emails automatically as per the defined workflow. 

Make following up easier. Turn your warm leads into paying customers with EngageBay

trigger email automation
Email marketing automation in EngageBay

When to Send the Upsell Email?

One crucial factor in upselling is that it acts as a substitute — a much better version of the choice.

Thus, it influences customers’ buying decisions as they feel they aren’t spending any extra amount.

There are various times to send an upsell email. It is either before the order is placed or just after it has been placed.

That entirely depends on your marketing strategy.

Sending them upsell emails after the order is placed is generally used to re-engage with them later.

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Before the Order Is Placed

The upsell email is triggered as soon as a customer adds some items to their cart.

They get a specific email offering them the premium or upgraded version of the same.

The email contains a link that will automatically update their shopping cart.

However, such type of email also results in an extra step in the checkout.

After the Order Is Placed

In this case, instead of the order confirmation email, customers get the upsell offer.

But one problem here is that the order has already been placed, and the customer might not want to replace the order with the upgraded products. Yes, this applies to digital products just as well.

Read also: 10 Great Opt-in Email Strategies (With Examples)

How to Upsell Via Email Marketing: 6 Strategies That Work

Let us now go through some proven strategies that can get you great results with email upselling.

1. *Always* Offer an Upsell

It sounds simple, yet so many brands bypass it completely, thinking customers will just figure it out on their own.

If you want your shoppers to go for the higher package, you have to offer the higher package.

Here’s the rule of thumb when it comes to sales: Always offer the upsell.

More often than not, customers have no idea that there are other options they can get or subscribe to, so it’s up to you to inform them about it.

Not only that, but show them a side-by-side comparison.

If your upsell offer is convincing and provides enough value, your customer will be incentivized to spend more for a better, related product.

2. Be Strategic in Your Offer

Customers won’t bite if your offer isn’t enticing enough for them.

Thus, you have to make studying your customers’ behaviors mandatory in your overall sales process.

Here are a few details to think about.

The Type of Upsell to Offer

There are a number of ways you can upsell, depending on your product or service.

Version Upgrade

This is a popular upsell offer for software companies.


This type of upselling encourages buyers to upgrade their current versions for a better one — like more storage space, a faster bandwidth, and access to more features.

Extended Service Period

The upsell opportunity doesn’t have to be limited to product features or functionalities.

You can offer upsells in the form of an extended service period duration.

You can, for instance, offer lower fees if they go for a one-year subscription instead of a monthly subscription.

Another example is offering a discount if they agree to a lock-in period of two years instead of just one.

This offer ensures that your customers stay with you for a long time, and hence improves your customer retention rate.

Product Protection

Another good upsell opportunity is providing product protection.

An example would be adding better cellphone insurance for a higher fee.

Be Clear About the Benefits

When you’re offering an upsell, you have to make it relevant to the customer.

Let them know about the benefits they receive when they agree to the upsell. Remember, all they’re thinking is, “What do I get out of this?”

Showcase the features, the savings, and other benefits they can get once they pay for the better version.

Aim to educate instead of simply hard selling or promoting your products.

Cater to Their Personal Preferences

Before you try to upsell, always check the customers’ history — include their previous purchases and their buying activity.

This way, you can understand them better and provide offers that are applicable to them.

The good thing about today’s technology is that you don’t have to do this manually.

There are applications that can help you monitor your customers’ buying preferences with ease.

With EngageBay’s CRM, build better relationships with your customers by tracking information of theirs like their shopping behavior, their hobbies, and their history with you.

EngageBay’s free CRM solution helps you organize all your email contacts, track your deals and the sales pipeline

sales dashboard

3. Be Convincing Without Being Pushy

Here’s the thing: Hard selling doesn’t work well, especially when it comes to online marketing.

Like with social media, plain old promotions don’t generate a lot of engagement.

You have to be creative in presenting the upsell offer to your customers.

You have to be informative and (mildly) entertaining to keep your clients interested.

One thing you should avoid is being too pushy in your upselling emails.

Email marketing strategy is all about nurturing these relationships. Spend time “dating” before you propose marriage.

4. Make Your Offer Easy to Understand

Don’t be too technical when you’re upselling using email marketing.

Not many people understand the terms that programmers or salespeople use.

The best way to make people understand is to sound human in your upsell email.

Another way to make your offer easier to understand is to opt for infographics that allow them to compare the basic plan (or the current plan they have at present) with the higher plan that you’re trying to get them to buy or subscribe to.

5. Create a Sense of Urgency

Does your offer have a deadline? Until when is it available?

Is there a limited amount in supply? Creating urgency can help your client make their decision faster.

Human beings have a serious issue with FOMO — the fear of missing out.

Don’t give them too much time to contemplate the upsell opportunity, because they’ll probably just move on.

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6. Automate Your Email Upselling Campaigns

To write and send upselling emails one by one manually is tiring, inefficient, and unnecessary.

Fortunately, there are easy-to-use tools to help you automate your email marketing, like EngageBay.

Create email sequences, workflow automations, and sales funnels ahead of time, and let EngageBay do the rest.

To learn more about how to set up emails sequences in EngageBay to automate sending multiple upselling emails in a sequence to your customers, we recommend you to check out this video:


11 Tips for Successful Upselling

Not all of your upselling efforts will be rewarded.

This is a fact.

However, you can increase the likelihood of your customers taking the upsell opportunity by doing these things.

1. Upsell After the Purchase

This is a strategy you can use to increase your revenue.

The average customer’s initial mindset when purchasing is often to get the best deal.

Before you offer the upsell, secure the sale first. This way, their decision to buy won’t be delayed because they have to compare prices, features, and other offers.

Warm them up with the initial purchase, and then offer a more enticing deal.

2. Use the Rule of Three

The rule of three stems from the idea that people tend to remember three things better.

In advertising, things that come in three seem to be more satisfying and complete.

As a result, it’s more effective in sending any message across.

Designing your newsletter or email marketing message is no exception.

Creating a layout that emphasizes (or compares) three things can make it easier for your customers to understand the differences and the benefits better.

Read more: 9 Proven B2B Email Marketing Strategies for Beginners

3. Offer Free Shipping

Did you know that nine out of ten customers consider free shipping as the top incentive for shopping online more frequently?

This means that it’s an effective upselling method. Slash that shipping fee from their total bill and they might go for the upsell.

4. Showcase Testimonies

Customer reviews can convince potential clients better than any paid advertising material.

Upselling with Testimonials
EngageBay testimonial example

If you want to convince your clients to go for the upsell opportunity, then one way to do it (or to increase the chances of them going for it) is to showcase the testimonies from people who already tried the upgraded product before.

5. Offer Substitutes

This is especially helpful for companies selling physical products.

If, for example, the client wishes to purchase a higher version of a particular product and you’re out of stock, you can offer a product with similar specs.

6. Word Your Upselling Emails Like You’re Talking to a Friend

You’re not a machine — you’re a human being. Sound like one!

It can be as simple as including a personalized greeting.

Don’t let your upsell email seem like an ad, even though it technically is.

Make it sound like you’re talking to them personally. Make them feel special.

7. Include a Call-to-Action

Adding a call-to-action to the upsell email can increase your engagement rate and push customers to make a move on the upsell.

Don’t underestimate the effect that a simple “Click here” or “Upgrade today” can have.

8. Show Their Recently Purchased Items and Offer Related Upsells

If you don’t want to seem too pushy, you can start your upsell email by offering your customer a short “congratulations” for their purchase.

Then, make suggestions for additional products that they might like, based on their previous purchase. It’s a much softer approach to upselling.

9. Encourage Your Customers to Share Your Upsell Offers on Social Media

Social media CRM tools

You can offer this as a promo.

For example, you can give them an invite code and then provide discount coupons or points for every successful invite or upgrade.

Social media is another powerful marketing tool, so when you’re sending out upsell emails to your clients, don’t forget to include links to your social media accounts, and an easy-to-use share button.

10. Send Your Upselling Emails at the Right Time

To increase your upselling effort’s success, you have to be smart when sending out your emails.

Find out when the best time is to send them.

This might vary depending on the product you’re offering and your target market, which means you’ll want to split test it to determine the best results.

For many brands, early morning works best  —  but not on Mondays, when everyone’s inbox is already flooded.

11. Split Test Your Subject Lines to Improve Your Open Rate

One thing you have to keep in mind when you’re creating an upsell email marketing campaign is to avoid words that might sound spammy.

Why? Because many of the email providers nowadays, like Gmail, are exceptionally competent in throwing emails that suggest spam content into the dreaded spam folder.

Certain words can trigger this.

Even if it doesn’t go to their spam folder, if a recipient sees a subject line that does anything but entice them to click, you’re in trouble.

Your best bet is to experiment with different subject lines and see what delivers the best results.

Test things like:

  • Including the recipient’s first name.
  • Using emojis.
  • Asking a question.
  • Cliffhangers.

What works for one brand might not work for another, so you have to try different things and see what works best for you.

Read also: 6 Marketing Workflow Software — What’s the Best One?


If you want to increase your business revenue, you have to be strategic about it.

Aim to close more sales and increase your customer lifetime value, but don’t forget to build a good relationship with your subscribers to make them your loyal customers.

Generally, people know when they’re being pitched an upsell, and typically they don’t like it. Nurture good customer relationships and offer great value with every upsell.

Send your customers free information and other kinds of freebies, and do things just to improve the relationship — not just for selling.

If customers like your brand, the money will follow. Remember, repeat customers bring recurring revenue, and that’s what every business needs.

With the power of email marketing automation, you can craft your upsell emails upfront and have them go out whenever someone shops or opts in — no additional work needed.

Ready to take action? Try Engagebay today.

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