The Essential Ecommerce Promotion Guide: 80 Tactics that Drive Online Sales

By The Good
33 minute read | Last Updated: July 13, 2016

Running out of ecommerce promotion ideas?

You’ve just discovered what could be the perfect solution.

You see, there are two things online shoppers especially love: discounts and specials. Present the right offer to the right audience, and you can create a selling frenzy.

In this guide, we’re going to give you a ton of ideas for getting more sales. We’ll also talk about how discounts, used rightly, can boost your bottom line instead of putting a dent in it.

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80 Ecommerce Promotion Tactics You Can Use to Get More Sales

Are discounts really worth it, or do they increase sales while lowering profits?

Smart marketers know the importance of computing the lifetime value of a customer, rather than focusing on the one-time cost/benefit ratio of a single transaction. It’s even possible to build a business by giving something away.

Here’s a classic example: In 1888, Coca-Cola began issuing paper coupons that entitled the bearer to one free glass of “Genuine Coca-Cola.” Over the next 25 years, 8.5 million consumers took Coke up on that offer, and the legend we know today was born.

The principle that you can build a business by giving something away has never been truer than in the Internet Age. Online shoppers are educated, discount-conscious, and extremely capable of comparing product offers across ecommerce and local stores.

Online shoppers expect discounts, and recent research shows the number of consumers who search for discount codes before making a purchase is rapidly on the rise. At The Good, we advise our clients to leverage that trend instead of cursing it.

Used wisely, discounts can help boost both total sales and ROI

Some say that offering discounts tells the customer your normal prices are too high. They maintain that presenting frequent discount opportunities will hurt the bottom line and lead buyers to expect more for less.

Retail giant JCPenney listened to that advice and tried backing off from their strategy of offering regular promotional discounts. Consequently, their sales dropped sharply.

JCPenney’s experience added credence to the point that consumers love bargain prices – even when the suggested retail price (MSRP), which the discount is based on, is an amount few customers ever pay.

Browse to the JCPenney website on any given day, and it’s fairly certain you’ll see a discount banner like the one below.

ecommerce-promotions-discounts

Buyers want to feel like the price they paid was fair. Nobody relishes being taken advantage of. If getting a fair price feels good, though, getting a great price feels a whole lot better – especially when the buyer walks away feeling like a winner in the transaction.

Giving your customers what they want is the surest path to success in sales. Here’s one caveat to providing discounts, though: always give the consumer a reason for the special price. Otherwise, they’ll assume it’s because you’re charging too much in the first place.

Here are 80 ways to offer discounts to your customers – that’s 80 ways to get more business. See which fit best for your business and test them. Chances are high you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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80 Ecommerce Promotion Ideas You Can Use to Get More Sales – The Big List

1. Seasonal discounts: Summer is coming, and it’s time to celebrate! Why not invite your customers to the party? Seasons give you four reasons each year to offer special prices on seasonal goods.

2. End-of-season discounts: Hold it, though. Seasons have an ending as well as a beginning. That gives you four more reasons to offer special prices. When do end-of-summer discounts become fall discounts? Why not run them concurrently? After all, some goods and services are summer-related and others are perfect for autumn. Customers can stock up on goods for next summer while the prices are low, and get fall merchandise while the specials are running.

3. Pro deals: Let’s say that some of your best customers are teachers, and they need certain supplies often. Why not entice them with a pro deal? One sure way to get on the good side of others is to make them feel special – to let them know you appreciate them and their business. Pro deals do that in a big way. Who are your professionals? Cater to them.

4. Sponsorships: Now that you’ve identified the teachers (for example) in your customer base, why not find out which associations they belong to and which conferences they attend? By taking your discount pricing beyond individuals and offering special pricing to a much larger audience, you can get your products and your offers in front of more people and get more sales.

5. Incentives for reviews: This one is a double winner. Online shoppers not only look for discounts, they love to see reviews from their peers. What others say about you is more likely to be believed than what you say about yourself. By offering a special discount to those who are willing to review your store, you get the best of both worlds: increased sales and additional social proof that you do what you say. Of course, you can’t offer discounts only to those who leave favorable reviews. Here’s how to handle good and bad reviews.

6. First purchase anniversary: Let your customers know you appreciate them by celebrating each year on the day they placed their first order with you. It’s a great reason to offer a special discount on their next purchase, and it makes you a little more special to them. Keep going with milestone anniversaries: 5 years, 10 years, 25 years. Celebrate your fans, and they’ll bring others to the fold. Note how Betabrand (see below) woos their fans with a limited-time 20% discount offer. You can easily do the same.

ecommerce-promotions-first-anniversary

7. Other types of anniversaries: There are wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and other occasions to celebrate. Depending on your ecommerce offerings, you may even want to know the family dog’s birthday. Hey, a party is a party, and parties are always a reason to buy something special.

8. Co-marketing discounts: You don’t carry everything everyone needs to buy. So why not strike up a relationship with other sellers for mutually beneficial promotions? Their customers get a special discount for becoming your customers too (and vice-versa). It’s a win-win proposition that can draw more traffic to your website and help grow your bottom line. It also forges relationships that can lead to even more goodwill and promotional opportunities.

9. Discount vouchers and codes: Gary Gray, president of Coupon Chief, says he’s seen interest in digital coupons boom over the past few years. Since most American adults now carry a smartphone, clipping paper coupons is quickly giving way to their online counterparts. You simply browse to the site, search for the coupon you want to use, copy and paste the code, and use it for a discount on a purchase you’re about to make. Finding a coupon can make or break a sale. Shoppers with coupons buy more and they buy more often.

“Coupons offer a way for ecommerce stores to increase their average order value. Coupons that require a certain price threshold for activation encourage customers to add more items to the order.” – Gary Gray, Coupon Chief

ecommerce-promotions-coupons

10. Email list sign-up discount: Online marketers often proclaim that “The money is in the list.” While your ecommerce website may not depend primarily on email marketing for business, there’s little statistical doubt about the benefits of building and utilizing a healthy database of customers and prospective customers. Your email list is a valuable tool, so why not reward those who subscribe? You get to grow your list, the prospect gets a discount, and you’re then likely to get an order. Life is good when both parties gain from the interaction.

11. Point-based rewards discount: The more you buy, the closer you get to a reward. Does it work? Starbucks thinks so. The world’s largest coffeehouse bumped their Starbucks Rewards program up to a “More stars than ever” system. Customers get rewarded for each dollar spent, and there are special ways (join the email list, for example) to get bonus stars. Not only that, but Starbucks teams up with other sellers for partner programs. Can you set up a Starbucks-type reward system for your ecommerce business? You bet you can.

12. Upgrade discount: What do you do when your current model is no longer current? At Verizon, you just “Trade in to trade up” (see below). It’s an excellent way for them to recycle phones and the practice gives customers just a little more reason to opt for a new smartphone. The trade-in value doesn’t have to be high, it just needs to be substantial enough to add value. What upgrade possibilities do your products or services offer? Get creative. We’ve even seen clothing stores offer trade-ins on evening gowns – then donate the used items as formalwear for those attending special needs events. The customer gets a discount. The store gets the sale, the goodwill, and a tax credit for their donation!

ecommerce-promotions-upgrade

13. Bundling discounts: Anyone buying a new printer is sure to need ink soon. Why not include an accessories discount? Another option is to combine go-together items. Pants come with a discount on belts, or snowshoes are matched up with a discount on gloves. Think a bit, and you’ll see possibilities popping out everywhere.

14. Membership discount: Join the club and get special pricing. Sam’s Club and Costco work this angle to the bone. Maybe you don’t want to lock your entire store down under a members-only agreement, but could you start a fishing club or an expectant mothers club? Here again, give it some thought and you may see opportunity to help your customers feel special and save money – the two things they want to do on a regular basis.

15. Frequent shopper discount: Cultivating fans and ambassadors is good for branding and good for sales. Whereas the point-based rewards program is based on the amount of purchase, the frequent shopper discount adds time to the equation. The more frequently your customers buy from you, the higher their rewards. Of course, you’ll need their email addresses or cell phone numbers to make this work, so you’re building your list at the same time. When you remind customers their 25% discount is going to expire in a week, they’re likely to look hard for a way to use it before it goes away.

16. Credit card discount: When you offer a store credit card (usually with a significant discount on sign-up), you get the customer’s contact information and an excellent opportunity to build loyalty to your brand. You can leverage your cardholder mailing list to present special opportunities for additional savings, added services from you and your partners, and invitations to special events. Those who carry your credit card feel more a part of your ecommerce family. Both Amazon and Nordstrom work this angle heavily with great success.

ecommerce-promotions-credit-card

17. Buy more, save more: Bulk discounts are attractive to consumers and tend to increase the total order amount per transaction. Get creative with the presentation and test results. Would a “4 for the price of 3” offer generate more sales than “25% off when you buy 4” sale? One word of caution: Be careful with “get one free” language; it can make your legal staff shiver. If a consumer must purchase something to get something, then it’s not “free.” We often find they appreciate “gift with purchase” language better.

18. Social follow for discount: Here’s a way to increase your social klout, open up a further avenue of contact for your clients, and boost sales all in one swoop. The technical end can get a little tricky, depending on the platforms and tools you employ, but this is a case where your “ask” (follow us on social media) is usually well worth the reward (a money-saving discount). Here again, you can get creative and test different approaches.

19. Social post for discount: The larger the reward, the higher you can raise the bar on your ask. Maybe you want respondents to follow you, share something about you on their social media account, and leave a comment. Which actions would most fit your marketing and social media strategy? Below is an example of how the Shopify “Share for Discounts” app works for ecommerce sites.

ecommerce-promotions-share-for-discounts

20: Refer-a-friend discount: Here’s a way to quickly grow both your mailing list and your sales. In exchange for introducing you to someone else who could benefit from your products or services, respondents get a discount. Variations might include targeting a specific item for the discount (Share your love of fishing and get 20% off the purchase of any Eagle Claw fishing rod within the next 30 days) or awarding a discount good for any item in your store. Did we say “test” yet? Each special you run can tell you more about your audience and their preferences, but only if you remember to test and test again.

21: Affiliate discounts: These can range from an Amazon-style commission on orders generated by links from Amazon Associates, to tallying up the number of new customers referred by champions of your brand and providing rewards based on the number of referrals. Affiliate programs can help lower advertising costs and enable you to reach a wider audience.

ecommerce-promotions-affiliate-program

22. Auto-ship: There are two ways to go about auto-ship. One often comes across as sneaky and is certain to create resentment. The other is upfront and builds long-term loyalty. We suggest the latter. When the customer is totally aware the discount is based on agreeing to receive further shipments automatically, and when instructions for how to end the agreement (and whether there is any penalty for doing so) are easy to access, auto-ship arrangements can be a win-win proposition. Here’s how Amazon (see below) makes it plain that the 5% or 15% discounts are for those who (subscribe to) enter an auto-ship plan. Note also, the “buy more to get more” incentive.

ecommerce-promotions-auto-ship

23. Pre-order discount: Here’s a way to secure sales even before an item is ready to ship. Not only do pre-orders allow customers to be “first in line,” they build excitement and add value. If something is so highly desired that people have to place an early order to be sure and get it before it sells out, that product must be amazing… right? Like layaway programs that allow customers to fix the price now and pay later, pre-order discounts can help you get orders that might otherwise have been lost. Here’s a good maxim for increasing ecommerce sales: If the customer wants to buy now, let her do it. Now.

24. Back-order discount: The customer wants to order a product you don’t have in stock. Rather than lose the sale, why not offer a back-order discount? In exchange for the buyer’s willingness to wait (spell out how long that wait will be), you offer a price break. They pay now. You deliver when the item is back in stock. A small discount can save the sale.

25. First time shopper discount: You’ve computed the average lifetime value of a customer, right? Take that into consideration here. By offering an attractive discount on the first order (which includes getting on your mailing list), you’ve done more than make one sale; you’ve gained another customer. And the potential value of that customer to your business is way more than the value of the first order. Way more.

26. Influencer discount: There are celebrities in every niche – people whose advice others readily accept. Ecommerce sites can see significant bumps in sales when those niche-centered thought leaders recommend their products. Add a special discount in the mix and the results can be spectacular. The first step is to identify the influencers most germane to your niche. After that, it’s a matter of initiating contact and establishing a relationship. Once you’re able to illustrate how your products or services are valuable to the influencer’s audience, the next step is evident: let them know how to access your website.

27. Re-engagement offers: Life happens. Situations change. Your customer base is constantly in flux. You work hard to earn those customers, though, so don’t let them drop off the radar without doing what you can to get them re-engaged. You’ll need to determine the criteria that best fits your business, but it can be as simple as getting in touch with those who haven’t ordered in a set period of time, letting them know you haven’t forgotten about them, and offering a special discount for their next order. Goodwill is a good thing.

28. Behavior-based offers: Standard pop-up ads triggered by user actions (closing a page, for instance) are often seen as annoying. They’re about as likely to dissuade a visitor from coming back as they are to save a sale. Special offers based on machine-learned observations about the visitor, though, can appear more helpful, timelier, and less intrusive. Check Smart Exit Offers app in the Shopify app store for an example of how smart offers can work.

29. Subscription discounts: The customer agrees to a set number of purchases over a certain period of time in return for a discounted price. Consider how Amazon leverages subscription discounts on their Audible.com site. Does your inventory include consumable items or services the customer will want to purchase on a regular basis? A subscription discount can keep them coming back to you.

30. Multi-purchase agreements: Similar to the subscription discount, this commits you and the buyer to a set number of purchases at a discounted price. Unlike the subscription discount, the agreement will expire after those purchases are made and will need to be renewed after each cycle. The multi-purchase agreement works well for items that will be needed only for a limited time.

31. Time sensitive discount: You can incorporate the persuasive power of urgency by setting a time limit on the price. If the sale ends tonight at midnight, the customer must make a decision or lose the opportunity to save. Don’t over-do urgency, but don’t neglect it either. Just be sure to make it real. Don’t be the store that’s always “Going out of business next week.” Be the store that’s offering a truly special offer for a set period of time. After that, it goes away and may not ever be back again.

32. The daily discount: By running specials 24 hours at a time, you can switch up the offer and keep customers coming back to see what’s on sale next. This also gives you a perfect reason to make daily use of your email list. Truefire, ecommerce provider of online guitar lessons, combines daily specials, weekly specials, contests, and give-aways during their annual Rocktoberfest celebration.

ecommerce-promotions-daily-discount

33. The special period discount: The winter holiday season, beginning with Black Friday, is the perfect example of how enthusiasm can be generated during a special period. Don’t wait for November, though, you could do a regular end-of-the-month discount, or even a full moon discount, any month of the year. Choose something that makes sense for your niche and try it. Once your customers get used to the rhythm of your offers, they’ll look forward to the events and even tell their friends about them.

34. Spend more to get the discount: Buy more to pay less. This one requires a careful look at cost accounting, but it can encourage shoppers to add more items to the cart. If the current total order is $80, but you’ll take 5% off the total hits $100, then most people will at least consider going ahead and ordering something else they know they’ll need soon.

35. Military discount: Consider pushing this beyond active duty military to all who have served. Many businesses advertise discounts for veterans during special holidays, but why not let present and past members of the armed forces know how much you appreciate them daily? Here again, think of the lifetime value of each customer. Loyalty means a lot.

36. Student discount: One thing is certain about young people: they eventually become full-fledged adults – complete with jobs, mortgages, and credit cards. By earning loyalty while they’re still in school, you set your business up for a lifetime of shopping.

37. Senior discounts: Retired people typically have less disposable income than when they were working, but their influence on others is tremendous. By honoring seniors, you’ll be courting customers who love to save a few dollars and are likely to tell others about your products.

38. Special person discounts: Maybe you sell knives and there’s a certain model that includes a tool for cutting seatbelts in a hurry. By offering a special discount to first responders, you align your product with professionals. Who are the experts in your niche? When they buy and recommend your products, the confidence their actions generate for potential buyers is golden.

39. Customer-generated discounts: Priceline allows customers to specify the price they’re willing to pay for a certain service. Of course, whether to accept or reject the offer is up to the provider, but it’s a surefire way to find out exactly which price point best gets the prospect to accept the offer. Is there a way you can accept bids from customers? The more they feel in control of the process, the more likely you are to get the order.

40. Wholesale pricing: Everyone knows the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is not what most people end up paying, but seeing a significant discount from the MSRP is often a factor in the prospect’s assessment of whether or not the price is fair. Customers love to save money, and the bigger the gap between the “list price” and the “sales price” the more they like it.

41. Employee pricing: Wouldn’t you like to get the employee discount on your next purchase from a favorite retailer? So would your customers. You don’t have to offer employee pricing on all products, though. Try describing a sale item with “employee pricing” terminology. Then test the results against other pricing descriptions. Here’s a banner from a Honda dealership (below):

ecommerce-promotions-employee-pricing

42. In-store pickup discount: This one packs double benefits. Not only do you (and the customer) save on shipping charges, but visitors to your store are likely to buy something else while there. To increase that likelihood, don’t send them to the back to retrieve the order at a customer pickup desk. Rather, situate the pickup point at a central location in the store. Let your employees go retrieve the order while the customer shops for more.

43. Gift registry discount: After the bridal or wedding shower, there are typically a number of items remaining on the gift registry. That’s the time to offer a special discount on the things you already know the customer wants. Not only that, but since you’ve collected (hopefully) contact information from those who have already purchased something from the registry, you can let them know about the discount and even open it up to them for personal purchases.

44. Wish list discount: As with the gift registry, wish lists let you get a splendid view of the products a particular customer wants. And since determining what the prospect wants is half the battle in sales, you’re in a position to sweeten the pot a bit by offering a limited time special discount on one or more of the items on that wish list.

45. Take-a-survey discount: Every discount needs a reason. Otherwise, the customer may believe your normal prices are too high. Providing a discount in return for answering a poll or survey is a really good reason, since it requires the prospect to sacrifice some of his or her time. Be sure to ask questions you can use for strategizing, always let the customer know how long the survey will take, and don’t forget to collect mailing list opt-ins during the process.

46. Minimum advertised price: This one is similar to the MSRP discount, but carries a different connotation and is more likely to be trusted. Customers can check to see that your offer is legitimate. When you offer something below the lowest minimum advertised price (MAP) ever, you’re doing something really special. It’s an offer that may never come again.

47. Multiplier discount: This is similar to the strategy used by Restaurant.com, in that the value of your dollars is multiplied. A $10 purchase may buy $20 in meal credits. Is there a way you can double or even triple the benefits your customers get from shopping with you?

48. Inventory-based discount: Straight from the supply vs demand playbook, this discount is greater when plenty of stock is on hand, but diminishes along with the supply of goods. It’s a tactic based on something customers easily understand, and it helps build a sense of urgency in the buyer. The longer the prospect waits, the higher the price.

49. Newsletter discounts: Many of the people on your mailing list may be there only because they want to know when discounts are available. Don’t disappoint them. You shouldn’t necessarily include a discount with every email you send, but doing it on a regular basis helps increase your open rate and build more sales.

50. Donate for a discount: Local school and church groups often hold fundraisers at local pizza parlors. Customers not only get discounted prices, but part of what they spend goes to support the group. You can do the same thing online. Find a cause your customers will want to get behind, then set up a fundraiser. Don’t forget to speak with your tax accountant about potential tax benefits of the arrangement. Note how the card below offers tiered discounts over multiple visits.

ecommerce-promotions-donate-for-discount

Freebies and Add-ons Can Generate Excitement

Something as simple as one of these little bonuses can enhance your brand reputation, make you more memorable, and provide extra value to your customers.

On a side note, some types of giveaways and sweepstakes have legal restrictions. If you’re unsure whether those would apply to you, consult a lawyer.

51. BOGO: This really is a buy-more-get-more offer, but it’s often presented as “Buy one get one free.” It’s worth reiterating that a customer who has to buy something to get something is NOT getting something “free.” Our advice is to run that verbiage past legal and save yourself a legal nightmare. That said, “Buy one get one” is a proven and attractive offer. Just avoid saying anything is free unless it actually is free.

52. Free gift for a review: Here’s another area where your legal help should be consulted. Reviews are valuable, there’s no doubt about that, but if it appears you are “bribing” people to get those reviews, the results can be hurtful. Amazon allows sellers to provide free products in exchange for reviews, but with the caveat that the reviewer disclose that information and that the seller asks for honest reviews instead of asking for positive reviews.

53. Gift with purchase: This is similar to the BOGO, but is presented differently. The same cautions apply, though. If the customer has to buy something to get something, then there’s not really a “gift” involved at all. Run it past legal before going live with an offer like this. The extra sales aren’t worth the extra risk. Alternatives are to talk about the “bonus” the customer will get or the “additional merchandise at no extra charge.”

54. Surprise free gifts: You check in at your favorite hotel and find bottled water and candies in your room. Yes, these are included in the price of your room, but they are extra treats that many hotels don’t provide. How can you give your customers little special gifts? Can you include a sample of another product with their next order? Maybe send a branded accessory item? Truly free gifts can build customer goodwill in a big way, but they must fit your products and your customers. Be useful. Be helpful. Be kind.

55. Free shipping: In every segment, ecommerce sites generate higher conversion rates when free shipping is a component of the offer. To find out for certain, test it yourself. Is the shipping really free? Of course not; it’s covered in the price of the goods. The converse of this offer is slashing the price, then tacking on an exorbitant shipping and handling fee. As a consumer, which do you prefer? Free shipping wins the day every time. Notice how Wigdeals (below) doesn’t just offer free shipping… but free shipping anywhere in the world!

ecommerce-promotions-free-shipping

56. Free returns: Online shoppers aren’t as wary as they once were, but a satisfaction guarantee backed up by free shipping serves to dispel fears and get reluctant shoppers to go ahead and place the order. Is this likely to increase your return rate? Probably. Is it likely to gain business and build customer loyalty? Definitely.

57. Spend X, get Y: By linking order amount to special benefits, you can encourage shoppers to add additional items to the check-out cart. The discount or other privilege doesn’t kick in until a certain price level is reached. Amazon ships book orders over $25 free. JCPenney frequently runs specials that lower the price when you buy a certain amount. How can this tactic work for your ecommerce business?

ecommerce-promotions-amazon-spend-x-get-y

Details of Amazon’s free shipping

58. Warehouse sale: Overstocks, odd sizes, seasonal goods when season ends – there are plenty of reasons why you might want to move old merchandise to make room for more. Customers understand your predicament and when the price is right, they’re eager to hop in and help bail you out.

59. Holiday sales: Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, and such… all are not only good reasons for sales, but consumers have come to expect them on those days. You can even combine other discounts to make your sale even more special.

60. Wacky holiday sales: Every day of the year has at least one wacky or unusual holiday to boast. Some of them, like National Secretaries Day, end up going mainstream. Meanwhile, there’s always a reason to celebrate events like these: Battery Day, Library Lovers Day, Jewel Day, Astronomy Day, and more. Have fun and whip up more sales at the same time when you get our customers talking about the celebration. Here is a great list of wacky holidays for every month of the year.

61. Flash sales: Inspired by the Kmart “blue light special,” flash sales keep the excitement level elevated. Be there at the right time and get a significant discount. You can combine the flash with an email blast to let your customers know about the event. You can make it even more special by alerting your subscribers before others know. Give them an extra hour to save!

62. Seasonal sales: We’ve mentioned seasonal discounts already, but there’s a subtle difference between a discount and a sale. Sales are a bigger deal and typically get far more advertising and general hoopla than do discounts. In addition, seasonal sales occur at predictable times and can be planned for months in advance. Discounts come and go, but sales are more predictable and tend to generate more excitement.

63. End-of-season sales: Remember that there are two sides to each season: beginning and end. You need to move your remaining summer stock out of the warehouse to make room for fall and winter merchandise. Sounds like the perfect time for an end-of-season sale! FinishLine.com declared season’s end the perfect time to get big discounts on their gear (see below).

ecommerce-promotions-end-of-season-sale

Get Creative with Special Offers and Events

With a little extra thought, you can come up with ways to build brand, build loyalty, and keep customers coming back for more.

64. Limited editions: These can be exclusive, time-limited editions or special runs of a product. You can tie them to events or celebrities. You can offer them as bonuses or charge premium prices. Limited editions are fun and striking way to add value to your products and services.

65. Special editions: Whether a signed copy of a book or a celebrity-endorsed products, everyone loves to feel special and own something special. Special editions are also viewed as more valuable and collectable.

66. Price match promise: Take away the buyer’s anxiety by offering to match prices advertised by your competitors. This takes some terms and conditions thinking, but is well worth the effort. Stores like Best Buy and Target used price match promises to secure sales that would otherwise have gone to Amazon or another competitor.

67. Competitions: Enter to win! Not only can this fun way to generate buzz boost sales, but it can help build your email list. Here again, be sure to run the plan past legal. Games and competitions can boost sales and help build your mailing list.

68. Store credit: Here’s a tactic worth testing. Instead of offering a discount, give customers a coupon valid towards their next purchase. It’s like having money in your pocket that you have to spend at a certain store before a certain date.

69. Guarantees: Ecommerce stores, especially, benefit from offering guarantees. When customers are assured they’ll get their money back if they aren’t satisfied with the order, they feel a whole lot better about doing business with you. Do everything you can to assure shoppers you’re going to back up your products every step of the way.

70. Free shipping for members: We’ve said it before, everyone loves free shipping. There’s a psychological reaction to seeing the price increase when shipping and handling fees are added on during the checkout process. It often stops the prospect from continuing with the order. Consider charging an annual membership fee that is more than made up in special treatment and discounts to the subscriber. Membership is an excellent way to build loyalty as well. Staples offers free shipping (see below) to their Rewards members. That builds the mailing list and customer loyalty at the same time.

ecommerce-promotions-free-shipping-for-members

71. Cart abandonment offer: This is sometimes accomplished via a pop-up while the shopper is still on your website, but even if that fails you can recover many would-have-been sales by sending an email to remind the prospect of the abandoned cart and adding in a special incentive for following through. The incentive can be an additional discount, free shipping, a trial membership… or any of a myriad other possibilities. The main thing is that your offer be seen as valuable and time-sensitive.

72. Upsell offers: The customer is at checkout with a notebook computer in the cart. You can offer upgraded RAM at a discount (for instance). Be careful here. You don’t want to introduce confusion just as the customer is paying. You may be wise to take the order first, then offer the upsell as an add-on to the purchase. Here again, test to see what works best for you and your customer base.

73. Replacement parts: By carrying necessary parts and supplies for the items you stock, you can keep the customer coming back to you on a regular basis. Do most people need ink of a printer every 90 days? If so, get in touch with those who buy a printer at about the 60-day mark. Begin a series of emails designed to get their ink order. If you sell it, back it up with necessary maintenance items.

74. Upgrade notifications: Your mailing list should include information about items each customer orders – if it doesn’t, consider an email platform such as Bronto. Using the printer as a further example, when a new model is introduced, let those who purchased the old model know. You can even offer a trade-in allowance, or you can partner with a non-profit organization to donate the used printers for a tax write-off.

75. Free trials: Sales managers know it as “The puppy dog close.” Once you put your product in the potential buyer’s hands and they have received good results, it’s going to be difficult for that person to return the item. If it’s working great, does what I need done, and is fairly priced… why should I return it?

76. Payments or installment plans: The easier you make it for customers to own your products, the more of them will you sell. Of course, a certain percentage of customers will fall behind on payments or stop making them altogether. Test and compare. Can you segment your customer list to call out “preferred” customers? Paying attention to data can help you fine-tune anything. Dillard’s (see below) knows the value of combining rewards points with a store credit account.

ecommerce-promotions-payment-plans

77. Give back to the community: Perhaps you donate a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair of socks a customer purchases from your website, like Bombas does. The list of needs and organizations is huge. Be sure to choose charities that resonate with your audience. How do you know what they are? Ask and test!

78. Gated shopping events: Invite your best customers to participate in a sale designed just for them. You could even offer buddy passes and extra-special discounts to those who bring a friend. Everyone likes to feel “special.” This is one way you can show your loyal customers how much you appreciate them.

79. No special reason discounts: Out of the blue, send your subscribers a special discount offer just to say “Thank you for being our customer.” You can’t over-play this tactic, of course, but it can draw big results. No reason can be the best reason of all.

80. Family-centered specials: Phone companies sometimes offer free calling to “friends and family.” Is there a way you can leverage relationships to draw more attention to your ecommerce store? Getting your current customers to recommend your site to others is one of the quickest ways to build confidence and get new business. As an example, Amazon allows sharing of Amazon Prime benefits with family members, increasing the likelihood that those family members would purchase.

Ecommerce Promotion Ideas: How to Sell More Online

Do these discount, sale, and special offer ideas get your creative juices flowing? Our aim isn’t to create the end-all list, but to create the start-all list. Armed with these ideas, you’ll be able to come up with many others that fit your customer base perfectly.

If you need help, get in touch with The Good. We work with clients daily to fine-tune sales strategy and increase conversions. You may also want to get a copy of our book, Stop Marketing, Start Selling. In it, we go over the fundamentals of conversion optimization for ecommerce and lead generation websites.

Here at The Good, we are firm believers in the value of testing. The only way you’ll know for sure whether any of the tactics listed here will work for you is to try them. Set up a way to capture and record results. Try something. Test it. Try again.

That’s the path towards increased sales and more profits.

Every time.

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