How to create and send upsell and cross sell emails (examples)

It is already a well-known concept in marketing: selling to existing customers is easier, cheaper, and 70% more likely than selling to new prospects (Marketing Metrics).

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. After all, your established customer base is already familiar with your brand. They trust you enough to consume your products/services and keep coming back for more.

This is where post-purchase emails come in. Post-purchase emails include cross-selling and upselling emails that aim at producing more sales from an already existing customer.

In this article, we will look at creative ways you can upsell or cross-sell using your email marketing strategy. We’ll explore some of the brands that are doing their best to help inspire your own efforts.

What is Upselling?

Upselling is when you’re selling a larger version of the product offered. This can be an upgraded version, extended plan, the next version of your product, or something similar. Essentially, you’re still selling the same product but at a higher rate and for an added benefit.

sprout social pricing

Screenshot from Sprout Social

A common example of upselling is the various plans offered for SaaS products. In the example above you can see Sprout Social’s three social media management packages. The product is the same however, you’ll get more with the product the more you spend on it.

What is Cross Selling?

Cross selling is selling an additional product or service to a customer. The additional product/service recommendations are often related to what your customers have already bought.

Ryanair used cross selling in their email sequences to promote extra services that can improve their customers’ trips and RyanAir experience. They used the online check-in email to promote car rental services.

Time to check-in

Ryan air cross selling email

Now that we understand the difference between both types of email, let’s dive deeper into upselling and cross-selling tactics and email examples.

Upsell vs Cross Sell Emails

7 Ways to send upsell emails

You’d be surprised how often upselling is overlooked in email marketing sequences. Identify opportunities within your sales funnel where you can upsell. Upsell emails can be created and triggered at specific times depending on what type of product or service you are marketing and the stage of your customer’s lifecycle.

Free trial period end upsell email

Before your trial period ends, send an email to your customer and remind them that they need to upgrade their account. You are transforming this free user into a paying user. If you feel that your customer won’t be upgrading for some reason or another, you can suggest that they extend their free trial period.

restart-your-avocode-trialYou might think that it’s not worth it, but it is. Keeping a user, even if they are not paying for your service, is better than losing a prospect. Extending free trial emails give you more time to educate your customer and prove your product’s value to them, and ultimately, increasing your chances to upsell.

Upsell email before subscription renewal

Paid subscriptions are usually renewed automatically. Before the renewal of your customer paid plan, you can send them an email to encourage them to upgrade their current account. In this type of email, make sure to display the benefits of the next-level plan, both in terms of features and budget.


Product launch upsell emails

The most common upsell emails are product launch emails or feature release emails. You might have even sent a few without recognizing that they are upselling emails. You are reaching to your customer base and promoting a new feature or product update. If your customers are loyal and appreciate your products, chances are they will be excited to try what you come up with and should be the first to get onboard.


Build a strong case around your products/services

Free trials or restricted access to services are extremely common with SaaS platforms. Email marketing can be your core way to upsell your paid version of the product. How? By providing free content that promotes the benefits of having the full package service.

Zoom does this exceptionally well by promoting its free video conferences and webinars designed to teach you how to make the most of your own webinars and, essentially, buy into the platform.

Zoom upselling email

In their email marketing messaging they’re not only promoting the benefits of attending the webinar but they’re also pulling from point number two, scarcity. Their CTA’s read, “Get on the Guest List”. It’s time-sensitive, but not pushy.

Lastly, on this point, be consistent with the quality of your free-content and be data-minded when tracking the consumption of it. If you see that certain readers are really engaging with your free articles, webinars, or video content then you can start to offer more of that content type to upsell your product in your email marketing strategy.

Building a strong case around your products and services also means displaying the benefits of using them. In this email example, you can see that Strava zeroed in on listing all the Premium Perks.

Fund your athletic lifestyle


Create product or service packs: tiered upsells

You can create more upsell options with “packages” or “product bundles”. These packages can be broken down into snippets within your emails.

Take advantage of Green Friday Packs! 🤑

Tiered upsells - Take advantage of Green Friday Packs!

Once you’ve identified the packages that are right for the subscriber, by tracking their click-throughs, you can segment your email lists and shift your focus to selling that particular package for particular customers, rather than all of them.

Here’s an example of an email promoting plugins and bundles for their customers.

40% OFF Plugins & Bundles ⚡️ Limited Time


Create user behavior reports

By capitalizing on your customer’s behavior while using your application or product, you can determine specific points in time when they are ready to move on to the next level of “consumption”.

In the report-style emails, you can celebrate your customers reaching milestones, by encouraging them to take the next step forward.

Hello Bar Weekly Digest for [Name] – [Date]


Upsell in Thank You emails

Thank you emails like this one can be a great disguise for an upsell opportunity. You are thanking your most loyal customers for always being there, so the target audience is perfect for an upsell. The email segment is mature and loyal, they understand your value proposition, and are advocates for your brand. They are only waiting for you to offer them a good deal, or even a simple nudge.

Thank you for being a part of our journey


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4 Ways to cross sell using email marketing

Cross sell in cart abandonment emails

Customers will browse your products, choose the ones they like, add them to their carts, and leave. Reasons for abandoning virtual carts vary. Regardless of why your customers didn’t proceed with their purchase, you must always send a cart abandonment email.

In your triggered abandoned cart emails, you can include a block where you suggest relevant products to your customer. The choice of your product suggestions should rely on the information you collect about your customer. Take a look at what products they left in their cart and recommend extra products that go hand in hand with what they originally wanted to buy.

For example, if your customer left a swimming suit in their cart, send them a cart reminder email and suggest that they buy a beach matt to complete their summer shopping.

Here is another real-life example from a brand that used cross selling techniques in their cart abandonment email.


As you can see, Chewy begin the email with a reminder about the items left in the cart: a dog crate. But instead of ending the email there, they go the extra mile to recommend a complete set of dog food. Not only that, but they also tempt the customer with a 20% reduction in their first order. This is a good example of combining transactional emails with cross selling tactics. The product recommendation fits perfectly with what the customer is looking for, and the discount acts as a second selling argument.

When selecting product recommendations for your customers, make sure that they not only complete the product already saved in the customer’s cart but also fit the customer’s profile (age, gender, previous behavior on your website, older purchases, etc.).

Take this cross sell email for example, under the “You May Also Like” block, Jack Wills suggests boxer shorts and hoodies for men. There are products that Luke (the customer) will definitely be interested in. Image if they instead included a random selection of clothing items, like dresses or lingerie. The email won’t have the same success.



Cross sell in order confirmation emails

Order Confirmation emails are a great opportunity to cross sell your products. As customers, we naturally expect confirmation emails right after we order an item online. And that is what gives order confirmation emails such a high open-rate of 65% on average.

Make the most out of your order confirmation emails by using cross selling techniques. Offer similar products that you know the customer might like, based on the product they’ve recently purchased.

Your Huckberry Order R123456789 – Details Inside


Be conscious of your placement of the extra products, however.

Cross selling cased on navigation behavior

According to your previously viewed items, you can collect a list of products that they might be interested in. In this email example, you can see that the brand Shoprunner observed the navigation behavior of their online customer, and sent them an email featuring the last products they saw on the website. In this email copy, they use specific words, like “Recently Viewed Items” and “Here are more items we think you’ll love”, which reflect the overall message of the email.

This type of email can also serve as a reminder email for customers who forgot to go through with their shopping.


Cross sell in Thank You emails

Personalisation in email - corss sell

Cross-selling additional products doesn’t always need to come as a direct sales email. Consider framing your cross-selling efforts as a thank you message for your customer within email marketing.

Just like Norwegian has done here, for me. Approach your customers with a personalized approach.

  • “Thank you for your loyalty”
  • “Thank you for placing your trust in us”

By painting your cross-sell as a personalized thank you email, you can add a discounted, more appealing rate, without decreasing the value of your product. You merely want to show your gratitude.

Combining upsell and cross sell emails

Don’t be afraid to combine upselling and cross-selling in your email marketing strategy. Although these are two very different sales tactics, they can work together in harmony. Amazon does this exceptionally well.

amazon products

At the bottom of their confirmation of order emails, they often do two things:

  1. They promote similar products (cross-selling).
  2. They promote their amazon prime service (upselling).

The two come hand in hand and overall give me, as the customer, a better experience using their service. It’s smart marketing to be able to upsell and cross-sell and convince a buyer that they need both. Consider how you can flesh this into your own email marketing strategies.

How to create great Cross Sell and Upsell emails

Include testimonials to increase credibility

Use testimonials in a smart way. A testimonial doesn’t have to come after you’ve introduced the deal you’re upselling. The testimonial can actually be introducing the upsell in the first place.

It’s a great way of combining old-school testimonials with successful storytelling tactics. Story-telling marketing is one of the most powerful forms going, it has the power to generate cortisol or oxytocin, two influential chemicals in the mind that can dictate our subconscious buying decisions.

Creating a customer story is the perfect combination of story-telling and testimonials and what better place to let your customer story shine than in email.

In this email example, there is no real customer testimonial, but… We chose to include it because the style of the email resembles closely an email based on a customer’s testimonial. Rooted’s features only one product and provides the reader with all the information they need to fall in love with it. The email design is awesome and really makes it difficult to say no to the call to action.



Use scarcity & the Fear Of Missing Out

Scarcity – Last Minute Deals this December 👉

Scarcity - Last Minute Deals this December

Cialdini’s Scarcity still works, people are just savvier to it. Upsell in your email marketing using scarcity tactics and apply a bit of pressure to your buyer. Think about limited-time offers for first-time customers.

Your customer has already paid for your product before, they already trust your brand, which is the hard part. They’re willing to invest in you again, it’s just timing. Capitalize on this and offer them an upgrade/expansion/extension of your product that promises to provide them with a better service than the one they’ve already invested in.

What you need to ensure is that your scarcity efforts are not overcooked. It can be all too easy to scare someone off with scarcity tactics. Deleting an email is done in two clicks and will be done should you apply too much pressure.

Consumer Burnout is already a huge trend in 2020 and brands are rushing in to provide a service or product to address this. Brands are also answering burnout with brand messaging. Remember to be thoughtful with the tone and urgency you create.

Don’t scare people off but encourage them to seize the opportunities that arise. Like in the example above, Outsite has added emojis, labeled the upsell as members only, and used a term we’re all familiar with Early Birds.

Look to use similar scarcity tactics in your own email marketing strategy. There’s no time like the present.

Think outside the box

Visual storytelling works. Try to include images, videos, and animated infographics as much as possible within your email marketing cross selling efforts. That being said you’ll need to make sure your email is optimized for the correct platform.

If you’ve been working in marketing for a while you’ll probably remember the time we all saw a shift in devices and suddenly it was: “mobile-first.”

This is not always the case. Just because everyone uses their phones much more than they used to doesn’t necessarily mean they’re engaging with your brand emails using their phone.

If your product is relatively expensive, you’ll be surprised by the number of people that prefer to do their research via desktop. Keep this in mind when designing the visual layout of your cross-selling emails. Identify what platform your customers are using and adapt accordingly to your company email marketing strategy.

This confirmation email by BedInBox has really missed the mark by not including any upsell or cross sell suggestions, and being overall, very plain. It’s informative and does its job, but doesn’t really explore what could be done to create a better experience for the customers. It can be easily forgotten and tucked away.

what not to do - order confirmation


Show that you care

This is trickier to do if you’re using an email list. However, if you have a good CRM platform then using integrations with an email marketing system could do wonders to help you show that you care.

Identify customer business needs. Whether this is done through an interactive form, a sales rep, or by identifying engagement with your previous emails. Take note of what your customer needs and find a product you offer that will help them to succeed or better their experience. Think “Customer success” rather than “sales”.

Personalize your efforts

coworking space - cross sell

Be it using a first name, business name, or industry your customers are in, personalized subject lines lead to emails that are 26% more likely to be opened. Personalization with your subject lines, preview text, and sender name can get you that open rate increase, but how can you increase your chances of cross-selling?

Do the same. Using personalization efforts in the body of your email gives the reader a more tailored experience and can go a long way. Take a look at the example above, my team at OneCoWork inserted not only my name into the body text of the email but my book as well. Of course, this was a “test” email before we sent out the real thing, but you get the idea.

Don’t be afraid to send “reminders”

This can work in both large and small business email marketing strategies. If you do see interactions with other products or services you’ve been trying to cross-sell don’t be afraid to identify abandoned carts or CTA click-throughs and send an email reminder.

This works exceptionally well with eCommerce, of course, don’t forget to include open-rate and click-through rate within your eCommerce KPIs. Be careful here though, these are the types of emails that are often viewed as Spam and sent straight to the corresponding box.

Be smart with your email copy, especially in your subject and preview lines. Frame your message as though you’re trying to help out someone who may be a little forgetful.

What’s more important is, give your reader an out. Ask them if they don’t intend to buy the product, acknowledge this, and don’t send them any more reminders. Respect their time.

Entice customers to buy more with discounts

Hi Raymond! Here are this month’s offers and great tips for earning CashPoints

Hi Raymond! Here are this month's offers and great tips for earning CashPoints

Just because someone has bought your product doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to buy something else from you. You’ll have to work equally as hard to cross-sell as you did with your initial sales process.

If you have some kind of membership or points service for your initial product/s, offer these if your customer buys other products from you. Norwegian do a great job of this with their cross-selling emails. If you buy an extra service from them then you’ll receive CashPoints which you can reclaim on your flights in the future.

Wrapping up

Thanks for taking the time to read this article and I hope you’ve found it useful in applying to your own email marketing strategy. There’s plenty of opportunities to upsell and cross-sell your products. The biggest lesson here is to do so in an authentic way and a way that is both conscious of your customer’s needs and time.

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