Digital Marketing For Dummies
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The cost of acquiring new customers is often the most expensive one that businesses incur. After you have a buyer, asking that buyer to buy from you again makes sense. You want to turn that customer you spent so much time and money acquiring into a repeat customer.

The marketing campaigns you employ to sell more, or more often, to the leads and customers you’ve acquired are called Monetization campaigns, and these campaigns have a number of different types of offers to employ.

Most companies are running monetization campaigns (making high-dollar and complex offers) directed at ice-cold prospects and new leads. Although it would be fantastic to be profitable without needing to warm up a prospect with ungated, gated, and deep-discount offers, making that work is very difficult. The sequence of the offers you make to people is extremely critical to avoid being the business that is asking its prospects for too much, too soon.

Make an upsell or cross-sell offer

The first type of monetization offer is the immediate upsell, and it’s one you’re probably already familiar with even if you’ve never heard the term. An example of the immediate upsell is the famous “Do you want fries with that?” offer made at McDonald’s. Upsells offer customers more of what they already bought. The purchase they are currently making and the upsell should lead the customer to the same desired end result. In the McDonald’s example, adding fries to your order gets you a bigger meal. The cross-sell offer, on the other hand, makes an offer related to the first purchase. For example, a clothing retailer might offer dress shoes to a man who just purchased a suit. (and virtually every other successful online retailer) uses upsell and cross-sell offers to increase the number of items people purchase. Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” sections contain immediate upsell and cross-sell offers to help ensure the sale and possibly increase the basket size.

For example, after we select a book for $17.98, Amazon suggests other products that we may want to make with this purchase, as shown. If we accepted all the suggested upsells, the amount of our purchase would increase from $17.98 to $44.96.

Amazon's upsells Source:

Amazon expertly uses upsells and cross-sells to increase the basket size of its customer and get the sale.

In the figure, the item being searched for is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and Amazon offers some related Harry Potter books that would serve as an upsell and increase the basket size. But Amazon also offers cross-sells in the form of other fantasy books that may appeal to a fan of Harry Potter because they are of the same genre.

Because the cross-sell may not be as relevant to the first purchase, a cross-sell can feel like it’s coming out of left field, which can be jarring to and unwanted by the customer. That’s why you have to be careful with cross-sells, or you risk annoying your customers. Imagine buying a Mac computer and having Apple ask before you’ve even left the store whether you want to buy an iPhone or an iPad. That said, if the cross-sell truly complements the initial purchase, your customers will welcome the offer, and you’ll welcome the additional revenue.

Build bundles and kits

Bundles and kits are other forms that your monetization offer can take. A bundle or a kit is taking one of your stand-alone products and combining it with other like items that you or one of your business partners sell. For example, if you sell men’s razors, you might bundle the razor with a shaving kit that includes all the essential items a man needs to shave with, from the brush to the after-shave. This “essential shaving kit” will cost more than an individual razor, which increases your revenue per sale. Do you have products or services that you can combine to create a new value proposition?

Tack on a slack adjuster

Slack adjusters can have a dramatic impact upon the bottom line. A slack adjuster is a product or service that you offer at a price point much higher than your typical offer. The price is generally 10 to 100 times higher than your usual offers. Although this product or service will appeal to only a very small portion of your market, those that do make this high-ticket purchase will have a dramatic impact on your revenue.

For example, Starbucks sells cups of tea and coffee, but the company also sells coffee makers. The coffee maker is far more expensive than the $6 cup of coffee. Most people stick to their usual beverage and ignore the coffee maker, but a few buy the coffee maker. When a product is that much more expensive than the core offer, only a small number of slack adjuster sales is needed to make an impact.

Recurring billing

Sometimes called a continuity offer in digital marketing circles, a recurring billing offer charges the customer periodically — usually each month or year. This may take the form of a club or some other type of membership, or a subscription such as a monthly gym membership. In the latter case, the gym charges a membership fee 12 times a year. You also find recurring billing in content and publishing with subscriptions to Netflix or Cosmopolitan magazine, and in e-commerce with products like Dollar Shave Club and Birchbox. Look to your products or services and consider how you can make a sale once and get paid over and over again.

Recurring billing can be a difficult sell because of the commitment that goes along with it. To overcome this issue, clearly communicate the advantage provided by the recurring billing offer and lower the perceived risk by clearly communicating the cancellation. For instance, the cooking delivery company Blue Apron often states in its offers that you can cancel anytime. Customers must decide whether they want to commit to you for an extended period.

About This Article

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Ryan Deiss is founder and CEO of Idea Incubator and creator of Traffic & Conversion Summit. He has consulted with more than 200,000 businesses in 68 countries. Russ Henneberry is founder of, a free daily email newsletter about digital business. He has trained and certified thousands of professionals in SEO, social media marketing and content marketing through his coaching, courses, and stage presentations.

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