First, let’s talk about what promos are all about.
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What is a sales promotion?
A sales promotion is a marketing strategy that relies on discounting some or all products and introducing urgency to yield many sales quickly.
These can take many forms, which we’ll cover in more detail later.
What all types of promotions have in common is that they use human psychology to drive action in the short term.
The long-term benefit of sales is that merchants can continue to market to leads captured during the promotion, nurturing those customer relationships to build loyalty and grow brand awareness.
Promos also help drive brand awareness, helping you stick out in shoppers’ minds for all the urgency your sale stirred up in them.
#cta-paragraph-pb#Create additional urgency for your sales promos by including a countdown timer. Check out our roundup of the Top 10 Shopify Countdown Timer Apps to learn more.
What are the benefits of sales promotions?
Running a special offer has many advantages. If you’ve ever had a really great sale, you’ve experienced these benefits firsthand.
Some of the most significant benefits of sales promotions are:
Increased sales. The biggest and most obvious benefit is that you sell more. Even at a discount, a successful promo will net you a quick uptick in overall sales.
Brand awareness. Promotions make shoppers perk up and pay attention. By using great ecommerce advertising and letting word of mouth do its thing, you’ll have a ton of prospective customers become aware of your brand.
Lead capture. With all the new sales often comes their contact details. Building an enviable email list means that you can nurture those leads into becoming repeat customers with the right email marketing.
Clearing out inventory. Many big sales are built on the need to get rid of old stock, and they do it well. A simple discount for clearance or end-of-season items can have them flying out of the door, readying you to start fresh with new stock.
Gaining customer insights. By running various types of sales promotions, you can measure the reception and overall result to better understand what works best for your brand and your ideal customers. You can use A/B testing to find the perfect discount percentage, the right free gift, the best giveaway strategy, and more.
Customer loyalty. By utilizing referral and loyalty programs—themselves an effective promotional tool—you can reward your biggest fans with great deals, assuring that their brand love ripples outward in positive word-of-mouth marketing.
What are the disadvantages of sales promotions?
As with anything in life, there are disadvantages to running promotional campaigns.
Some potential drawbacks of promotional deals are:
Lowering your product’s value perception. Offering promotional pricing can have the double-edged effect of causing customers to associate your product with a lower price point.
Expectation of low prices. Running sales too often will keep shoppers from ever buying your product at full price, instilling an expectation of a forever sale.
Lower profit margins. Obviously, lowered prices mean lower margins. If sales are used strategically, you could end up shrinking your average profit margins.
The bump is short-lived. The promo period is a time of frenzied sales activity, but that goes away, and your sales will drop back down to normal levels. Again, you must have a strategy to use promotions to help you grow your business, not just get short-term increases.
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Types of sales promotions for ecommerce
Sales take many forms, and brands can take advantage of different types of promotions simultaneously.
The purpose of promos isn’t only to boost sales but also to increase brand awareness and engagement. Here are some sales promotion ideas that are popular in ecommerce.
The most widely used type of promo is the sitewide sale.
For merchants, these are simple to operate, and it allows any customer to take advantage of the discount, increasing the chances that they buy.
These are usually promoted on the homepage or on a banner across the site.
Newsletter subscription special offer
An ongoing sale tactic that many brands use to build up their email list is to offer an initial discount for anyone who subscribes to their newsletter.
The value of those emails can be immense, depending on your brand’s email marketing strategy. You can stay on the top of subscribers’ minds, offering special discounts and gift guides to drive future purchases.
What you offer for newsletter sign-ups is totally up to you. It can be a percentage off their first order, a dollar discount, or a free gift.
The flash sale
Creating a sense of urgency in your shoppers is the whole point of flash sales.
“One Day Only! All watches are 25% off!”
Shoppers in the consideration phase can be pushed over the line to buy with this special limited-time offer, which can be a couple of hours or a few days (totally up to you).
With the right paid ads and social media strategy, you can pull in a lot of sales quickly while adding a lot of new customers to your email list.
Buy one, get one free (BOGO)
Using the word ‘free’ in your promotion is a surefire way of getting people to pay attention.
With BOGO offers, people like the math—two products for the price of one. What a deal! And, for merchants, it means they can sell off a particular product fast.
A variation is ‘Buy two, get one free,’ which is still a great deal for customers.
Free gift with purchase
Offering something extra for free may be just the thing that drives someone to hit that buy button.
This sales promotion technique is related to product bundling, but with a twist—while it technically is a discounted product bundle, the extra item is positioned as a free bonus.
Adding in the free angle makes it more attractive than if it were just a product bundle.
A great way to clear out old inventory is by running a clearance sale.
This can be something you do during certain times of the year, like with end-of-season sales, or it can be a regular collection page on your store where old products go to be liquidated.
For limited-time clearance sales, you should advertise widely and use email marketing to let as many people as possible know about your big promotion.
Conditional free shipping
For brands that don’t regularly offer free shipping, this offer can become quite attractive.
Shoppers are averse to paying for shipping, even if the cost is minimal. Offering free shipping for a minimum order value during a limited time can get shoppers to buy more than they otherwise would.
This can also be an always-on offering, helping your brand increase average order value by unlocking free shipping for orders that exceed your minimum order size.
Referral and loyalty programs
Existing customers can be a huge promotional asset to a brand.
New customers can be added via autopilot by offering your customers incentives for bringing on their friends and family.
These referral programs both deepen the relationship with your existing customers and help drive adoption by new customers. Then, those new customers can start referring other customers, and you’ve got a powerful feedback loop.
Product bundle deals
Some brands don’t like to run promos all the time but can still offer discounts to their customers via product bundling.
The allure of product bundles is that they are cheaper than if you purchased all included items separately. They get more for less.
For merchants, this keeps AOV high and doesn’t dilute perceived product value from constant promotions. Plus, they can clear out less popular items by including them in large bundles.
Sometimes all it takes is just the chance of getting free stuff that will spur people to help promote your brand and hand over their contact information.
These are usually promoted on social media, sometimes with a complementary brand, and task entrants with following social media accounts, liking posts, tagging friends, giving email addresses, creating unique brand-centric UGC posts, etc.
The more someone does, the better chance they have of winning.
The big win with these promotions is brand awareness and social engagement.
Not all shoppers are looking for a deal for themselves but would rather their purchase give back to a particular cause.
Cause-based marketing is an excellent way for brands to do good while driving sales.
Hippy Feet keeps their cause front and center on their homepage, which drives charitable customers to create an affinity with the brand and their cause.
Before your brand even goes live, you can start promoting your products.
By creating a Coming Soon page with a special offer for subscribing, you can start building an email list before you even sell while measuring interest in your products.
Existing brands can also do this ahead of a new product launch, capturing emails of interested shoppers in exchange for the promise of a deal on said product.
Anyone who’s used a coupon code site knows that many brands use this promo strategy.
Coupon codes are great for merchants because they can create them for whatever type of sale they want to run, giving shoppers a unique way of getting the deal.
Brands can email coupon codes to particular customer segments, blast them widely on social media and ads, or display them on the website.
They can be used for seasonal sales, first-time customers, BOGO, particular products, flash sales, and more.
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7 sales promotion examples you should start using
As you can see, there are tons of ways to run a promotion. But, how does it look in action?
We’ve all seen our fair share of sales online. You could surf the web right now and find five sales in as many minutes.
Let’s look at some product promotion examples from some brands we know rather well.
TULA Skincare incentivizes referrals for all parties
When you’ve built an enviable and loyal customer base, you unlock a powerful marketing strategy—referrals.
A referral program leverages your customer’s sincere love of your brand to recruit new customers.
TULA sweetens the referral pot by giving discounts both to the referrer and the referred. If you refer a friend, you get $20 off your next purchase, and they get 20% off.
Their referral page is clear—get $20, give 20%. Plus, referrers get the same deal for as many people as they can successfully refer to TULA.
Once your friend takes you up on your offer, they send your $20 deal to your inbox. Easy!
Barebones Living pairs holiday discount codes with gift guides
Holidays are an excellent opportunity to run sales. People are scrambling to find the perfect gift, and you can entice them with a great deal.
Adding smart content marketing to this is a recipe for success.
In the case of Barebones Living, they created a gift guide to go with their Mother’s Day sitewide sale.
The guide showcases popular gifts with product variants and add to cart buttons for easy shopping.
Making the job of getting a gift super simple is a great way to convince them to buy.
Copper Cow drives adoption with free offerings to new customers
To encourage people to adopt an unfamiliar product into their lives, providing a clear incentive to try it out is essential.
Many of us can be skeptical of something while still very willing to try it for free or cheap.
Copper Cow understands this and uses a couple of promotional tactics to drive new customers into the fold, both benefiting from the appeal of free stuff.
In the first ad here, new customers can get 25% off their first month of subscription with two free lattes thrown in. The second ad does a twist on BOGO with a buy two, get a third free offer, targeting one-time purchase customers.
As always, their copy and graphics are on-point, with a clear value proposition displayed over colorful visuals.
Nomad Goods creates holiday sale collection pages
Keeping sales simple is a great way to go, and you can do this without offering a sitewide sale.
Nomad has created a special Mother’s Day collection and a unique coupon code to offer a sale on a limited number of products over a certain period.
Nomad can then use email, social media, and ads to drive traffic to their Mother’s Day collection page for easily shopping their sale.
Jot offers a welcome gift to new customers
Getting new customers through the door can be tricky, especially if your product is unlike anything else.
Such is the case with Jot’s super concentrated coffee, a product at once super unfamiliar and part of many people’s daily morning routines. Given its form, they understand some initial skepticism.
That’s why they offer a free gift with your first purchase, using clever Facebook ads to tell their target audience about the offer and some of the product’s unique selling points.
The ads point to a landing page flow that drives visitors straight through the funnel, step by step.
First, you get to choose your free gift (influenced by the crossed-out prices), then move on to select your coffee, then finally to confirm for checkout.
Like any high-converting landing page, Jot doesn’t give visitors anywhere to go but forward—no navigation menu, no other CTAs, just directing you toward purchase.
Le Col increases cart sizes with product bundles and a free gift
Product bundling is a great way for brands to offer a discount to customers without diminishing their average order value (AOV).
Cyclists sweat a lot (this I can personally attest to), and having an excellent jersey kit to keep them comfy despite that is essential.
Le Col offers shoppers a special deal (20% off) on select jersey kit bundles, plus they’ll throw in a free baselayer. Not bad!
They use special landing pages to highlight this deal—one for men, one for women—and make it super clear the value you receive with the non-sale price grayed out and struck through and the bundle price in red.
Leverage sales promos to power your conversion machine
Not all sales are created equal, and each brand will find success in different promotional strategies.
No matter what sales promos you use, make sure never to overdo it and always use them to help grow your business long-term.
While they certainly have short-term benefits, you must always focus on how they’ll benefit the day-to-day.
As we’ve covered, sales promotions take many different forms, and the most successful brands use various types to propel their businesses forward and grow their customer base.
How will you use sales promos to boost your revenue and scale your store?
#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Upgrade your sales events with landing pages<cta-title>Create and customize sales promotion landing pages that drive people toward purchase faster—all with a drag and drop page builder.Start designing now
Sean is one of Shogun's tireless content marketers. When he isn't creating exciting ecommerce content, he's probably biking or at the park.