Building brand equity with post-purchase upsells

When you hear the word "upsells," what comes to mind? You might think of upsells as a way to boost your average order value (AOV). But that limited mindset doesn't take into account how much upsells can truly grow your brand.

When ecommerce brands create the right upsell offers, they also give their customers a thoughtful shopping experience. As a result, they increase their AOV and keep customers coming back, which increases the lifetime value of their customers.

Keep reading to find out why and how post-purchase upsells can build brand equity and increase your revenue.

What are post-purchase upsells? 

Post-purchase upsells happen after the customer has completed their purchase, between the checkout and thank you page.

Back in the day, most post-purchase upsells happened through email; after the customer made the purchase, they'd receive an email usually offering a lower-cost item that would complement whatever they just bought. But in order for them to accept the upsell, they'd have to click back into the store and re-enter their payment details.

Now there are ways to offer upsells before the customer leaves your store, including post-purchase upsells through CartHook Post Purchase Offers. After your customer makes a purchase in your Shopify store, they'll see your customized upsell offer, which you can create based on the product they just bought. Customers don't have to re-enter their payment or shipping info, which means they can accept the upsell with one click.

Why post-purchase upsells can outperform pre-purchase upsells

In the offline world, your server at a restaurant upsells you on dessert before you pay. It wouldn't make sense for a server to suggest a pie a la mode as you signed your name on the check.

But online, post-purchase upsells can be more effective than the pre-purchase upsell. Here's why.

You don't jeopardize the initial purchase 

As Will Evans, the founder of ecommerce growth agency Sellerflows, explains, "With pre-purchase offers, there's always a possibility that, if I'm making the offer before the purchase, you could lose the purchase in general."

The customer might abandon their original cart item because of decision fatigue or annoyance with the offer you just gave them. 

With post-purchase upsells, you eliminate that friction. There's no chance you'll lose the purchase—it's already been made. 

That said, thoughtless post-purchase upsells that don't reflect your brand and speak to your customer can damage your relationship with your shopper. That's why it's crucial you create customized upsells with a customer-first mindset.

You have more freedom to use different strategies

The nature of the post-purchase period is less pressurized. The customer has made their purchase; they're relaxed and feeling the euphoria of having just bought something they really wanted. This is a moment of high trust. With the right upsell, they'll feel like your brand just offered them a great discount or gift.

This means you can get creative. Give your customers an upsell offer that includes more copy than a simple headline and one that lays out clear incentives for the upsell.

Use this moment as a chance to show your brand's personality and help customers delight in the other communications you'll send their way, from the thank you page to marketing emails.

You have a built-in sense of urgency

Imagine shopping at your favorite online brand for leather shoes. You find the pair you've had your eye on for a few weeks, add it to your cart, and make the purchase.

Then a pop-up window appears, asking you if you'd like to take advantage of a special offer: 35% off a second pair of shoes, but only if you buy them right now.

You know if you close this pop-up window, you can't get it back. And you haven't seen a sale that good in all the months you've been subscribed to the store's email list. It's too good to refuse!

This built-in sense of urgency creates an enticing post-purchase upsell. 

Post-purchase upsell strategies that work

As with all types of upsells, there are several ways to use post-purchase upsells for your brand. The strategy that will work best for your store depends on the nature of your products and your customers.

With CartHook Post Purchase Offers, you can set up multiple funnels and track performance in real time.

Let's look at a few post-purchase upsell strategies that have worked well for leading DTC brands.

The targeted upsell

Ideally, all upsell strategies should be "targeted," or highly relevant to the purchase the customer just made. Not only does this increase the chances the customer will accept the upsell, but it also makes them feel heard, rather than "sold to."

The targeted upsell feels like a thoughtful offer from a great brand, rather than a quick cash-grab from a greedy company. Customers who feel they're treated well will likely return again, which ultimately creates the kind of brand equity every rising DTC brand covets.

With CartHook, you can create post-purchase offer funnels based on the products the customer just bought, the number of items in their cart, and the total cart value. That way you ensure each post-purchase offer reaches the right customer (at the right time, of course!).

The limited-time offer upsell

As we mentioned earlier, upsells—especially post-purchase upsells—feel inherently urgent. But you can take advantage of this urgency by explicitly calling it out in a limited-time offer upsell.

With Post Purchase Offers, you can add a timer to each offer, so your customer sees the limited-time nature of the offer.

That urgency works well when you offer customers a version of the product they just bought (the travel-size version, for example). "You only have a second or two to convince them to buy it," says Evans. "It's much easier in that sense to show them the product they just bought. You don't have to sell or educate them about it."

The highly reviewed or best-selling product upsell

Choosing to include your highest-reviewed or best-selling products in an upsell offer is a best practice for a few reasons:

  1. It's even more likely to hit home with your customers, because it's been proven that most customers love it.
  2. You can build lots of conversion-driving social proof into your upsell message by showcasing all those reviews.

The social proof of a highly reviewed product does some of the upselling for you. Let your customers share for you why someone should add this item to their cart!

DTC brands using upsells effectively 

DTC ecommerce brands that want to build long-term relationships with customers have found that thoughtful post-purchase upselling is a key way to improve the customer experience, increase average order value, and increase customer lifetime value (LTV).

Let's look at a few examples.

Native Deodorant implements multiple strategies in their post-purchase upsell

Native's post-purchase upsell window implements multiple, targeted strategies to drive conversions:

  • "One time offer" banner creates a sense of urgency. 
  • The offer is specific to the order the customer just purchased (in this case, it's a travel version of the same toothpaste).
  • The offer is low-cost, so it's easy to say yes to.
  • The copywriting clearly explains the benefits of this offer ("perfect for your gym bag, work bag or toiletry kit!").
  • The number of times the product has been bought is highlighted, inspiring trust in the product.

Plaine Products upsells subscriptions at every decision point

Plaine Products are beauty products that need to be replenished, so they use a subscription upsell strategy to increase their customers' lifetime value.

  • They upsell subscriptions at every point of decision: On their product page and the checkout page.
  • The upsell copy explains the benefit of a subscription: "Make refills easy." 
  • The upsell copy addresses the biggest objection a customer might have to the subscription model: "You can change your timeframe at any point."

Physician's Choice uses a true upsell

DTC supplement company Physician's Choice uses a post-purchase upsell to increase average order value. This full-spread webpage shares a compelling offer: Add two more of the same item to your order and save 40%.

This is an upsell that makes customers want to buy. They don't have to decide if they want a different product—just if they want more.

In addition, the way the upsell takes up the page decreases the distractions and reduces the urge to click out of the pop-up window. 

The future of upsells: A customer experience mindset

As DTC brands know, great customer experiences solidify your brand as a favorite for customers and keeps them coming back, which increases their lifetime value.

When it comes to upsells, the same is true. The goal should be a great customer experience. Trust that an increase of AOV and LTV will happen as a result.

"DTC is all about customer experience…showing the right item to the right customer at the right time, versus a drop-shipper who is trying to just increase AOV," Evans says.

In other words, while a drop-shipper might be satisfied with upselling any product to any customer, DTC brands should be conscious of customer-product fit if they want to maintain strong customer relationships.

With CartHook Post Purchase Offers, you can nail the "right item to the right customer" part of the equation. That makes it easy for growing DTC brands to target customers with specific, thoughtful upsell offers post-purchase—the optimal time in the customer journey.

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