Sale Inside: How Retailers are Using Online Promotions to Dominate Sales

Online promotions, the Holy Grail for retailers. A great tool to attract customers and earn their business.

If you sell a product or service online, then you need to make sure you understand online promotions and how they can impact your business.

What I’m talking about here are online promotions, not promoting yourself online.

This falls into the advertising category of marketing while the latter is more branding.

Related Article: What Makes a Successful Online Store?

It involves using various promotions to entice visitors to purchase your product or service. It includes methods to attract customers both online and in stores.

I for one know that online promotions work. You should see my wife and me out shopping, searching on our phones for a deal while getting ready to make our purchase. We are looking for coupon codes like the cast of “Lost” looked for a way off the island.

Coupon Chief screenshot of site.
Coupon Chief

“Online promotions work,” says Michael Bi, Marketing Director for Shopping Express. “We like to use all forms of online promotions, including special events such as our ‘Epic Hour’ sale on Sundays. People are always shopping for the best deal and if you don’t do something to attract customers, you will lose their business to a competitor.”

A Look at the Numbers – Proof Is in the Pudding

If you are unsure if using online promotions is the way to go, let’s take a look at some statistics.

According to Statista, 59 percent of adult Internet users in the United States use digital coupons (“coupon codes”) when making a purchase.

That means more than half of the people who shop online will look for some type of savings before buying. If there are two sites that offer the same product at the same price, but the consumer has a coupon code, can you guess where they will be spending their money?

Online promotions go beyond coupon codes. “44 percent of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email,” says Bikini Luxe founder Candice Galek. “I was absolutely blown away when I learned this statistic.”

Jonathan Carrol from Santy Integrated adds that online promotions can increase bottom line of other campaigns. “When running promotional offers to email subscribers, we see a 15 percent increase in sales directly resulting from the particular email campaign.”

A survey from Wanderful Media published in Marketing Land goes a step further, showing us how online promotions can translate into brick and mortar traffic. 91 percent of the people surveyed stated they visited a retailer because of some type of online promotion.

This could be anything from receiving an email offer or seeing an online ad. I guess that beats holding a sandwich board and walking down the sidewalk.

Wanderful Medai Stats showing how online promotions can increase business
Wanderful Media 

Another statistic I thought was interesting is that 42 percent of consumers say they choose to purchase something online after finding a better price than they find in the store.

Basically, that means people leave your brick-and-mortar to find a better deal online. Are you promoting a good deal online or even using online promotions at all? If not, 42 percent of consumer who would have bought from you are purchasing elsewhere.

Related Article: Not Just a Game: Legal Considerations for Social Media Contests and Sweepstakes

Typical Online Promotions Campaigns

There are many types of online promotions that you can do. Here are a few of the most common used by retailers to earn your business.

Coupons & Coupon Codes

I touched on this previously, but coupon codes are one of the best promotions for attracting consumers. Electronic coupons normally contain a barcode that can be scanned from your smartphone and used in-store.

Coupon codes can be entered at the time of checkout online and will discount the purchase price depending on the offer.

Coupon codes have become addicting to some consumers (like myself) who often refuse to make a purchase unless they have one.

Loyalty Points

Loyalty points are a great method of online promotions. Allowing people to accumulate points from online purchases to use for future purchases is also a game winner.

Don’t believe me? Go stand at the checkout in a grocery store. How many people are handing their “rewards” cards to the cashier in order to accumulate points? Same concept translates to online purchases.

Giveaways and competitions

Making people do something to earn a reward is another method, most common to social media. Here is a recent example that will hit home.

In 2016, Esurance chose to give away $1 million for people who Tweeted about the company during the Super Bowl. People basically promoted the company for a chance to win money.

It not only got people involved and help branded the company, but they also received advertising during one of the most expensive ad times for a low rate of only $1 million.

While giving away $1 million is probably a stretch for most businesses, you can start with giving people a coupon for liking your Facebook page or something similar to drive traffic to your website.

These are just three methods of online promotions, all of which contain incentives. You can also use promotions such as email marketing campaigns, price match guarantees, and flash sales to help drive business.

Where to Go From Here

There are numerous ways to get started with online promotions.

Michael Catania from PromotionCode.org offers some great advice for those getting started with promotion (“coupon”) codes.

“We suggest doing two things that give them a boost right from the start: targeting their first promotion code to their existing customers and using their own customer email list to see how effective the offer is within the vacuum of people that already have used their product.”

Beyond targeting as advised by Catania above, it is recommended that you take advantage of any free online promotional tool available.

“There are some great free resources out there for online campaigns,” says Professor John Dinsmore from Wright State University.

“For instance, Mail Chimp will let you get your feet wet with their service so you can learn the ins and outs of HTML email campaigns. Google Adwords has a very effective tutorial as well.”

Related Article: The Numbers Tell All: The Future of E-commerce Marketing is Visual, User-Generated Content

Basic advice is to start small. Get started with something simple and move on based on your skillset. If you do not want to go it alone, there are many agencies out there who can manage your online promotions for you.

However, keep in mind that you will be paying someone to offer your discount so take that into consideration before writing a check.

Hopefully, I sparked your curiosity enough to take it a step forward.

After all, the majority of consumers are making purchases (both online and in store) based on online promotions. If you are not running online promotions, then you are missing out on a ton of business.

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