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  • Writer's pictureLiz Maguire

To Promo, or not to Promo?

The decision to have promotions on your product (or service) is not one that should be made lightly. In this post, take a look at three questions to consider before slapping "SALE!" on your website or social media. Consumers learn quickly and their memories last; be conscious of the overall image for the brand before being driven by the idea of fast profit.

There comes a time in every e-commerce businesses life called 'Black Friday'. It is a shopping season where business can remain consistent, completely dry up, or explode. All because of how you choose to market during that window.

1.) Why am I considering a promotion/sale?

Some key questions to consider before deciding on a promotion are:

  • Am I motivated to make this decision because sales are down?

  • Is my pricing fixed?

  • Am I willing to sacrifice theoretical future conversions because they are 'waiting' for a % on a product they would have otherwise ordered?

If your decision is motivated by a decrease in sales, have you investigated all other avenues why that may be the case? Doing a competitor analysis can reveal differences in price, customer service, and more. These can indicate trends that could hurt or help your business in the long run, besides the 'flash in the pan' solution of a promotion or sale.

With regards to pricing do you have room in your model to make a profit even with the applied discount? Some non-% promotions to consider that could have results for your sales would be free shipping and free returns, both of which you can factor into the baseline cost for the product so that you are building good will with your customer by offering them but not taking a huge financial hit.

Be prepared when you offer a promotion or sale to become a brand that is thereafter known for promotions and sales. Once you open the floodgates, there's no going back. Ecommerce consumers are not as brand loyal as their brick and mortar predecessors. They will go where the deals are and that could mean both good, and bad, things for your business. Some consumers will wait for a promotion or sale to buy and this could ultimately affect your sales overall.

2.) How will I communicate the promotion/sale?

So you've decided to go ahead and use a promotion or sale. Congratulations! Now, how are you going to communicate this to your customers? Oh! A banner on the website, great. That' Well, obviously your pricing will reflect the applied discount, right? What about posting about the promotion on social media? To your email newsletter? There's a lot to consider and quite a few places to advertise your promotion or sale.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Here are just a handful of suggestions for spots to hit when you reach the advertising stage of your promotion:

  • Website: Make sure that your website is clear about the promotion! Consider changing your homepage to reflect the language of your promotion. Use a popup and/or banner to put the promotion in front of users as they travel around your website. If you are running a % discount on a product range or the whole site, consider changing the price of the product on the shopping page -- even going as far as to change the color, use a strike-thru the reflect the new price, and/or applying a graphic to the product image to reflect the % applied.

  • Social Media: Talk about your promotion on your social media channels! No one will know that you are running a promotion unless you get them to your website; so how will you bring them there? By talking about your promotion! Tease the savings and opportunities in social media posts but always be sure to add T&C's (Terms and Conditions) to your content if the promotion is short term.

  • Email Newsletter: Your email newsletter should be the first people to hear about your promotion or sale. They are your warmest list of potential customers. They have already expressed interest in receiving messaging from you about the brand so the logic stands that they would like to know about opportunities to shop and save or avail of a special offer. Make sure that you are targeting your messaging. Sending to the whole list is great but can you get any more specific with segments? Do you have customers who have ordered X number of times? Consider sending them a specific message with copy that reflects you value them as return customers, and are therefore offering a special deal. Get creative!

  • Paid Advertising: Use your budget! Put the messaging about the promotion in front of people. Whether they are previous customers or even just previous browsers, using the likes of Google Display Ads or retargeting on social media will put your promotion messaging in front of eyeballs.

3.) Tracking Results.

Promotions or sales are not magic pills. They should not be deployed casually! And above all else, their results should be tracked and compared to goals outlined before the promotion or sale even begins. Defining your promotion/sale objectives before you turn on any discount or communicate messaging to anyone should be a natural step.

  • What is the offer? Why are we considering this offer?

  • How long will the offer run?

  • How will we track who engages with the offer vs. purchases because of the offer?

  • What result do we want to see from X by offering Y?

Photo by on Unsplash

This will allow you to determine the effectiveness of a particular offer while modeling your next promotion or sale strategy. Data should be shaping your decisions! The more the merrier.


Don't make the decision to apply a promotion or sale, lightly. Consider how it affects your brand image overall before committing. Communicate your promotion not only on your website but on social media, to your email newsletter, and with paid advertising. And always track the results against goals defined before setting anything 'live'.

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