5 Ecommerce Promotion Ideas and Special Offers That Drive Traffic, Increase Revenue and Build Loyalty

Author Justin Smith
by Justin Smith
Updated Apr. 21, 2017

No matter how successful your ecommerce website is, you should always be brainstorming for ways to improve it. Developing innovative ecommerce promotion ideas can be tough, but will ultimately pay off in dividends when implemented correctly on your ecommerce store. Offering promotions and special offers to your potential ecommerce customers is an effective method of driving ancillary traffic to your site, acquiring new customers, and growing revenue. Best of all, these promotions can also be used to encourage new visitors to become loyal, repeat customers. Many shopping cart platforms offer these ecommerce features, so take advantage of them!

The Most Popular Ecommerce Promotions Include:

  • Free shipping offers on specific products, categories or site-wide.
  • Percentage based sales. Offer a certain percent off a brand or product.
  • Buy-one-get-one (BOGO) offers or buy-one save on another.
  • Quantity discounts. The more you buy, the more you save.
  • Rewards points programs to build a loyal customer base.
Website Promotion Banner Idea

Create homepage banners to promote your sales.

Why Is Utilizing Ecommerce Promotions and Special Offers Important?

The fact is, today's online consumers are more savvy than ever. Combine that with the fact that there are more online buying options than ever before, and it's no surprise that it can often take additional persuading to get your visitors to click that checkout button. In that context, consider your ecommerce promotions to be one of the most valuable persuasion tools available to you.


Boosting Ecommerce Sales With Ecommerce Promotions and Special Offers

Now that we understand the role special offers and promotions play in an ecommerce website, we'd like to share some powerfully simple promotions that we have seen work wonders for our clients. Of course, no two sites are identical, and what works in one industry may not work in another. Before implementing any of these ideas, make sure you are poised to collect any data needed to determine their effectiveness. That way, you will have tangible evidence behind your decisions and you can make permanent changes to your ecommerce store with confidence.


#1 - Free Shipping

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Highlight free shipping using a visible icon or message on your product pages.

It's no secret that everybody loves free shipping. Additional shipping charges during the checkout process contribute to cart abandonment, also known as the achilles heel of the ecommerce website. Apart from eliminating an expense many of your visitors may be expecting, free shipping can simplify the entire sales process.

Whether you offer free shipping sitewide or limit your promotion to specific categories and products, your customers can browse confidently knowing that the prices listed are what they'll actually pay (plus a little for Uncle Sam, when applicable). Plus, they won't be caught off guard with additional charges when they're ready to checkout. From a psychological perspective, you'll be at an advantage if your visitors are confident that the price they see is an accurate representation of their final cost.

One thing worth mentioning is that your company doesn't necessarily have to eat the shipping costs, you can simply “hide” your shipping charges by embedding them directly into the price of the product.

#2 - Percentage Based Discounts

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Be sure to include the sale price and the original price to show how much a customer is saving.

If brick and mortar storefronts have taught us anything, it's that everyone loves to buy things that are “on sale”, and formatting your product pages to have a “sale price” can definitely increase conversions. Consider showing two prices for any given product, the “retail” price and your “sale price”. Experiment with different terminology such as “Suggested Retail” or “MSRP” to see what works best for your store or niche.

Even though percentage based discounts have become increasingly ubiquitous on ecommerce websites, they are still quite effective. Somehow, the human brain is still more enticed to purchase a product if an artificially inflated original price has been “slashed” down to a lower amount. Experiment with different percentages depending on your profit margins to find the percentage that is most effective for you. Any reputable ecommerce shopping cart should be able to make these adjustments dynamically, either site-wide or specific to a certain category or product. Remember to keep your profit margins in mind when creating these discounts, as increases in revenue are of the most value when you are making substantial profit on each sale.

#3 - Buy Something, Get Something Else For Free

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Forever21 often runs a BOGO sale

Again, everybody loves free stuff. You can setup free product giveaways if a certain product is purchased or if sales of a specific product are dwindling.

If you'd like to increase your average order value, try adding a free product if a certain dollar amount is spent. You'll be giving your customer the impression that they're receiving a better value, while psychologically priming them to have a positive opinion of your company after the transaction. At the same time, it will create an incentive for them to spend more money each time they frequent your site.

#4 - Quantity Discounts

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Offering a quantity discount may encourage a customer to purchase a higher quantity.

Another great way to improve sales and average order value is to offer discounts based on the quantity purchased of a specific product. These discounts can be structured any number of ways, including a flat rate, a fixed percentage, or a sliding scale.

This can be especially advantageous to ecommerce websites that are looking to sell both to the average consumer as well as distributors and merchants that need to buy in bulk. You can setup your quantity discount structure such that those looking to purchase in bulk do not have to contact you directly to negotiate a price. The more automation your website has in this regard, the more labor hours your company can allot to innovation and growth.

#5 - Offering Reward Points

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GongShowGear.com has a sophisticated rewards points program to increase customer loyalty.

Offering your customers rewards point for each dollar spent is a great way to encourage visitors to become loyal, repeat customers. These reward points can be expressed in “points” or “dollar-value”, depending on what you think makes more sense for your target market. Many believe that website visitors are more enticed to spend “50 Example.com Dollars” vs “50 Example.com Reward Points”, so keep that psychology in mind when determining how to name your points system.

Getting creative with the naming of your rewards points system also presents an opportunity to strengthen your brand. For example, “Airplane Ticket Reward Points System” doesn't have quite the same ring to it as “Frequent Flyer Miles”.

When To Use Special Offers:
While most ecommerce websites are practically always running some sort of special offer, there are certain times when special offers can have even bigger impacts on sales!

  1. Weekly / Monthly / Quarterly
  2. Pre-launch (of a website, of a new product, or anything else applicable)
  3. Holiday / Seasonal Promotions (Black Friday and Christmas are obvious, but also any holidays or seasons that align with your brand...e.g if you sell weight loss products, create a promotion centered around New Year's resolutions)
  4. Abandoned Cart - Target abandoned carters via email with special offers to seal the deal.
  5. Email / Newsletter Subscription Offers - Include special offers and promotions exclusive to those on your email list. Advertise this on your site to encourage newsletter and email list signups!
  6. Social Media Engagement Incentivisation (e.g. Like us on Facebook for a 10% coupon)
  7. First Time Visitors - Create special offers for those making their first visit to your site.
  8. Customer Loyalty - Reward repeat customers with special offers.
  9. Exit Intent - When it looks like a user intends to exit the page, you can create a special pop-up offer to entice them to stay on the site and make a purchase.

We recommend working directly with your eCommerce SEO company to help implement these strategies on your ecommerce website. Combining SEO expertise with an intimate understanding of your business is the best way to fill in the gaps from the ideas above, and a solid SEO company will invest the necessary time learning to understand your business. Furthermore, your ecommerce SEO agency will be able to align their SEO efforts with your ecommerce promotions so that your strategies can work together in harmony.

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