This is Upsell Hell

4 Rules For Using Upsells In Your Marketing


Yesterday after buying a product I found myself stuck in “Upsell Hell”!

Upsell Product Hell

Don’t Put Your Customers Through Upsell Hell!

Although I didn’t count the number of upsells, it was right in the neighborhood of 8 UPSELLS!

Even though I’m a marketer that uses and teaches upsells and downsells, by the time I was at the last few upsells in the chain I felt pretty pissed off!

I don’t feel like my time was being respected (all the upsells were in video format and took several minutes to get through) and I feel like the seller was just trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of his new customers.


The fact is, adding a relevant upsell (or two) that enhance the front end product can actually benefit your customers by giving them the opportunity to get more value from you often at a discounted rate…

However, stacking upsell after upsell after upsell like a leech trying to suck your new customer dry is not only a bad idea, but the small short-term bump in income you’ll receive from the extra upsells will be offset by the long-term, permanent loss of income from those customers that are so put off by your marketing methods that they’ll probably never buy from you again!

Here are some easy upsell rules to follow to make sure you don’t end up with customers who are mad at you before they even see the product they purchased from you:

RULE 1: Limit The Number Of Upsells

Each upsell you add increases the likelihood that you’re going to upset your customer (who you should be trying to build a long-term relationship with).

1 Upsell – You probably won’t upset too many customers (especially if you follow RULE 2 below).

2 Upsells – Some customers may get annoyed, but if your products (especially the front end product they already purchased) are solid, they likely won’t hold a grudge.

3 Upsells – Some of your customers will start to feel you’re taking advantage of them at this point so your products BETTER be kick ass and deliver on what you promised (and then some).

4 Or More UpsellsDon’t do it! Plain and simple – it’s not worth it! You should be trying to build a long-term relationship and creating a customer for life, by having 4 or more upsells you will likely upset the MAJORITY of your new customers and really get that relationship off on the wrong foot.

RULE 2: Keep Em’ Related But Not Required

All of your upsells and downsells should be related to your front end offer (either directly related or at least loosely) but if your customer does not buy the upsells they should still be able to get the results you promised from your front end product (they shouldn’t have to buy an upsell to get results).

Example: If you sell hockey sticks, your upsell should be hockey pucks, (related) not a collection of serial killer autobiographies (not related).

This is one thing that “Mr. Upsell Hell” did correctly; his upsells were related to the front end product (at least the first 6 or so were – after that I tuned out and just clicked the No Thanks button), but there were so many upsells that the fact they’re related doesn’t make up for the fact my time wasn’t respected..

RULE 3: Make It Easy To Say No

It should always be super simple for your customer to say NO to your upsell pitch and get what they’ve paid for (preferably without having to scroll through a 20 page sales letter searching for the no thanks link).

RULE 4: The Golden Rule

If you want to know if you’re doing your upsells and downsells the right way simply put yourself in the shoes of your customers…

How would YOU feel if you were the customer going through the upsell process? Or how would you feel if your best friend or spouse or Mother had to go through the upsell process?

If you wouldn’t like to sit through your own upsell process that should be a clear sign to you that it needs to be changed!


Hopefully these rules help you craft upsells that are both profitable and beneficial to your customer WITHOUT leaving too many people angry.

Feel free to share your thoughts below or add to my list of tips.



  • Kenny Horn

    Reply Reply July 17, 2012

    awesome tips ryan

    i normally use just 1 upsell but i also like what you talked about in the sales funnel video so i will be trying that to

    • Ryan

      Reply Reply July 17, 2012

      On a lot of my sites I only use 1 upsell as well, it keeps things simple and doesn’t upset hardly anyone.

      For my niche markets where I have full funnels I will generally also use Instant Upsells or 2 Upsells and a Downsell like I talk about in the Sales Funnel Video.

  • Bill

    Reply Reply July 18, 2012

    Just putting something together and somehow your email was in my inbox. Quite timely and good advice. Right on.

    • Ryan

      Reply Reply July 18, 2012

      Awesome Bill… Glad the timing was right!

  • One of the things I have against upsells is that I haven’t had a chance to check out the product you just sold me… I don’t trust you yet!

    This is different when you’re dealing with someone you know and trust, but for most internet customers you are at the beginning of the relationship.

    I understand the psychology behind the upsell though, so I don’t mind one well done that meets your 4 rules. But I usually pass unless it is from someone I already know.

    • Ryan

      Reply Reply July 18, 2012

      Great point! This is why I often my pre-transactional Instant Upsell method which avoids that issue and doesn’t typically upset anyone.

      Also, my upsells are typically NOT One-Time-Offers (OTOs), I normally keep the offer open for 7 to 10 days so the customer can check out the product first before deciding on the upsell.

  • Gunnar

    Reply Reply July 18, 2012

    Right on the point.
    An other thing that is very annoying is
    when you are getting a (free offer) in your
    mail and you have to click leave the page
    several times to escape if you don’t want it. I usually click the unsubscribe link
    if I get too many from same sender.

    • Ryan

      Reply Reply July 18, 2012


      I don’t mind 1 exit pop but a never ending loop of exit pops is a real turn-off!

  • Lynn Fowler

    Reply Reply July 18, 2012

    I agree totally with Bill. I want to see how the product works before I put my money out for something else. I also agree with Gunnar – I LOATHE exit pop-ups.

    • Ryan

      Reply Reply July 19, 2012

      For me the worst are the exit pops where they send you to a page with another exit pop on it… They are easy enough to close down, but it sure is annoying!

  • Ryan Rice

    Reply Reply July 25, 2012

    I totally agree with #2…don't make the upsell a requirement. Then I only feel cheated for the initial purchase. Give me options to compliment what I've just purchased. Great tips Ryan!

    • Ryan Even

      Reply Reply July 26, 2012

      Yes, it's like if you were to go in and buy a car and then AFTER you buy the car they say: "Now that you've purchased the car would you like to also buy an engine for the car so you can drive it?"

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