All promotions are not created equal. And, unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet promo for increased sales. That being said, promotions are a great way to increase your average order size and your overall revenue. They can also be used to boost customer engagement. The trick is to figure out which promotions and messages are most effective for achieving your business goals.
Promotions come in several varieties -- I’m going to list a few below and highlight the various ways they might be used. However, be sure to keep in mind that it’s critical to test one promo and message against the other to see which works best for you. Utilizing email A/B split testing is the simplest, quickest way to compare and test.
Free shipping is always a useful promotion. Online shoppers respond very well to free shipping promotions and some retailers now offer it full-time on their sites with no promo code (and sometimes, no minimum purchase amount) necessary. However, how you craft the ‘Free Shipping’ message makes all the difference. You’ll want to clearly define any restrictions, minimum purchase amounts, and expiration dates, all within a limited amount of space. If certain products on your site do not qualify, make sure you call that out as well.
Smart retailers will put the main material in their copy – “Free Shipping on orders over $100 through Friday” – and will then provide a link for the fine print. You can test different versions of copy on Free Shipping promotions as well. Last year, one retailer tried “$0 Shipping” to stand out, and others have simply tested reduced shipping – “$5 flat rate shipping!” See what works best for your audience.
Markdowns + Promotion Codes
When you have items marked down and then you put an additional promotional code out on Coupon Cabin and the like, customers feel like they are really getting a deal! The combination of these two things can be effective in encouraging “on the fence” customers to go ahead and purchase. This could also be a great way to move older merchandise.
Channel-Specific promotions can be valuable, particularly when you are trying to boost sales via a particular channel or “train” customers to use your preferred channel. For example, you can reward your email subscribers with an exclusive promotion, and then use the promise of exclusivity to lure new subscribers.
If you have an affiliate program, you can keep some standard promotions available for publishers to use on their sites, even providing custom codes for your top performers. Depending on how efficient your pay-per-click campaigns are, consider creating exclusive promos for use in promotional copy and linking to a custom landing page. Test different ideas out for each of your channels, and see what works best for each.
Product Review Promos
According to Forrester Research, 68% of online retailers report positive results from the addition of customer reviews on product pages[i]. Shopper-generated reviews build credibility and give your site an additional SEO boost. So, if your product pages need customer reviews, send your shoppers an email promo that they can redeem if they write a review. Since they are taking a moment to provide you with the information you need (the product review), reward them with a discount. These types of incentives establish a relationship of reciprocity with your customers, creating greater shopper loyalty. They can also bring a former customer back to your website!
If your site sees enough traffic, timed promos are highly effective. The sense of urgency that shoppers feel helps to push them to checkout rather than keeping items in cart and returning later. Use your analytics to determine peak traffic days and times that limited promos would work, and try running short but aggressive discounts to see if people respond. Some retailers will provide a promo code or mark certain products down for a few hours (“Wednesday Super Savers”), and over time, loyal shoppers will look forward to seeing what’s on sale each week.
Buy More, Save More Promo
Another popular promotion among retailers is the “Buy More, Save More” model, where discounts are given in tiers and each tier provides bigger savings. These promos encourage higher order values and can be a great way to move additional merchandise, especially sale and smaller ticket items. Try two or three tiers, each one with a higher threshold but a better discount – “10% off orders over $100, 20% off orders over $150.”
Again, there are a lot of options when it comes to promotions. It’s all about finding the ones the work best for you. One of our clients here at ShopVisible is seeing higher average order values with site-wide promotions that offers “x” dollars off or “x” percentage off and also with free shipping promos. Markdown promotions are the least effective for this particular client. However, these things change depending on your company type and your shopper personas – so test and then test again!
Which promotions work best for you? I’d enjoy hearing from you on what works and doesn’t in your particular business case. Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.