So you’ve made the first sale — now how do you make the second?
Funnels changed the entire economics of online marketing. When you suddenly started adding offer two, three, four — up to however many — to the sequence AFTER the first sale, the economics of everything change.
You don’t expect everyone who converts on the first sale to then buy the second, or the third, etc. But when you have 20% of the people who bought at $10 buying at $100 and 20% of those buying a $1,000, suddenly your math is very different. Suddenly instead of every $10 buyer being worth $10, they’re worth $70.
Which means if everyone else in the market is spending $10 to get a $10 customer, you can suddenly spend $30 to get a $10 customer and outbid your competition into oblivion.
… But in the face of the above, it’s only a matter of time that everyone starts doing this. So suddenly everyone is bidding $30 for a $10 customer. And it’s gone from an advantage to a requirement to compete.
Which is where we’re at today in almost any niche that’s been touched by a semi-sophisticated online marketer.
Wanna compete? You MUST be able to pull off the first sale. And the second. And so on. Or you’ll be consistently, persistently outbid by competitors. Even competitors whose products are frustratingly inferior to yours.
Most copywriting and marketing education focuses on how to make the first sale. Rightly so. Because if you don’t make the first sale, you won’t make the second, or the third, and so on. But also because every business thrives on new blood, new names added to the customer file. You can only go so far relying on past relationships with your customers.
But that leaves a gap. What about the upsell?
The following is inspired by a private training call I attended earlier this week…
I’ll speak about it under conditions akin to Chatham House Rule, because of the nature of the meeting itself, and because I don’t have permission to simply share what I heard in the meting verbatim.
Also, because it all lines up with my experience and previous teachings so nicely, I can share from that perspective.
What’s the Chatham House Rule? Well, you can do your own research, but basically it’s a code of privacy in which you can speak of general impressions and takeaways from a meeting or conversation, but without revealing the specifics of what was discussed or the identity of the speaker.
In other words, be respectful of the privacy of the speaker, out of respect for the privilege of attending the meeting.
So that’s what you’re getting. These findings are in line with my own experience, and in this meeting they were backed up based on testing across multiple clients and industries.
Now onto the good stuff…
The first rule of upsells…
Is to have a good offer. Put simply, the best offer will win in the vast majority of tests. Regardless of the quality of copy. Regardless of how you present it. Regardless of whatever headline formula or innovative pitch you use.
The best offer wins.
And this is, like, you know, totally new to online marketing, right? (Spoken in my best Left-coast lilt, drenched in sarcasm…)
Let’s rewind a bit to the ol’ direct mail days for confirmation on this.
Remember the 40-40-20 rule?
40% of the success of a campaign will be based on the list — who it’s going to. Now, in an upsell situation, you literally have the best list every direct marketer could ever dream of. Because you have people who’ve just bought a relevant and related product from you. They’re familiar buyers. They’re recent buyers. The threshold for conversion is ridiculously low. Which is why even the mere act of putting ANYTHING up after the sale has the potential to at least move the needle.
Also remember though that 40% of the success of your campaign is based on your offer. Which is the whole point of this section. A good offer is relevant to the person, and has a high perceived value relative to what you’re asking them to spend. (Guarantees and risk reversal, as well as payment terms, etc., also play into offer quality.) So, offering the right product, on the right terms, at the right price is one of the fastest ways to improve your upsell success.
And finally, 20% of the success of a campaign comes from the creative itself — the copy you write and how it’s presented visually. So yeah, spend some time on that. It’s important. But — one of the fastest, easiest ways to increase conversions on your upsells is to get a better offer, NOT better copy.
That said, I know most of my regular readers want to know how to write better copy, so…
Here’s the secret to writing better upsell copy…
Write good copy, period.
There’s not some magic switch that goes off in your buyer’s brain that says, “Oh, this is UPSELL copy, so I should react differently to it.”
That was the big takeaway from the training session, and it just underscored what I’ve seen.
Let’s see. There’s that classic fight about long copy versus short copy. Everything in our gut says that our prospects are busy and have fragmented attention spans. So we should write short copy. Yet in test after test — for front-end copy — direct marketers have PROVEN that equivalent-quality longer copy outsells shorter copy. This speaks to the “length implies strength” heuristic of human decision making (look it up) and has given us the axiom of “the more you tell, the more you sell.”
And yet, even being brilliant and experienced direct marketers who KNOW the above to be true, we then make the erroneous assumption, “This person just sat through my 45-minute VSL — they don’t have the time to watch another long video in the upsell sequence!” And yet… Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait… That’s WRONG! Long copy ALSO wins in the upsell sequence. An example given tested copy at 2 minutes, 6 minutes, and 14 minutes — and showed a definite pattern that longer copy generated more dollar per visitor.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Shocking, I know!
Don’t just babble on. Write good copy. But c’mon. If you wrote long copy to convert at $10… You should at least TRY long copy to convert at $100 or $1,000. And your experience will likely support the conclusion: good copy is good copy is good copy.
To this end, two micro-lessons.
First, consider your upsell copy in a vacuum. Would your target market convert if you ran it alone? If so, it’s probably good upsell copy. If not, go back to your keyboard.
Second, if you’re doing something that works, don’t reinvent the wheel. There was an anecdote shared at the meeting. This company had good acquisition copy, and they had good copy for their back-end products. For a while, they had the acquisition copywriter write additional upsell copy, that they’d use after the acquisition sale was made. Then, they decided to test a “bridge” headline on the back-end copy, as the upsell on the acquisition sale. It smashed the campaign-specific upsell copy. They’d been doing more work for less results! Consider the usefulness of this lesson in your strategic planning.
Okay, okay, but here’s how you really write this copy…
The big difference between upsell copy and normal direct response copy for the same product is in the transition.
Just after someone has bought a product from you, there’s a conversation going on in their head. It’s about the big promise of your product, how it’s about to be fulfilled, and how they can’t wait for that to happen with your help.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, it to direct that conversation toward the next purchase.
Start with gratitude… “Thank you.” Acknowledge their purchase. Confirm it as a smart decision.
Then explain why your next product is something that will add to the results of your first promise.
In other words, how will buying the second offer result in their experiencing the promise of the first offer faster, easier, or more affordably? How will it amplify the promise of the first product?
That transition should be quick. Then, go into the standard copy structure.
Use the PAISA formula. Problem, agitate, invalidate, solve, ask.
Sell like you’d sell outside of an upsell sequence. Direct their attention (which you already have) into your pitch, build their interest, stoke the flames of their desire for what’s next, and ask for action.
All the principles of High-Velocity Copywriting apply. You could even use one of the High-Velocity Copywriting Templates, especially the Problem or Opportunity template. (Also, if you’re diving into this, look into the offer structure and recommendations in “Bring your customer back again for more” under the Most-Valuable Customer Strategy, as these talk about how to add offers to your product lineup that add value to the total customer experience.)
The big difference is that you’re using the attention you already have — the conversation you’ve created in their head — to transition naturally into whatever your next pitch is.
Stimulate their emotion to get them wanting the next solution. Underscore how nothing else is getting it for them. Present the solution you have. Outline its benefits and the features that back it. Make it out to be the good deal that it is, relative to the investment you ask. Support your sales message with as much proof and credibility as you can muster. Tell them to take action. Close the deal.
Done right, this is how you maximize a proven, powerful offer as part of the upsell sequence.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,