eCommerce wars are raging.
However, the picture today is slightly different. We have long passed the days when an eCommerce business had to worry about the technicalities, security, and working of a website. The real battle today is to stand out from the competition, generate awareness, capture potential leads, inspire purchases, and win hearts of the customers—all of this to be the top recommendation for word-of-mouth.
If the history of eCommerce has taught us anything, it is that everyone gets excited when the terms “on sale” are involved. In fact, sales promotion is a fantastic way for eCommerce businesses to incentivize potential customers to purchase. And while, in theory, having a sale seems quite straightforward (take a service/product, discount it, attract potential customers, increase sales); in practice, it involves a well-thought out strategy.
Investing in a sales promotion without a clear understanding of the factors that determine its success can cost your business more than just a few clients. Which is why you need to consider these factors before you put the “sale” sign. Sounds complex? Well, it is! But, to ease this process for you, here are six steps that you can follow for your next big sales promo:
1. Decide the objective of your sales promotion
Before announcing a sale, as a small business you need to consider:
➢ What is the objective behind this promotion ➢ When are you going to run it ➢ What type of promotion will it be
There are a number of business objectives that can be achieved with a well-planned, well-timed sales promotion such as:
Maintaining existing customers
This strategy works great especially when there is a new competitor in the market. For example, a small bakery could introduce a referral program where they give existing customers a good discount when they refer new customers to make a purchase, which in turn, can help build customer loyalty.
A special promotion can help you clear stock to make space for new or seasonal merchandise. For instance, if you own a footwear store, you may need to advertise a reduced price on sandals and flip flops to make room for winter boots.
Increasing brand awareness
Everybody loves a sale and it is a terrific way to increase brand awareness, which can lead to more sales and new customers. For example, you can sponsor an event or a party and make people aware of your brand and your products/services.
Launching a new product
A sales promotion is a great way to get eyeballs and traffic to your website when launching a new product. For example, if you’re a bag store and you’re unveiling a new range of handmade bags, then you can generate a promotion to get people to come to your website and check them out. Your promotion could possibly offer a discounted price or the addition of a free item such as a wallet.
Reaching new markets
Another way sales promotion can help is to reach a new segment of the market. For example, if you sell healthy snack boxes and you’ve introduced a snack box specifically geared towards bodybuilders, you can use newsletters and mail them an exclusive offer or a coupon to get their attention.
2. Pick a theme – so that you can market the ale better
To bring in new customers and keep the existing ones engaged, a sales promotion needs to be enticing enough. Once the buyer is on your website, your promotional theme needs to do the job to lure them into buying your products. You can look at something along the lines of:
Whether it is Halloween or Christmas, your landing page can be designed in a way that looks enticing and engaging. Think darker colors, witch hats and skulls for Halloween and nice bright colours, lights, maybe a Christmas tree for bringing in the holiday cheer.
Good friend theme
This too can work great with any kind of promotion. Here, instead of a customer winning the prize just for themselves; with each purchase, they can nominate a friend who can win a discount too. This way, not only have you retained an existing customer but attracted a potential one too.
Depending on the time of the year, you can customize your landing page. Winter theme could have snowflakes and a snowman, maybe some hot cocoa. Spring could be bright colors and Autumn could have a yellow, brown color theme.
Such themes are not only unique, but they engage the customers. They offer a “feel-good” factor that promotes your business and people in your community.
3. Decide on the actual offer that you will be giving
Before you advertise the “SALE” sign to your audience, consider the type of promotions to offer as well as how to execute them. Some of the most common sales promotions include:
XX dollars off
This promotion involves discounting items by a flat dollar amount (e.g., $20 off or $50 off).
The percentage off deal (e.g. 50% off or 70% off) is one of the most used and effective types of promotions.
Multi-buy promotions (i.e., “2 for the price of 1”) is a great option if you want to clear your inventory. However, the success of this promotion relies on the types of products you sell.
Coupon with purchase
The offer of a coupon or gift card with a purchase is a win-win for you and your customer. The customer gets a chance to save and you get an additional purchase.
At the end of that day, along with the math, you’ll also have to involve some psychology in deciding the promotion. What matters to your customers is their initial impression of what sounds like a good deal and your offer needs to fulfill that.
4. Create a dedicated page for sales promo and details (to include this deep-link in all marketing)
Having a dedicated landing page for your sales promotion with its own unique domain name is a great way to spread the word about upcoming and ongoing sales and deals. For example, you could have something along the lines of sneaker.store/sale or maybe something such as handmadecake.store/promo.
You can then use these branded links and share it in all your social and email campaigns. Keyword rich domains such as these can help your audience remember them and the chances of them visiting these links often also increase significantly. Business owners can engage customer interest and encourage more sales with a domain ending that tells users that they’re about to enjoy a great deal.
5. Decide the promotional plan and budget
One of the most important steps of executing a perfect sales promotion is determining the total promotion budget. This involves determining the cost breakdowns per territory and promotional mix factors. Sit with your marketing team to break down allocations and sketch out the affordability, percent of sales, and competitive parity. This exercise of breaking down the costs will give you a fair idea of projecting the success potential of your sales promotion campaign. For reference, you can use some of these methods to decide on the budget:
➔ Based on a percentage of projected sales revenue or profit ➔ Based on desired customer reach or sales growth, if you have well-defined customer and market information ➔ Benchmark against the budget of your direct competitors in the industry ➔ Based on the objectives and tasks required. ➔ You can substitute time, effort and creativity for any lack of budget
6. Monitor and analyze
Once you’ve invested your time, energy and money into your sales promotion campaign, it is important to know how it performed for future references. At the end of the day, data is your best friend and will tell you where you’ve been, where you’re heading and where you should be going. Some of the metrics you can use to analyze the success of your promotion include:
Like other investment, promotions work by getting a good return on investment. It is possible or promotions to lead for higher sales but lower profits. Hence, it is vital to evaluate the impact of sales promotion on profits.
In order to be fair here, you need to have your sales data before the promotion so that you have both the data to compare and analyze.
Fulfillment of defined goals
Once the sales promotion is over, go back to your objectives and use the data to gauge whether you were able to achieve the goals. Not only will this help you understand your current standing, but it’ll also help for future use.
To build a successful eCommerce business, having customer satisfaction in your favor is of prime importance. Some of the things you can look at are:
● Were there more out of stocks than usual? ● What are people saying about your brand online? ● Would they be willing to give you feedback via a survey? Then ask for one to get deeper insights.
Running a successful eCommerce business in today’s market is challenging but it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Having the right kind of vision, relevant information and a strong strategy can help you understand what your customers are thinking and how to better serve them in the future.