Website Mistakes – Upsell Utopia or Upsell Hell?

This has to be one of the most overlooked mistakes. And it’s not the fact that upsells are done wrong. The biggest mistake is that they’re not done at all.

First, let’s clarify what an “upsell” actually is. An upsell is an offer made at the time of ordering to make additional sales to that visitor.

Think of it like this… If you’ve ever gone to a fast food restaurant such as McDonalds and you place your order for a hamburger and a drink they always ask “Do you want fries with that?”

That’s the best example of an upsell. Think about it – even if you order their combo meal they ask “Would you like an apple pie with that?”

You should have a predetermined upsell item to offer for any of the key items you sell. By doing this, you’re making a suggestion of something that would normally go along with that item that is a no-brainer for them to add without thinking. So they add it.

Of course, by applying this strategy you can increase your sales time after time. In many cases sales have increased dramatically. In one case we offered an upsell and 75% of the buyers took it.

We were selling a $97 product and upselling a bundled package for a total of $147 which is, of course, an increase of $50 per sale.

Just imagine if only 25% of 100 buyers took the upsell? Instead of making $9,700 you would make an additional $2,425 simply by suggesting a related item to go along with what they are already buying. The key thing is to make it a related item. You obviously would not offer them steak sauce if they were ordering a fish sandwich.

Another mistake is offering too many items. I’ve seen several websites where you go from one upsell page to another upsell to yet another upsell. Some call this “Upsell Hell”. This strategy causes major confusion.

Just imagine you go to place the order and you are presented with a page with the upsell with two buttons, “Yes take the offer” or “No, I just want the one item” and then you go to another page with another offer and so on.

After some point you either get to place your order, get confused about what you are ordering, or just get frustrated and leave. Obviously this is not a good thing to have happen on your order page.

So be sure to increase your order totals by adding the upsell strategy to your sales process. Just be sure you follow the guidelines above.
Editor’s Note: This post is pulled from Bret Ridgway and Frank Deardurff’s book “50 Biggest Website Mistakes,” available at