Increase your AOV by 69% with this... Or burn your brand down trying 🧯
Hi Kings and Queens,
Eli here. I’d love to extend a hearty hello to the 1000+ folks that joined since last week’s newsie. So thrilled you are here!
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One quick announcement before we jump in.
Cody and I just released episode one of the Down To Chat podcast, and we’ve already gotten some fantastic feedback.
We chatted about BFCM prep, our direct mail testing plan, a new landing page tool that we are pumped about, a potential future Jones Road subscription offering, and so much more.
If you listen and leave a review, Cody and I will be choosing one person to do an hour-long consulting call with, free of charge. Just reply to this email with a screenshot of your review!
Ok, picture this.
You are shopping online, searching for your ideal pan.
Zuck, of course, is tracking every click (and probably your eyeballs too).
The pan lords find you and deluge you with ads.
You give in and toss “the best pan on the internet” in your shopping cart.
They hit you with the coupon code for signing up for SMS.
Boom. Let’s make it happen.
You then see an option to add a few things to your cart:
- A pot cleaner
- Gloves to handle a hot pot
- The “best knife you have ever used”
You choose the knife and place the order.
Bells whistle. Confetti flies.
Then comes the dreaded pop-up.
🚨SPECIAL OFFER 🚨
ONLY FOR YOU:
99% off this pot soap, eucalyptus scent
Expires in 60 seconds
Something like this:
What is this, and how did a screaming salesperson get into your screen?
- Post-purchase upsells–a brief history
- The why and why not
- Should you do it?
Before we dive in, a huge shout to Gorgias, our sponsor for this week’s newsie.
Gorgias is my CX helpdesk of choice and what I’ve used at both OLIPOP and JRB. If you have been here for a bit, you know how much I love Gorgias and why I think it’s an absolute must-have for any Shopify business. More on my fav Gorgias use cases here.
It’s our one-stop-shop for all things customer. Before BFCM, make sure to elevate your CX workflows and save time resolving customer concerns!
Okay, let’s do it.
1. Post-purchase upsells–a brief history:
When doing diligence for this article, I made the usual mistake of asking my Twitter audience for help on digging into this history.
Boy, did I get thoughts!
Here’s the TLDR of what I learned:
The history of post-purchase upsells comes way before Shopify’s existence: It comes from the direct response universe and started with folks like John Carlton, Rich Schefren, Mark Joyner, etc. When heading to some of these folk's websites, you’ll see verbiage like this:
And obviously alerts like these:
And, obviously, stats and name-dropping like this:
If you ever turn on “As Seen on TV”, “ShopHQ”, or “QVC”, you’ll see similar displays of scarcity, urgency, etc.
All the buzzwords, all the hype. This copywriting methodology simply works to sell.
In chatting with Brian and Jeff from Spectrum Brands, one of the largest DRTV folks in the game, I learned a ton about the complexity of this operation.
Say you snag an air fryer, they’ll upsell you a larger air fryer, then potentially an accessory kit, then an add-on separate product.
If you say no to the $20 add-on, they might “downsell” you and offer it again for $10 as a final offer.
If someone spent 15 minutes watching a segment on TV about a product, they are much more likely to stick around and play.
What’s more? 58% of their customers purchase by phone. TELEPHONE.
Okay, what happened next?
Folks like Russel Brunson (ClickFunnels) and Frank Kern popularized this and brought funnels to the masses with ClickFunnels.
According to the fine folks at ClickFunnels:
“A funnel is like a “digital road” that moves your dream customers to your website and into your online store with their credit cards in hand!”
Maybe it’s just me, but this page seems laughable. I guess simplicity is key!
I know these guys crush and will make more money on the world wide web than I ever will, and this is just me breaking out in hives because I’m a “marketer”, but this feels cringe…?
I’ll give it to John Carlton though, this is the longest text I’ve ever read beginning to end. It’s compelling af.
Regardless, let’s carry on with our brief history lesson.
In the early 2010s, folks like Ezra Firestone from Zipify and the Carthook squad brought this fun stuff to the eCommerce world in a big way.
Bottom line: Upselling has been around forever.
E.g., would you like fries with your burger? Appliance insurance with your new fridge?
More recently, would you like Apple Care with your iPhone?
Pre-purchase in-cart upsells are a separate convo that we will get to in the coming weeks. This week, we are solely focusing on the checkout page post-purchase upsell.
2. The why and why not:
How did post-purchase upselling even come about?
The very basic answer is that for as long as upselling has been around, it has come with a risk of losing the sale/customer by pushing too hard.
But what if you could upsell them once they have already pulled the trigger on their purchase with just one click and increase AOV without the risk of losing said customer?
Voila, there you have it, the post-purchase upsell.
- Increase AOV without friction since they have already purchased–boost AOV to combat churn
- Trigger upsells by product, specified product variant, or collection.
- With the right combos based on analytics, you can probably “hack” stronger LTV
Kettle & Fire, a bone broth brand, has been able to use post-purchase upsells to get customers to purchase more than one flavor.
They’ve found that customers who bought more than one flavor of bone broth were more likely to become repeat customers. As a result, Kettle & Fire has experienced a 140% increase in checkout conversion and a 41% increase in average revenue per customer.
- If not done thoughtfully and with a sensible add-on item, it can feel spammy
- The ticking timer and scarcity/urgency play can very easily feel cheap
- If folks are buying things they never needed and feel duped, it can harm LTV
In reading up on this, I saw a blog post pushing upselling because “You don’t have to worry about scaring away your customers… there is no way your customer can stop purchasing from you.”
Obviously, we know that the experience a customer has with their first purchase impacts if and when they will return to you in the future, so it is important to think long-term.
3. Should you do it??
Lol, idk. As usual, I’m not here to tell you what to do, but rather ask questions and bring points that may help you come to a more informed decision.
Grab a pumpkin cream cold brew–let’s talk through it. Have you recently walked through the TJ Maxx checkout aisle? Remember the “stuff” you can snag and add to your cart?
I kinda think of those as more “post-purchase upsells” than pre-purchase upsells, because 99% of folks don’t leave the checkout line once they have their things in hand.
Does that stuff work? Pretty often.
Hey, why does Saks Fifth Ave not have that? Or Nordstrom? Or any other bougie store?
When done poorly, it can easily adversely affect brand perception IMHO.
An example of a brand that did this well is Native. Upselling a travel-size item of a product that a customer just ordered is sensible.
They highlight the use case, instill social proof, and keep it really simple.
Personally, instead of a scammy “clock-ticking & light-blinking” offer, I’d rather play a long game by:
- acquiring the right folks
- having them make a purchase they are stoked about
- offer them thoughtful complementary products in cart
- celebrate the win when they place the order and leave them be
- cultivate a cohesive retention plan to win them back for order #2
When I think of the scammy super pushy scarcity heavy post-purchase offers, it reminds me more of a merchant at the bazaar screaming at me to buy more stuff, and less like a “do you want fries with it”, but to each their own.
As an aside, for a more retention-minded and people-focused take on upselling, I’d suggest opting for a human-centric approach vs a straight “direct response” one.
The best place to start is Influence by Cialdini, one of my favorite books of all time.
According to Cialdini, here’s how to use copywriting to influence people:
- Commitment and consistency
- Sympathy and liking
- Social proof
Read more here.
Whatever you decide, I’ve got one request. Be thoughtful, and think about the long-term effect on your brand (if that’s something you care about).
Until next time, Eli 💛
That’s it for this week!
Any topics you’d love to see me cover? Drop a reply!
For this week’s CX Chronicles, I’m ecstatic to be chatting with Emily Sarver, VP of CX at Lovevery. Lovevery sells award-winning, Montessori-inspired toys and subscription boxes for babies and toddlers.
Emily is part of the CX friends discord, and Lovevery is crushing it. Thanks for taking the time, Emily!
What’s your CX philosophy?
I think of CX at Lovevery as a simple quadrant, with customer insights/customer data and team insights/team data all running concurrently, to create a holistic understanding of what the organization is going through at any given time. If one of those points is out of balance—customer sentiment's riding unexpectedly hot, the team is having an 'off' week, our inbound forecast wasn't quite accurate—it's going to affect the other points.
Flowing underneath that, my CX philosophy is this: treat every interaction as an opportunity to build a better relationship. My team members rely on each other—they've found a true sense of community within the work they do, and are some of the kindest and most intentional people I know. As a result, they're better prepared to build and nurture authentic relationships with our customers as well.
As we continue to grow our team, I've been motivated by how we've really leaned into internal data to make more informed decisions on things like forecasting, headcount, and scalability (the strategy that worked for a scrappy 5-person team doesn't translate well at 50 members strong!). We've also helped to gather and dissect rich data and insights from customers with every new product, market, and initiative launched over the past few years.
That being said, we've also made serious efforts to learn from the voices within our internal CX community, and through the relationships that team members have built with each other as well as with Lovevery customers. By doing so, we've kept a real passion for our mission alive as we continue to serve families not just across the country, but now around the world.
Your fav Lovevery CX story?
It's so hard to choose just one favorite story from Lovevery, but if I'm going for an internal/external approach (and I am!), my favorite internal story has to be the time where we had a fire drill and an associate on my team took his laptop outside our office…all the while still actively live chatting. A true rockstar, his simple explanation for this was: “I have a customer who needs help!”
Customer-facing, one of my most memorable stories was from a mother of twin daughters, one of whom was sadly hospitalized with a leukemia diagnosis. This mama so badly wanted to give both girls the same joyful experience with The Play Kits, but they were not allowed to share toys due to the heightened risk of germ exposure. After hearing her story, we sent a duplicate Play Kit for her little one to have during that treatment time in the hospital.
There's nothing more fulfilling than knowing that we were able to bring even just a small bit of encouragement to a truly challenging time for this family. Our team is always looking for these moments, where we have the opportunity to spread just a little more love. ️