3 Steps to Success: Direct Response Marketing and the Up-Sell

There’s more than one way to motivate your existing customers to buy more or spend more, either at the point of purchase or after the sale. Usually, sales and marketing folks employ the cross-sell or the up-sell; those with the greatest success know when, how, and with whom to use each technique.

Cross-sell vs. Up-sell
Straightaway, let’s get our terms straight. Cross-sell and up-sell aren’t the same thing, as we explain in our simple example from The Art and Science of the Direct Response Marketing Cross-Sell: Instead of suggesting to a fast food customer that fries would go excellently with their cheeseburger (a cross-sell), you entice them with an upgrade to a double cheeseburger (up-sell).

Put another way, a cross-sell encourages existing customers to purchase a complementary or related product or service, while an upsell promotes the purchase of a higher-end offering (i.e. a more expensive model or one with more “bells and whistles”).

Either way, you’re adding value to the customer’s original (or intended) purchase.

With knowledge of the customer and what they want and need, you can cross- and up-sell to your heart’s content. After all, sometimes customers end up buying a double cheeseburger, fries, and a drink—plus a chocolate shake to go! Assuming you’re not in the fast-food industry—and you’re looking for ways to make your upsell promotions and campaigns more successful—you may need some help uncovering where and how to do this. Here are our 3 steps to get you there:

Step 1: Understand Your Customer’s Needs and Exactly What Problem You’re Solving for Them
Before “going in” with a sales pitch of any variety (cross-sell, up-sell, or otherwise), identify what’s motivating your customer to buy—and buy from you—in the first place. This will tell you what additional value you can offer them.

Why did they buy from you? What are their needs and how well are you meeting them? How have their needs possibly changed? Where are opportunities to expand your offering into something bigger they’ll be likely to want? Keep in mind, the up-sell offer should be related to their initial purchase, and the higher-end option should do a “better” job of solving their problem or meeting their needs. (See? It’s a win-win!

Here are a few examples of upsell opportunities:

• A vacation-destination airline flyer may be interested in adding additional legroom to his coach seats for added comfort and luxury during his special trip.
• A B2B buyer of new software may want to purchase a package of bonus training hours to provide additional support to her users.
• A life insurance buyer may need additional coverage as income and family responsibilities increase.
• An office manager may want to upgrade to purchasing a 3-month (rather than monthly) supply of laser paper to better meet demand and enjoy additional savings.

This last example, especially, demonstrates how pricing incentives sweeten the up-sell offer. More on this in step 3.

Step 2: Position Your Brand as Solution to Build Loyalty
If you want your customers to become repeat customers and consistently maximize their lifetime value, they need to get the message that you care about them and your solution is the solution of choice: the one that brings them the most value, time and time again.

How can you do this? Promote your value! Your direct mail, email, and even digital ad retargeting campaigns can help shape customers’ perception of your brand and how it’s helping them and others with similar challenges.

Upsell offer messaging and communications can include customer testimonials and links to case studies (for B2B products and services) and reviews. These help add a burst of credibility. That way, when a need arises—whether they initiate purchase or they’re responding to an offer—your brand is the one they think of.

Don’t miss 5 Reasons Customer Ratings and Reviews Boost Your Sales

Step 3: Stay in Front of Customers with Timely and Relevant Offers
All the customer research and branding work in the world won’t help your direct response marketing efforts if you’re not presenting your customers with offers! Here’s where the petal hits the metal and your insights and messaging combine to create compelling, well-timed up-sell offers that delight customers and lead to conversions.

Here are three keys to setting up your campaigns for success:

• Make offers personal. You’re asking customers to spend more, so you have to tie the added investment to the value they’ll receive. Otherwise, you risk putting them off. Use your insights from step 1 to create offers that are likely to “speak” to them and take some advice from Who, Me? 3 Best Practices for Direct Marketing Personalization.

• Be crafty with pricing. Bundling items together, providing multiple tiers of service, or promoting savings incentives can help customers make the shift up to higher-priced offers—again, assuming they see the need and value in spending more.

• Go multi-channel. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it one thousand times: your offers need to be delivered over the marketing channels your customers prefer and where they are likely to convert.

We’re here to help your direct response marketing team run an effective customer up-sell campaign. Contact us to learn more.