The Ultimate Ecommerce Promotion Launch Checklist
For most ecommerce businesses, promotions are essential to hit quarterly revenue goals, keep existing customers happy, and acquire new customers. Whether it’s a major sitewide sale, exciting product launches, or weekend deals, promotions should frequent every brand’s marketing calendar.
However, ecommerce promotions that generate consistent profit don’t just happen by chance. They take intentional, strategic planning. After running years of promos for brands of all sizes, we’re well aware of the many moving parts to a successful promo. Flying by the seat of your pants and hoping someone on your team remembers to check all the boxes is risky, so it’s best to have everything you need in one place ahead of time. In this post, we are going to provide a thorough checklist to use any time you run an ecommerce promotion to ensure nothing is forgotten and every promo is as profitable as possible.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Planning a Promotion
Before we provide the checklist, there are a couple of tips to keep in mind when it comes to running promotions for ecommerce stores.
First, planning should happen weeks in advance. Ideally, all promo assets and functionality should be created and tested two weeks before the launch date. We see many brands spin up sales and product launches at the very last minute and that is oftentimes how important pieces get left out or opportunities are missed.
Second, an important note about your website: All store upgrades and updates should be complete for the year by October 31. November 1 is when the promo frenzy of Q4 really begins, and your resources and store should be solely focused on those events through the end of the year.
The Ultimate Checklist for Launching Ecommerce Promotions
Keep this list handy for any time you’re launching a promotion, sale, or new products on your ecommerce store. You can use each section to guide your team’s tasks as you get everything ready, or use it as a final check before you press go.
- Assets for the promotion— such as your site banner, email copy and creative, ad copy and creative, etc.— must be created and approved.
- Code freeze: As mentioned above, there should be a code freeze starting Oct 31. All store upgrades should be done and there shouldn’t be any functional updates. The site should be in promo mode.
- Landing page ready: Determine where ads, emails, and other assets with CTAs will be driving traffic. This may require building a new landing page.
- Sale Category ready: In addition to or instead of the landing page, you may also create a category (or collection) on the site where everything that is included in the sale or product launch is listed.
- Homepage hero with CTA button, with mobile versions: This is a banner image that announces the promotion on the homepage. Must have a clickable CTA button.
- Landing page hero, with mobile versions: A separate image may be required if using a landing page or category/collection page.
- Hello bar ready: This is a notification bar that stretches across the top of the site and sticks throughout the user’s experience. Be sure to list a brief description of the promo and include the coupon code if applicable.
- Entry Pop-up: Set up an entry pop-up that announces your promo’s offer with fields to capture the visitor’s email address.
- Coupon code setup: Don’t forget to test the coupon in your checkout!
- Pricing changes, if not using a coupon
- Upsells: If using upsells on the product page or the shopping cart, create those on the backend
- Custom functionality complete: If running a promotion that involves custom work such as a gift with purchase, make sure this is complete and tested well in advance.
- Complete test orders: Have a team member complete a few test orders to be sure promo functionality works well.
- If not on Shopify: Make sure servers are ready for traffic
- All promotional assets scheduled, if possible: It may be possible to schedule pricing changes, coupon code, theme changes with the promo banner, etc. ahead of time. If so, do it! Automate as much as possible. Not relying on a team member to remember to do it means there’s less room for error.
- Campaigns set up with audience targeting, ad creative, and copy on each platform
- Decide on budgets for the promotional campaign, and adjust budgets for retargeting and evergreen campaigns
- Double-check ad copy and headlines for spelling and grammar
- Check that links are correct and tagged with clear UTMs
- Set start and end times for the promotional campaigns so that they are not still running after the promo ends
- Set up retargeting efforts
- Ensure that product prices are showing up correctly in feeds (such as Google Shopping) especially if the promotion involves a discount.
4. Email Marketing & Follow Up
- Prepare your email lists: Determine which email lists will be receiving your promotional emails and whether any segments will be excluded. For sale emails, we typically exclude purchasers from the last 5-7 days to avoid customer service requests asking for price adjustments. This will also help cut down on the number of emails customers get if they buy within the first few days of the sale.
- Editing: Have another team member check email content for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Calls to Action: Double check that the CTAs are correct and links are working
- Final check: Double check subject lines, preview text, and send name
- Schedule the promotional emails: Once all of this is ready, schedule the promotional launch and reminder emails. We recommend sending at least three emails per promo.
- Email follow-up: Are your core automated email sequences set up? This includes a welcome sequence (pre-purchase), thank you sequence (post purchase), and abandoned cart notifications. Having these running will help you make the most of your traffic and conversions. Many of the new customers you acquire during the promo period will buy because of the discount, but following up to share your brand’s story will help make long-term customers.
5. Social Media
- Map out your posts: During promotional periods, you should definitely post about the offer, but you should also be sure to tie it back to your brand’s purpose, quality, story, etc.
- Schedule: Outline dates and times for your posts and if you use a scheduler tool, be sure they’re scheduled correctly. You’ll also want to make sure that there are no existing posts scheduled that will overlap or interfere with promotional posts.
- Team ready: Make sure your social media manager and/or coordinators are ready to answer questions received through comments and DMs, as well as participate in conversations.
- Deliver the final promo creative to influencers to use on social media or via email
- Set up affiliate links with UTMs for tracking and ensure they are working properly
- If you’re running advertising through affiliate ad accounts, review the entire ad setup for each account
7. Customer Service
- Before the promo begins, do an audit of the customer service side of your business to determine where people reach out. Is it via email? A help chat? Social media DMs?
- Be sure you have customer service team members are ready on each of those platforms to help
- Make sure your customer service team is very aware of all the details for the promotion
Ready to Launch Your Next Ecommerce Promotion?
We can’t stress enough the importance of having all of the moving pieces of a promotion in check before pressing “go”. If you have a small team, this checklist will make sure you don’t miss anything, and if you have a large team, it will ensure everyone has their responsibilities handled. The more thorough and strategic you can be in planning and marketing these events, the more you will see consistent return on your hard work!