Website Survey

The exact emails I used to sell an upgrade to our customers

Time to read: 5 minutes

Have you ever wondered how you should ask your customers to upgrade? How you could sell them a more expensive plan or a new version of your downloadable software?

Well, I had that problem, too. Recently, we launched a multi-store (multi site) version or our OpenCart Mobile theme. I wanted to sell our recent customers the multi site version as an upgrade.

Since most of these people had just given us money less than a year ago, I didn't want to aim too high. I decided to offer them to upgrade at a discounted price.

In this article I'll show you the exact emails I used, the mistakes I made and how the emails performed.

I tested the campaign on just one portion of our list. Then I improved it and tested on another portion of the list.

The schedule

The emails were sent over the course of 7 days. The "launch day" was day 7. The emails went out as follows:

  • 1st email: teaser, sent on say 1
  • 2nd email: more details about the promotion, sent 3 days after the 1st email
  • 3rd email: sales email, sent 3 days after the 2nd
  • 4th email: final call, sent 6 hours before the promotion was over

3 days was merely what I thought was long enough for everyone to check their inbox and short enough for them not to forget. Also, I wanted to leave a time window in which the customers could ask any pre-sales questions.

The emails

Using a few very important marketing rules and borrowing one or two ideas from another campaign that I received recently, I came up with the following emails.

First email: Teaser

The first e-mail was to remind the customers who was emailing them. That's because I hadn't done that in a long time.

Subject: Your OpenCart multi-store is missing something
The goal of this subject is to inspire the curiosity of all the people who have a multi-store setup. The rest won't be interested in a multi-store mobile theme as they already have a single store mobile theme.

Teaser email
Teaser email
  1. Group mentality—I'm telling them that our new extension is popular among other people like them. So, one reason to want to get that product is because other store owners want and need it. It must be good. Other store owners are often the competition, too. The second reason to want to get the product is to be up to par with the competition. The first paragraph is supposed to create desire to acquire the product.
  2. Product description—A brief description of the features of the new product. I want to inspire curiosity about it.
  3. A glimpse of the promotion to come—I'm giving them just a little bit of information about the promotion but I'm not telling everything.
  4. It's personal—Note the expression "your personal upgrade link"="This promotion is especially for you". I'm trying to make them feel special.

Second email: More details

The second email gives out just for a few more details about the promotion. I was trying to build up some tension with it. I wanted to get the information about the promotion to stick in the minds of our customers.

Sebject: Details about your OMFramework Multi-store upgrade link
I recently read that when you're writing emails for a campaign you should try to phrase your subjects as you would when writing to a friend. If was sending that email to a friend I would probably pick a concise subject like the one above so that I could get my friend to open the email.

Second email with more details
Second email with more details
  1. Reminder—Just in case the first email got buried in their inbox.
  2. My mistake—"we're giving you back the full amount" was possibly the worst expression I could choose. :) One customer asked me when she was going to receive the money. Point was taken and I fixed that in my next campaign. Be careful with your wording.
  3. Event—I'm basically creating an event in their minds: "The promotion will be on Xth of Y. Mark that on your calendar."
  4. Time limitation—If they want to take advantage of the promotion, they have to act quickly. Time limitation is one of the oldest tricks in the marketing toolbox. And it's still used because it works.

Third email: Launch email

This email contains a simple call to action + description of the features of the new extension.

Subject: Your OMFramework Multi-store personal upgrade link
It’s about something that belongs to them.

Sales email
Sales email
  1. Call to action(CTA) + incentive—"Upgrade now and save money".
  2. Description—the description was meant for the people who were still hesitating whether to purchase or not.
  3. Urgency—I mentioned the time limitation again to force people to make a decision. Otherwise, they might read the email, think that they will purchase and just forget about it. When they are pressed for time, they have to make a decision right away.

Fourth email: Final call

The most interesting thing about this campaign was the fourth e-mail. It alone generated most of the sales.

Subject: Your personal upgrade link will expire in 6 hours
I wanted to trigger the fear of loss. See below.

Final call
Final call
  1. Fear of loss—We, humans, are very much afraid not to lose or miss out on stuff. Quick example: If I told you that you'd lose $100 right now if you close this browser tab, you'd want to do something to prevent it. But if I told you that you could earn $100 more dollars if you don't close the tab, you likely won't care that much, because these $100 were never yours. The conclusion is that we care much about our possessions. Marketers use this against us all the time.
  2. Description—I'm pretty sure this wasn't necessary. The time pressure and fear of loss are enough of factors and, by now, people had found out enough about the product (note that they are already familiar with it because they are using the single store version and they had asked pre-sales questions).

The results

First email

The subject turned out to be exactly what I wanted it to be. The open rate was 55%. I'm quite certain everyone who had a multi store opened it.

Second email

The open rate was still high: 44%. I suppose I got them interested.

This was when a customer thought that her previous purchase would be refunded. And that was how I learned about the bad choice of words I had made.

Third email

The open rate was still quite high: 39%. There was also a high click rate (16%) on the upgrade link, but there were few conversions. That was mostly because the people who had clicked had questions.

There was another problem here—Some of the customers were in a different time zone and I wasn't able to answer their questions right away. That's why with the next campaign that I did, I increased the period of the promotion to 48 hours.

Fourth email

This email generated the majority of sales. The open rate was still decent: 28%. The conversion rate was 9% which is great for an email-based campaign.


The campaign worked quite well. I thought the actual sales email didn't work because those people had pre-sales questions. Being in different time zones posed a difficulty—I wasn't able to reply quickly to all of them.

What about you?

Have you tried to run any promotional campaigns? Are you planning to?

About the author Gergana Dimova

I use my non-magical persuasion methods to help small business owners, digital agencies, entrepreneurs and consultants get more leads and sales. You can learn more about working with me here.

Leave a Comment