The E-Commerce Column

The 3 Most Powerful Promotion Ideas to Convert Your Customers

Everyone loves a great deal

Converting customers is the best and most difficult part of e-commerce for many of us.  This is assuming that you have your marketing plans in action and they’re doing their job.  Promotions are always a key way to keep your lurkers interested, and eventually to convert all of your lurkers, prospects, and existing customers over and over.  Sometimes words can be a bit ambiguous though.  The context of a promotion in this article will be the ways that you can create demand and convert customers through sales, offers, and other fun ways on your own site.  Probably the most obvious example of this is discounting products in a specific category for a sale.

Free Shipping

Online shoppers love, love, LOVE free shipping.  After all, what’s better than receiving that gift-feeling of your product showing up, and you didn’t pay anything extra to have it shipped directly to you?  If you’ve ever used Amazon – most notably, Prime – then you know exactly what I mean.  The Walker Sands 2016 Future of Retail Study showed that at least 90% of online shoppers cited free shipping as being the top incentive for them to shop at any store online.  It’s a no-brainer, really.  Free shipping is an easy idea on the surface, but every time you do it, you’re technically losing money.  So if you’re going to give away shipping, you should make sure it’s worth it.

Don’t just give away shipping.  Someone has to pay for it.  So, if you’re going to end up footing the bill for this, begin by analyzing your sales to determine how much you need to sell to make free shipping worth your while.  You need to find that line where the store paying for the shipping still turns a profit on that individual order.  Let’s say you did the math and it’s $100 for your store.  That’s great!  Now create a promotion where any order above $100 automatically gets free shipping, then market the heck out of it – on and off your site.

I propose you take this one step further though.  Get creative.  Make this a bit more engaging and a win-win.  Maybe ask that the customer enters a promotion code, in addition to spending $100.  The promotion code could be freely out there, but what if they instead got the promotion code only by first signing up for your e-mail newsletter?  Now you have not only gained a customer, but also an ongoing lead to resell to over time.

Coupon Giveaway

Speaking of giving away coupons…  The newsletter idea is a goodie, but an oldie as well (in internet years it is anyway).  Coupons don’t need to only apply to shipping.  They can apply to specific products, categories of product, or even types of product.  It’s up to you, really.  Coupons can be a very useful tool to drive sales for product that you wish to move, but the keyword here is sales.  They can drive sales.

Instead of just giving away coupons, you could have your customers do something to get them, which could again create a win-win situation.  This is especially useful for some of the more valuable coupons.  You could issue coupons based upon people signing up to be an affiliate, or even after giving a product review.  This is a great way to entice your customers to help you drive more sales from them and others, as well as create more content on your site.  The potential here is endless.  Get creative!

Flash Sale

You don’t have to be a flash sale site to hold a flash sale.  Basically, a flash sale is when you give a much larger discount than normal for some or all of your store, but only for a very short period of time.  Flash sales are often as short as an hour, and as long as a day.  Think of this as a Black Friday sale, but only for a shorter period of time.  The great thing about a flash sale is not only that you tend to get more sales when you have them, but if you do them right, they have an added benefit of creating buzz around your brand and attracting more new customers.  According to, businesses see a 56% higher click-through rate on flash sale e-mails, resulting in a 35% higher transaction rate.  So, what are you waiting for?  Flash your customers!  (You know what I mean.)

Bonus Tip: Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs have been around for a long time.  They’re a wonderful way to convert existing customers repeatedly more over time.  Some of the earliest loyalty programs were those sandwich cards that earned you a free sandwich after you bought 9 or 10.  Probably the most popular ones that come to mind are those found at a grocery store, or frequent flier mile programs offered by airlines.  Your store could and should have a similar program too.  Why not reward your customers for being loyal to you and buying from you repeatedly?  It only makes sense.  Otherwise, that’s one less reason to choose you over a competitor.  Social Annex reported that 83% of people who are in loyalty programs say that the program keeps them loyal to a brand.  If you’re making $1 million annually in your store, being able to count on at least $830 thousand next year simply by having a loyalty program is pretty compelling.  This is especially true when you factor in that it costs 500% more to gain new customers versus resell to existing customers. The same report estimates that the loyalty program alone can increase profitability anywhere from 25-125%.  Loyalty programs are far too easy to implement and far too rewarding to both you and your customer to ignore.

About the Author

Will StrohlWill Strohl

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