Big List Part 3: Promotions That Give Back

Our Big List of ecommerce Strategies is back and today we’re looking at offers and promotions. Although these are deals that make customers reach for their wallets, they shouldn’t break your bank. In fact, carefully planned offers provide benefits to both customers and retailers. Here are six ways you can boost sales with ecommerce promotions:

1. Credit-back offers

The key here is to give away something bigger than you usually would, knowing a portion of your customers will either not use the credit or spend more than they would have. For example, there’s a barbecue restaurant near my house that gives patrons a gift certificate equal to the amount they spend on their meal. This essentially makes the BBQ completely free. The only catch is you have to use the gift card after the summer is over, when business is slowest and the food offered is more upscale, sit-down dining. The result? I have more than $80 of expired credit.

This can work the same way with online stores. Offer 10% back on all purchases and watch most of that credit expire before it gets used. Or if it is redeemed, the purchased amount is often over the credited amount, bringing in profit you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

2. Conditional promotions

Make your customers work for their rewards. Determine your average cart purchase and offer a discount or free shipping at if your customer beats it. Say your average is $40 and you offer free shipping on purchases $50 and over. Encouraging a buyer to spend that extra $10 will cover shipping costs and boost revenue simultaneously.

In the same vein you can reward your customers with more product instead of lower costs. Any “buy two get one free” promotion is capitalizing on customers believing they are getting a great deal even if it is pushing them to spend more in the first place.

3. Time sensitive/limited stock

Have you ever seen those infomercials that beg you to “Call in the next ten minutes!” for a special bonus package? Isn’t it funny how that same commercial will replay thirty minutes later? These promotions create a (sometimes) false sense of urgency and convince buyers to act quickly.

Similar to time sensitive offers, limited stock sales present a seemingly now or never opportunity – one you just can’t afford to pass up! Developing a sense of urgency in emails “Last chance!” on your ecommerce site “Only 2 left in stock!” or on social platforms “Enter by Friday!” can spur otherwise sedentary customers into action.

4. Customer referral program

The enticement of free store credit, complimentary merchandise, or deep discounts can be enough for even the best of friends to bother you with sign-up emails. Customer referral messages have the benefit of coming from a trusted source so they are more likely to be opened than if you sent them from a brand email. Prompt recent buyers or new sign-ups to send referrals, as this is when your guests are most involved with your brand.

Don’t forget to offer a double loop so both the person who is being referred and the person doing the referring get a kick back of credit/merch/etc. As long as it’s easy to complete, people will sign up. Take this example from shaving company who collected over 100,000 emails in a week-long prelaunch campaign.

5. Partnering referral program

This gets a little trickier. With a partner referral program you’ll want to team up with a similar, but non-competitive business to offer your customers a themed benefit. Do you sell furniture? You can team up with realtors, home remodeling companies, or moving companies. Are you in the health food business? Network with gyms, yoga studios, and weight loss clinics. David’s Bridal constantly has a counter full of referrals to photographers, limos, make-up artists, and venues who are looking to cash-in on young engaged women who know little about, and need to quickly get up to speed on, the wedding industry.

This opens your business to a whole new segment of customers who have already proven they similar interests to your current customers and are in a buying mood. Include the double loop kick back with your partnering business and you have a win-win-win situation.

6. Sell with product packaging

When I was a kid, I remember Lego would include a flier of additional products in every set. Sure I was excited to finish the one I had, but I would still pore over the ones I didn’t have and debate which to get next. Plus with a handy coupon included it’s easy to convince mom or dad to fork over the cash. These promotions let retailers create and meet demand for their own products. There’s nothing more consumerism than wanting the next product as soon as you’ve received the first.

With each of these types of promotions, you have to create a balance of benefits. The customer needs to profit, but preferably when you do too. And if the customer feels like they got a good deal, they are more likely to tell a friend or return for another purchase – especially if there’s a good sale going on.

Ripen Services:

What puts your customers in a buying mood? The marketing experts at Ripen build off of your company’s data to determine the approach that most appeals to your shoppers. Increase your list size and your bottom line with the unique ecommerce services at Ripen.


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