15 Clever Sales Promotion Ideas to Make Your e-Store Stand Out

In today's world, it's not enough to simply make a quality product and hope it turns a profit. People have to know about what you are offering: this is where sales promotions come in. In this piece, we'll explain why promoting your ecommerce store is a must and which marketing tools can help you do it. We won't bore you with the usual sales and discounts blabber, we promise. But first…

What does a sales promotion mean?

It's a marketing tool a business can use to increase sales or attract interest to products/services it sells. Basically, it's a way to generate additional revenue while also expanding your customer base - and retaining the current one.

What's a sales promotion strategy - and why do you need it?

A promotional strategy is a marketing approach that entices customers to buy your products through various discounts and incentives you offer along the way. Why do you need one? Simples.

Modern-day consumers are spoilt for choice. They are quick to compare and contrast you against your competitors for who offers a better deal.

You need a way of convincing customers that their choice should lie with you, both in the short term and long term. Done right, this will yield the following benefits:

  1. Increased revenue. In short, people will buy from you if you convince them it's worth it. And that's one of your main objectives.
  2. Boosted conversion. By offering sweet deals along the visitor's journey through your site, you decrease the chances of him or her leaving before completing a purchase.
  3. Raised brand awareness. Class sales promotions stand out and make people want to return. Not only that, they might bring their friends with them. All you need is to capture the imagination of your target audience.

15 creative sales promotion ideas you can use for your store

Coupons or promotional codes

Both are a type of discount but you can play around with them to provide a memorable experience. A promotional code you activate at checkout to knock a chunk off your order can be immensely satisfying. The same goes for a complimentary coupon in your email to tell you the next purchase you make will have a percentage off it.

One of the successful sales promotion examples where a promo code is concerned comes from Levi's: the company offered to sell two pairs of jeans for the price of one with the promo code TWOBLUES. The code worked for children's jeans too. It was a limited-time offer that created a sense of urgency, while also featuring great execution - alongside a memorable code itself.
Levi's jeans TWOBLUES promo code
Levi's memorable TWOBLUES promo code

A cart abandonment strategy

According to Baymard Institute, 70% of shoppers place an item in their cart without following through and completing the purchase. There are 3 main reasons for that:

  1. Unexpected costs at checkout (taxes, shipping, additional fees, etc.)
  2. No option to buy as a guest, without creating an account
  3. The checkout process is too complicated

70% is a lot of potential buyers who fell at the last hurdle. A way to bring that number down and make gains is by following up with an email that offers … something valuable. It can be a discount or an offer of free shipping, for example - if the visitor returns to buy the product in the cart. Oh yes, free shipping…

Free shipping/returns

You've seen those Drake memes about buying for $7 and paying $3 for shipping vs buying for $10 with shipping free? They have at its core people's love for freebies - and it's a powerful emotion to tap into.
Drake meme with free shipping
Free shipping always looks better
Customers will be much more willing to buy the product if no shipping costs are involved - likewise if they know they can return the item if they don't like it. You can always work with free shipping offers too, setting a minimum order threshold to get it, thus incentivizing visitors to buy a little extra.

Referrals

It's a simple tool, yet quite powerful. An example of a referral program done right is Freeletics, a fitness app for those who want to work out at home instead of going to the gym. Freeletics offer a 3-month subscription at no cost if you invite 3 friends who become paid members.

Freeletics kill several birds with one stone this way: reward the existing consumer (you), increase revenue by adding 3 new clients, and make you do the legwork for them in terms of brand awareness. Clever.

Loyalty programs

They make your customers feel special, part of a closed VIP club - if handled correctly of course. One of the possible ways to make your repeat buyers feel welcome is by giving them the opportunity to purchase a new product before anyone else can do it, preferably with a discount.

Another popular and effective way of keeping your existing customers happy is a points reward system, where the members' actions bring points - and those eventually contribute to getting a bigger discount. Chubbies is one good example of doing just that, rewarding their customers with points for every move they make.
Chubbies points-based loyalty program
Chubbies addictive points reward loyalty program

Turn your sales promotion into a game

Dropbox once ran a campaign for new members: they offered 50 GB of cloud space for free if you complete a series of steps. 50 GB doesn't sound like a lot in today's world, but keep in mind the campaign took place when Dropbox just launched.

In short, newcomers were asked to perform simple actions, like uploading their first file, or telling 3 friends about the app, to get to the ultimate goal of 50 GB. It was engaging, addictive even, spread the word about the brand, and rewarded customers for their effort with something tangible and valuable.

Bundle similar products

Bundling as a strategy works tremendously well. The products have to be from roughly the same ballpark of course, but once you get past that initial hurdle, it's all roses and sunshine.

You offer complementary products, emphasize that the bundle will cost less than all products purchased individually, and get close up and personal by tailoring the goods to the shopper's specific needs. The customer feels the warm embrace of your loving arms and you get additional revenue. Win-win.

A great example here is Best Buy's Essential Gaming Bundle, where you can purchase headphones, a keyboard, a mouse, and a mouse pad with a 30% discount.
Best Buy Corsair Gaming Bundle
Best Buy's pro gaming bundle

Run holiday and seasonal sales

Winter's coming? Independence Day is nearly upon us? Is it New Year/Thanksgiving/Valentine's Day soon? Plenty of great sales promotion ideas for your business to sink the teeth into.

Tailor your products for the upcoming holidays and watch your revenue soar. You can couple it with a flash sale too if you are creative enough and want to clear the shelves of old products before loading up on new ones.

Cater to clients who use replenishable products

Not just these clients of course, but one way of showing you care about your base, not simply attracting new customers, is demonstrating you remember about your dedicated shoppers and their needs. This works especially well if you sell replenishable products, like shaving items.

UK's brand Cornerstone comes to mind: they offer recurring deliveries of everything you need right to your doorstep. You just set up the frequency and can forget about placing orders every couple of weeks, in fear your favorite aftershave runs out before the delivery guy knocks on the door. Neat.
Cornerstone's offers regular deliveries
Cornerstone's sleek periodic delivery system

Make personalized offers based on history

This, for obvious reasons, applies to your existing client base. But your loyal customers will appreciate it, no doubt about that. Remind your trusted consumer he joined you on this day a year/5 years/10 years ago. Throw in a discount/special offer on his next order to celebrate the occasion.

Or maybe he has an important event coming up, like a birthday, or a wedding. Gently nudge him in the ribs, show that you remember about what's important for him, remind him you are on hand to help.

Another way of making the experience on your website personal for your customers is relying on personalized search: a tool that remembers the visitors' choices, search history and makes more tailored suggestions with every new visit. We've gone over the subject in detail right here.

Incentivize leaving reviews

Offer your visitor a discount, or free shipping, or a free sample with his next order - in exchange for just a couple of sentences on your store and its products. Don't come across as a beggar by simply asking to write a review: dangle a carrot in front of your customer in the shape of an incentive.

It's a win-win situation, in which you get honest feedback on the job you are doing and your client doesn't feel like he's wasted his valuable time for nothing. There's a good chance he'll tell his friends about the freebie he got too.

Attract social influencers and don't sniff at UGC (user-generated content)

People love stories. They also love other people they can relate to. Of course, it's cool to look at Mo Salah and Leo Messi in Pepsi's new commercial but the odds are you don't have the financial muscle to ask the world's best-paid footballers to give you a leg up.

And the beauty of it is that you don't have to. Celebrities are celebrities, many view them as an unattainable ideal. Strike closer to home, rely on influencers instead. They are much more relatable to your customer base: one post from them may go a long way towards convincing your clients.
If you can engage your clients, and get them to tell about their experience with your brand, it'll work wonders
Run a contest on social media, where the winner gets the exposure from your brand (re-tweet, follow, his/her story on your website + gift from you). You'll be amazed at how many stories are out there waiting to be told.

A prime example of engaging your audience is National Geographic: they run a UGC program called "Your Shot", where photographers get the chance to feature on their website.
National Geographic's "Your Shot" contest
Nat Geo's "Your Shot" website section

Provide lifestyle discounts/special offers

Do you have a lot of students purchasing your goods? Or maybe war veterans? Leverage it to your advantage.

Make a limited-time offer for a sizeable discount on your stock. This will serve a double purpose: people from the same demographic will flock to you - and you'll make a decent profit despite the discount - and they'll also tell others about how socially aware you are. Students generally don't have a lot of money to throw around, neither do the elderly. A nice gesture will go a long way towards enhancing your brand's reputation.

Spotify does something of the sort for students. They offer the first month for free and then halve their prices for as long as one continues to study. It has the added benefit of giving people a taste of your service for an extended period of time: odds are they'll stick with you afterward.

Also, while we are on the subject of brand awareness…

Partner a noble cause

It can be FairTrade, or you can do what Apple did and release a bunch of products that show support for a good cause (Apple's red products are made in support of HIV/AIDS programs in Africa).

The point is, you can find an undertaking which matches the size of your store. And while it's technically not a tool that directly leads to more sales, you'll generate goodwill among your customers - and they'll spread the word.

Start blogging

People Google stuff. They don't know everything. Sometimes they need to read about a product before making a decision to buy - and that's totally fine. Use it as an opportunity to promote your goods.

Write expert articles explaining the benefits of whatever it is you are selling, but without leaning too much into that YOU HAVE IT IN STOCK RIGHT NOW ON SALE ON A LIMITED-TIME OFFER.

Be gentle, educate people first, then suggest taking a look at one or two of your products that fit the criteria described above. If you are lucky, visitors will check the site they are reading themselves and see that you sell what you talk about in the article.

Closing thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of creative ways to increase your revenue through sales promotions. And that's without taking into account the more obvious ones - like flash sales - which we are sure you know all about already.

Your imagination really is the only limit here. There's a lot you can do with whatever it is your store is offering - and we hope we've given you some food for thought. By the way, keep in mind there's also a way for you to promote products right from your search box - we've covered how you can do it in detail recently.
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Alexey Baguzin
Senior copywriter at Searchanise. Rum, Beatles and football lover. Maybe not in that order.

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