Customers, online or offline, love promotions and sales.
Some online shoppers will specifically wait for a sale before hitting that check-out button.
As a business owner though, not only do you need to come up with sales promotion ideas – you also need the tools to implement these promotions on your website. Ideally, without spending a fortune on development fees every time you have a new sale.
To help you with this, we’ve gathered eight sales promotion ideas and four tools to help you easily launch your next promotion.
Awesome (and profitable) ecommerce sales promotion ideas
Whether you want to increase your bottom line in the upcoming months or grow your email list (or even both!), here are some sales promotion ideas you can try out.
1. Run a flash sale
Flash sales work best for existing customers and email subscribers. That’s because, as the name suggests, they run for a short period, which doesn’t leave much time for new shoppers to discover your store.
Flash sales are perfect to drive existing customers to take quick action.
If your customers have been eyeing something for a while but never pulled the trigger on checking out, they’ll be more likely to make up their mind when there’s a time limit looming above them.
Flash sales can run sitewide, or on individual products, like on Luvyle:
Because this is a still image and not a GIF or video, you don’t see it, but the clock is literally ticking.
If you click on specific products to read the description, you’re once again reminded that this offer won’t be available forever.
2. Try BOGO, “Buy one get one free”
Tacking on a 50% off coupon is great. But “Buy one get one free” works well if you want to offer twice the value while still getting a full, 100% purchase.
You don’t have to offer the same product twice, either. If you want to cut down on costs of running a BOGO promotion, pick lower-cost items that your customers can choose from as their “free” product.
By doing this, you are increasing your profit per customer while providing plenty of value.
This works especially well when having two of something is more valuable than only one. For example, Glasses Shop provides a BOGO sale, since they know their customers may want to change up their style (or get one regular pair with one pair of sunglasses):
Alternatively, “Buy one get one 50%” will encourage people to pick up more content than they would have otherwise.
3. Offer a sitewide promotion
Want to get the attention of people who land on your ecommerce store? Run a sitewide promotion.
“Sitewide” doesn’t have to mean that literally everything is on sale. However, you can choose to promote a category of products, like Miss Selfridge did for dresses:
Or, it can be a clearance sale to get rid of last year’s stock (also from Miss Selfridge):
No matter what type of sitewide promotion you decide to run, make sure it’s obvious. Add sticky headers, exit-intent popups, and banners to promote your sale.
You can run a sitewide sales promotion to boost your sales during a special event, get rid of old stock in a new season, or re-engage cold subscribers. On the other hand, you can also implement an evergreen sitewide promotion for new subscribers.
For instance, you can show a popup to newcomers and ask for their email addresses before giving out the coupon.
Ryder uses this tactic in several spots on their website. For example, it’s part of their regular site design:
And it’s also part of every product description page.
Offering a discount in exchange for a subscription is the most popular lead magnet example for ecommerce, and popups work well in this use case, too. Look at this one from Shoes.com:
4. Add a wheel of fortune
Wheels add a flavor of fun in your promotions! They’re more engaging than the typical popups for two reasons:
It’s a pattern-interrupt from the usual simple popups
Wheels are interactive and have an enticing element of chance
Take this example from Pura Vida Bracelets:
In their case, the wheel appears after you spend about 10 seconds on their site.
You can include pretty much anything in your wheel, from 5% off coupons to free items your customers will receive upon checkout (as an incentive to buy something).
You can use a spinning wheel for many occasions, including:
An evergreen offer for new customers
Reduce exit-intent by appearing only for exiting customers
During an existing sales promotion
Thanking your existing email subscribers with a surprise mystery offer
However, if you are running another sitewide sale (with specific promotions), consider turning your wheel off for the duration of that sale.
5. Run a contest or giveaway
If you’re trying to grow your email list and expand your customer base, contests and giveaways are a great promotion to run.
In order to enter the giveaway, it’s a good idea to ask the participants to tag their friends on social media and follow your profile. Additionally, you can ask people to opt into your email list to enter the contest – it all depends on the end result you seek.
Do you need a higher volume of sales and/or new subscribers? If so, using the email opt-in method may work better, since you can email your new subscribers with related offers.
On the other hand, if your social media presence is lacking and you want to boost that side of your business, consider going the social sharing route.
Here’s another example from Pura Vida directly on their website:
But as you can see, they also ran giveaways on Facebook and Instagram before:
6. Free item with any purchase
Similar to BOGO sales, giving a free item with any purchase is an enticing way to offer more value to your customers. They get more stuff, and you get more sales as a result.
Likewise, you can change this to “Get a free item with a minimum purchase”, depending on the value of the item you are offering. If you want to increase the value of each customer, this type of promotion can work well, especially if you offer something that is particularly in demand for your target clientele.
This can work especially well if the item you are offering is in season, or if it traditionally goes well with the main item your customer is purchasing.
At the moment, Hype is offering a free backpack with any purchase, which is in line with their sporty feel.
7. Go crazy with the points
If your ecommerce site uses a point system or has a rewards program, then you have a promotion that’s ripe for the picking. You don’t have to offer free items or discounted products only — instead, try offering extra points during a promotion.
For example, you can have a special promotions week during which certain items are worth twice the loyalty points. This can also be a sitewide event, or you can be more picky about which items offer bigger or smaller point bonuses.
This type of promotion works well for existing customers, since one-time or new customers won’t necessarily care about rewards programs at this point in their journey. So if you notice your email list has gone cold, try running this type of promotion.
President’s Choice has a points system called PC Optimum, and once in a while, they run special events during which your purchases can give you as much as 50 times the regular amount of points you can collect.
8. Charity sale
Last but definitely not the least in our list of promotion ideas: running a charity sale.
Charity sales involve your company giving back in one way or another when your customers make a purchase.
This can come in many forms, such as:
Giving a dollar for every amount spent on your site
Giving a specific amount of money every time a certain product is purchased
Giving a percentage of all proceeds during a certain period of time
You can run charity sales when a specific event occurs, like the Australian Fires, or host recurring yearly charity sales, like Giving Tuesday.
While it may not seem profitable right away to run a charity sale, running this type of promotion can help you nurture the relationship you have with your audience and align with their values.
Additionally, what your company gives doesn’t have to be money. For example, TenTree is a well-known brand that plants ten trees for every product sold:
Handy tools to run your sales promotions as smooth as butter
Running a sale is easier said than done. But with these tools, you won’t need to create your promotion material from scratch.
1. Countdown timers
Do you want to run a flash sale? Then you need a countdown timer.
Countdown timers allow you to… you guessed it… display a countdown on your site.
You can display a timer on your homepage, as well as on each product. This allows you to customize your flash sale.
For example, if you want to run a “12 days of Christmas” with one type of product on sale every day, you can have a countdown timer running on that single item for the duration of the day, then run the timer on the next item the following day.
Look for countdown timers in the app store for the website platform you’re using, be it Shopify, WordPress, or any other website builder.
2. Popups and floating bars
Popups and floating bars are both used for sales promotion. A popup is a bit more intrusive technique, as it appears while the user is interacting with the website to display the offer. Meanwhile, a floating bar stays either at the top or bottom of a webpage, typically sitewide.
If you’re running a big sale, we recommend using both – popups and floating bars – at once.
For instance, you can have:
a floating bar to promote your sale at the top of a webpage so that existing customers know about your offer,
a popup for new customers and customers who haven’t visited in a while.
This is what Paula’s Choice is doing right now:
To create those, you can use Getsitecontrol. It’s an easy app that helps quickly add various call-to-action popups floating bars, and online forms to a website. Not only does it include tons of beautiful templates, but it also allows you to customize targeting settings – so that only the right people see your popups.
For example, if you only want to show the offer to people who spend a minimum of 10 seconds on your page, you can do that. You can also set popups to be scroll-based, so that they only appear when your visitors have scrolled down to a certain portion of your page.
Another option is to set up your popups to appear only once per day for each visitor, or even less frequently if that’s what you prefer.
3. Exit-intent detection
Getsitecontrol’s exit-intent popups can make the difference between a huge sale and a huge pile of nothing.
Sometimes customers will mindlessly click off a website, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost the sale. Integrate an exit-intent popup to make them pause before clicking that definite “X” and closing the page.
That short pause is often enough to get them to reconsider and look around a little longer. At the very least, it will take them out of auto-pilot mode and get them to have a second look at your site.
Plus, you can show different offers based on where your visitors are on your site.
For instance, people leaving your home page aren’t in the same state of mind as people leaving a cart full of items.
For the latter group, you can offer them an additional coupon or reduced shipping costs. But for people leaving from your home page, remind them of your current promotions, or offer additional promotions in exchange for their email address.
4. Discount spinners
If you want to run a “wheel of fortune” promotion on your site, you’re going to need a discount spinner tool. Again, there is no need to do anything manually because there are dedicated discount wheel plugins available for every platform – whether you’re using Shopify, Squarespace, WordPress, or any other solution.
Run a profitable sales promotion
The next time you’re out of ideas for a sales promotion, just take this out, ask yourself what you currently need the most, and choose the appropriate promotion type based on that.
If you’re looking for a tool to start with, Getsitecontrol brings almost everything you need to effortlessly launch sales promotions on your ecommerce website without the help of a developer. Get started for free and launch your next promotion with ease.
Charlene Boutin is a B2B writer for hire specialized in creating compelling case studies, blog posts, and converting copy for digital entrepreneurs and SaaS businesses. When not writing, she can be found prototyping weird games in Unity or playing on her Nintendo Switch.Subscribe to our newsletter → Main illustration by Icons8