Customers’ behaviors may change over time. But there is one thing they possibly never change, that is, loving coupons. In fact, a recent report showed that this year, there will be 1.05B digital coupon users.
Let’s say you plan to buy a new laptop. Do you go to any store and buy it immediately? Or, do you spend hours (even days) tracking prices and searching for a good deal? Most of the time the answer is the latter.
People are always crazy about coupons, discounts, and deals because these things save them money. When they save money, they’re less stressed, happier, more relaxed, and so they’ll possibly buy more from you.
This is SOOO good.
But the biggest question in using coupons is not “why”.
It’s not even “what”.
A lot of big brands like Sephora, Modcloth, Zara are using coupons, discounts, and deals to 10X their sales. This, conversely, isn’t common for newly opened stores, those who don’t know where to start and where to focus their time.
That’s what this post is for: to give new eCommerce businesses 23 best ideas to make use of sales promotions. These tips are easy to implement without much time and effort.
- Flash sale offers
- Holiday or seasonal sales offers
- Weekly/monthly discounts
- Abandoned cart offers
- Newsletter subscription offers
- Incentives for liking, following, and sharing
- Referral promos
- First-time shopper offers
- Product bundling offers
- Exclusive social offers
- Exit intent offers
- Retargeting promotions
- Influencer offers
- Offers for purchasing online
- Customer milestone discounts
- Contest giveaways
- Bulk offers
- Pre-launch offers
- Customer loyalty offers
- Free shipping offers
- Free return offers
- Consultant service offers
- Review offers
Oh, don’t forget some bonus tips at the end of this post.
Let’s dive in.
1. Flash sale offers
You may have heard the name flash sale somewhere else, in some forms like a daily deal, today’s deal, or deal-of-the-day. For example:
“1 DAY ONLY: 70% OFF”
“DOORBUSTERS! 8 hours only!”
“Flash Sale: Today ONLY!”
“Hurry up! You have only 4 hours!”
When an eCommerce store runs a flash sale, they give their customers a discount or coupon code to buy products. The quantity is limited, and the discounts are often higher than normal promotions. Also, sales last over a short period of time, typically anywhere between just a few hours to 24 hours.
The goal of a flash sale is to attract shoppers to make impulse purchases and check out other non-sale products shown on the site; at the same time, increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. With these in mind, running a flash sale is a smart tactic to stop the post-holiday sales slump.
When you run a flash sale, you take advantage of urgency and scarcity to persuade shoppers to take action immediately. If someone notices that the sale will be over in a matter of hours, they’ll probably buy a product they’re interested in.
To make sure your flash sale succeeds, consider using these types of deals:
#1. Percentage discount on all products
This flash sale can give your post-holiday revenue a very good boost. Shoppers can buy anything in your store with a good discount.
#2. Percentage discount on certain products or collections
You can also flash sell popular products, new arrivals or just any collection you want, like this:
#3. XX dollars off
This is an alternative to “percent-off” deals, which involves discounting items by a flat dollar amount. For example, $20 off or $15 off.
You can offer the same “XX dollars off” for any item or apply different discounts for different products.
#4. Strikethrough pricing
Let’s say you are seeing some products with prices like these:
- $200 $59
- $150 $39
- $210 $70
What’s going through your mind right now? The chances are you want to get all of them. Pretty cheap!
Here you offer different numbers off for different products. But instead of just showing after-discount prices, you use the strikethrough pricing strategy to show the lower prices compared with the original ones. This creates a visualization of comparison in your shoppers’ minds and urges them to take action instantly.
Ruelala is a typical example of using this technique.
An interesting way to get your flash sales noticed is to create a flash sale page on your site. A flash sale page is a page on your site that shows all discounted products along with a countdown timer (if necessary).
Here is a good example from Soufeel:
By creating a separate page for flash sale, you can show off the sale in a way which triggers urgency and scarcity most. Your customers will feel like they have to act right away to avoid the feeling of FOMO. Also, a single flash sale page helps visitors save time looking for products on promotion.
2. Holiday or seasonal sales offers
Every year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two huge seasonal promotional opportunities. They lead up to the slew of holiday shopping sales in December.
Some stores may have already started preparing sales promotion plans for these holidays. Of course, you also don’t want to miss out.
The best practice is to create a special holiday deal that’s too good for your market to pass up. This way, you can give your potential customers the best deal that they’re trying to find.
For example, you can create an offer with new products that are exclusively available on holiday sales. Then, add a countdown timer to urge people to buy immediately.
Gymshark is a master of doing this.
3. Weekly/monthly discounts
Every time you need a sales boost, think about weekly or monthly discounts. This tactic is useful especially on slow days when you’re in a sales slump.
For example, if you have a few sales during the weekends, give customers discounts on those days, as AccorHotels did.
Or, if most of your target customers get their salaries on the last day of the month, use it to your advantage.
Note that when running weekly/monthly deals, you should A/B test to choose the best time to show offers. It’s great if you can give your customers a little push at the right time they need.
4. Abandoned cart offers
How much extra revenue would you make if you reduced your store’s shopping cart abandonment rate by 20%? Have you ever thought about that?
If you haven’t, it’s time to think.
One of the quickest ways to get customers today is sending abandoned cart emails. You can use MailBot to create these emails and add offer types you want to give away. In doing so, try to write compelling copy to increase the likelihood that your customers will press that buy button.
Perfume does a good job at this with the subject line “Light blue perfume, euphoria perfume 20% today only”. A 20% discount is sweet, right?
5. Newsletter subscription offers
Various online stores are implementing this idea to grow their email list. Admittedly, it works so well.
Take a look at Scream Pretty’s optin form:
The brand offers a 10% discount for customers who sign up for their newsletter. To leverage the email popup, they use the first person (‘my’) in the call to action button (CTA), which makes customers feel as if they already possess the freebie.
6. Incentives for liking, following, and sharing
There are several reasons why we like, follow, share, comment, or keep coming back to a brand. One of the popular motivations is because we know we’ll get something in return.
Hence, for an eCommerce store, enabling people to share your brand is only half the battle. You’ve got to give them a reason to socialize. In this case, a coupon as shown below is a good move.
To give customers a coupon when they like or share your social media account, you can use Better Coupon Box.
7. Referral promos
The biggest advantage of referral discounts or coupons are customer loyalty and repeat purchases. They’re most valuable when you know a customer will buy from you again and again.
Referral discounts or coupons are perfect for friend offers. Simply put, you give discounts to both referring customers and referred friends. See how Benefit Cosmetics did:
You can offer percentage-off coupons (e.g. 10% off your next order) or fixed amount-off coupons (e.g. $50 off your next purchase) as referral rewards. In case your store works a subscription model, think about offering a free month.
8. First-time shopper offers
Recall that when you create an optin form, you often include a discount, coupon code, or a free gift in exchange for getting visitors’ emails. This is a good way to turn first-time visitors into real customers.
But there is another way to give first-time shoppers offers. Take a look at Very’s first order discount program as a good example. When you go to the brand store and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see this banner:
Click the banner, and you’ll be directed to the page below, which shows up all the information about the program:
This tactic is different from offering a discount when entering an email. Here, all first-time customers are given the same coupon code. They can enter it in the checkout page to get the discount, that’s it.
Another example of giving first-time offers is Zomato food delivery.
Zomato gives an overwhelmingly valuable offer (50% off) to all customers on their first 5 orders without any min order value.
9. Product bundling offers
Product bundling is a super-effective way to increase your average order value. By grouping relevant products and selling them at a discounted price, you give your customers a much better deal and motivate them to make a purchase.
10. Exclusive social offers
If you want to build customer loyalty with those who follow you, give them discounts or freebies. This also provides a reason for new people to like, follow or subscribe to your channels.
Maple Holistics gave their fans a convincing reason to give away a coupon code: celebrating Valentine’s Day. You can use the same tactic to promote your store and boost sales in the following holidays. Or, just offer a discount to celebrate your milestones with your followers.
11. Exit intent offers
Exit intent offers have the power to turn a negative thing (leaving your store) into a positive thing (buying, subscribing, etc). You can use any bait like coupons, discounts, gifts to convince people to stay longer on your site and finally, buy an item.
The exit popup below is a perfect example. A 65% discount is a very strong giveaway that entices even the stingiest of shoppers.
To create an exit intent popup like this for your store, there are 5 key conversion elements you need:
- A sweet offer to get people to take action without delay.
- Countdown timer to show scarcity.
- Description to write some mouth-watering explanation text on why the thing you’re offering is worth their email.
- A strong CTA which shows exactly what customers will get if they click the button.
- Exit-intent technology. You can use Checkout Boost to create compelling exit-intent offers.
We’ve seen a lot of excellent exit-intent popups in this guide. It’s worth reading.
12. Retargeting promotions
A retargeting ad helps you target the right promotion. It is effective because it’s shown only to shoppers who have been in your store before. That means that they already know who you are.
To increase your ad performance, consider adding an offer as IKEA did above. Then, the ad serves as a reminder to come back, and the offer serves as a nudge to purchase.
13. Influencer offers
You can offer a discount code through influencers, that is:
- Find the right influencers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Ask them to feature your products in their blogs or videos.
- Give your influencers a discount code they can share with their followers.
This strategy is commonly used by cosmetics, and fashion brands like Pura Vida:
This is a win-win scenario for both you and your influencers. At the same time, you can make them feel like they are providing value to their followers instead of just posting an ad. Read this guide to learn how to do eCommerce influencer marketing from scratch.
14. Offers for purchasing online
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, and you also sell online, you can incentive online purchases. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Staples are the masters of this “buy online, pick up in store” model.
Following these retail giants, Petsmart also gave a 5% discount for online orders:
When applying this tactic, make sure you deliver the best experience for your customers.
15. Customer milestone discounts
You may know this: keeping a customer is much cheaper than acquiring a new one. That’s why you should bear customer milestones in mind.
These milestones can be personal to a customer, like their birthday or wedding anniversary. They can also be the anniversary of their first purchase or the date they become your loyal customer or the date they made a certain number of purchases from you.
Big Lots has a great community called BIG Rewards where customers can join and earn exclusive rewards for their purchases. When they reach a milestone, they can get an extra discount and free amazing gifts.
Another thing Big Lots did well is they show all milestones and rewards on the site, which gives customers an extra nudge towards joining.
16. Contest giveaways
Online contests can help generate massive word of mouth referrals and spark tons of interest. When it comes to boosting sales, they can help, too.
With a photo contest, you can invite your followers to submit their photo manually or through using your brand hashtag.
You can encourage your customers to post pictures of the holiday gifts they received, their meaningful moments of the year, the best/worst food they ever tried, or anything which fits your purpose. At the same time, offer those who enter the contest a discount, a promotion code, or a free gift.
Besides, you can run a giveaway to introduce your new products/collections to your followers. The rules can be following your account, hitting the like and share button, and tagging at least one friend. See how the Instagram account @attitude_living did:
To get the best result, it’s useful to add urgency to your contest. You can limit the length of your contest or the number of gifts. Therefore, your followers will feel more encouraged to take action immediately, for example:
17. Bulk offers
Slow days are the best days to propose special offers. Apart from discounts and coupon codes, you can think about the following clever marketing tricks:
#1 Buy one get one
Known as the BOGO marketing tactic, a “buy one, get one free” deal is now used by many online retailers. By applying this technique, you can make your shoppers feel that they’ll get more for what they’re paying, which gets them to buy more from you.
Source: Sally Beauty
In fact, BOGO deals are a type of bundle pricing which allows generating a higher perceived value for a lower cost that customers can’t ignore. By bundling products, you can create different deals like “buy one get two” or “buy two get three”.
Source: JumpinGoat Coffee Roasters
Another way to apply BOGO into your marketing strategy is “buy one get the 2nd item % off”.
Source: Barnes & Noble
If you want to clear out your stock, offering a BOGO deal can be a good option.
#2 Buy more save more
To increase the average order value, you need a tactic to push your customers to spend more. You have to show them what they’ll get if they make more purchases on your store.
From this perspective, “buy more save more” is apparently practical. Following it, you can nudge shoppers to shell out a little more to get extra savings. Also, help them take away the guilt of spending more money. It seems to be kind of a win-win.
You can work with tools like Boost Sales to create product bundles and recommendations. Then, apply this tactic to upsell and cross-sell products. Note that you don’t have to offer a huge discount, but ensure it’s attractive enough to convert shoppers.
18. Pre-launch offers
Everyone loves freebies. So, if you can afford to give away something for free, let’s do it. This is really a great promotion to introduce your new products to shoppers and encourage repeat purchases.
You can offer any free gift, from discounts, product samples to branded gifts (e.g. keychains, bumper stickers, pens, etc.) that you’ve created. Customers will appreciate your gesture and may think of you whenever they see your gift.
19. Customer loyalty offers
You can incentivize customers to buy from you over and over again by creating a customer loyalty program.
With the right approach, you’re able to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers and keep your brand top of mind. Here are some ways you can try yourself out:
#1 The point program
It isn’t difficult as you might think. In fact, it follows a very simple principle: the amount you spend is in exchange for the specific number of points you get. To earn more points, you should invest more money.
Every time a customer buys something on your site, he/she gets a certain amount of points. The earned points depend on how much he/she spent.
Take a look at how The North Face runs their “VIPeak” rewards program.
Two things to remember when running a point program:
- Keep your points system as simple as possible. This way, your customers can determine the value of their points on their own.
- Make sure you implement it both online and offline if you also have a brick-and-mortar store.
#2 The tier program
Unlike a point program, a tier program is based on levels of loyalty. In other words, the more loyal your customers are to your brand (or, the more they buy from you), the greater the rewards they’ll get.
The most noticeable thing of this program is you apply some aspects of gamification where members reach higher levels the more they “play”.
Here’s a typical example from e.l.f:
The brand holds the Beauty Squad loyalty club with three levels, namely Glow Getter, Rising Star, and A-Lister. The more points a member has, the more exclusive the rewards he/she can get. The highest level includes exclusive rewards which get customers to buy more.
#3 The community program
Besides a point system and a tiered program, you can build a community program to keep loyal customers. The idea is giving members exclusive access to a community of like-minded people. Joining this community, members can connect with each other, get inspired, sign up for special events, and more.
Look at Sephora to see how a community program works.
By creating a platform like this, Sephora has access to several customer insights which they can use for product development and conversion optimization.
The key to run any loyalty program successfully is understanding your customers and improving how you give value to them. If your value proposition matches with your business, you’ll generate more sales and boost your brand loyalty.
20. Free shipping offers
Free shipping is a widely-used service, which can run in many ways. You can provide this service whenever your customers buy a product and on all orders like Mac Cosmetics does.
In case you wish to save your margins while offering free shipping, you can raise your threshold. Simply put, your customers have to spend more to get free shipping.
For example, Peace Collective offers free shipping on orders over £70.
Or, you can offer free shipping only for customers who live in a specific area where you know the shipping cost is low or it’s more convenient for you to deliver.
21. Free return offers
Here is a truth that any eCommerce store should keep in mind:
“Customers prefer to have a choice of ways to return items – drop-off, pick-up or send-in” – Royal Mail
According to a study, 62% of customers felt annoyed and frustrated when asked to pay for product returns. That’s why if you offer a free return, you actually give your customers smoother shopping experience and engage them in an effective way.
Moreover, free returns are also a statement of confidence in your business. You’re so sure about the quality of your products that you’re happy to offer returns for free. This really makes sense, especially in the fashion industry where uncertainty inconsistency of sizing and quality may have been a roadblock.
After all, it’s all about customer retention. By minimizing friction and hassle during the return process, you’re far more likely to create a strong impression with your customers and get more repeat purchases.
22. Consultant service offers
Apart from the two above services, you can offer a free call for skin care consultation, a free 15-minute shopping consultation, or free customer support. Just give out any service which benefits your customers.
When offering added services, you should consider setting the timing for them. Do you want to run them in a specific period of time, like every Monday in April? Or, those services are available to any customers at any time they visit your store?
Last but not least, be sure to display your services on your site and other platforms. Also, send both email and text messages to your customers and subscribers.
Source: Thrifty Concierge
If your customers have a good time when using your service, the chances are they’ll think about buying your products gain as well.
23. Review offers
Often times when someone asks you to write a review, you may say “I am very busy”. So, if you want your customers to do that for you, remember to give them a reason. Your time is valuable, and so are theirs.
The ‘reason’ can be simple: a discount or a gift card. This way, you have your customers’ review and, at the same time, you encourage them to come back to your store and make an order with that discount. Awesome, right? Jolilly is doing this.
The grass is greener on the other side, that’s why people most of the time want what they can’t have. When planning a sales promotion strategy, you can turn this to your advantage by adding urgency and scarcity.
How does it translate into more sales and revenue? Here are some ways you can try:
#1 Purchase countdowns
All you need to do is put a countdown timer on the product page or a page of a specific product. When customers know how much time they have left to make a decision, it creates urgency.
Source: Love and Hippies
#2 Order-before-xx-today tactic
Today shoppers aren’t only demanding – they’re also becoming more impatient. Thus, things like “next-day-delivery” become “hot”.
The idea is letting shoppers know how much time is left before they’ll miss out on next-day shipping to increase the urgency to purchase now.
#3 Few-items-left tactic
When shoppers see that the item they want is near selling out, it’s just one more reason to buy it immediately.
When our choices are limited or threatened, our need to keep that freedom makes us want the item even more than before.
#4 Spotlight customer behaviors
It’s social proof, which indicates popularity and often demands.
Normally, people are looking for guidance when making a decision. They want to shop safely and buy a high-quality product they want from a trusted brand.
Source: Love and Hippies
That’s why you should leverage social proof to showcase your most popular products and create a sense of increased demand. Your customers are more uplifted to make a purchase before it’s snatched up by someone else.
Are you ready to take action?
Now you’ve learned 23 best ideas to use coupons, discounts, and deals to attract customers. Pretty easy, right?
So, let us ask you a question:
If you followed what we showed you in each idea to get more sales and enhance the buying experience, do you think you could be more successful?
We know you can!
These ideas work for all eCommerce sites and online businesses, even newly launched stores. Get started trying them right now and tell us what you’ll get.