What are Upsells & Downsells?

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva

You’ve worked hard to build a list. You’ve spent time (and possibly money) generating leads and cultivating relationships with your subscriber base.


So, you should want your efforts to count, right?

One easy way to maximize your email marketing income is to seize the power of a great upsell.

“Do you want to upsize your drink and fries?”

McDonald’s certainly understands the profit potential of an upsell, and so should you.


Offering subscribers that purchase from you the opportunity to upgrade or enhance their order by adding additional tools and resources is an easy way to skyrocket your income.  

The key to an upsell is that it’s priced higher than the initial offer and offers clear value.


Your buyers need to understand how they benefit from spending that extra money to upgrade their initial purchase.  This means that your upsell needs to double the value of the original product.  

For example, if your customer purchased a 10-pack of social media graphics, you could offer them the chance to double their inventory by upgrading to a 20-pack of graphics.

The key is to keep your upsell tightly connected to the main product.  You don’t want to stray too far from your original offer so that you’re able to paint a clear picture of how the upsell improves, extends or enhances the product they already have.

Consider what kinds of products you could create as upsells that align with your existing product line.

And believe me, there’s always room for an upsell.  Even if you think your high-quality course offers everything a person could possibly ask for, chances are you’ve overlooked an area that you could fulfill with an upgrade offer.

In fact, some developers leave a segment out of their main products or training programs intentionally because they know it would serve as a killer upgrade. 

Now, you don’t want your upgrade to be forced onto buyers, nor do you want it to cover a key area or step needed to accomplish their goal.

If someone purchases a product from you, it should do its job at fulfilling all promises made on the sales page, and should also serve as a stand-alone product.  The upsell only works to expand someone’s knowledge, provide someone with alternative methods, steps, or extends the training they are interested in.

Thinking back to McDonald’s and how they’ve integrated upsells into their sales process, without upgrading the fries or drinks to a larger size, the meal you ordered is fulfilling and complete.  Upgrading only gives you more of the same thing, right?

That’s the key to a killer upsell that’ll convert. 

Now let’s look at the opposite approach:  a downsell.


A downsell attracts a customer who is attempting to back out of making a purchase. They’re obviously interested in your product or service, but perhaps it’s too expensive for them at this time.

That’s when a downsell should kick in and do its job at saving the sale and moving the prospect further into your funnel, even if they’re not paying full price for your offer.

Your downsell should typically shrink the size of the original offer. For example, if you were selling 10 social media graphics, your downsell might offer only 5 graphics at a fraction of the price.

Or, if you’re in the business of selling software, your downsell might provide them with a limited license that removes some of the power packed into the full-price option.

Make sense?

Both upsells and downsells will help you to maximize your email marketing income. By directing people to one main offer but giving them multiple options depending on their actions throughout your funnel, you’ll be able to close more sales and make more money.

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