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12 Sales Promotion Examples and Ideas

Chapter 42 by Nicole Martins Ferreira

Most online stores include a sale section where customers can score the best deals. There are a group of rebels, though, who choose to never put any of their products on sale, who never use sales promotion as part of their marketing strategy.

But for most store owners, sales help you convert better. There is a lot of psychology on how to discount your products. For example, offering a buy one get the second 50% off may be more effective than a higher discount on one product even if the price value is the same.

Why? Because the perceived value isn’t the same. Also, the layering of discounts can be more valuable to a customer than one big discount. For example, offering a second discount on a product that’s already been marked down may be perceived as more valuable than one discount of the same total value. So, running a sales promotion can be a powerful way to increase sales.

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What Are Sales Promotions?

Sales promotions are a set of marketing initiatives aimed to bring an increase in the trial, usage, or sales of a product or service. 

Sales promotion techniques include money-off vouchers, BOGOF (buy-one-get-one-free) deals, free shipping, and other non-recurrent selling efforts that aim to attract customers. Often limited in time, sales promotions create a feeling of exclusivity, help to generate sales, and keep customers coming back. They can also be an important tool for ecommerce stores that want to branch out to new markets or maintain a steady flow of customers in the off-season.

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Sales Promotion Examples

1. Threadsence

Pre-marketing a product can help it launch successfully. Threadsence has a ‘Presale’ section on its online store to promote products before they launch. They test their products online before selling them in brick and mortar stores. It helps customers feel like they got early access to great products. This works really well for those who sell in brick and mortar stores and online. For example, you can do a presale online to test the market and launch the product in stores if it performs well. It also works well for dropshippers if you want to test products to determine their popularity.

2. Warby Parker

Ecommerce stores are waking up to the benefits of running a try before you buy sales promotion. This is when you provide customers with an option to try products out before they are charged for them. A popular example of an online store offering try before you buy sales promotions is Warby Parker. The spectacles retailer allows consumers to try five pairs of frames for free, choose and pay for the ones they like, and send the rest back. There’s no charge on shipping, and customers get five days to decide which frames they’d like to keep or send them all back. If you’re planning to run a similar sales promotion on your store, consider offering free shipping and returns to make it a no-brainer for potential customers. With people aged 25-34 being the most likely to buy through this type of promotion, offering try before you buy services can help you attract the attention of millennial shoppers.

warby parker try before you buy

3. easyJet

One of the most effective ways to increase your average order value is cross-selling. You can offer complementary and interesting items to consumers before, during, or after the purchase. An alternative to conventional cross-selling is to provide a product or service that is only available when customers buy something from your store. Take a cue from the airline company easyJet, who offers airport lounges, resort transfers, parking, and more at a discounted price to its customers. The fact that something is only accessible when you purchase another product makes it exclusive and scarce, enticing more people to buy.

cross-selling sales promotion easyjet

Sales Promotion Tips:

1. Divide Your Sales Section by Discount and Product Category

Otte New York divides its sale section by discount. All their sale products fall into either 30% off, 40% off, 50% off, or 70% off. Customers looking to find the best deal will likely check out the items with the higher discount first. Keep in mind that Otte also divides the sale section by product category to allow the customer to quickly find a deal on the type of product they’re looking for. Having a combination of price and product category helps cater to different types of customers: those looking for a deal and those looking for something specific.

2. Run Daily Deals With a Time Limit

Ript Apparel has a Daily Deals section on their website. Each day, they present three new products at a discounted price. They use urgency to drive their sales as they expire within 24 hours. By hosting a sale each day, it helps encourage people to keep coming back to the site to find a great deal. By changing the products each day, it keeps the content fresh, so people want to go back the next day.

3. Create Urgency With Holiday and Sales Promotion Icons

On Miss Selfridge’s sale section, their best selling items have a ‘Selling Fast’ or ‘Black Friday Offer’ icon on it to help create urgency. If you have items on sale, adding an icon for your best-sellers can help boost the performance of your sale. Since the products are already deeply discounted, it gives it an extra push to encourage the sale from the customer as customers may experience a fear of missing out (FOMO).

4. List Expected Savings Beside The Product’s Price

H&M approaches their sales section differently than most brands. At the right of the product photo, there’s a filter that tells you how much you’ll save if you buy that product. You can get an idea of total savings both in number and in percentage form. While this is the most commonly used sales promotion method, it may be worth testing out on your own store.

sales promotion tactics

5. Offer a Student Discount

Ryder offers a student discount as their sales promotion: 10% off. You can pair up with a student discount card to attract students to your brand. Getting your brand featured on the card can be difficult if you’re starting out. However, once your brand starts to grow in popularity, you increase your chances of being included. The great thing about marketing to students is their extensive network of friends who they can promote your brand to when showing off new purchases.

6. Showcase All Sales Promotions in a Single Place

Victoria’s Secret includes a ‘Today’s Offers’ tab on the bottom middle of their website. Customers can scroll left or right to find out what the daily deals are. It sometimes includes the free shipping threshold, discounts on specific collections, bundling deals, limited-edition collections, and freebies with purchases on certain products. This allows customers to learn of all the promotions in one place.

7. Experiment With Free Plus Shipping  

Daily Steals has a free plus shipping section on their website. While some advertising platforms may not allow you to run free plus shipping ads, for now, you can still have the section added on your website. Keep in mind that the shipping cost needs to be realistic for the customer. Charging $19.99 for shipping a pair of earrings is too high. Also, free plus shipping methods can appear deceptive since the product cost isn’t actually free but incorporated into the shipping cost. However, Daily Steals shipping costs seem pretty legitimate. When testing various products, on average, the shipping cost was $4.99. Unfortunately, when it comes to your product margin, free plus shipping products can eat away at them pretty quickly. Ultimately, testing out its effectiveness on your store will let you know if it’s worth having.

8. Offer Rebates On Certain Items

Wrangler ran a sales promotion where you could buy two pieces of their shirts or jeans (worth a minimum of $14.95) per piece and get a $10 rebate back-by-mail. Online stores use rebates as a sales promotion tool to sell units of a specific item. When you offer a large rebate on a product, it can encourage customers to buy that item, even if you have listed it for a higher price than competing businesses. Also, when shoppers arrive at your store, they will probably check out items that are not rebated. Overall, it can be a good idea to test this sales promotion and see how consumers respond to your offer.

free plus shipping sales promotion techniques

9. Leverage a Combination of Sales Promotion Techniques

Giving your customer a product discount doesn’t need to be exclusively a cash reward. You can offer free shipping, a buy one get one (BOGO) free deal, a percentage discount such as 30% off, or a price discount such as $10 off. You need to determine which works best for your audience. Or you can also do a combination of them, such as free shipping, percentage discount, and the occasional BOGO deal. However, a free product may be more enticing than a product discount because they gain something.

The length of your sale matters. If you always have a sale running on the same products, your urgency won’t be effective long-term. You can host a sales promotion on your website that still features different products. Or run a sale on a different collection each week. However, if you’re always running the same promotion on the same products, you may eventually lower its effectiveness. Aim for under a week. If it’s a long weekend, you can run a three-day sale.  If you want to create urgency, create a sale that lasts 24 hours.

Sales Promotion Tools

1. Free Gifts

Free Gifts by Secomapp allows you to create special offers on your store. For example, if you want to run a Buy One Get One (BOGO) promotion, you can use this app. You can also run promotions such as ‘buy (product) get 50% off (another product). Or buy a product and get a free gift. During the holiday season, you might offer a ‘free gift’ with the purchase such as a bracelet, a low-cost product. You can also run promotions such as ‘buy 3 get one free’ or ‘spend $150 and get a free gift.’ When it comes to running a sales promotion on your store, this is one worth considering.

sales promotion tools

2. Spin-a-Sale

Spin-a-Sale is an exit-intent discount spinner. Your visitors who fail to purchase as they exit will receive a pop-up that says spin to win a prize or discount to entice them into purchasing. It’s almost like a surprise sale for the customer browsing the site that day. They won’t be able to trigger the spinner every time, which helps create urgency when they do see it pop up.

spin a sale app shopify

3. ULTIMATE Countdown Timer

ULTIMATE Countdown Timer by Sellify helps create urgency on your product pages. If you’re running a sale on your store, a countdown timer can help drive more conversions by showing that the sale ends soon. Getting customers to buy at your sale price is easier when they see a countdown timer as it can make them experience a fear of missing out. 

sales promotion strategies countdown

4. Bold Discounts

Bold Discounts by Bold is one of the best sales promotion tools for Shopify websites. It allows you to run daily deals, add a countdown timer to create urgency, and schedule sales for special occasions, holidays, and more at $14.99 a month. The app also provides you with an option to place sale images, icons, or a content block on items when they are on sale (final sale, sale, etc.). Scheduling allows you to automatically activate sales at the right time to get the most out of your promotions. 

5. Student Discount Sites

Remember the student discount idea? UNiDAYS, Student Price Card, Student Advantage Card, and International Student Identity Card are a few of the most popular discount programs for students. Students purchase cards for a low price to get discounts from the most popular brands. If you’re looking to target a younger crowd, this may be a great way to find your target audience.

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Juicy sales promotions are hard to resist. However, you shouldn’t just throw rewards and discounts all over the place. Analyze your goals, brand, product value, and customer profile to come up with a winning strategy.  To key to success with promotions is to come up with offers that have a high perceived value while keeping your profits in check. If you start with a clear objective, a firm understanding of your margins, and a willingness to test, you can most effectively use a sales promotion (or two, or three) to increase revenues and boost customer loyalty.

What’s your favorite sales promotion strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.

next: Chapter 43

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