The Most Effective Types of Ecommerce Sales Promotions

Some companies are fundamentally against running sales or promotions, usually out of fear of damaging their brand value. While we disagree that promotions devalue your brand (check out this post for why), we thought it was important to discuss the importance of promotions.

Why would someone want to have an ecommerce sale or run a promotion?

There are 3 main reasons why an ecommerce brand should have a sale or promotion.

1) Drive sales

Sales or promotions are a great way to get an influx of sales from your current customers. People who have bought from you before are more likely to purchase from you again if they feel like they are getting a great deal. This also helps to build a stronger tie with your existing customer base.

2) Acquire new customers

They are also a great way to attract new customers. Likely new customers that will be enticed to purchase something with a sale or promotion have interacted with your brand somehow in the past. They may have considered making a purchase, but for some reason in the end decided not to. Running a sale or promotion may be enough to push them over the edge from interested visitors to customers.

3) Create buzz

Sales and promotions can be used to create buzz and raise awareness around your brand. It gives you something to talk about. Use sales or promotions to attach your brand to a cause or concept that will help increase your brand awareness. Make sure to also leverage your current customer base and word of mouth. With a great promotion or sale, they are likely to share with their friends.

When and how often should you run promotions?

You don’t want to run promotions too often. This will dilute your brand and cause your customer base to burn out.

That being said, you also don’t want to run promotions too infrequently and risk being forgotten by your customers.

In our experience, once to twice a month is a good cadence for sales and promotions, unless specific holidays run close together. We use this as s rule of thumb and wouldn’t recommend running sales more frequently unless you have a really good reason to.

What are the most effective types of promotions?

While there are several types of promotions and we always recommend getting creative with your marketing, especially when it comes to sales, these are the 3 most effective types of promotions that we’ve seen for ecommerce brands.

1) Promotions around key holidays

There are certain key holidays around which customers have simply come to expect amazing sales and promotions. Around these times of year, customers come to expect great deals and are in the buying mood. Make sure to run promotions around Memorial Day, 4th of July, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Thanksgiving (Black Friday and Cyber Monday), and Christmas and New Years.

Check out our post on evergreen tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

2) Industry or brand-specific holidays or seasonality

There may be specific holidays or seasonal events that are lesser known but that are more closely related to your brand and product line. Having sales or promotions around these holidays, events, or seasons are usually highly effective. Some examples would be Earth Day, back-to-school season shopping, or summer vacation. Not only do you have a built-in excuse for having a sale, but the competition for traffic around these holidays or seasons will be much lower than the key holidays mentioned above.

3) Brand celebrations

What exactly do we mean by this? Basically, create your own holiday or event around your brand and run a sale around it. Make up a reason to celebrate! These types of promotions are highly effective for two reasons.

First, you’ll experience the influx of sales that you would with any sale or promotion.

Second, it gives you the chance to connect emotionally with your audience base around something that is unique to your brand. There won’t be any other competition around this brand celebration and you have the opportunity to be truly creative.

How can you run an effective promotion?

Now let’s get tactical. What is it that you need to do on your site and in your marketing in order to run an effective promotion?

Here is a simple and quick checklist to follow that covers all of the basics. This isn’t everything you can (or should) do, but these are the essentials.

1) Hero Feature

Make sure to include a big beautiful hero image on your homepage with text over it announcing the sale or promotion.

2) Sitewide Banner

Include a banner across the site to remind visitors of the promotion while their exploring your site (or to make them aware of it if they didn’t enter on the homepage). This is a great place to include the coupon code if they’ll need one at checkout.

3) Social Posts

Talk about your sale or promotion on all of your social media channels. And be creative. Your audience is much more likely to take notice if your post stands out amongst all of the social noise.

4) Social Ads

Promote your posts and run social ads, in addition to organic posts. In order to reach your full audience, and hopefully capture new customers, spending money to advertise your promotion is essential.

5) Email Announcements

Email the promotion out to your newsletter list and existing customer base. It’s important to leverage this channel not only to gain sales, but also to leverage your customer bases’ referral power. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing channels, so consider creating incentives around sharing.

When you are thinking about running a promotion, make sure to consider your primary goal. Perhaps you need a short term influx of sales. But most likely, your primary goal is going to be new customer acquisition. If that is the case, throw making profit out the window. Your goal with new customer acquisition promotions is just that, to acquire new customers. You can then make money on these customers over the rest of their customer lifetime. So, make them an offer they can’t refuse to get them in the door.


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