How to Run Effective Promotions in Ecommerce


Black Friday is only days away, and most of the deals out there are… Well, a little lacking. I’m seeing a lot of ecommerce sites with the same voucher codes, the same sale banners and cornered-off sections of websites, the same disappointing deals. Are these paint-by-numbers campaigns really doing all they can to increase conversions, or are they missing out on their potential by going through the motions? 

The excitement of a creative sales campaign is still out there waiting to be tapped into – many consumers are desperate for some retail therapy after a stressful couple of years, to put it lightly. Here are some simple, actionable tips that will help you increase conversion when you’re running your next campaign.  

User Experience is everything 

In my daily browsing I notice so many sites getting this wrong by not fixing simple issues. Here’s an example: I’m scrolling through Instagram and I see an ad for a stylish coffee table. Perfect timing, I’ve just moved – those targeted ads know what I’m up to scarily well. I’ve got money set aside for furnishings, I’m actively looking for homeware, I could not be more of a perfect consumer for this brand if I tried.  

So, I click the ad, and get taken to…. A home page. With categories for every single room of a house, and thousands of products. I click in to a menu, and I look for ‘Living Room’, then ‘Coffee Tables’. Fantastic, 180 results. I know that table is buried in there, but I’m not going to go hunting for the product this brand just shoved in my face elsewhere.  

The ad gets closed, and I’ll remember this company for a long time – but not for the table they showed me. I’ll remember them for their poorly designed ad that stopped me from finding what I wanted. Do you know how quickly I would make an impulse purchase if that ad took me straight to the product page? Every second longer I have to spend on your site looking for what I want, the more I talk myself out of an impulse buy.  

Prioritise making your user experience as smooth as possible by looking for small improvements you can implement along the customer journey.  

Make your campaigns memorable 

Shoppers are bombarded with promotions every single day. It’s even worse around the Holiday season or Black Friday – you can’t turn your head without blinded by a flash sale banner.  

It’s no longer enough to slap a 10% off sign on your storefront and watch the conversions roll in. You need to engage customers proactively and make your campaign different to stand out and see significant conversion rates. Give a unique gift with purchase for a limited time; use an exciting discounting tool that grabs attention; do anything more engaging than that empty voucher code box I have to fill in myself.


Use simple gamification 

Gamifying any aspect of your promotion is a great way to improve engagement. People love playing games, it’s more interactive and makes rewards more exciting. Use a ‘spin the wheel’ promotion, an interactive negotiation (😉), even something simple like awarding badges/trophies to users when they write product reviews – which can then promise further deals.  

The key is to keep whatever kind of gamification you implement simple. Users have the patience for a quick spin of a wheel or a fast instant chat, but they don’t want to go on an egg hunt around your site looking for 5% off. Keep gamification short, engaging and fun.  

Target your campaigns to different user cohorts 

Your loyal customers are your bigger spenders. Not only do they spend 31% more on average than new customers; they are 50% more likely to try out a new product, too. Reward them to keep them engaged with your brand and maintain that loyalty. There are all kinds of services out there that can be adapted to only show to specific user cohorts. 

You can also run campaigns that target users who haven’t been to your site in a while – try to reignite that spark of interesting by offering them a particularly generous discount, or a unique gift included in their next purchase. Something as simple as a magic link in a targeted email can do wonders for improving customer loyalty.  

Show specific users you’re thinking of them, and they’ll pay it back by thinking of you more often, too.  

Don’t be quiet about when your promotion ends 

You want to convert more shoppers while they’re on your page. Don’t give them any reason to save your page for later; if you get saved as a bookmark, it’s the same as bumping into an old acquaintance and saying, “Yes, let’s definitely get coffee tomorrow!” (Not happening).  

Tap into FOMO by making the end of your promotion stand out. What good is a small tagline that tells shoppers when it’s ending? It’s not going to encourage anyone to convert there and then. Prominent countdowns and timers are your friend here and help add a sense of urgency to your promotions.   

Make sure you can track results accurately 

Understanding which campaigns work well and which don’t is key to continual improvement. Not only do you need to make sure you’re tracking which discounts are working effectively, but make sure you’re getting reliable results.  

That’s particularly an issue with voucher code campaigns these days. If you send a code meant to be used only by your most-loyal customers, you expect results of that campaign to indicate their purchasing habits. But social media has changed this, and codes are now regularly shared, traded and even scraped for by bots. Suddenly your ‘exclusive’ campaign is accessible by anyone with a Chrome extension, and your results aren’t telling you what they think you are.  

Take advantage of Behavioural Triggers 

If your sale isn’t gathering as much attention as you want, remember that someone visiting your page and looking at the content isn’t your last chance to convert them. Use behavioural triggers like dwell time or exit intents to cause attention-grabbing (yet unobtrusive) pop-ups to appear to customers who have come to your page, but aren’t quite converting.  

Sometimes shoppers need that last nudge to convert, and you’re missing out on easy sales if you let them walk away from your site without trying to entice them once they’re on the page.  

Your campaigns need to be worthwhile for customers 

If you’re throwing together a promotion that involves a gift with purchase, or a flat discount, make sure this campaign is actually providing good value for your customers. If you’re giving away a dirt-cheap, pointless free gift or only offering 5% off for your ‘Biggest Sale of the Year’, you’re not going to encourage many purchases.  

Customers will remember these kinds of promotions, for all the wrong reasons. The next time you run any kind of campaign, they’ll be far less inclined to check it out after poor offerings previously.   

How will you make your next campaign stand out? 

Now you know how to run an effective promotion campaign, think about the points above and what you can easily implement into your next campaign.  

If you’d like to engage more customers with a creative discounting strategy, consider using Nibble to approach shoppers on your site directly and initiate a fast, fun AI negotiation with them. Nibble improves conversion, often at better profit margins than standard discounting methods such as voucher codes.  

Once Black Friday is over, Holiday season sales will start right away. Whatever you do, make sure you stand out from the crowd.


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